Category Archives: 2015

2015 Reading Challenge Half Way Review

So hopefully the above link has embedded the Google Sheets Spreadsheet into the blog to share how many of the 52 books I’ve read and whether – after a little hiatus – I have managed to keep on track.

Seem to be struggling with the Book Turned Into a Movie category… I’m sure that cannot be too tricky!

Language Acquisition

I’m sat at home as I type this with a little girl cuddling on my lap. She’ll be two in July. She is mine, I hasten to add… I didn’t kidnap her for the sake of a blog post!

We’re still waiting for her to talk which is the point of this post. She relies almost entirely on /m/ sounds. Now, in fairness, there is a wide range of expression in her /m/s and we can tell the difference between an angry /m/ and a happy /m/ and a naughty /m/ and an asking /m/. Mmmmmm and Mmm? and MMMMmmmmm and mmmmmmmmmm… And she can laugh both spontaneously and with somewhat dramatised /ha/ /ha/ /ha/ sounds. 

She is capable of producing other sounds: we’ve had /d/ sounds which seems lmore like a Simpsons’ “D’oh” rather than anything meaning “dad” but we have had /æ/ sounds, generally in the context of singing Row Row Row Your Boat.  Or, as here, in reenacting scenes from Hammer Horror’s Dracula. 

I have had arguments with both my other daughter and health visitor as to whether these noises constitute ‘words’ or ‘speaking’. Personally, without any sense of consistent semantics, I think they are just noises, experimentation and play. 

Spoiler Alerts

I’ve never fully understood the huge concern people have with spoilers… Maybe because I’m one of those people who prefer the journey to the destination. 

Anyway, I’m the event that others might be upset, here be spoilers:

  

Cuckoo Song, Frances Hardinge 

She dreamed that she was in a dressmaker’s shop to be measured, but that when she took off her own frock to try on the new one, she found she had another dress on underneath. She took off that one as well, only to find yet another dress beneath that one. Dress after dress she removed, becoming thinner and thinner all the while, until it came to her that in the end there would be nothing left of her, except a pile of discarded clothes and a disembodied wail. 

  

Cuckoo Song, Frances Hardinge

Her head hurt. There was a sound grating against her mind, a music-less rasp like the rustling of paper. Somebody had taken a laugh, crumpled it into a great, crackly ball and stuffed her skull with it. Seven days, it laughed. Seven days. 

  I’ve never read Hardinge – although a quick Wikipedia search shows she was born in the same year and county as me! But there is something gorgeous in her use of figurative language: the crumpled crackly laugh above vanish “like breath from glass” as two warm hands close around hers “as if they were a nest for it” and recalling her name, Triss, “seemed a bit more natural” than her full name, Theresa, “like a book falling open on a much-viewed page”.

I do like each of these similes and metaphors… But I wonder if they all needed to be included in page 1 before Triss has even opened her eyes. I wouldn’t go so far as to describe it as purple prose… but maybe a hint of lilac is creeping in…