Give me books, fruit, french wine and fine weather and a little music out of doors. --John Keats

Sunday, February 19, 2012

"Charlotte Sometimes" by Penelope Farmer

The day I read this book was the lovely sort of day I thought only existed in my dreams--or in my childhood. I was sick (well, I could have lived without THAT part of it) and I did absolutely nothing even remotely related to adult responsibilities. Instead, I spent the entire day in bed, drifting between a doze and a book.

That book (which I both began and finished that day) was a sweet little children's story from more than forty years ago that had somehow managed to slip my notice until just recently. (Other people have noticed it, though: The Cure recorded a single based on this book, and Charlotte Sometimes is the stage name of an American singer-songwriter!) Anyway, this was truly the perfect book for a day like mine.

Charlotte Sometimes tells the story of Charlotte Makepeace, who has just arrived in the unfamiliar surroundings of a new boarding school. As strange as its newness feels, it's nothing compared to the peculiar sense she gets the next morning when she awakes to find that, though she is still in the same bed and the same room, she is in a different time. "Somehow, Charlotte has slipped back forty years."

The book touches lightly on questions of identity that could easily be missed by a child but which encourage interesting thinking in an adult. Who are we at our core? What is it that makes each one of us a unique individual, apart from those around us? How much do our surroundings affect our inner selves?

I'm going to encourage Bookworm Child to read Charlotte, although I'm afraid its quiet calm can't match the splash and dazzle of more current children's books like the Harry Potter series.

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