Joanne Harris

If you think you’re familiar with Joanne Harris, our author-of-the-month for July, you might want to think again.

While she’s best known for her multimillion-seller Chocolat, Harris’ books don’t tend to neatly fit within one genre. Perhaps uniquely among best-selling authors, her books dip into a multiplicity of topics such as food, romance, France, psychological thrillers, vampires, Norse mythology, fairy tales, author self-help – and Dr Who.

In a recent interview with the Hampshire Libraries’ podcast Love Your Library (available later this month), Harris explained: ‘Much as a I understand the convenience and the financial interest of being a brand who does the same thing predictably every year, I just couldn’t do that. What drives me is an element of discovery and of risk.’

It’s the above-mentioned Chocolat (made into an Oscar-nominated film featuring Juliette Binoche and Johnny Depp), which first gave her a taste of success. It’s now sold more than 33 million copies worldwide and in 2012 she became only the fifth British female novelist to join the book industry’s “Millionaires Club”: an exclusive list of authors who have seen at least one of their books pass the million sales barrier in the UK since the 1990s.

Joanne Harris (MBE) grew up with her English father and French mother in Barnsley, South Yorkshire and started her career as a teacher, pursuing writing as a hobby. Her first novel, The Evil Seed, is a dark gothic romance which had limited commercial success. She spent more than 12 years teaching French at Leeds Grammar School, the inspiration behind her St Oswald’s series of books, the latest of which, A Narrow Door, is to be published next month. This darkly comic novel continues the story of eccentric Latin Master Roy Straitley, and follows Gentlemen and Players, and Different Class.

She said: ‘In a sense I’ve been writing about teaching since the start. I tend to write about small communities and the pressures they undergo, and the changes new arrivals make – and how the volatile chemistry of the small community can be utterly disrupted by what seems to be a relatively trivial change.’

Harris writes intelligently with a dry humour, and while her work is sometimes described as captivating or enchanting, her novels can frequently be darkly funny. Settings play an important role in her books and she often writes in a first-person, dual-narrator structure with complex characters who may be psychologically damaged or morally ambivalent.

She’s already published two other books in 2021: The Strawberry Thief (the fourth in the Chocolat series, including Chocolat, The Lollipop Shoes and Peaches for Monsieur le Curé), a bittersweet story of motherhood and learning to be yourself; and Honeycomb, a novel built from stories in which every chapter tells a standalone tale, which sits within her folklore/fairytale collection (A Pocketful of Crows, Orfeia and The Blue Salt Road).

This achievement is all the more admirable since, alongside the normal difficulties of living through lockdowns and Coronavirus, Harris was diagnosed with breast cancer at the end of last year. With typical generosity, she has decided to share her experience to ‘make it more mundane’ and talks about her diagnosis as ‘Mr C’, a fictional character who has outstayed his welcome: her Twitter updates include the hashtag #GoodbyeMrC.

Harris still lives in Yorkshire, she plays bass and flute in a band first formed with her husband when she was sixteen, and works in a shed in her garden.

If you like Joanne Harris, you might also like Tracy Chevalier, Louis De Bernieres, Helen Fielding, Sebastian Faulks, Kate Atkinson, Salley Vickers, William Boyd, Anne Tyler, Barbara Kingsolver and Edward St Aubyn.

Written by Kate.

Eating and Food

Mealtimes can be trying times for parent and child alike.  Whether your child is a fussy eater or eats a special diet, or even if their table manners are monstrous, sharing books about food and eating may help to make mealtimes a little easier.


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I will not ever never eat a tomato – Lauren Child

A great fun book about a little girl who is a very fussy eater and how her brother persuades her to eat.
Age: 5+


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Lunchtime – Rebecca Cobb

It’s lunchtime, but this little girl isn’t hungry and she’s far too busy to stop for food. By tea time she is really hungry!
Age: 3+


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T-Veg – Smriti Prasadam-Halls and Katherina Manolessou

Reginald is everything you would expect a T-Rex to be.  He has a fierce roar, he is strong and fast, but sometimes he feels very different from his T-Rex friends – especially at meal times.  When everyone else munches on juicy steak, Reginald would rather eat crunchy carrot cake.  This fun book about a vegetarian dinosaur is told in rhyme.
Age: 3+


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I Do Not Eat the Colour Green! – Lynne Rickards and Margaret Chamberlain

Marlene McKean will not eat anything green until she discovers that green foods can be sweet and tasty too. A humorous rhyming text with great appeal.
Age: 3+


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Eat Your Greens, Goldilocks – Steve Smallman and Bruno Robert

When Goldilocks wants jelly and ice cream for breakfast, Mum and Dad say ‘No’.  The three bears like to eat healthy food.  Will they eat Goldilocks for lunch?
Age: 4+


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How Do Dinosaurs Eat Their Food? – Jane Yolen and Mark Teague

There is plenty of bad mealtime behaviour to be found in this book, but it ends with some beautifully behaved dinosaur dinner guests.
Age: 3+


 

Meal times

Meal times can be trying times for parent and child alike, whether your child is a fussy eater or their table manners leave something to be desired. Sharing books and stories about food and eating may help to make meal times a little easier for everyone involved.


Little Green Donkey
by Anuska Allepuz

Little Donkey loves eating grass – it’s just so sweet, and crunchy, and juicy! His pillow is even made from grass so that he can roll over in the morning and eat his own bed. ‘Why don’t you try some other food?’ suggests his desperate mum, putting on a juggling display of colourful fruit as a way to entice her little one to eat something new. But Little Donkey sees no need. Until, that is, he catches a glimpse of his reflection.
Age: 3+


Image result for I will not ever never eat a tomato

I will not ever never eat a tomato
by Lauren Child

A great fun book about a little girl who is a very fussy eater and how her brother persuades her to eat.
Age: 5+


Lunchtime
by Rebecca Cobb

It’s lunchtime, but this little girl isn’t hungry and she’s far too busy to stop for food. By tea time she is really hungry!
Age: 3+


Image result for Oliver's fruit salad / Vivian French

Oliver’s fruit salad
by Vivian French

Oliver has returned from holiday and is refusing to eat any fruit! What can mum do?
Age: 2+


Fussy Freda
by Julia Jarman and Fred Blunt

Dinnertime isn’t easy in Freda’s house. Mum cooks beans. YUK! Grandma cooks fish and chips. YUK! Dad cooks crispy duck. YUK! YUK! YUK! There just isn’t any pleasing Fussy Freda! Will anything change her mind about eating dinner? This deliciously funny story will have toddlers calling out for more, and more.
Age: 3+


Image result for There's broccoli in my ice cream! / Emily MacKenzie.

There’s broccoli in my ice cream!
by Emily MacKenzie

Granville loves everything sweet but not fruit and vegetables, so his grandad comes up with a cunning plan!
Age: 3+


T-Veg
by Smriti Prasadam-Halls and Katherina Manolessou

Reginald is everything you would expect a T-Rex to be.  He has a fierce roar, he is strong and fast, but sometimes he feels very different from his T-Rex friends – especially at meal times.  When everyone else munches on juicy steak, Reginald would rather eat crunchy carrot cake.  This fun book about a vegetarian dinosaur is told in rhyme.
Age: 3+


I Do Not Eat the Colour Green!
by Lynne Rickards and Margaret Chamberlain

Marlene McKean will not eat anything green until she discovers that green foods can be sweet and tasty too. A humorous rhyming text with great appeal.
Age: 3+


Eat Your Greens, Goldilocks
by Steve Smallman and Bruno Robert

When Goldilocks wants jelly and ice cream for breakfast, Mum and Dad say ‘No’.  The three bears like to eat healthy food.  Will they eat Goldilocks for lunch?
Age: 4+


Image result for How do dinosaurs eat their food?

How Do Dinosaurs Eat Their Food?
by Jane Yolen and Mark Teague

There is plenty of bad mealtime behaviour to be found in this book, but it ends with some beautifully behaved dinosaur dinner guests.
Age: 3+


Useful organisations

Supernanny:
Helpful tips and advice on how to make meal times more enjoyable.

Change4Life:
Fun ideas to help your kids stay healthy

New Year, New Hobby, Healthy Lifestyle!

A new year and a fresh start. The perfect excuse to give your patch or garden some extra or overdue attention? While providing a new hobby full of fulfilment, learning and physical exercise in the outdoors, as we shall see it will also produce fresh nutritious produce which we could all do with!

Even if you’re looking to start turning your fingers green for the first time, you can apply for an allotment at the Hampshire County Council website (Please click on the relevant District Council area on the map).

It may seem early, but now is the perfect time to look ahead and get prepared ahead of the start of another growing season. The days are getting longer now after all! Whatever your situation or preference, it’s never been easier to get advice and information. Hampshire is a hive of allotment activity, and our libraries have the stock and services to match.

The Patch : the Big Allotment Challenge / Tessa Evelegh ; photography by Jonathan Buckley. Accompany a BBC2 series, ‘The Patch’ celebrates our burgeoning interest in knowing where our food comes from and is a practical guide to making your garden a haven of productivity. With essential know-how on everything from soil and compost to pruning and pests, the book is aimed at novice gardeners.

The Half-Hour Allotment: Timely Tips for the Most Productive Plot Ever / Lia Leendertz.                   Intended for gardeners who want to enjoy the benefits of growing their own food, but who have little time to spare, this handbook features advice and techniques that show you how to grow the right quantities of the fruit and vegetables you love.

Alternatively you can download all the assistance you need with our e-books at home, from the garden or from the allotment itself.

The Allotment Chef: Home-grown Recipes and Seasonal Stories by Paul Merrett Michelin-starred chef and star of BBC 2’s Economy Gastronomy Paul Merrett is using the plot…This is the story of how one man swaps his shopping trolley for a wheelbarrow and cooks up fine, homely food as a result.

Of course once the hard work is all done you’ll if course be rewarded with beautiful fresh produce, so select from our choice of cookery books. Growing your own fresh fruit and vegetable products is the perfect inspiration for trying #MeatFreeMonday, contributing towards the reduction of your meal’s carbon footprint, saving money and providing a healthy option to start each new week.

The great allotment cookbook : over 200 delicious recipes from plot to plate                           Celebrate your home-grown fruit and vegetables with this inspirational collection of seasonal recipes.

If being left to your own efforts is not working out, team up socialise and compare at our libraries’ gardening events , including the fortnightly ‘Sow and Grow’ at Stubbington Library,  ‘Garden Design For Wellbeing’ at Waterlooville Library and the weekly Healthy Eating Group at Portchester Library who follow the British Heart Foundation programme. Keep an eye on the Hampshire Libraries Events page for updates throughout the growing seasons!

For those new to the past-time, remember your local library service for tips to get started and in the meantime get an application for allotment space. Be inspired to turn your garden into a food factory ready for this year’s growing season!

National Allotments Week

Monday marks the start of National Allotments Week, running from 14th-20th August 2017. So why not use the week as the perfect excuse to give your patch or garden some extra or overdue attention? And even if you’re looking to start turning your fingers green for the first time, you can apply for an allotment at the Hampshire County Council website.

Whatever your situation or preference, it’s never been easier to get advice and information. Hampshire is a hive of allotment activity, and our libraries have the stock and services to match.

The Patch : the Big Allotment Challenge / Tessa Evelegh ; photography by Jonathan Buckley. Accompany a BBC2 series, ‘The Patch’ celebrates our burgeoning interest in knowing where our food comes from and is a practical guide to making your garden a haven of productivity. With essential know-how on everything from soil and compost to pruning and pests, the book is aimed at novice gardeners.

The Half-Hour Allotment: Timely Tips for the Most Productive Plot Ever / Lia Leendertz.                   Intended for gardeners who want to enjoy the benefits of growing their own food, but who have little time to spare, this handbook features advice and techniques that show you how to grow the right quantities of the fruit and vegetables you love.

Alternatively you can download all the assistance you need with our e-books at home, from the garden or from the allotment itself.

The Allotment Chef: Home-grown Recipes and Seasonal Stories by Paul Merrett Michelin-starred chef and star of BBC 2’s Economy Gastronomy Paul Merrett is using the plot…This is the story of how one man swaps his shopping trolley for a wheelbarrow and cooks up fine, homely food as a result.

Of course once the hard work is all done you’ll if course be rewarded with beautiful fresh produce, so select from our choice of cookery books. Growing your own fresh fruit and vegetable products is the perfect inspiration for trying #MeatFreeMonday, contributing towards the reduction of your meal’s carbon footprint, saving money and providing a healthy option to start each new week.

The great allotment cookbook : over 200 delicious recipes from plot to plate                           Celebrate your home-grown fruit and vegetables with this inspirational collection of seasonal recipes.

If being left to your own efforts is not working out, team up socialise and compare at our libraries’ gardening events , including the fortnightly ‘Sow and Grow’ at Stubbington Library and ‘Garden Design For Wellbeing’ at Waterlooville Library. Keep an eye on the Hampshire Libraries Events page for updates throughout the growing seasons!

For those new to the past-time, remember your local library service for tips to get started and in the meantime get an application for allotment space. Be inspired to turn your garden into a food factory ready for next year’s growing season!

Toast by Nigel Slater

About the book

This is Nigel Slater‘s truly extraordinary story of his childhood remembered through food. Nigel’s likes and dislikes, aversions and sweet-toothed weaknesses form a fascinating and often amusing backdrop to this incredibly moving and evocative memoir of childhood, adolescence and sexual awakening.

Reviewed by Eastleigh Library Wed Afternoon

Mixed reviews within the group. Generally readers thought it was sad and that slater was obsessive about food and that the book was a release for emotions. Some thought it humorous and entertaining, other were irritated by the lack of chronological order of events.

Star rating: ***

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