This is a little cracker! The author, Gervase Phinn, has spent most of his working life surrounded by children, having been both a teacher and a school inspector. Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Stars is a compilation of stories that reflect the unique picture of the world from a child’s point of view. It’s hilarious but manages to resist being cute and sugary.
Part of the charm of the book is that the children are from rural communities in the Yorkshire Dales. If you are, like me, a southern townie, you will find observations of country and animals quite enchanting. Gervase encouraged a small boy to show off his counting skills. “How many sheep can you see in that field?” asks our hero. “I can see all on ‘em” the boy replies. “No I meant how many altogether. Could you count them for me?”. “Well, there’s five Swalesdales and six Texels, three hybrids and four hoggits. That makes eighteen in total, dunt it.”
Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Stars captures the Dales accent marvellously. The chapter Simone and William Learn to Speak Proper is one of my favourites. “Miss, I can’t find mi readin’ book. I don’t know weer I’ve gone an’ putten it.” “I cannot find my reading book,” the teacher repeated slowly and precisely, “because I do not know where I have put it. There is no such word as ‘putten’.” The teacher wrote a sentence on the blackboard: “I have putten my book on the teacher’s desk.” She asked the class what was wrong with that sentence. “Miss, tha’s gone and putten ‘putten’ when tha should ‘ave putten ‘put’.”
Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Stars is a lovely little book and sure to be much appreciated by teachers, parents and grandparents. You don’t have to live north of Watford to recognise the innocent view of life and it’s good to know that computers and the internet have not yet eroded childhood.
Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Stars
Author: Gervase Phinn
Published by: Penguin, Michael Joseph
Book review by Chrissie Walker © 2018