Children’s Corner: Powerful Princesses

Princesses in children’s literature are a fraught topic. There has been a strong backlash against the glittery, pink-washed stories of passive princesses who wait in towers — objects to be won by daring knights. Yet many children are drawn to princess stories, and who wants to stop children from reading anything they are excited about?

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Most of us were raised on stories about princesses. From the darkness of the Brothers Grimm and Hans Christian Anderson fairytales, to the gentler Disney versions, these stories are an inescapable part of our culture. Fortunately, there are now many fantastic picture books that challenge the conventional roles of princesses in stories, creating characters that are like us and that inspire us to dare and dream. Listed below are some of my favourites. They are sure to appeal to princess-loving children and their princessed-out parents alike! Continue reading

Literary love: The Happy Reader

When I’m not reading books, or selling them, I’m most likely talking about books, to everyone and anyone who will listen. One of the many joys of working at Paperchain is being surrounded by book lovers who will happily share their latest reading adventures with me. So I was thrilled to discover The Happy Reader, a new voice in this lively literary discussion.

The Happy Reader is a quarterly publication brought out by Penguin UK in conjunction with the British magazine Fantastic Man. Each issue is divided into two sections: the first part features a rambling, conversational interview with an interesting subject about their reading life; the second part is a dossier of articles based around a Penguin Classic.

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The first issue came out in 2014, with Dan Stevens (of Downton Abbey fame) appearing on the cover. In the interview, Stevens talks about reading books that were published between 1912 and 1918 — the period in which Downton Abbey is set — to gain a deeper knowledge of the times, as well as his experience of judging the Booker Prize in 2012. Subsequent issues have featured actor Alan Cumming, musicians Kim Gordon and Grimes, and comedian Aziz Ansari. Continue reading

Cooking the Books: Rarebits with blue cheese and pear

Cooking the books is a recurring column where we test recipes from some of the cookbooks we sell, and share our experiences with you. Is this all simply an elaborate excuse to cook and eat some delicious food? Maybe. Are we looking forward to doing just that? You bet! In this edition of Cooking the books, Rebecca and Freya are cooking (and eating) rarebits with blue cheese and pear, from Yvette van Boven’s Home Made Winter.

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With the weather in Canberra talking a turn for the autumnal, we find ourselves drawn to comfort food. The best comfort food is hearty but simple, and these blue cheese and pear toasties certainly fit the bill. So we rolled up the sleeves of our seasonally-appropriate tartan shirts and got to work. Continue reading