More famous for munching up flights of stairs, and even escalators (where do you think the word ravenous comes from?) Mortimer the raven, best known as a hilarious troublemaker in Joan’s series of stories about the Jones family and beloved friend of Arabel, is surprisingly also a hero with teachers of reluctant readers. Here’s a letter from one of them, thank you, Anne!
“I had a class of 10 and 11 year olds, one of whom was having great difficulty in learning to read. Well, let’s be blunt about this, he couldn’t even read his name. He and I worked long and hard on this problem, mainly with the help of his brother’s motorbike manual, and eventually he began to make sense of the words on the page and I began to understand how to strip a bike engine. (All the best teaching goes two ways!) But, the day I knew he’d really made it as an independent reader was all down to Joan Aiken. Every afternoon in that class began with us all putting our feet up with a good book and reading silently for twenty minutes or so. (How else does a hard pressed teacher get time to read?) On this particular afternoon we were all well into our books when there comes a suppressed snigger from the general direction of this lad’s desk. I decide to ignore it. Then there is another, rather less well suppressed, and finally an outright chortle. He was almost unaware of what he was doing so engrossed was he in the book that he could now read well enough to really enjoy. And the book? Aiken’s ‘Arabel’s Raven’. I bless her regularly for turning him into a real reader.”
Read more about the Arabel and Mortimer stories here
and the BBCTV series (as above) with puppets based on the wonderful illustrations by Quentin Blake