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Stella & Rose's Books

Specialists in Rare & collectable books

Rodents in Childrens Books

Why rodents in children's books you may ask?

Simple answer - my husband and I are the proud owners of four beautiful dumbo-eared rats. We got our four girls ('does') back in March 2015.

After much deliberation (which pets should we get - cats? rabbits? hamster? rats?), we decided on rats. So we researched cages, food and all necessary equipment. When all this was purchased and set up, we had another choice to make: boys or girls? After much changing of our minds (we'll definitely have boys – two – called Caspian and Reepicheep – so we thought!), finally we decided on girls as they were just so pretty. We picked them up from a breeder not too far away from us and set about getting to know their individual characters.


In 1946 my family bought their first jeep – a Willys with a civilian registration DJY 201. 70 years later I still own and drive that jeep.

Above: Cliff in the jeep in 1956.

About 8 million horses died during World War One, they were used for transporting men, materials and guns. In World War Two the US Army needed a replacement for the horse and in early 1940 the US Army issued a specification. The Bantam Car Company and Willys-Overland were the only two companies that responded to the Army's call, although over 130 companies had been invited to respond. They had been given a 49-day deadline and Willys-Overland asked for more time to finish their vehicle.

Curious Creatures

Or, for those of you who enjoyed my previous article about our garden visitors, here are “More Garden Visitors” to our garden here in Portugal. Cliff and I have been settled here for a year now and continue to be amazed at the abundance and variety of wildlife we see right outside our back door. Mind you, we have to look very closely on occasions to see the beauty, or some would say peculiarities, of the little creatures that frequent our flowers and the nooks and crannies in the stone walls. Here are some we found particularly fascinating.


We have been fortunate in my part of the world (Hay-on-Wye, UK) to have enjoyed a glorious Autumn. The colours of the leaves as they have turned have been stunning – and the weather has been mild with some sunny days which have added to the beauty. The season is now turning to Winter. I know this is not a favourite season for many but I quite like Winter. Well actually, what I like is seasons to be seasons! So there should be a gradual warming with new plant growth and lambs in the fields in Spring, warmth and lazy sunny days in Summer, glorious colours in Autumn, with a gradual cooling towards Winter which should be cold, crisp and with snow on the hills!

A Tale of a Bear and a Squirrel

It was that time of year again... the last Saturday of August (Bank Holiday weekend) and The Followers of Rupert AGM. Every year, Stella & Rose's Books make a pilgrimage to Warwick with all our Rupert stock in tow. This year was no exception.

What was different this year, is that it was my first time (believe it or not in the almost 20 years that we have been a part of this event) that I went along with Maria and her husband, Steve. Usually, the group would include Maria, Steve (Maria's husband and fellow Follower), Chris & Cliff. However, Chris & Cliff are now people of leisure living it up in Portugal and so I was roped in!

Enid Blyton Society Day 2005

Stella & Roses Books were delighted to participate in the Enid Blyton’s Society Day meeting at Twyford, UK on 7th May.

Above, left to right: Stella and Roses Books Stand; Settling down for the 1st talk of the day; Enid Blyton's daughter, Gillian, at our stand.

The aim of the Society, which was formed in early 1995, is to provide a focal point for collectors and enthusiasts of Enid Blyton through its magazine The Enid Blyton Society Journal, issued three times a year, its annual Enid Blyton Day and its website. (

Around 100 enthusiasts, including Enid’s two daughters Imogen & Gillian, spent the day gossiping (sorry I think networking is the word), browsing the Enid Blyton items for sale and listening to a talk on the early years of Enid Blyton as a governess in Hook in the 1920’s by Mark Davison. The talk was based on material from Mark’s book ‘Hook Remembered’ (

The Secret Seven by Enid Blyton

The Secret Seven series of 15 books, by prolific author Enid Blyton, follows the adventures of a strictly secret society made up of 7 children, who like to solve mysteries that they happen upon, or actively go looking for!

The History:

Although many may think, like I did before doing this research, that The Secret Seven - the first title in this series - is the first time we are introduced to the seven, this is not the case. In 1947, At Seaside Cottage a small volume was published by Brockhampton Press and featured the main characters of Peter and Janet, with their golden spaniel, Scamper. A year later in 1948, Secret of the Old Mill was published, in which Peter and Janet, after reading a book called The Secret Society, decide to create a secret society of their own, using the old mill on a hill near their home as a meeting place. They invite five of their friends to join them, and so The Secret Seven are born.

Isaac and the Midnight Jewels

"Most people love butterflies and hate moths," he said. "But moths are more interesting - more engaging.” Thomas Harris, The Silence of the Lambs

One of the wonders of grand-children (and they are so many that I have neither the time nor talent to do them justice) is that they can take our imagination by the hand and lead us down paths of curiosity we haven’t known since we were young ourselves.

“What are moths, Pompar?” A simple enough question from a six year old but, just as the attention of the bee stimulates a flower to offer nectar, suddenly my childhood fascination with these mysterious creatures of the night sky came flooding back. Luckily, it was late August and Isaac was staying with us for a while over the holidays. Here was a golden opportunity for Isaac and I to do something together.

What's In A Book?

In the short time I have been adding books into stock at Rose's Books I have been amused by the obscure items you find hidden between the pages. Often the item has been used as a bookmark so I can only assume that when a reader is looking for something to mark their page, they grab the first thing that comes to hand - as you will see from the following list.

A black and white photograph of a young man and a dog.

The outer cardboard wrapper from a film cartridge. I googled the make and looks like it could be for a box camera from around the 1930s.

My First Year With Hearing Dog Betsy

View current stock of Books about Dogs

Firstly, I should explain to those of you that are unaware, I am profoundly deaf. I decided to apply for a Hearing Dog to enhance my life after my pet dog, Holly, passed away. Finally after 5 years of waiting, the day was upon us!

Wow! Time flies! I brought Betsy home with me for the first time on 31st May 2014. A whole year has flown by already!

Above: 1. Betsy alerting me and 2. Betsy laying down after I have asked "What is it", so that I know it is an emergency alarm!  

Betsy has been good for me in so many ways – some obvious and some more subtle. She has made me feel much more confident about going out and about on my own – simply shopping or going to the bank or doctors. I feel much happier being home overnight without my husband if he has to go away due to work. In the past, I would worry that I wouldn't wake up in the morning for work or perhaps the burglar alarm would go off in the night and I wouldn't hear it. Now I sleep a lot better knowing that Betsy will wake me up in the morning or if she hears an alarm.

How to date a book

In English the word “date” has multiple meanings, so if you are thinking romance, then sadly this is most likely not for you!


Now, when I started working in a book shop and you asked me to find the publication date of the book, I would think “yes I know how to do that” well after a few years I changed to “errr why is it so difficult to find the publication date!”. Now after a few more years, I finally feel I am vaguely getting to grips with the process, and so I thought I would share some of the tips I have picked up.

Snorri the Seal by Frithjof Saelen

When I was very young, even before I could read, I was enthralled by the story of a vain little seal called Snorri.

In the late 50s my big sister Elspeth had been been given the book, “Snorri the Seal” as a prize at her primary school when she was seven years old and I suppose that as she grew out of it, so I grew into it, and became as fascinated by the pictures contained within as Snorri was by his own reflection in the ice.

The book follows the perilous misadventures of a baby seal called Snorri who ignores his mother's warnings about the dangers of the Arctic and its creatures and instead swims happily among the ice-floes. As he wanders further from home he is attacked by Growler the polar bear, spied upon by a pair of scheming seagulls called See and Saw and stalked relentlessly by a killer whale called Grab.

Military Books

View current stock of Military books

It is always pleasant to chat with customers who drop into our Tintern shop, and I have heard all manner of fascinating anecdotes and family recollections and learned many facts over the years which I would not otherwise have known.

The other day, as I was circumnavigating the shop collecting together books for the orders which had been placed online, I was apprehended by two jovial gentlemen in Room 10 - which is currently home to our collection of Military Books. They were astonished by the range, as well as the quality, of our military books section and were enthusiastically working their way around the shelves, calling out delightedly as they discovered some elusive gem or a volume which brought back memories of previous events in their lives.

C.F. Tunnicliffe

View current stock of C.F. Tunnicliffe books

It is often illustrations that people remember from childhood books. They can describe the illustration but have no idea who produced it. I am no exception as I can remember illustrations from the Ladybird book 'What to look for in Winter' very clearly but it is only recently that I have discovered that they were by C.F. Tunnicliffe.

Above: Tunnicliffe illustrations from 'Mereside Chronicle'

Charles Frederick Tunnicliffe was born on 1st December 1901 in Langley near Macclesfield in Cheshire. When he was eighteen months old the family moved to a farm at Sutton Lane Ends where Tunnicliffe spent the rest of his childhood. Tunnicliffe's interest in art began here and his drawings would appear on the walls of the cowshed and stable! His artistic talent was recognised by the Headmaster, Buckley Moffat, and Charles went on to attend the Macclesfield School of Art as well as going to the Manchester School of Art one day a week.

Here Comes The Sun

Meteorology & Climate books in stock

No, don't panic! 

This is not an advance warning of global catastrophe as the planet is consumed by a rampaging sun. Nor, and possibly this may be an even greater relief, does it have anything to do with 1970s television. Note for our younger readers: in the Seventies we'd sit glued to the TV set, possibly by the static electricity from all that damn nylon, as the Holiday programme, hosted by Cliff Michelmore, scorched across our screens to the refrain Here Comes The Sun... Ah, yes, those indeed were the days.

At this time of the year thoughts turn towards our nearest star, or more specifically towards its effects on the weather in our particular corner of the world. After the chill, grey days of winter I think that most people, even the snow-lovers and 'coldies', derive some pleasure from the increasing warmth of the sun's rays on our faces as we go about our business.

Baedeker Guides

View current stock of Baedeker Guides

Baedeker travel guides, with their distinctive red covers with gold titles, although having been published since the 1800s are what is to be considered 'modern' guidebooks. (Interestingly, Baedeker guides published up until 1856, were not the now famous 'red', but a tan colour). At this time, travel literature or personal accounts were by no means a new thing, with some dating back to the 2nd century CE, but how did these famous travel guidebooks come about and how did they differ from previous works?

Karl (Ludwig Johannes) Baedeker (1801-1859) came from a family of booksellers, printers and publishers, so had a background in the business. From 1823-1825, he worked in Berlin at the booksellers Georg Andreas Reimer and then spent some time in Essen (where he was born), working for his father. 1827 really saw Baedeker stepping out on his own fully, when he moved to Koblenz to set up his own bookselling and publishing business.

Seismic Shock

View current stock of Portugal books

The Great Lisbon Earthquake – Physical and Societal Effects

The 1755 Lisbon earthquake, also known as the Great Lisbon Earthquake (‘terramoto’ in Portuguese), occurred in Portugal on Saturday, 1 November 1755, the holiday of All Saints Day at around 09:40 local time. The earthquake measured at least 8.5 on the Richter scale and together with the fires and a tsunami (‘maremoto’) that were caused, the earthquake almost totally destroyed Lisbon and inflicted severe damage to the Algarve in Southern Portugal. The epicentre was in the Atlantic about 200 km (120 miles) southwest of Cape St. Vincent. It remains difficult to say how many died but probably around 50,000 with an unknown, but vast, number made homeless. 85% of Lisbon's buildings were destroyed.

Edwardian Education

View current stock of books on the Edwardian period

Hard LabourFour shillings per week, 7:00 am to 5:30 pm Monday to Friday and half day on Saturday as well. That is what Reggie earned when he left school aged 14 in 1913 working for Mr. Pidgeon, market gardener.

Just one fact from a fascinating document from St. Stephens school near Saltash in Cornwall. More than just a register; each year a summary survey of the pupils about to leave school was carried out. This looked at their height, weight, where they lived, what their father did, what they wanted to do when they left school and some notes as to what actually transpired in the years after leaving school. In an Education Act in 1907 local authorities were given powers to authorise medical examinations as it was hoped these would help diagnose childhood diseases early. It was possibly this that led to the height and weight measurements being included in this school report of the 29 pupils (17 boys and 12 girls).


View current stock of Herefordshire books

My decision to write about Hay, or Hay-on-Wye to give our town its full name, stems from a snippet of conversation I overheard during my lunch break a few weeks ago. This is how it went:

Wife: Did you bring the camera?Husband: No I didn't – but there's nothing worth photographing here anyway!

At the time they were standing in full view of the Castle - but facing the other way!

I have always lived near Hay so I thought I would tell you a little about things that I find interesting and, for those who bring their camera, maybe worth photographing. The best place to start, I think, is with the Castle as it is probably the biggest and oldest building in Hay and is built on raised ground above the market square – you can't miss it! Parts of the building date from around 1100 but various sections have been knocked down, damaged, rebuilt, added to and restored in its long and varied history. It has changed hands many times and has survived frequent attacks plus a couple of damaging fires, the most recent of which was in 1977. The castle has been owned by Hay Castle Trust since 2011 and, with the help of Cadw and other partners, they hope to protect and conserve the remaining buildings with a view to opening parts of the castle and grounds to the public. At the moment you can only walk around one the side of the castle from an entrance on Castle Street or from opposite the main car park.

Mabel Lucie Attwell

View current stock of Mabel Lucie Attwell books

As many of you will know, from reading our articles, Maria's favourite children's book illustrator is Mabel Lucie Attwell (see articles on Comforting Thoughts & For Today and Bunty and the Boo Boos). However, on checking, it appears that we have yet to research an article of her history... so here goes!