Kaleidoscope, by Eleanor Farjeon

I just love Eleanor Farjeon.  She mostly wrote short fairy-tale-like tales for children, and novels and tales for adults as well, and quite a lot of poetry too.  She also produced a children's version of the Canterbury Tales.  But I love her stories.  They are light and rather sweet and have insights anyway.  And they are nearly always illustrated by Edward Ardizzone, who I also love.

Kaleidoscope is a book of vignettes about a little boy's childhood--little pieces of life that mix and are held like a kaleidoscope.  Anthony lives next to a lovely old mill-pond, and Farjeon tells of his childhood experiences and then touches them with magic.  It is all extremely English countryside and a literary vacation.

Anthony was a real person, though that was not his name.  In the book, Farjeon simply calls him by his childhood nickname of Pod and doesn't identify him, but elsewhere I found out that Anthony was George Earle, an English teacher.  He and Farjeon were close friends for thirty years, and he told her the stories that she turned into the book.

My copy of this book is very cool.  It's an ex-library edition that once resided in the county library of the West Riding of Yorkshire.

If you've never read Farjeon and you're interested, the easiest book to get is The Little Bookroom, a collection of her best stories.


  1. I love Edward Ardizzone! I read a few of his books about Tim -- do you know those? -- and loved the way his illustrations make all the characters look like they're nearly not there. Haven't tried any Eleanor Farjeon books, I don't think, but I'll look into it.

  2. I collect Little Tim! I love those books. And Peter the Wanderer as well.

  3. I'm glad you posted this as I had not heard of Farjeon but it sounds so interesting. I would love to check out those books.

  4. I’ve never heard of Ardizzone; what a cool discovery!The cover alone is just so intriguing. I’m going to have to dive a little deeper! Thanks.

  5. Welcome to British Isles Friday! This is the perfect sort of book for a mini-vacation to the English countryside. Thanks for sharing it!


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