My daughter is five, and she and I (or her dad) read a story or a couple of chapters of something every bedtime together. Recently, I’ve re-discovered Joan Aiken. Some of her short stories are a bit alarming but my daughter has fallen in love with ‘A Necklace of Raindrops’ which is a beautiful story about a girl called Laura who is given a magical necklace by her godfather, the North Wind. Each birthday he brings a raindrop to add to her necklace and they each confer a special power on her: she can swim any river, go out in the wildest storm without getting wet, and so on. The catch is that she must never take it off. But Laura, on going to school, is requested to remove her necklace by a teacher. Basically, Laura has been grassed up by a girl called Meg, who wants the necklace for herself. Laura is most distressed to take off her necklace, and even more so when she discovers that it has been stolen. But the magic doesn’t work for Meg, and she soon loses the necklace too. Then begins a frantic journey for Laura to regain her wonderful necklace before her next birthday and the final raindrop arrives.
The book is beautifully illustrated by Jan Pienkowski, and this is the first story that my daughter has been determined to read all by herself, all the way through. I hadn’t realised quite how much of an impact it had had on her until she presented me with her Christmas wishlist. Among the ever-hopeful ‘a computer, a mobile phone and a chocolate coin maker’ she had listed ‘a necklace of raindrops’.
How could I resist? Here is the result – and it will be carefully packaged up, with a little note from Father Christmas, and popped into her stocking, ready for a magical surprise on Christmas Day.