Welcome to our Anniversary Blog by resident blogger Jake Hope. Jake will be reading and reviewing all of the past CILIP Carnegie Medal winning books during the anniversary year. We are also asking shadowers to "Adopt a Book" and join in reading and discussing the anniversary titles in their shadowing groups.
"Humanity can be roughly divided into three sorts of people – those who find comfort in literature, those who find comfort in personal adornment, and those who find comfort in food; and Miss Heliotrope, Maria and Wiggins were typical representatives of their own sort of people."
It feels appropriate that on Harry Potter Book Night we should explore a book that J K Rowling described as one of her childhood favourites. It is easy to understand why it is much loved among so many. Magic, wonder, possibility and a gentle, understated warmth of wit combine to create a fully immersive fantasy adventure that must have felt a welcome relief and sanctuary following the ravages of the Second World War.
Every character glows and is illuminated by pitch-perfect names – heroine, Maria Merryweather; Miss Heliotrope, the governess; cook, Marmaduke Scarlet; Wiggins the dog; Digweed the aptly named gardener and the villainous Monsier Coque de Noir. Moonacre Manor where orphaned Maria is sent and its neighbouring village, Silverydew, exist in a netherworld a place out of time where magic, gallantry and kindness pervade.
The appeal and enduring nature of fairytale suffuses the novel, but there is a sense here that things are out of kilter and balance, something which Maria must set right. At the close of the Second World War, the world must have seemed a very different place, one that was more brutal, one that had been ravaged and one where the dark side of human conflict had been lain all too bare. The Little White Horse acts, if not as an antidote against this, as a story that encourages thought around personal choice and journeys and the roles these play in our growth and development.
There’s a leisurely, reflective quality to the pace of the plot and the lyrical descriptions. Like many great books, this not only takes us outside our time, but also outside of ourselves offering a fresh perspective that shows a different way to think and feel about our world. Perhaps this is one of the most special things about reading, that it helps chart all manner of change in us. The Little White Horse achieves this brilliantly.