gardens of yore
Lauren quotes A.S. Byatt on J.K. Rowling (07.07.03); in passing Byatt drops the name of Enid Blyton, which has been tormenting me for a week with its almost-familiarity. But that's what Google is for, kids.
Besides many other books I didn't know about, Blyton wrote The Adventure Series, eight books about four children and a parrot called Kiki; I devoured these when I was ten and living in England, though I only remember fivepossibly those were the only ones in print at the time. The Ship of Adventure, The Circus of Adventure, and The River of Adventure are mysterious to me.
Other long-forgotten books from that year:
Half Magic, Edward Eager: children find a magical coin that grants precisely half of any wish. This means wishes must be thought through; otherwise you get results such as, in wishing that the cat could talk, causing the cat to wax loquacious and irritated for precisely thirty seconds, then sitting quietly for thirty seconds, and repeating the cycle until further magical intervention.
Archer's Goon, Diana Wynne Jones: Howard comes home to find an enormous man sitting in his kitchen who identifies himself only as goon. Further investigation reveals that Howard's town is actually run by seven megalomaniacal wizardsone runs power, one runs education, one runs water and drains, etc.with whom Howard's father, a writer, has entered into a shady deal to avoid paying his taxes.
Witch Week, Diana Wynne Jones: The best of the lot, and probably still my favorite children's book. An alternate-universe England where witches exist and are still treated medievally: inquisitions, public burnings, etc.
Fattypuffs and Thinifers by Andre Maurois: I have no idea if this was really that good. It involved a couple of kids who are somehow transported to a world caught in civil war between fat people and thin people. One of the kids actually taught the fat people about trench warfare, but due to their girth they kept getting stuck in the trenches.
Flossie Teacake and Ossie Osgood books, Hunter Davies. There were an awful lot of these, and most seem to be forgotten. Flossie, a 10-year-old girl, and Ossie, a 10-year-old boy, magically turn into the 18-year-olds Floz and Oz when they don, respectively, Flossie's sister's fur coat and Ossie's grandfather's Iron Cross. Hijinks must have ensued, but when I try to recall the plot I just think of that Tom Hanks movie.
The Cremaster cycle is showing here at Cinema 21; last night I saw the first two. I'm withholding my punditry until I've seen them all, but I will say at least that behind the hype there is some very, very solid art going on.