Thursday, February 16, 2017

A necklace of raindrops by Joan Aiken illustrated by Jan Pienkowski

A necklace of raindrops is the oldest book in our school library. It still has the price tag of $5.25. This book was first published in 1968 but recently I saw the audio CD listed in an online catalogue so I quickly purchased it.  I have spent a delightful few days listening to these eight highly imaginative and satisfying stories.

The story titles are  :

  • A necklace of raindrops
  • The cat sat on the mat
  • There's some sky in this pie
  • The elves in the shelves
  • The three travellers
  • The bakers cat
  • A bed for the night
  • The patchwork quilt

I think my favourites are the first and last in the collection.  In the first the North Wind gives Laura a gift as a thank you to her parents.

"You must put it round the baby's neck, ... the raindrops will not wet her, and they will not come off. Every year on her birthday, I will bring her another drop. When she has four drops she will stay dry, even if she goes out in the hardest rainstorm."

The predictions go on and on all the way up to ten raindrops on the necklace but then comes a warning  the necklace must never be broken or it might bring bad luck.  Naturally there is a catastrophe involving a jealous girl called Meg who wants the necklace. After some wild adventures including a trip to meet the King of Arabia there is a very satisfying happy ending.

In the final story Mrs Noot makes a beautiful quilt as a gift for her grandson Nils.  "Mrs Noot sewed twelve pieces into a star. Then she sewed the stars together. She sewed them with gold thread and silver thread and white thread and black thread."  Meanwhile the wizard Ali Beg likes to fly around on his magic carpet stealing things that take his fancy.  His poor camels are starving so one night they eat the carpet - all except for a tiny square underneath Ali Beg. He is furious and so he tells the carpet to take him to a new carpet.  He eventually arrives at the home of Mrs Noot.

The good news you can still buy this book.  It now costs around $20 and still contains the very special illustrations from Jan Pienkowski.  You can see a couple here.

If you now have a taste for short stories you might like to look for The witch word by Margaret Mahy and The Puffin Book of Five Minute stories both of which you can find in our school library.

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