Joan Aiken discovered as a solitary small child that reading was one of the most wonderful ways to make friends, a way of spending time with another person whenever you needed company. In a way it is like being alone with them when they are alone. Reading is a way of taking time off from your own life, or problems, and entering another mind, another world. Once you have experienced this, books are like friends, who you will never forget, and who you can spend time with everyday.
And the same goes for grown-ups too! As she wrote in a piece for International Children’s Book Day fifty years ago:
“If every single person in the world had a book – just one book – and they’d have to be able to read it of course – we’d have a lot less trouble.”
PS. Rather nice to know that for Joan it was a comfort to know that Wednesday followed Thursday…? Only in her world!
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From the Joan Aiken website – Read A letter from Joan to all her fellow ‘Readers’
This was the first opportunity to see Russ Tunney’s brilliant adaptation of Joan Aiken’s The Wolves of Willoughby Chase live on stage since it was published as a Nick Hern playscript.
Originally performed by a cast of five unbelievably quick change artists for a very successful tour around Southern England by Forest Forge Theatre company, this lively, funny, scary and above all faithfully Aiken adaptation was performed at The Progress Theatre Reading, where tickets sold like hot cakes… and then at The Brockley Jack Theatre in London where it was nominated for several Off West End Awards
It is now available as a published script, and can be adapted for small or large casts of amateurs or professionals – permissions and information from Aiken agents A.M.Heath
Crammed into this incredibly fast moving show we see Dickensian scenes of London, the terrifying pursuit over the snowy wastes by Wolves of our two hapless heroines, villainy and skulduggery galore with a brace of beastly villains,and among the many delicious and ridiculous treats on offer is the unbelievable
Using all the tongue in cheek humour of the original story with its gothic thrills and adventures, Russ has also added some ‘more than Aiken’ touches of his own – including this deliciously ridiculous alphabet recited by the starving orphans in the dreadful Blastburn School run by beastly Mrs Brisket. When the school inspector comes to call they are dragged to their feet to recite:
MRS BRISKET. Show the nice man from from Ofsted our advanced literacy: The Cheese Alphabet!
A is for Applewood Smoked, B is for Brie, C is
for Cheshire, D is for Davidstow, E is for Edam, F is for Feta
(or Fromage), G is for Gruyère, H is for Halloumi, I is for
Ibérico, J is for Jarlsberg, K is for Klosterkäse, L is for
Leicester (red), M is for Mascarpone, Manchego or
Monterey Jack, N is for Neufchâtel, O is for Orkney Extra
Mature, P is for Parmesan, Q is for Queso Jalapeño, R is for
Raclette, S is for Stilton, T is for Tasmania Highland Chevre
Log, U is for Ubriaco, V is for Vacherin Fribourgeois, W is
for Wensleydale, X is for Xynotyro, Y is for Yorkshire Blue,
and Z is for Zanetti Grana Padano.
INSPECTOR. Incredible! They really know their cheeses!
MRS BRISKET. Thank you, Inspector. We do, here at the
Brisket Blastburn Academy for Girls, concentrate on the
three R’s. Reading, Writing and Really tasty snacks.
“Wonderful stuff!” – the Stage review says it all –
“A gift for any company as family entertainment… a glorious snuggle down and enjoy Christmas present of a production that will charm children and adults alike.”
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Find a copy here!