Friday, 4 January 2013

Uncocking an old book.

An very good first Newnes edition copy with dustjacket of Malcolm Saville's Man With Three Fingers (1966) is around £100 to £120. I have resisted paying out silly money and have contented myself with the abridged Collins edition. Even tatty reading copies at reasonable have not been available when I looked. I was delighted to find a copy with dust jacket for £40 described as Acceptable only because it is 'cocked'. It arrived this morning. I would described the dj as Good to Very good - a very good dj without book was selling last week for £60 so I could probably ask £40 for this dj alone.

The book inside I would also describe as Very good, except for the cocking.
So what is cocking, and can you uncock a book? Here is a photograph of the cocked spine. What happens is that the book is read many times until the spine becomes mis-shapen.

What you have to do is pretend that you are reading the book back to front. Turn the back cover to become the front, and go through page by page rubbing your thumb up the central crease. Here is a photo of the same book that has been given this treatment once (sometimes you need to do it twice).

So, the book is uncocked and I could sell it on at twice the price. It took 2 minutes.

Friday, 26 March 2010

The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold.

Young teenage girl Susie Salmon is murdered and her body cut in bits and only her elbow found. The readership know who did it because the girl's spirit/ghost remains closely and tells us so. We know that the same man has killed many other girls and occasionally women. Susie speaks to some of them in heaven. The police make no progress even though the girls father points the finger at the right chap. The girl's sister is more proactive and she becomes a new target. The police investigator is having sex with Susie's mother and allows the murderer to escape. He kills again, and is never caught - he dies in a freak accident trying it with another girl. Susie has appeared to her friend Ruth (and to her brother) and briefly changes places with Ruth so she can have sex with her former boyfriend Ray (now Ruth's boyfriend). They all live happily ever after (Ruth and Ray anyway, Susie finds a more distant heaven). Good grief. What ambition.

Friday, 19 March 2010

Can stories encourage helpful sedition?

Bigger, Stephen and Webb, Jean (2010) Developing Environmental Agency and Engagement Through Young People’s Fiction. Environmental Education Research . ISSN 1469-5871 (electronic) 1350-4622 (paper)

Bigger, Stephen (2010) Literature For Learning: Can Stories Enhance Children’s Education? Almas , Vol. 11 . ISSN 1818-9296

The first explores how 20th century children's stories encourage social (and environmental) action, active participation in changing and protecting the world rather than passive acceptance of adult policies. They are therefore (in a positive way) seditious, encouraging children thinking for themselves and taking action. We argue that this can be a role model for children growing up, for whom real life is anything but this.

The second paper is for a Pakistani journal, promoting informal education through story.

Sunday, 21 February 2010

Early women writers for children.

May I recommend the book by Mary Segag-Montefiore, Women Writers of Children's Classics, 2008, published by Northcote Press, in Tavistock, Devon, 138 pages. It is a study of Juliana Ewing, Louisa Molesworth, Frances Hodgson Burnett and Edith Nesbit.

Thursday, 4 February 2010

Malcolm Saville. 1901-1982.

A collection of the following papers by Stephen Bigger can be found on Some letter can be found on
These are revisions of orginals published by the Malcolm Saville Society. Copyright: Stephen Bigger, 2010.

Part 1. The Emerging Author
1. D J Desmond: the Anonymous Author. 2005
Malcolm Saville wrote occasionally under this name, and these works are discussed.
2. Malcolm Saville at My Garden Magazine. 2005
3. Apprenticeship: Malcolm Saville and David Severn 2003 The literary relationship between two beginning writers.
4. The Influence of J M Barrie on Malcolm Saville 2004 Malcolm Saville was fond of Dear Brutus by J M Barrie and this influenced his characterisation. 2004.
5. Did Malcolm Saville know W.E. Johns, author of Biggles? 2009.

Part 2. Values
6. Families in Difficulties
7. Romany Secrets: The depiction of Romanies in the writings of Malcolm Saville. 2002
8. Children Coping - Welcome the Jillies. 1998
9. Yellow Peril? The Depiction of the Chinese in the Fiction of Malcolm Saville 2002
Malcolm Saville's depiction of Chinese residents of Docklands.
10. Good People Working Together: The Lesson of Sea Witch Comes Home

Part 3. Locations
11. Why Choose Blakeney? Birds, Artists and Holidays in Digs. 2002 Post-war holidays and Malcolm Saville’s Jillies series.
12. Coping in dangerous waters: defining gender roles in the Ely Floods 2003 Relationships in The Luck of Sallowby (1952), Malcolm Saville’s fifth Jillies book, set in Ely floods.
13. Romanticised Landscape: Malcolm Saville’s Cornwall Real and fictional topography in Malcolm Saville’s Flying Fish Adventure 2003
14. Sea Watch at Southwold. 2004
Comparison of historical detail of the 1953 North Sea ‘great storm’ with Malcolm Saville’s Sea Witch Comes Home. Easter 2004.
15. Dartmoor, Flying Saucers and Military Secrecy 2005.
Links between flying saucers in two Saville stories, and other science fiction literature.
16. Muker, North Yorkshire: The Mysteries of Muker: Or Which Steps, Which Barn and Which Crackpot?

Part 4. Life in the 1940s
17. Spirit of the Place: Writing about England.
18. Small Creatures, and the Truth in a Tale Series. Nature writing.
19. Railways of Adventure. The place of railways in Malcolm Saville’s fiction. 2004 and 2007.
20. Harvest Holiday: A Happy Return to Townsend Farm. 2008
21. A Death in Normandy. The background to Mary and Michael’s father. 2009.

Sunday, 9 August 2009


These stories were originally written for primary age school children in Swindon featuring a sheepdog inappropriately called Wolf. The first characters to emerge were Josh, a Londoner; Jazwinder, a pushy girl; Sarah and Roger. A controntation between Josh and Jake, an out of control boy with a chip on his shoulder and violent tendencies, led to a series of stories in which Jake sorts himself out. He was modelled on a real child, a girl, who did exactly that when she was 9-10 years old although all other details are entirely fictitious.
From book 1,Wolf in Old Town.
Story 1. Jake the bully.
Story 2. Fishing with Grandpa.
Story 3. Jake's Difficult Day.
Story 4. Jake's Fate
Go to

Wednesday, 8 July 2009

Garth Nix

I wrote two linked posts on Garth Nix at:
He is discussed also in a blog I am currently writing.