You are old, father William!

I love this poem, by Lewis Carroll…

“You are old, father William,” the young man said,
“And your hair has become very white;
And yet you incessantly stand on your head
Do you think, at your age, it is right?

Father William somersaulting in through the door
Father William somersaulting in through the door (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“In my youth,” father William replied to his son,
“I feared it might injure the brain;
But, now that I’m perfectly sure I have none,
Why, I do it again and again.”

“You are old,” said the youth, “as I mentioned before,
And you have grown most uncommonly fat;
Yet you turned a back-somersault in at the door
Pray what is the reason for that?”

“In my youth,” said the sage, as he shook his grey locks,
“I kept all my limbs very supple
By the use of this ointment one shilling a box
Allow me to sell you a couple?”

“You are old,” said the youth, “and your jaws are too weak
For anything tougher than suet;
Yet you finished the goose, with the bones and the beak
Pray, how did you manage to do it?”

“In my youth,” said his father, “I took to the law,
And argued each case with my wife;
And the muscular strength, which it gave to my jaw,
Has lasted the rest of my life.”

“You are old,” said the youth, “one would hardly suppose
That your eye was as steady as ever;
Yet you balanced an eel on the end of your nose
What made you so awfully clever?”

“I have answered three questions, and that is enough,”
Said his father. “Don’t give yourself airs!
Do you think I can listen all day to such stuff?
Be off, or I’ll kick you down stairs.

10 Haunted Libraries Around the World

link to original blog post

10 Haunted Libraries Around the World

October 12th, 2012

by Ellyssa Kroski

Since the first post, 10 Haunted Libraries of the US was so popular, I thought an international edition was in order.

Here are 10 more haunted libraries throughout the world.

The Marsh Library, Dublin

  1. Raby Castle, Durham, England.

    Sir Henry Vane the Younger, who was beheaded for treason in 1662 haunts this castle library. His headless torso has been reported to appear on the library’s desks! More coverage here.

  2. Marsh’s Library, Dublin Ireland

    The first public library in Ireland was founded in 1701 by Archbishop Narcissus Marsh (1638–1713)
    who is said to haunt the building to this day. He has been seen wandering among the shelves and rummaging through volumes looking for a lost letter from his niece. More coverage here.

  3. Felbrigg Hall, Norfolk, England

    The gothic library of the National Trust Hall of Felbrigg in Norfolk, England is said to be haunted by William Windham III, an 18th-century scholar and close friend of lexicographer Samuel Johnson. More coverage here.

  4. State Library of Victoria, Melbourne, Australia

    Security guards at this State Library have reported many ghostly haunts including a children’s librarian named Grace, a mustachioed gentleman who wanders the music stacks, as well as glowing balls of light and various poltergeist phenomena. More coverage here.

  5. Kimberley Africana Library, Northern Cape South Africa.

    The first librarian, Bertrand Dyer committed suicide by swallowing arsenic and is said to remain here, haunting the special collection. Footsteps of the former librarian can be heard pacing from room to room. More coverage here.

  6. Morelia Public Library, Michoacán Mexico

    A ghostly nun wearing blue has been reportedly seen by library staff in this 16th century building. the restless spirt’s footsteps can be heard throughout the library. More coverage here.

  7. Rammerscales House, Lockerbie, Dumfries, Scotland

    James Mounsey, the former owner of this 18th century estate is said to haunt the library within. The ghostly apparition was so active during World War II that stendents who lived there at the time preferred to sleep in the stables. More coverage here.

  8. Bristol Central Library, Bristol, England

    This reference library is said to be haunted by a gray-robed monk who haunts Bristol Cathedral next door. He is said to visit the adjacent library to consult theological books. More coverage here.

  9. McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada

    The ghost of a man in an old-fashioned coat haunts the sixth floor of this university library. He is said to meet the gaze of those who speak to him and then promptly disappear. More coverage here.

  10. Blackheath Library, St. John’s Park, London England

    The library in this former vicarage haunted by the spirit of Elsie Marshall (1869–1895), the woman who lived and grew up in the house. It’s been reported that lights go on when there’s no one inside the building and people have felt her presence brush past them when they enter. More coverage here.

A Monster Calls – A Novel by Patrick Ness, from an original idea by Siobhan Dowd

  What we are reading – A Monster Calls, by Patrick Ness

 This book is interesting for two reasons:

  1.   It is the first book to win both The Carnegie Medal and The Greenaway Medal.
  2.   The author adapted a story originally thought up by another author;       Siobhan  Dowd.


 Siobhan Dowd wrote in the young adult/teenage category of children’s literature.    Her books ‘A Pure Swift Cry’ shortlisted for The Carnegie Medal in 2007, and ‘Bog   Child’ which won the award in 2009 both deal with controversial, and social realist issues.  ‘A Monster Calls’ is aimed a little younger than a typical Dowd book – which is fine: – Ness was not trying to be Dowd; he was writing her story in his own style.  The result was a book which is deep, dark and intriguing.


 Ness worked in his own style, on a story he adapted in his own way, and let it go in its own direction. Yet it still managed to capture the heart wrenching drama and tragedy of a Dowd book.  Her books can touch teenagers and adults alike and this story is no different. Yes, the book is about a monster-tree.  But this book about a monster-tree DOES deal with serious issues. This book about a monster-tree CAN be taken seriously by adults. Like any Dowd book, it deals with subjects that are hard to deal with:
 Illness and death: “I can’t stand it anymore!.. I can’t stand knowing that she’ll go!”

 Bullying: “Harry had tripped Conor coming into the school grounds… And so it had begun…and so it had continued.”

 Feeling guilt: the need to be punished: “Why didn’t it kill me?..  I deserve the worst.”
 The book also contains three philosophical tales told by the monster-tree.  Each of the three tales has a surprising moral to it.  The conclusions about ethics, intentions, justice and punishment are debatable, and will make the reader stop and think. 
 The story is not only told with Ness’s words, but also with Jim Kay’s pictures.  Each picture, scattered with minute detail is not only a superb piece in its own right, but also compliments and enhances the feel of the story.  The illustrations are thicker and darker when Conor is feeling gloomy; light and minimalist when there is hope in his life.  When Conor is feeling under pressure, the drawings engulf the pages and surround the words creating an almost claustrophobic atmosphere.


 This is a thrilling yet moving read, full of twists and irony.  The way the story is told is excellent.  Children will be enthralled within its world of magic and fantasy,   while adults will accept it as realistic and allegorical. The illustrations are dark and detailed; harsh yet elegant.

I wrote this for the library blog as part of Children’s Book Week (1st – 7th October 2012).  The original blog post can be found here