The Bear and the Nightingale Review


Katherine Arden’s novel, The Bear and the Nightingale, is a brooding story.

A village at the edge of a Russian forest is a centre of a battle between the Christian faith sweeping across the land and the folklore beliefs of household spirits, witchcraft, Winter Kings and giant bears. Life seems predetermined for one little girl, Vasya, but will she choose a third option?

Most fairytales are about archetypes but the characters of The Bear and the Nightingale feel well-rounded and human, even the Winter King. This could be a much shorter story, a quick thin tale of magic and demons, of a little girl torn between two worlds, of things that lurk in the corner of the eye, but instead it lingers and matures. Pytor (the father), Sasha (a brother), Dunya (the grandmother) and Vasya, these are all names of real characters rather than the names of plot devices. Sometimes we wonder why we need to go with Pytor to Moscow, where he searches for a new wife, when we could be enjoying Vasya’s adventures more, but it adds depth so that when the tale turns stranger and darker we care for reasons beyond wonder.

Anyone looking for a quick fairytale will have to wait but by the end any such desires will be well met.

Arden’s The Bear and the Nightingale reads like an old fireside tale, something to cling to in cold winter months, but it’s also a story that continues to be true, a story of a girl and the young woman she becomes trying to find her own place in the world rather than settle for one chosen for her.

A must read.

Visit to reserve your copy or ask staff in your local Hillingdon Library.

By Mark Ulrich (Uxbridge Library)

Bernie Collins Uxbridge Library Art Display

KODAK Digital Still Camera

Welcoming the opportunity to exhibit my art within the context of a ‘recycling’ theme I realised my methods, and the materials I use, are the main reason I was invited. This has raised a dichotomy for me. Could I be accused of celebrating  surplus packaging? This is not my intention.

I am increasingly, like most people, concerned about the environment but it’s not the root motive in my art. A lack of funds has dictated the materials I have used over the years but this has brought great possibility…a freedom to experiment without fear of ruining/wasting expensive products. The realisation that free materials are all around me has unleashed my creativity.

KODAK Digital Still Camera

Manipulating “rubbish”  into something beautiful, or at least visually interesting, has been challenging and satisfying. This philosophy of incorporating the mundane everyday stuff into art has a long tradition. Duchamp’s urinal and Warhol’s celebration of packaging challenged perceptions about ‘art’. Picasso, Braque, Hoch, Schwitters and Ruchenberg, to name a few, all used ‘everyday’, ‘found’ materials in their work. They manipulated stuff or selected objects for their intrinsic values…texture, text, shape, pattern ect. We can all do that. It democratises art and I think that’s good.

Feedback over the years has come from all sectors of society, old and young, which has developed my confidence to put it ‘out there’. If my art inspires others I’m happy with that.

Finally, in a time when mobile phones are a main source of visual imagery, the impact of this work (with textures, ‘hand-doneness’ and scale) is its accessibility…right up close, almost intimate, or from across the gallery. It is something ‘different’…even if the subject matter is traditional, a recycling, a reinterpretation of familiar themes.

I’d welcome feedback in my comment book.

Thank you,

B Collins

January 4th 2018

If you are interested in purchasing any of my art please contact me on 07340 373940.


Bernine Collins’ Art Display is currently being exhibited at Uxbridge Library.

For opening hours visit:

Reading Group Review: The Jane Austen Book Club by Karen Joy Fowler

Ahead of a special free film screening of The Jane Austen Book Club starring Maria Bello and Emily Blunt, the Botwell Green Library Reading Group met to discuss the original novel by Karen Jay Folwer.

While some loved the premise of using a reading group as the structure for a novel  others were less keen on the book. Acknowledging a possible lack of Austen references, or perhaps the references being too subtle, the book group did agree that the novel was a light read and were intrigued to see how it transferred from the page to screen.
Have you read The Jane Austen Book Club or seen the film? Let us know what you think!
By Ben Caduff

3 Books about Birthdays

The Uxbridge Library Bear Club have been enjoying books about Birthdays this week! Here’s 3 fabulous books about birthdays picked out by Sarah, Akbar and Roksana.



It’s Spot’s birthday party and all his friends have come to play. Join Spot as he finds his friends one by one in this exciting game of hide-and-seek. Happy birthday, Spot!

Children love the suspense of finding out what’s behind the flaps. A great way to get children thinking about what they’re reading as well as just being a lot of fun! 


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It’s my birthday! I’m having a party. All my friends have brought presents . . . shall we open them? Lift the flaps and find out what’s inside all the presents.

Written by the author behind the much loved Dear Zoo, this book is another example of the lift-the-flap books that are so popular at Storytimes. Can you guess what’s behind the wrapping paper?

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Douglas is very excited about his birthday surprise. But when the surprise turns out to be his over-excited twin cousins, Douglas is sure this will be the worst birthday ever!

A lovely story. Douglass reminds us of our very own bear Bernard! 


The Uxbridge Library Bear Club will be back next Thursday and Friday when they’ll be reading stories about Bears! And, even better, we’ll all be bringing our teddy bears to hear the stories too!

Find out where your nearest Storytime this is by visiting:


By Mark – Uxbridge Library 

5 Comics You Possibly Didn’t Know Existed

We like to think of Wednesday as comic day at Hillingdon Libraries so here’s 5 comics you possibly didn’t know existed.

Oh, did we mention that you can read them all for free with a Hillingdon Library Card? These 5 can be found on the Comics Plus Library app. To find out more visit:



Angry Birds
You couldn’t believe there was a movie, well there’s also a comic series! The comic based on the popular mobile game follows the larks of these particularly vexed feathered fiends.




Star Trek
With its bright colours, cosmic scenes and big eyed adventurousness Star Trek is made for the comic medium. Boldly going where no crossover have gone before, the Star Trek comics have also seen appearances from Doctor Who and Green Lantern!


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John Wick
A bit more violent than the last two, Dynamite comics have launched a John Wick series which is being collected on Comic Plus. Featuring a younger John Wick than we’ve seen before, there’s no telling where the action may go.





James Bond
The superspy has appeared in everything. Dynamite comics have launched a new continuity for the secret agent with spin off comics for Moneypenny and Felix also available.




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Pinocchio Vampire Slayer
Who knew that growing a long nose every time you lied would help in the event of a vampire invasion?





By Mark Ulrich (Uxbridge Library)

The Greatest Showman Recommendations

Hugh Jackman’s The Greatest Showman is on at cinemas now. Did you like the movie? Would you like to read more about P.T. Barnum or circuses? Why not check out some of our recommendations?



Struggles and Triumphs is the life story of America’s first purveyor of pop culture–a man who indulged in outright chicanery and yet managed to retain an image (most of the time) of unassailable moral rectitude.




In 1886 a mysterious travelling circus becomes an international sensation. Open only at night, constructed entirely in black & white, the Cirque des Rves delights all who wander its circular paths. But behind the scenes a dangerous game is being played out by two young magicians, who are forced to test the limits of the imagination & love.

Longlisted for the Guardian First Book Award 2011.




Barnum P.T

(1810–1891), show man, politician, circus owner, one of America’s premier show-business entrepreneurs.

Find out more on Oxford Reference

Samuel_Root_or_Marcus_Aurelius_Root_-_P.T._Barnum_and_General_Tom_Thumb_-_Google_Art_Project-crop (1).jpg


“I risked much, but I made much.”

A New York Times article from August 29, 1993, on the Barnum Museum in Bridgeport, Conn., stated that while Barnum did not say anything about suckers being born every minute—he did say this.

“P. T. Barnum.” In The Oxford Dictionary of American Quotations, edited by Rawson, Hugh, and Margaret Miner. : Oxford University Press, 2006.

Want to find out more?



By Mark Ulrich