About the Author
Leila Berg grew up in a Jewish immigrant neighbourhood in Salford in the twenties and thirties, when the scissors-grinder and the ragman and the bagel-seller still came round the houses, and grandmothers kept barrels of pickled herrings and onions in the living room, and Manchester was full of books and concerts and theatre and films. "A good place to grow up in", she says. "Much better education than school."
She has cared all her life about what we currently call 'the empowerment' of children, writing stories for children (Little Pete, and the Nippers series among many) or stories about children (Risinghill, Death of a Comprehensive School, Reading and Loving and Look at Kids). She was awarded the Eleanor Farjeon Medal in 1973 for her services to children's literature. Her latest book, Flickerbook, an account of her childhood, was the first book ever to be made Book of the Month by a unanimous vote of Waterstones booksellers.
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
From: The Moon Shines Bright (1921-1923)
I am the Bridesmaid. I stand on the table.
Sidney's mother is making me a pale-pink frock for Auntie Ettie's wedding. I have to turn round very slowly, while she takes pins out of her mouth like fishbones and squeezes them into my frock.
I must not speak. I must not think. I must not be a nuisance. I must not really be here.
I am turning round very very slowly like the girl on the music-box, standing on the window-sill.
The electric lights tinkle. I hear them like bells.
It is so big, this room. It is called The Assembly Rooms. Not Room. Rooms. Just one room is a rooms, because it is so big.
The music sways and curls and dances like the flame of the candle on Friday night. The floor is skiddy, slippery, slidey. I want to sing and shout. I slip my hand into Daddy's, and lean against his knee and look upwards at him. I am so happy. I want to be happy with him.
He snatches his hand away and throws his look at me as if he is throwing a stone. He hates me! My heart stops beating. I am frozen inside. Auntie Ettie says 'Oh look at her! You shouldn't do that to her! She's only three!' Her voice is like a faraway train.