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Children’s books: ‘The Peppermint Pig’ and ‘Smith’

September 15, 2011

The Peppermint Pig
Written by Nina Bawden
Cover illustration by Richard Jones
Illustrated by Kenny McKendry

 Johnnie was only the runt of the litter, a little peppermint pig. He’d cost Mother a shilling, but somehow his great naughtiness and cleverness kept Poll and Theo cheerful, even though it was one of the most difficult years of their lives.

These are both books I’ve had since I was a child, that I haven’t read up until now.

‘The Peppermint pig’ is a lovely book that I think I would have enjoyed as a child but I also loved it now! I stopped about once per page to imagine the details as the description is quite inspiring.  Set in the late 1800s there are lovely, romantic details mentioning boned bodices, old baths, home made clothes, proper home cooked food and horse rides- and that’s only up to chapter 3! Later in the book they continue to describe a whimsical life that I’m slightly jealous of – except perhaps the poverty and illness that was about more then- but the book inspires me further to grow my own food, make do and mend- and also encourages my desire to travel!
In this version, pictured above, there are lovely illustrations too. I actually copied some out from the book as I love Kenny McKendry’s drawing style, and it’s like an improved version of my own. I learned a lot from copying him. (Here is the link to the post, and the direct picture.)

Verdict: I’ve kept it, for now at least. It’s inspiring so i might jump in and out of it, even if it’s just to reference the illustrations, or to find a paragraph to illustrate. I imagine my future children would also love to read it.


Written by Leon Garfield
(I believe the version above is also illustrated by Kenny McKendry, but it is not the same version as mine)

Smith was a pickpocket – and a very accomplished one at twelve years old. But the instant he empties the pockets of an old gentleman, he finds himself caught up in a dangerous web of murder, intrigue and betrayal.

This is a great book, although I think I prefer it now than I would have as a child, as I can appreciate the adventurous, full storyline and the way it’s written better than I would have when I was younger. There are some very lovable characters and detailed, poetic imagery.  However, some of the description is then ‘ruined’ by the childish follow up- for example on page four (example to come) and then two pages afterwards, ruined with ‘- and died.’, which is then explained in brackets.

Verdict: I’m not sure whether to keep this one- it’s a great book but i dont think I’d personally read it again . I think I’ll pass it on to my nephews.

Thank you for reading. What books have you enjoyed recently?

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