I’m currently knee deep in supply teaching work and trying to work on the Earth Balm Music material, learning much about the limitless possibilities of music software and my limited abilities on the piano keyboard on the way. I have a day’s break today and just as well because I feel compelled to post about the passing of the great Ursula K Le Guin. The news has finally made up my mind for me – she is my favourite author of all that I have read (and she is in some high calibre company with Rosemary Sutcliff, Joan Aiken, Susan Cooper, Philippa Pearce etc.). Her characters are so well developed, her books explore ideas about social systems and politics so subtly and she handles big plot moments so delicately. I’m about to radically thin out my book collection and I’m keeping all of my UKLG books as I know I’ll only regret losing them if I pass them on. Please, let her be known as more than just a science fiction / fantasy author because she was so much more.

Photograph of author Ursula K Le Guin. Source Wikipedia, credit Gorthian.

Here is a quote from Ursula’s Wikipedia page:

Le Guin exploits the creative flexibility of the science fiction and fantasy genres to undertake thorough explorations of dimensions of both social and psychological identity and of broader cultural and social structures. In doing so, she draws on sociology, anthropology, and psychology leading some critics to categorize her work as soft science fiction. She objected to this classification of her writing, arguing the term is divisive and implies a narrow view of what constitutes valid science fiction. Underlying ideas of anarchism and environmentalism also make repeated appearances throughout Le Guin’s work

Midnight is a Place

I finished reading the Joan Aiken book “Midnight is a Place’ this morning. It’s an absolutely brilliant book, teeming with ideas about freewill, social pressure and individual morality. It instantly became my favourite Joan Aiken book, which is some achievement because it is in such quality company. The power of great children’s fiction. For me, these books are just as inspirational as books on spirituality or biographies.


Captain Grose

My copy of the 1811 Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue finally arrived from an eBay purchase today and some of it certainly is vulgar – more vulgar than I anticipated. I think it will be an excellent resources (for what I’m not sure). I’m just waiting for “Limbo Lodge” to arrive so that I might continue with the “Wolves of Willoughby Chase” series by Joan Aiken. However, I am content with “Midnight is a Place” also by Joan Aiken at the moment (though book marking is affecting my regular reading).


Added Sunday Nov 8th @ 08.07 a.m.: No “croopus” in this dictionary!

Oh croopus!

Night Birds have flown

I’ve just finished reading Joan Aiken’s “Night Birds on Nantucket”. It’s most definitely my favourite of the “Wolves of Willoughby Chase” sequence of books that I have so far read. It’s full of great escapist touches. It reminds me a little of John Masefield. Due to the marking of maths and language books, I don’t have time to post at length but there’s so much to love in the book – Dido Twite, Nate and his bird “Mr Jenkins”, the pink whale and Captain Casket and the “rum uns” who are on Nantucket to “do some skullduggery”.


I need to find a copy of “Limbo Lodge” next!

Update: As soon as I finished the initial post, I strolled over to Ebay and bought a copy.


Somewhat predictably, I ditched “Midnight is a Place” for the newly arrived “Night Birds on Nantucket”. Boy, was I glad that I did. For me, this narrative beats the somewhat outré character of “The stolen Lake”. Dido’s kindness towards Pen is moving (how is it that children’s fiction can elicit emotions so easily?) and her methods for drawing the other child out of her self-imposed solitude are typical of children’s books of this period. Modern books for children seem to have ditched this kind of subtlety for wind jokes and the like. I’m also filled with questions like “Who is the lady hidden below deck?” and “Is there an actual pink whale?” My only complaint is the way that Dido accepts the slaughter of the what without question. But, that is probably a reflection of my very modern morality. A child in James III / Victorian times would probably have had a more pragmatic attitude to what went on aboard a whaling ship.

This may turn out to be my most favourite Joan Aiken book thus far.


N.B. It was very difficult avoiding using the word “Croopus” somewhere in this post but I think that I managed it.

Croopus! It’s Night Birds on Nantucket!

Yes, my copy of “Night Birds on Nantucket” arrived this morning. But I’ve already begun “Midnight is a Place”. Now what to do next? Do I ditch “Midnight” and start “Night Birds” or do I wait to read the next Dido Twite adventure? It doesn’t really matter in the grand scheme of things I know.

Back to school on Monday! My class will know the word “Croopus” before the morning is out 🙂