Saturday, 27 April 2013

Another Old (Book) Friend

          Does anybody else have this book? Has anyone ever heard of
it? 'Kallee and Other Stories' by F. G. Turnbull, and illustrated rather beautifully by Lunt Roberts. (An unfortunate name, but beautiful drawings.)
          I ask because I've just found this old friend during the great turning out of my parents' house before selling it. I seized it with a cry of rage at having found it in a box intended to be given away to charity, and carried it away to the safety of my own overcrowded bookcases.
          'Kallee' was a great favourite of my Dad's, became a favourite of mine almost in infancy, and yet I've never seen it mentioned anywhere, or heard of the writer in any other context.
          I searched on Google, and found out nothing.
          The publisher is given as 'London, Sampson Low, Marston & Co, Ltd.' I've just a Google search on this firm, and came on this rather interesting site.
          The book itself can be found on sale online, for £14 or $21, used, but not a word about the author, or any reviews.
          My copy doesn't give much away. The copyright page is blank, except for this: 'This book is produced in complete conformity with the Authorised Economy Standards. Made and printed in Great Britain by Purnell and Sons, Ltd., Paulton (Somerset) and London.'
          My Dad loved it because all the stories are about animals and birds, and he loved them. He began reading me the stories when I was quite small - certainly not much older than seven. He used to read me a story and then put the book away in the bookcase. I would sneak it out, feeling I was doing something very daring in filching one of my Dad's books, and read it for myself. (And I can hear a yodelling from Switzerland as I write this. If you're curious as to why, here's a blog I made earlier, that will explain.

           This is how the title story, KALLEE, begins:
          I will never shoot a partridge again; that is a vow I have sworn. I still hope to use my gun through many years to come; but when the coveys rise before me in root or stubble field hereafter, I will keep my weapon at 'trail' and let them go. My spaniel, Roy, will gaze at me, with wonder in his dear old eyes, but he will soon understand that the brown birds are not our game - now that we have known Kallee, that great cock partridge.
          They're not really children's stories, as you can see; and yet, over several years, I read them all, returning to the book again and again. Looking through them now, I wonder how I coped with the Scots dialect of the keepers, and with phrases such as, 'As the stoat continued to haunt the field day after day...' Did I think the story meant the ghost of a stoat?
          I know I used to guess at the meaning of a lot of words, and also that, if completely defeated, I used to trail off to the nearest of my parents and ask them, 'What does this mean?' Once they'd explained, I'd take the book away again and continue reading. (Calm down, Switzerland!)
          You can tell that I loved the book, because inside the front cover I've drawn this. The '77' in the shield refers to the number of
our house. It says: 'Susan Lucy Price By Claim' - so I was laying claim to this book, even though it belonged to my Dad. And if I find out who put it in that charity bag... 

          My Dad often read me the story 'Grumphie' which is about three boys entering their pet pig into a competition. Grumphie has a straight tail, and therefore has no chance of winning - but as they're trying to spruce him up, he eats the cake of perfumed soap they're washing him with - and his tail curls! So now they know how to win. 'Wullie; bolt oot an' get a cake o' scented soap.' All the stories are set in Scotland: I wonder if that has anything to do with my tendency to head north whenever possible?
          Dad was probably trying to find the lighter, funnier stories, as being more suitable to my age - but when I started reading them for myself, the harsher stories quickly became my favourites. I particularly loved 'Crossed Trails'. This tells of a fox and a stag. The fox, as a cub, is charged and trampled by the stag, and his hind-leg shattered. The story tells how the lame fox grows up and struggles to survive in a hard Highland winter. During a blizzard, the fox and stag find themselves on the same trail, struggling through heavy snow and strong winds. The fox cringes away whenever he glimpses the stag - what he doesn't realise is that the stag is terrified of the fox on his trail. The stag  races away in panic, falls into a
crevasse and is killed. Shortly afterwards, the snow-blinded fox falls into the same hole - and finds himself lying on top of all the food he'll need to survive the winter.
          Another great favourite was 'The Rebel of Glenlee.' This tells of, as Monty Python might have put it, 'that most dangerous of all things, an intelligent, rebellious sheep.' She's a trial to her owners, is Birkie, the black-faced ewe. She was a spoilt, pet lamb, but felt herself thrown out of paradise when she was demoted to a mere sheep, and from that day hated all men and collies. She charges the dogs, refuses to return quietly to the home meadows, and leads the other sheep astray.
          But she redeems herself one terrible winter, when the flock is lost in the deep snow. Birkie is harried by a fox, but deals with it as she does with collies. Then, as she struggles in deep snow, ravens blind her. In such dire trouble, Birkie starts to hanker for the safety of home, and makes tracks for it, regardless of any obstacles in her way. She happens on the rest of the flock, and they follow her. She guides them all home - and becomes the farmer's pet once again.

          
          How I loved this book! I'm going to enjoy reading it again. My guess is that the stories originally appeared in a newspaper or magazine, as they're all the same length. But I really know nothing about F G Turnbull at all. Do the initials, perhaps, disguise a woman writer?
          Does anybody out there know anything more, about writer or artist? 

          May 9th 2013. I'm adding a line, and a link, to this blog, at Carole's request (see comments below.) I recommend her blog to book lovers! Here's the link.

          And for those of you wondering where Blott has wandered off to...

20 comments:

Anonymous said...

I haven't come across those particular stories, but I do have a first edition (1945) copy of Wumpus by Elleston Trevor, illustrated by J McCail, Published by Gerald G Swan. I have never met anyone who has heard of Wumpus or his creator. Wumpus is a koala, his friends are Flip the Penguin, Ole Bill Mole and The Hare with the Careless Air. I loved it as a small child. It is heavily reminiscent of Winnie-the Pooh - the style is very A A Milne, although more wordy. (Apparently, Elleston Trevor, born 1920, also wrote war stories and thrillers under the name Adam Hall). Does anyone else out there have a Wumpus?

Judith Key

Susan Price said...

Sorry, Judith, I've never heard of Wumpus either. I do like the sound of the Hare with the Careless Air!
I'll tweet this, and who knows, we might hear something from Australia!

madwippitt said...

Criminal, the way people try to toss away your cherished books ... I have several grumbles about this too ...

Looked and looked at the picture, but no, can't see Blott anywhere in it. Come back Blott!

Susan Price said...

Blott's in the kitchen, filching fish and milk.

CallyPhillips said...

Really interesting post - it's so great to hear of books others loved as children - ones that have a huge influence. I wouldn't like to be any of your siblings when you find out who was going to 'get rid' of this classic!! It put me in mind of Epaminondas - one of my favourites from my pre reading days (aged about 2) Now it would be banned as un PC but the story stays with me for ever. The Hapless Epaminondas misunderstands instruction from his mum 'don't let the chickens in the pea patch or they'll have them peas up in no time. She goes out, he thinks that it would be good for the peas to 'grow' quickly so he lets the chickens in to 'help'. I still keep it in mind whenever I think of Wittgenstein's 'language lets us down at every stage of the process' comment. Epaminondas might be unPC but he taught that lesson to a small girl more clearly than Wittgenstein ever taught it to anyone I'm sure.
Thanks for your memories and for jogging mine! I must go root out Epaminondas now... where is he hiding?

Joan Lennon said...

I'm one book recommendation behind here - currently loving Period Piece!

madwippitt said...

I shall send the Health & Safety wippitts after Blott if he doesn't remove his paws from the kitchen ...

Cally, was it also Epaminondas who hid up a tree while under it two tigers chased each other so fast they turned into butter? Or am I confusing my non PC characters?

Anonymous said...

Hi

"When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things."

The above is one of the worst mantras, but something many of us (old enough to remember) thought we had to adhere to. Our childish experiences make us what we are and we should celebrate them.

I'm old enough not to care what anyone thinks of me nowadays. I came to a sudden realisation, that I should also celebrate all the childish things I loved many years ago, books, TV, toys etc....

I drive past a model railway shop very often when the Swiss motorway is jammed and I had a guilty feeling of being interested. My wife (psychologist) told me I should be happy and stop and have a look. That said, I fetched my grown up son's old model railway boxes out of the loft and marvelled at the engines and track. Those are the feelings that keep you alive into old age.

So, get after all those old books, toys etc... Live long and propser!

Manxli


Anonymous said...

ooops - I meant "prosper".

(You're mositively pistaken officer!)

Manxli

madwippitt said...

Go for it Manxli! I got out my Britain's model farm animals and riding school horses and set up a Nativity scene last Christmas round at my friends. That's what we called it anyway ... :-)

Katherine Roberts said...

I had hundreds of those little plastic riding school horses, but I don't know what happened to them! Most of our childhood books were stolen by my mum (a primary school teacher) for her classroom as soon as she thought we wouldn't notice, but I kept a few favourites hidden under my bed... still got "Horse and Pony Stories for Girls" and a much-loved children's poetry anthology.

Anonymous said...

Thank heaven. I thought I was the only person (or whippet) over the age of 10 who still plays with my plastic farm animals. When I was a child, the farm animals gradually migrated to the nativity crib, where many of them still live. I still set it out every year, together with representatives from the model farm. It exhibits the unusal phenomenon of a Bethlehem ox, accompanied by a friesian cow and their hereford calf. My friends point out that this represents an even greater miracle than the Virgin birth.

Judith Key

Carole said...

Hi, I just noticed this review and wondered if you would like to link it in to the current monthly collection of books that people loved on Carole's Chatter. This is the link There are already over 25 books linked in that you might be interested in. It would be great if you came on over. Cheers

Carole said...

Susan, thanks for coming over to add to this month's library. I have followed you back. Cheers

Anonymous said...

Hi

Glad that everyone is treasuring their childhood memories. Something of interest occured to me. Regulars here will know that I am the Functional Linguistics nut, but I won't talk about that directly, rather about some research presented at a SFL conference I attended. The linguists concerned worked with stroke victims who lost most of their speech ability but slowly regained it. Many reverted to child like grammatical patterns and the neuro-biologists claim that this is because our abilities are built up 'layer cake' fashion in our brains with earlier versions of abilities, behaviour and likes/dislikes contributing to the next improved layer up.

When a stroke destroys an upper layer , the brain automatically takes the next available layer which was always functional anyhow. Thus it's important to look after these lurking layers maybe?

Fascinating stuff methinks!

Manxli

=Tamar said...

Thanks for posting details; it sounds like an interesting book.
Today (Monday May 13, 2013) there are five copies of Kallee listed on worldcat.org. There is one for sale on Amazon in the USA and there is one for sale on abebooks.com in the UK. I didn't look further.

Susan Price said...

That sounds like a good working theory, Manxli - let's all get out our old toys and cherish those lower brain layers!
Thanks, Tamar - I did find several Kallees on sale, but still nothing about the author!

Susan Price said...

Hurrah! Another, more patient search, has turned up this:

F. G. Turnbull Turnbull was born in Edinburgh but grew up in the countryside, hence his love and fascination of nature. He eventually settled in a rural area of Kirkcudbrightshire. As a young man he worked in mechanical engineering and successfully patented several pieces of machinery. In later years Turnbull was a partner in a commercial beekeeping enterprise. He specialised in writing stories about the wild animals of the British Isles. He had a beautiful writing style, often reaching great heights of imagination in his colourful, exciting stories. He contributed 194 tales to the Evening News between 1934 and 1968. In addition to his Evening News work, Turnbull's stories appeared regularly in magazines such as Argosy, The Cornhill Magazine, John O'London's Weekly, Blackwood's and Zoo. Other stories were published in the juvenile periodicals Boy's Own Paper and Look and Learn. He was also a frequent contributor of stories to The Star. A collection of Turnbull's short fiction, the superb Kallee and Other Stories, was published in 1947.

=Tamar said...

1934-1968 - with a collection published in 1947. So there are 21 years' worth of stories still to be collected.

Elizabeth said...

What a great post....thanks for sharing.

New Follower...nice blog.

Stopping by from Carole's Books You Loved May Edition. I am in the list as #36.

Elizabeth
Silver's Reviews
My Book Entry