Primrose Day

Primrose Day title pagePrimrose Day by Carolyn Haywood

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This was my favorite book in 1st or 2nd grade. I read it over and over. It must have made a big impression. All these years later I have to wonder did my interest in England start with this book or are we drawn to things because of past lives? Did I identify with Merry because we both had flowers for middle names? Or because I had moved from New England to Minnesota when I was 5? I’m sure the language differences weren’t as great, but there were some. I loved that the British word for truck was lorry, pronounced the same as my nickname – Laurie. I’ve always loved learning about other countries and cultures and am still enamored of the British Isles.

I could not find a cover photo of the original edition, and I do not like the modern covers on reprints of this book, so I’ve scanned the title page above. I remember the cover as being orange and it probably had the heavy duty “library binding.” I requested the original 1942 edition from Interlibrary Loan. It came from the Twin Cities Anderson Library Children’s Literature Collection. It is a plain yellow cloth cover and still has the old pocket in the back with the date due card. I have to admit that just thumbing through it and reading a few words here and there and looking at the original drawings (by Carolyn Haywood) brought tears to my eyes.

Primrose Day
Carolyn Haywood wrote stories about real children doing ordinary things. And even though it was first published in 1942, these are things that children still do today – playing with pets, dealing with homesickness, being teased at school, making presents, going on picnics, going fishing, making friends. I remember the chapter on going to an American school and being teased for using different words for things. And I remember the chapter about Merry’s birthday, and learning that primroses don’t grow wild in America. Merry would always go and pick primroses with her mother on her birthday and now she can’t even pick primroses with her aunt. But never fear – her aunt has a wonderful surprise in store.

Primroses

English primroses (Primula vulgaris)

I love gardening and I have planted primroses in my garden. The English variety are not hardy here. I had some very pretty pink Japanese primroses for a couple years, but even those are really Zone 5 and they didn’t come back last year. I must get some more, because I really do love them! I don’t think I have any pictures of them blooming, but here are some beaded primroses that I made:

Primroses_rabbit-vi

I did not remember the Scottie dog in the story, although I have always liked Scottie dogs. There were a couple of typos and things in the book that I wouldn’t have noticed as a child probably – the cook says she is “pealing” onions. And there is a reference to Mr. Ramsey being a “Scotchman” which made me cringe.

I also don’t remember the knitting, but I suppose it was around this age that I expressed an interest in learning. My grandmother tried to teach me. At first she thought she needed to reverse everything because I am left handed. I protested that she really didn’t need to do that. Us lefties are quite used to mentally reversing things for ourselves, having done it all our lives. It wouldn’t have been a problem for me at age 7 or 8, but my grandmother insisted that she had to do it for me and got herself hopelessly confused. I finally convinced her that I would be fine knitting right handed – it didn’t matter to me since knitting uses both hands equally!

Book Description: Merry Primrose Ramsey lives in England with her parents and her imaginary friend, Molly. At the outbreak of World War II, she is sent to live with her relatives in America, in a small town called Rose Valley. On the way over she meets a real best friend named Molly, who eventually moves to Rose Valley, too. Merry and her American cousin Jerry take to each other immediately and find all kinds of adventures, including rescuing a carrier pigeon and going fishing alone. Merry’s new life is not without trials. She misses her parents. She gets teased at school for the way she talks. Her puppy unravels the scarf she has spent weeks knitting for her daddy far away in England. And her birthday just won’t be the same without primroses to pick and make into a primrose chain like she always did in England…

I have been doing a bit of “Googling” and decided that Rose Valley in the story must be Rose Valley, PA, which is near Philadelphia (where Carolyn Haywood lived). It is a very small town, but would be within a couple hours train ride of NYC. It was settled by Quakers and has a very interesting history, which you can read about here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rose_Valley,_Pennsylvania.

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Moby Clique

Moby Clique (Bard Academy, #3)Moby Clique by Cara Lockwood

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This has only 4 and 5 star reviews on Amazon, but I very nearly gave this a one star DNF. However, I made myself finish it, and I’ll grudgingly say it did get better. The idea for the series is intriguing, if a bit Harry Potterish, with teachers who are the ghosts of dead authors (in a kind of purgatory) and with the conjuring of fictional characters. Even our heroine, Miranda, is apparently at least partially the descendant of a fictional character herself, which gives her some sort of special powers. Without giving too much of the plot away, Miranda will face an eventual confrontation with Ahab on the Pequod, and with Moby Dick. Cara Lockwood does seem to have a good ear for teen dialog as well as teen angst and drama, and a good sense of humor. I’m just a long way from being a teenager and found it rather tedious.

Book Description:
Some literary classics have been around for centuries. Miranda Tate’s just hoping to survive junior year…. Her summer reading assignment is Moby-Dick, but Miranda’s vacation hasn’t exactly been smooth sailing. Between working at her stepmother’s hideous all-pink boutique, and having broken up with her basketball champ boyfriend Ryan, not to mention snoozing her way through one of literature’s heaviest tomes, she’s almost looking forward to returning to Bard Academy. That was before her kid sister Lindsay smashed up their dad’s Land Rover and got shipped off to Bard herself. Is the punishment Lindsay’s — or Miranda’s? A private school staffed by the ghosts of famous dead writers is hard enough to navigate without a freshman kid sister in tow, but now Miranda’s trying to sort out her feelings for her brooding friend Heathcliff, who happens to be a fictional character, while keeping Bard’s secrets from her nosy sister. And when her nemesis Parker handpicks gullible Lindsay to be a Parker clone, Miranda knows a storm is brewing. Then, Lindsay disappears in the woods…and a frantic search sends Ryan, Miranda, and Heathcliff to Whale Cove, a spot rumored to hide a sunken pirate’s ship. But something — or someone — even more ominous and terrifying lurks there. Can Miranda stay the course and save her sister?

Opening paragraph:
Call me bored.

As in — terminally.

I’m a hundred pages into the Longest Book I’ve Ever Read — Moby-Dick — Bard Academy’s summer reading requirement. If you ask my opinion, Herman Melville could’ve shortened this tome by about five hundred pages if he wasn’t so long-winded (I mean, twenty pages alone on the color white? Yeah, I got it — okay? The whale is WHITE. Sheesh. Get on with it!).