The Further Adventures of Horace Horrise
I'm a big fan of Richmal Crompton's Just William. This was the first book that she wrote in the series about William Brown, his quite starchy family with two maids and a cook and his friends at the other end of the scale. They were written about an eleven-year old but aimed mostly at grown-ups. Just William will be one hundred years old in 2022 but his stories are still very readable today. They offer an insight into a very different England and are extremely entertaining with William and his group of friends, The Outlaws, usually finishing each story in no worse a position than they started with a few honourable exceptions. I have been reading some of the stories to my eleven-year-old twins, boy and girl, recently and they have been enjoying them immensely. Occasionally I have to stop to explain things such as sixpennoth, blotting paper and chimney sweeps. I also have to look up the meanings of some words, most of which aren't in general usage today and sometimes I have to explain a turn of phrase such as, "…his father was addressing his mother with some heat." All of these interruptions subtract from the flow of each story.
I was pleased therefore to build up the collection of Horace Horrise short stories (ISBN 978-1897864586) by scout leader John Hemming-Clark. There are nine books in all, starting with Horace wanting to be a scout and finishing with him being invested. In essence they're William Brown in the twenty-first century with eleven-year-old Horace, a group of friends, The Ravens, a slightly potty family and a readership of mainly grown-ups. But my children love them!
The Further Adventures of Horace Horrise (ISBN 978-1897864661) has just been published. It's one book comprising four stories. Reading through them I feel that there is hope for the world. Children wandering around outside with minimal adult supervision, hardly any mention of a mobile 'phone and escapades every bit as good as William's. The stories start with a German exchange when The Ravens take charge and finish with a scout trip to Portugal with an ending that is so funny I had to read it again straight after completing it the first time.
If you're looking for a book that you can read to your children but still enjoy yourself I can recommend the Horace Horrise books although I might suggest reading through them first before doing so out aloud to the kids as, even with Horace's innocence, he occasionally says or does something that is probably not for all pre-pubescents' ears and eyes.
Scouting for Boys
For those that have yet to read this book, it may well be a little outdated in places but this is hardly surprising since it was first published in 1908. More recently it has been republished under the editorship of Elleke Boehmer who has added an introduction and explanatory notes which help the reader enormously in negotiating a maze of names, places and events that Robert Baden-Powell tosses into the text. At times it is eye-raising, "I have eaten the huge kind of lizard called an iguana. He had his head and tail cut off to enable him to go into the cooking pot, and when he was boiled and put on the table he looked exactly like a headless baby... And when we ate him he tasted just like a baby too." Occasionally it is a little uncomfortable, "Alcohol is now shown to be quite useless as a health-giving drink, and it is mere poison when a man takes much of it. A man who is in the habit of drinking wine or spirits in strong doses every day is not the slightest use for scouting, and very little use for anything else." Throughout there is sound advice, "A great cause of illness nowadays is the amount of medicine which fellows dose themselves with when there is no reason for taking any medicine at all. The best medicine is open-air and exercise and a big cup of water in the early morning if you are constipated, and a pint of hot water on going to bed." Overall it's a fun, easy read for all ages with plenty of anecdotes, rules for life and practical advice that would be to everyone's advantage mostly to follow.
Scouting for Boys by Robert Baden-Powell £8.99
The Mischief-Maker's Handbook
A book that we love as much for the drawings as the 70+ plus descriptions of ways to make mischief. Some ideas you may have come across before; others are extremely brief; some we tried, such as Mini Paper Boomerangs, didn't work very well but the chapter on noisy toys was a delight.
To make a mini boomerang that does work, cut out an L shape with each arm being 4cms in length and 1 cm wide. Smooth the edges and outer corner, hold between thumb and forefinger and flick. Keep trying until it returns!
The Mischief-Maker's Handbook by Mike Barfield £9.99
Scout Leader Badge Book
For many years there have been embroidered badges available that depict wine glasses and the like but now a parent has gone one step further and produced a book of well over one hundred badge ideas for grown-ups. Each badge includes a description and a drawing. "Why should the kids have all the fun?" the book's author asks and with this book it's not just fun that the leaders will be having, it's evenings of mayhem and madness. There is a warning in the book not to actually attempt any of the badges and having read some of the requirements we would hope that no one would be so daft as to try. A great read. Each book comes with a colour poster. Not suitable for children.
Scout Leader Badge Book by Karen Shirore £9.99
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