Snailbeach Tails Hardcover – 23 May 2012
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Just a pedantic note, The dark berries found all over these hills in this part of Shropshire in profusion in august and september and mentioned in this book as Whinberries are actually known locally as wimberries or wimbries, always have been, despite Natural England`s best intentions to rename them on their stiperstones information boards. The proper name for them is Bilberries. Sorry for that, but it`s a bugbear of mine!
Illustrated by Fran Boyle.
Is it tails or tales, there`s the `rub`?. There is wonful flexibility in woding, spellng , but then you would not think a dog or a moos to be a reincarnated lexicographer. Julia moves from poetry to poetic prose to illustrative newspeak, and as an Artist. In form there are a series of interrelated stories (fairy stories for children and Adults), which are surprisingly chronological for 2012, even and eventually turning a full circle. (I like this having been brought up on Oscar Wilde`s Happy Prince and the Little Mermaid).
There are a number of worldly wise oldies..., there are baddies that include the Holly King and the Devil. And a girl that gets `sort` of born, then becomes progressively a story book girl, lost girl and bird girl. Clearly as with most fairy stories there is a clash between the goodies and the baddies, and with good and evil. As in all the best stories, tragedy is of course followed by hope. Perhaps recognizable Snailbeach and Stiperstones people and features are there but as regards people at least, identities will always be speculative..... Fran Boyle`s Illustrations are perfect for these stories... a bit Beatrix Potterish! Perfect!
Julia retains the mystery in the enigma, of the total...I doubt if she does interviews to explain.... she won`t even tell me what `squiggles` are? ?Anybody any idea ? I think she simply IS the story teller. Make of it what you will.
John M Grainger, Snailbeach, Salop. Jan 2013.