Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Nightly Adventures

Yesterday Ickie finished reading out loud to us the final pages of John Masefield's The Midnight Folk. The events in The Midnight Folk take place prior to The Box of Delights (our 2007 Advent novel) and also feature young orphan Kay Harker going up against his loathsome governess Sylvia Daisy, the devious Abner Brown, seven troublesome witches, and a pair of treasonous cats. With the help of his old toys and a host of animals (a good cat, a cockney rat, an old owl, and others), Kay races against the wicked midnight folk to find his great grandfather's hidden treasure and return it to its rightful owners.

Written in the same dreamy style as Box of Delights, Midnight Folk is a twisting, run-on adventure in which Kay does all the things little boys (and girls, in my case!) love: sneaking out at night, riding broomsticks and foxes, sailing on a ship manned by friendly mice, eating too much pork pie, muddying his pajamas, and skipping out on lessons. It's all magic and dreams and goodness, and it's perfect for Christmastime.

The New York Review edition also features a lovely afterword by Madeleine L'Engle, who sums up this magical book far better than I am able:

"The evil midnight folk vanish with the dark, and the good midnight folk, the stuffed animals, the real old owl, the water rat, are all there to help Kay do his growing up. This poetic book makes demands on the readers, but it is well worth the trouble, and the child with imagination will find many delights."

Ditto for adults. Nothing makes us feel more like children than sitting in front of the Christmas tree in our pajamas, surrounded by cookie smells and snow-flecked windows, filled with wonder and anticipation.

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