World Book Day 2017: Yashodhara Lal

We asked our authors to write about a well-loved book, which they think more people should read.
Yashodhara Lal is the author of several books for adults and a hOle book Peanut Has a Plan. The fictional Peanut is based on the real Peanut, mentioned below, who is Yash’s daughter.

The quirky publishers at Duckbill have asked their authors to write about a random joyful book which deserves to be discovered by more people. They gave a very specific date range, saying it should have been published sometime in the last twenty years. So I thought back to my teens and the book that came to mind was the William series by Richmal Crompton, published between 1921 and 1970. Now, while the Duckbill publishers also were very specific about the books ideally not being the bestseller types; and the William books, I understand have quite the fan following, having spawned many TV, film, radio adaptations, I must say I haven’t actually spotted or seen any of these, and I certainly haven’t seen the book in the shelf of the voracious young reader in my house, i.e. nine-year-old Peanut. Thus, this little tribute.

I remember picking up my first William book and being a little annoyed by not being able to quite understand the way William spoke. An excerpt [from Wikipedia] will make it clear why:

“Did you like the book and instruments that Uncle and I gave you?” said Aunt Emma brightly.
“No,” said William gloomily and truthfully. “I’m not int’rested in Church History an’ I’ve got something like those at school. Not that I’d want ’em,” he added hastily, “if I hadn’t em.”
“William!” screamed Mrs. Brown in horror. “How can you be so ungrateful!”
“I’m not ungrateful,” explained William wearily.
“I’m only being truthful…

But as I read on, I found that this series was actually a lovely story about the wild little boy who spearheads the group The Outlaws–William’s adventures were always enjoyable, with a strong dose of humour; William was always getting into trouble, and of course, there were the occasions where he (entirely accidentally) redeemed himself. I particularly enjoyed the stories involving his pretty older sister, Ethel and the social-climber older brother, Robert. Over a span of a couple of years, possibly during my pre-teens, I consumed a great number of these books–certainly not the entire thirty nine books that Richmal Crompton wrote, but a fair proportion.
And now, thanks to World Book Day 2017, I find myself recalling these books after two decades, and now realise that it is time for me to also introduce young Peanut to this series, and help her tide over that initial irritation with the language (she might just say, “I’m not int’rested in William, an’ I’ve got enough to read right now”) to the point where the beauty and simplicity and fun of the stories draw her in. Because to miss out on this series would just be a pity.
Happy Book Discovery & Celebration, Everyone!

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