|THIS IS THE VERSION WE HAD AS KIDS,
NOW SELLING FOR HUNDREDS OF BUCKS ON EBAY!
Here’s how this week’s arts and culture piece begins:
Remembering the lessons of an old English children’s book on God, suffering, and love
One of my favorite books as a kid was “Whistle Down the Wind” (1958) by Mary Hayley Bell.
In it, three children from a working-class English village find an escaped criminal in the barn and think he’s Jesus.
Here’s how the story starts:
I am ten, and they call me Brat.
Of course, that isn’t my right name, nobody could be christened with a name like that.
All our lousy first names are birds’ names. Don’t ask me why. I imagine our mother was keen on birds and flying, though I don’t know much about her. She flew off some years ago with this character called Peregrine. She lives in South Africa on a different kind of farm, and once in a way we get a Christmas card — which is quite useful as we keep the stamp.
Brat (real name Brambling), her 12-year-old sister Swallow, and their 7-year-old brother Merlin (who answers to the name of Poor Baby) all live with their father, Slim, on a farm in the south of England. While affectionate and curious, the children don’t have a terribly high opinion of adults.
They don’t understand half of what the vicar says, for example, but they like him nonetheless (he lets their dogs sit in the pew with them at church). They also understand more than they know.
|THE ALSO UNBELIEVABLY GREAT
FILM ADAPTATION STARS
THE AUTHOR’S DAUGHTER,
HAYLEY MILLS, AND ALAN BATES