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spires from Carfax

reading at 9

Classics still dominate Helen's reading. Six months ago she read the remaining Anne of Green Gables books and then reread them all. And she's just reread The Lord of the Rings. Other classics include Hugh Lofting's Voyages of Dr Dolittle and The Story of Dr Dolittle (1920), Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House in the Big Woods (1932), T.E. White's The Sword in the Stone (1938), Marguerite De Angeli's The Door in the Wall (1949), Tonke Dragt's Letter for the King (1962) and Secrets of the Wild Wood, Astrid Lindgren's Ronia the Robber's Daughter (1981), and Diana Wynne-Jones' Howl's Moving Castle (1986).

More recent books include Karen Cushman's Matilda Bone (2000) and The Midwife's Apprentice (1991), Eva Ibbotson's Journey to the River Sea (2001), Helen Dunmore's Ingo (2005) and three sequels, Elizabeth Laird's The Fastest Boy in the World (2016) and Oranges in No Man's Land (2008), Nadia Aguiar's The Lost Island of Tamarind (2009), and Elizabeth Carroll's The Girl Who Walked on Air (2014). Alastair Chisholm's Adam-2 was a rare venture into science fiction. She also reread the 17 books of Caroline Lawrence's Roman Mysteries series. (Between that and watching and rewatching all the Mary Beard documentaries, she has acquired quite a solid feel for Roman history, vastly more than her class covered on the topic.)

Comics have been popular. She avidly read Osamu Tezuka's eight-volume manga series Buddha, she's consuming all the Asterix comics, borrowed from the library, and she loved the two volumes of Yuval Harari's Sapiens: A Graphic History (the first of her Christmas/birthday presents to be read).

And Helen is not just reading bits of my books now, but has taken to either appropriating my books or picking adult books in shops and reading them entire, which can lead to scrambling on my part as I check that they are age-appropriate. So she's read Cho Nam-Joo's Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982, Margaret Atwood's The Penelopiad, Elif Shafak's The Island of Missing Trees, and Arikawa Hiro's The Travelling Cat Chronicles. She's still not up to more difficult writing — she has baulked at my attempts to read her bits of Herta Müller, Hanne Orstavik, or Geetanjali Shree — and can't tackle much of my non-fiction without support. (I've read her half of Andrew Robinson's The Indus, bits of Mary Beard's SPQR, and so forth.)


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