A Necklace of Raindrops and Other Stories by Joan AikenJoan Aiken is at her best with this collection of gentle fairytales and fantasy stories, beautifully illustrated by Kevin Hawkes. The pictures are like little jewels themselves, or tiny raindrops that reflect the people and events in the stories. An excellent, cosy, curl-up-in-your-favourite-quilt read. I started this book thinking Id never read it before, but something about one of the stories rang a bell, so I must have done many years ago.
My acid test of a good childrens book is: does it appeal to adults? If not, theres probably not much there at all. Witness the fact that many, many adults enjoy Beatrix Potter, Milne and other childrens books all their lives long, while the fad books fade away to no ones regret. This is an enduring classic, and I actually think I got more out of it at fifty than at a younger age. That is not to say that its over the heads of children, because its not.
I enjoyed these short tales rather more than the proto-steampunk novels in the Wolves of Willoughby Chase series (after about vol. 3, anyway). They are much more in the line of the Armitage Family series. Read them with someone you love.
A Necklace of Raindrops and Other Stories
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My daughter is five, and she and I or her dad read a story or a couple of chapters of something every bedtime together. Each birthday he brings a raindrop to add to her necklace and they each confer a special power on her: she can swim any river, go out in the wildest storm without getting wet, and so on. The catch is that she must never take it off. But Laura, on going to school, is requested to remove her necklace by a teacher. Basically, Laura has been grassed up by a girl called Meg, who wants the necklace for herself. Laura is most distressed to take off her necklace, and even more so when she discovers that it has been stolen. Then begins a frantic journey for Laura to regain her wonderful necklace before her next birthday and the final raindrop arrives.
I love that you shared one of your childhood favorites in a way that so captured your daughter's imagination. What a wonderful Christmas request, and what a wonderful gift. Perfect raindrops! Oh, yes, I love that fantastical -as-everyday aspect of Joan Aiken too. She was a wonderful writer and I agree about Jan Pienkowski.