Favourite Aiken Moments?

Do you have a favourite Aiken moment, from a letter or a talk that Joan gave? Or something from a story, a quotation from Dido perhaps?

Here’s a piece about Dido’s two sisters, Penny and Is (short for Isabett, but no one ever seems to call her that!)   Is, trying to avoid the guards on the sinister PLAYLAND EXPRESS has dived into a roll of carpet, and now while she’s wondering how to get out again, has a moment for reflection.  Interesting that Pen who teaches Is to read has made use of some of Joan’s own stories, like The Three Wishes, and possibly some of her own philosophy?

“She thought about Penny’s stories. There was one about a man who had three wishes and married a swan. If I had three wishes, I know what I’d wish for, thought Is. I’d wish for those two boys to be found, and for us all to be back on Blackheath Edge. She thought about Penny teaching her to read.

“What’s the point of reading?” Is had grumbled at first. “You can allus tell me stories, that’s better than reading.”

“I’ll not always be here,” Penny had said shortly. “Besides, once you can read, you can learn somebody else. Folk should teach each other folk what they know.”


“If you don’t learn anything, you don’t grow. And someone’s gotta learn you.”

Well, thought Is, if I get outta here, I’ll be able to learn some other person the best way to get free from a rolled-up rug.”

Playland Express

Is (Underground) The Wolves Chronicles


3 thoughts on “Favourite Aiken Moments?

  1. I always thought it would be an interesting exercise to try writing some of Penny’s stories, but I’ve never had the nerve.
    My favorite moment: when Dido and Justin are untying Simon (in Blackhearts in Battersea), and Dido says, “Not on your Jemima! You’d probably slice his dabs off.” (And she’s just called Justin a “sapskull” — what a wordsmith she is!)


  2. That would be a lovely idea! In fact Joan has written them herself, that is what is so mysterious – where can Penny have found them? One of them must have been a time traveller… I can’t remember all of the ones she told, but The Queen with the Screaming Hair is in The Last Slice of Rainbow, and A Leg Full of Rubies, The Rocking Donkey, and The Third Wish were all in a collection called Not What You Expected.
    I love it that Is writes a journal, perhaps I should put up some extracts from that – it’s sad that it gets burned up with the house where she hides it, perhaps she also becomes a storyteller/ She’s a much more thoughtful character than Dido, but yes, Dido’s expressions are unbeatable!


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