Before I came on holiday, I went through my youngest daughter's bookcase to weed out the books she has grown out of, with the primary aim of creating space for the books she is constantly acquiring. Fortunately, we have an inexhaustible supply of little cousins to whom we can pass the best cast-offs on to. Well, three anyway. The book that produced the most nostalgia when I pulled it out from the stash was You Choose by Nick Sharratt and Pippa Goodhart. I was able to bring myself to pass it on because we actually have two copies; both my first and second daughter were lucky enough to benefit from the BookTrust scheme that gives bags of books to pre-school children. You Choose is one of those books with something magical about it. I've watched many children select it from a pile of others and, as soon as they've opened it, become completely transfixed. Mine chose it night after night after night as their bedtime story. The funny thing is that there are only a few words in this book - all the talking goes on around choosing the pictures and discussing them - what pet would you have, what hat would you wear, what job would you do, where would you live? If you're looking for a book that is guaranteed to hit the spot for pre-schoolers, your search is over.
I wish I could bottle that genius and inject it into my writing for adults! Maybe more pictures would do it - hence my galleries on this website that provide visuals for Garden of Stars.
On the subject of books for adults, I recently read The Innocents by Francesca Segal. Francesca is a neighbour of mine and she and her partner are utterly charming and delightful people. I was not surprised to find her book the same. Of course she doesn't need any endorsement from me; the novel has won numerous prizes that testify to its skill and brilliance, but I did really enjoy it. The writing is witty and engaging and I found it fascinating to gain an insight into North London Jewish life. This is a community that, as a North London resident for many years, surrounds me and a community from which I draw several close friends. But it's still a community whose rituals and customs I know little about.
I highly recommend this book and its themes and motifs have stayed with me long after finishing it.
If anyone has any comments to make on Garden of Stars, please do let me know or even better, write a review on Amazon or Goodreads.