Posts Tagged ‘The Great Famine’

Two hundred books and all’s well

Friday, 11 July 2008

A pretty satisfying day, all things considered.

I have nearly finished the body of Syd Rabbit, and I have begun his tummy cover. This was on the way home, when I didn’t have his stuffing with me, of course, so went on to another part without closing the body up. I meant to finish the body this evening, but other things came up, and it’s a bit late now, as I keep my toy stuffing materials in a drawer in my flatmate’s room. There are plenty of other bits for me to get on with while commuting tomorrow, so I amn’t troubled.

Talking of toys, I’ve just today signed up for TT#2 in the new Travelling Teddy group on Ravelry, and Teddy’s Travels are due to begin in just over a week, so we’ll see how long it takes him(?) to get to me, and then how long he’ll stay. I’ve never done anything like this before, so we’ll see how it goes. My group is all in North America or Australia apart from me, so if he gets here before any of my summer travels (presuming I ever get around to arranging them) he can come some of the way with me before going on.

And speaking of white bears (as apparently TT#2 is), it’s time for us to get to book 200 this year, which I think is cause for a very small celebration. A lot of them are fairly thin books, but I’ve actually read them, so I think they count. (I don’t count the ones I just skim, to get a general idea of the content with.) I amn’t convinced I’m awake enough to say very much in sense, so it might be worth checking back tomorrow if you think you’d want to know more about any of them.

194. Step-Up History: The Great Famine by Feargal Brougham and Caroline Farrell

The Great Famine in Ireland is an important topic, and this book addresses it well. The impact lasts. This book simply reinforced the shock and horror brought home to me last year, when we visited Kilmainham Gaol (which hadn’t been to in years). They have an exhibition about the history of the place, including a chart of the number of inmates every year. Up to the early 1840s in was a few hundred each year, during the famine it shot up to many thousands, and then after the famine it went right back down again. People were imprisoned for vagrancy and ‘minor’ theft of food, not just to get the immediate food, but because they knew they would be fed something in the prison and so put themselves in a position to be placed there.

195. Step-Up History: Children in Victorian Times by Jill Barber

Rich and poor children’s lives were very very different from each other. I can’t get over the idea of children climbing up and down chimneys as small as 23cm x 23cm to clean them. (That’s less than the size of an A4 page, while purposely bringing down soot on top of you.) The rich certainly didn’t live as we do nowadays, but in better off families children went to school all year, were looked after, had food, clothing, shelter and toys. Things did change for poorer people – working conditions were ameliorated, at least officially; education became more available, then free, then compulsory, at least at primary level, but would remain very hard for many.

196. Great Lives: Gandhi by Philip Wilkinson

This is mostly an overview, as it must be at this length, but there is some interesting detail I hadn’t known/thought about before. It is clearly laid out, with pictures that inform and are interesting. The book covers Gandhi‘s entire life, including the significant periods before the struggle for Home Rule/Independence for India.

197. Look Inside: A Victorian House by Richard Wood

In this one the children are practically invisible, but its interest continues. The book in many ways focusses on the servants, as the ones who actually keep the house going.

198. Animal Story: Gorilla Mountain by Dougal Dixon
199. Animal Story: Orang-Utan Rescue by Dougal Dixon
200. Animal Story: Polar Bear in the City by Dougal Dixon

A great but hard-hitting series for fairly young children and up. The Orang-utan book was the saddest by far, for me. Each follows the life of a particular young example of the species, born in the wild and growing up with its mother/family, including the natural growth and experiences experienced together, as well as various interactions with humanity, for both good and evil.