Lavender’s blue, dilly, dilly,
When I am king, dilly, dilly,
You shall be queen.
Are you kind of blue? Azure no doubt aware, Good Reads is always here for you. Forthwith, a cobalt-filled column of deep viridian.
Start with the delightful word play in the big and solid Lavender’s Blue: A Book Of Nursery Rhymes, first compiled in 1954, and re-issued in a lovely 50th anniversary edition (by Kathleen Lines, with illustrations in both colour and black and white by Harold Jones, filed in C-166). There are dozens upon dozens of very, very short stories here, plus all the extra stanzas no one remembers but that are so much fun to re/discover.
Simon and the pieman, Polly and her kettle, and of course the spider that scared off poor Miss Muffett… There’s nothing like wacky wordplay to raise your spirits: Old Mother Goose, when/ She wanted to wander,/ Would ride through the air/ On a very fine gander. Pronounced gone-der? Ha.
a bit more
than a rhyme? You could always Dream When You’re Feeling Blue. That’s Elizabeth Berg’s 2007 novel (filed in Adult Large Print thanks to the Adopt A Book donation of Glenys Groves). It begins in 1943 Chicago, as an entire generation of men go off to war. This is the tale of the women they leave behind – siblings, two fearing for their beaus, a third more than happy to flirt outrageously with the soldiers on brief leave before they are shipped back to likely death.
It’s a well-researched slice of life, presenting a time long gone that had an important impact on the lives of American women. Their stories are punctuated by letters from the front: “I came close to regretting the day that Julian and I decided to enlist together. (Honestly, we were not drunk!) But as I tried to explain before, there are some things I just have to do.”
For those who want to travel a little further away, consider Tony Horwitz’s Blue Latitudes: Boldly Going Where Captain Cook Has Gone Before (2002, filed in non-fiction at 910.92).
Captain James Cook died on the island of Hawaii in 1779, killed by residents who boiled off his flesh to “extract bones that possessed godly powers.” A few leftovers were handed back to his ship’s crew, who saluted, set off the cannons and sank the scraps into the ocean.
But what a legacy. As a teen, Cook escaped miserable poverty by running away to the ultramarine sea, eventually to become England’s most famed and accomplished navigator. He courageously sailed off into unknown waters, taking three long voyages (each lasted years) that helped map out the world. Benjamin Franklin ordered that Cook be treated as a friend during the American war of independence.
Amazed and enchanted by Cook’s old journals, author Horwitz goes off to recreate Cook’s three voyages. This is a fabulous read for armchair travellers, lovers of the sea, and those who wonder what drives explorers to leave behind everything they know and love. About half the book is taken from journals and newspapers dating from Cook’s era, with the rest Horwitz’s efforts to understand what has become of the people and places Cook visited (Tahiti, New Zealand, Alaska and more).
Horwitz even spends a brief few weeks sailing a replica of Cook’s claustrophobic ship, and is warned of the repercussions of a false step: “Hold your nostrils when you jump overboard because it’s a long fall and can break your nose.” This book’s packed full of history and modern-day detail.
Are you cyan anything you like in this column? Jump in(digo), go grab it off the shelf.
Teal we meet again!
Little Boy Blue, come blow up your horn,
The sheep’s in the meadow, the cow’s in the corn.
Where is the boy who looks after the sheep?
He’s under the haycock, fast asleep!
— Eleanor Brown, January 29, 2016