Felix the Fast Tractor yesterday at Hexham Christmas Fair and I immediately wanted to rave on about her books.
Catherine Cannon is based in Cumbria, Penrith and she has written four books about Felix. The illustrations and storyline are delightful and my little son (aged 4) already loves them. They are a good mixture of story and fact e.g. "Want to know more about low-loaders?" (a different fact tip is written inside a tractor tyre in the corner of each page at the bottom). We have searched and searched for books a bit like Thomas, the Tank Engine, but they seem to be thin on the ground. This is why it is so fab to have a local author discussing life on a country farm with some interesting facts and tips. The stories are all about a family: Farmer Story, Mrs. Story, Max, Lucy and their dog, Ben..not forgetting Felix the Tractor! There are more (f)activities on the Felix website and a competition to win a ride on a tractor on Facebook. My daughter (aged 7) loves the Felix tales too!
Catherine Cannon has not paid me to review her books and we paid to buy them...that's how enthusiastic I'm being! (I've asked her if I can display Felix on my sidebar. ) The marvellous and very lifelike illustrations are by Jean Murphy and June Allan.
At the fair I also met Julie Oswald from The Cloth Shed and her vintage stall looked very inviting. So I'll be popping over to her blog and website on a frequent basis. She's just blogged about her recent visit to Paris to see her daughter (and there are some super photos of Paris all lit up for Christmas). She recognised me from this blog (I'd not met her before) which knocked me for six. I'm chuffed to bits! She's a lovely person too so why not take a look?
I also caught sight of a £2.5m campaign being rolled out by Bettany Hughes, Ian Hislop, Colin Dexter, Boris Johnson, Tom Stoppard, Joanna Lumley to name just a few to get Latin and Greek taught in all Britain's state schools within ten years. The article "Latin lovers march on UK schools" was printed in yesterday's Sunday Times (page 3 main news section). It is impossible to reproduce it here sadly. Bettany Hughes, who is spearheading the campaign, was quoted as saying that she gets 150 mails a day from people asking where they can go to learn Latin and Greek. Minimus has sold 115,000 copies now and the movie 300, about the battle of Thermopylae, took $72m in its first weekend.
Forest Murmurs (a.k.a Fr. Michael Brown) reproduced the Bettany Hughes on Women's Hour Transcript (talking to Jenni Murray) here and there is a fascinating debate on the level of interest in Classics (at a local level) as well in his blog's comments' section.
I cannot contain my level of excitement at this. We are currently deciding how best we can teach it here - say, over a weekend, as I'd love to teach it from the New Year onwards and combine it with a site visit over to Vindolanda. My brain cells went into overdrive at 2.35 this morning sufficiently..so...that I could not get back to sleep! I've started teaching it for practice to my mum and Patricia, a fellow volunteer. So hopefully watch this space!
(P.S. My City memoirs (Part IV) are on their way...)