Happy World Book Day, everyone! Today in schools around the world children will be going in dressed as their favourite characters from their favourite books and celebrating the joy of reading. I am afraid that my workplace is not enlightened enough to encourage such joyously gratuitous fancy-dress, but I can’t help pondering which of my childhood heroes I would go as, if I could. There are so many to choose from. Here are my top choices that might make the cut. Who would you go as?
Alanna of Trebond from Tamora Pierce’s Song of the Lioness Quartet. Alanna is about 11 when the series starts. She’s the daughter of a Lord and is due to be sent to a convent to learn to be a lady while her identical twin brother, Thom, is about to go to court to become a knight. Neither of them are happy about this prospect – Alanna hates girly things and loves fighting and Thom hates fighting and wants to learn to be a mage, so, they swap places. Thom goes to the convent to learn sorcery (which boys can do but girls can’t) while Alanna, now Alan, goes to begin training as a knight. The books follow Alanna’s adventures as she learns how to survive in the strange world she has joined, and works towards the Ordeal of Knighthood. It is a rollicking read with magic, adventure, friendship, love, betrayal and a definite moral that you can achieve anything if you just work hard enough. Alanna is also ginger, so I had an automatic affinity with her there too.
Basil Stag Hare, from Brian Jacques’ Redwall books – I think I learnt most of my vocabulary from reading the first three Redwall books. They were gloriously well written and had such a brilliant cast of characters. I originally thought I would be Martin or Mattimeo, one of the worthy mice, but then I remembered the hares. The hares were so swashbucklingly glamorous they were my absolute favourites. They would go laughing into slaughter, sing in the face of danger and do anything to save their friends as long as they could have a good dinner afterwards. Basil’s battlecry was “Give ’em blood and vinegar!” And if I couldn’t be a hare, I would be a deliciously nautical otter and have their hotroot soup.
Bernard: the eponymous hero of the ‘Not Now, Bernard’ books holds a special place in my heart as this is the first book I ever learnt to read (or possibly had just memorised every page of, which is basically the same thing).
George from the Famous Five: She wasn’t going to let gender stereotypes stop her from having adventures, that was Anne’s job. I tell you what though, I would’ve given that obnoxious Julian boy a smack if I had been her. A word of advice to an adult Famous Five fans – don’t try to re-read these books. It is not a happy experience!
So, tell me – who would you be going to school or work as if you could. Don’t let the difficulties of costume design or practicality get to you – just think about who it would be fun to be for a day.
E’s suggestion is that we should go as George and Martha, the two lovable hippos from the brilliant books by James Marshall. I’m choosing not to dwell on being described as a hippo, but I can’t help feeling that in E’s mind I am definitely the hapless George, rather than the practical Martha, in this scenario.