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January 26, 2010


What a lovely post. I am with the HWB all the way, my husband fills our bed with them before he goes to work in the morning, so that when I come in from a night shift I have cosy toes. And a puppy on my feet!

Oh Lordy, what a hoot! What is this world coming to?!

Wow. I read your title and expected something about gender, class or race politics (often pretty icky in children's books, it has to be said). When I got to paragraph three I just howled! That's priceless.

Hot water bottles and favourite children's books: two of the most comforting things in the known universe. Perhaps the firefighters of Stockport were never children themselves?


It's now 12.11 and I've been on your blog (and others you signpost) since 9.30 (having discovered it through an impulse purchase yesterday - Elspeth Thompson's "The Wonderful Weekend Book". My senses are now re-invigorated by words, threads, textures and colours.

Like me, breakfast dishes remain unwashed, but friends and family now have links to you, while my husband (ex-fireman) has snorted his opinion about dear little Phoebe and Stockport Fire Department. He also thanks you very much for your poetic photos of railway sleepers, a subject close to his heart.

What a great post! It's good to have you back in full swing again.

I'm with you on this one... the wanting a puppy message is a far more dangerous one.

Thank you for this very lovely post.

Um, I call shenanigans. As a librarian, I have not once written in a library book that is being disposed of. You're getting rid of stock, you don't need to justify it to the dustbin !
The other curious note is that it's not stamped 'withdrawn' and still has the date label in it.

I sit possible for political correctness to become any more insane?!! Looks like a wonderful book to me.

And you let your children read Alice, too? Did they not go jumping down rabbit holes and drinking strange potions from bottles marked "Drink me"? For shame.... :-)

That's pretty silly. It sounds like a delightful book, we love hot water bottles in our house too.

That's so cute... Phoebe Beeberbee. I love the drawing on the front of the book too. Best of all, I love the hilarious backstory about the fire brigade!

Your sense of humor is delightful...thanks for the laugh this morning!

Hey - good memories! My son Dan had and liked this book too. It was one of the books we kept for posterity / future grandchildren. We also had a lovely book called Dora the Storer - about a woman who hoarded, just like my little boy... 23 and he still hoards, mainly his artwork and sketchbooks which now fill the shelves in his / my room (I'm making a take-over bid, slowly but surely).

Another librarian here, confused as to the reason written in the book and why it isn't stamped DISCARD all over it (I guess the UK equivalent is "withdrawn"). Our shelves are filled with library discards, but the one I went out and searched for and paid $40 for was my childhood favorite, "The elephant who liked to smash small cars." Isn't that the greatest title ever?

I do have a question, though. Does everyone in the UK use hot-water bottles, and if so, why not electric heating pads? I was stubborn, but my husband converted me and I love them. I have one for my toes and one for my pillow! The one for my toes can be set to turn off after a while.

That is too funny! I suppose "The Runaway Bunny" is right out with that librarian! What if all our children ran away and tried to become flowers in gardens?! Whatever will we do with all these children's books, being read by children, who IMAGINE things?!

Well there's nothing wrong with the puppy thing... Maybe Phoebe will get lucky and will get one. I got my first puppy at 23, as I too was afflicted by a cruel mother!

I LOVED that book and had forgotten about it until you posted it here, thank you for the little trip down Memory Lane!

My word! I was all ready to get on my high horse, as so often the things you hear that libraries have done or not done are just urban myths, so I was utterly shocked to see the evidence before my very eyes! It is bad enough to withdraw the book for such a silly flim flam reason, but to write the reason on the book?! Surely if they felt as strongly as that about it, it was irresponsible for them to sell it! The libraries I know and love get rid of books if they are either never used, or are so used they have fallen to bits!

I loved finding books with my children's names in them, and sometimes fantasized about naming a child after one of my favorite characters -- maybe Lily of the purple plastic purse?

At our house, we use rice bags instead of hot water bottles. Rice stitched up in muslin bags warmed up in the microwave is cozy, and not cold when it cools off.

Yea! Now I can go find this book for our own little Phoebe -- all of 18 months at present. Thanks for sharing!

Wow. I think that level of censorship is scary!
Looks like a fun book kids would just love.

As a kindy teacher I have seen far too many good books censored from libraries for RIDICULOUS reasons but I have to say yours really takes the cake! Glad Phoebe has had many years of enjoyment out of it.

I love this book and like your Mum I read it to countless infant children. But there was a twist! The very first time I read the book I misread the name Beeberbee to Beeberbeeby. From then on if I correctly read the name I was shouted down by all the children to read it with the mistake!! A grrat choice!

Censoring children's books? How sad... It looks lovely though...I would love to read it... xxx

Phoebe! Pssst! Phoebe! Over here. Quick, while she isn't looking this way. Phoebe, go for the puppy. No really much more lovelier and snuggly than a hottie. OK? Oh! Quick she's looking now. Walk away slowly......

Your post sent me on an urgent online search. My local library doesn't have it on the shelves, Amazon (in the US) reports it's out of print and unavailable, and nothing else so far except, curiously, a small but ardent fan group on Facebook. Back to the hunt . . .

I'll dodge the dodgy politics and comment on the hotties - we love them! Natch I knitted covers, but then we can't feel the lovely heat as well. NO idea how we lived without for so long.

Tom...brings me back to the wonderfully simple stories I used to read to my older children, now nearly adults, from Helen Oxenbury, "Tom and Pippo" series. Comforting adventures about a toddler and his sock monkey. A Phoebe book is unique.

I just discovered your lovely blog through my friend. It`s wonderful when memories come flooding back when we come across a book that we read our children when they were small. Coincidentally I was born in Stockport and also worked for Penguin Books in London when they were in the midst of banning and re-writing the Enid Blyton books. with Noddy and Big Ears no longer snuggling up in bed together or feeling Gay as in Happy!
I`m also a fan of hot water bottles by the way :)@

I love a tale of the world out of kilter with reality. Really made me laugh. The 'as if' nature of it all. Makes the book more of a treasure really. We had our first ever exploding bottle last night which meant three squished in a bed.

I came across your blog while searching for this book. It was my girls' favorite book and now that they are 30 and 24, they both want my one copy! It is almost impossible to find and I have come across sites that have sold this book for as much as $365! Maybe the copy in your library was simply stolen and that entry was just an attempt to cover it up. In my search for this book, I found that many schools used it as an example of patience and ingenuity--traits that that I will have to use if I keep on searching for this wonderful and entertaining book. Elva (Canada)

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