Posts Tagged With: Sephy

Names From Children’s Literature

The Gruffalo from a recent animation of the book, from guim.co.uk

As a kid, I read in most of my free moments. Nowadays, I haven’t properly sat down with a book for nearly a year now. I remember as a child being worried about the local library moving me to the adult’s library when I turned 14 and thus preventing me from taking out books I wanted to read. Of late, our library has added a teen fiction section to their adult section of their library; it’s a tiny cubbyhole, though. Given yesterday’s post, I seem to be getting a kick out of kid’s fiction at the moment so you never know, may go and implusively buy a book tommorow.

Whilst I may not be particularly interested in reading much anymore, there are several names I first came across in the world of make-believe:

Axel (The Gruffalo, Julia Donaldson)

The Gruffalo is a modern classic, and whilst Axel Schiffer didn’t author the book, he did illustrate it. I find The Gruffalo an endearing tale, which seems to rub off on the name Axel. Some may accuse him of being in the same clase as Gunner and Cannon, but I find him charming enough. Far from deriving from a vital part of a car, Axel comes from the Biblical name Absalom which means my father is peace. A key wearer of the name who no doubt influenced the tough guy image of the name is Guns N’ Roses frontman Axl Rose, who was born a William. In 2010, 43 little Axels were born in England&Wales giving the name a ranking of #706.

Briar&Lark (Circle of Magic, Tamora Pierce)

There’s a very interesting point to make with these names, and that is that Briar is a male character who chose the name for himself. He wanted a nature name, but nothing too feminine. Since this was the first time I really met the name Briar, I mostly think of him as a male name. Yes, there is Sleeping Beauty, who was known as Briar Rose but I never really watched that particular Disney Classic as a child. Incidently, Briar’s chosen surname was Moss. I’m probably one of the few to see Briar as male, since he does not rank as a male name in England&Wales; however, on the female list, Briar ranked at #5707 with only 3 girls given the name – with a further 5 named Briar-Rose.

Lark was female, and I’m still not wholly won over by the name since I use lark in a verb sense on a fairly regular basis as slang for joke. In terms of popularity, she was also given to 3 girls born in England&Wales in 2010.

Clarice (Clarice Bean, Lauren Child)

Clarice is the third child in a rather interestingly named sibset: Marcie, Kurt, Clarice and Minal Cricket. If you recognise the name of the author, Lauren Child is also the lady behind Charlie&Lola. Both books are aimed at the under 9s market. The name Clarice is part of the Claire family of names, which come from Latin and mean light. In 2010, there were 9 girls named Clarice in England&Wales in 2010.

Keturah ‘Ketty’ (Medusa Project, Sophie McKenzie)

Ketty is only ever called Ketty during the novel – after reading the book I took to the internet to find out what exactly Ketty was short for, if it were short for anything at all. Whilst reading the book, I had my bets penned on Katherine, which seemed the most likely given one can derive Kitty from Katherine – so why not Ketty? On the website for the books it is revealed that Ketty is, infact, a Keturah. She has a brother named Lex, which is short for Alexander.

The name Keturah is of Biblical origins and means incense, with only 3 girls given the name in 2010 in England&Wales.

Persephone ‘Sephy’ (Noughts&Crosses, Malorie Blackman)

Perhaps the most controversial book on this list, I actually won a signed copy of this a few years ago. It deals with the topic of racism, but the situation is flipped, thus those with dark skin (Crosses) have higher social status than those with white skin (Noughts). Sephy was of the former group and the daughter of a wealthy politician. I’ll be honest, I accidently read the third book first, then went back to the third and that’s about as far as I got with this particular series of books.

Persephone was given to 7 girls born in England&Wales in 2010. Most people first come across this name in Greek mythology, where she was the daughter of Demeter and Zeus. She was abducted by Hades, and eventually allowed to return to the surface from the underworld for a period of time each year.

Rosen (We’re going on a bear hunt, Michael Rosen)

I was read this book constantly as a child, and after the first time prompty renamed ones of my toys with the name Rosen. There are plenty of Rose-themed names out there, and aptly Bree has recently covered a selection of them, whilst only today has Abby gone in depth with Rosamund. In terms of Rosen, I see the name as somewhat unisex – kind of like Rowan is. Rosen also happens to be the German words for roses – kind of reminds me also of the German word for ruby: Rubin; looks an awful lot like Reuben, doesn’t he?

Wren&Hester (Mortal Engines, Philip Reeve)

Hester is the mother of Wren. I actually hated the character of Wren – so initially cared not for the name; I did really like Hester, though, and thus like her name. Nowadays I do like Wren to an extent, but probably more for a lad since the character did somewhat tarnish the name as a female one for me. The name Hester is a variation of the name Esther.

The names totted up as such in the popularity stakes in England&Wales in 2010:

  Rank Births
Wren (b) #2941 6
Wren (g) #2589 9
Hester #1815 15
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Straining Bookshelfs

The Thief Lord cover, from amazon.com

One of the best places to root around for names inspirations is books. The fictional world is where anything goes really – I once read a book named Storm’s Child where the main characters were called Rail (male) and Moa (female). Whilst I never got into Garth Nix’s main successes, I did love his book Shade’s Children – where the main characters were called Drum (male), Gold-Eye (male), Ninde (female) and Ella. Eoin Colfer once wrote a book called Supernaturalist, with characters Cosmo, Stefan and Mona. I digress, I read too much as a mid-teen and now my bookshelfs strain under the weight of all the books I own.

Since both Abby and Elea have both covered names of fictional characters this week in their own ways, I’m instead going to bring you inspiration from the names of the author’s which I read back when every waking moment of my life curled up with a book, along with the name of one of my favourite titles by them and some names from said title:

Benjamin Zephaniah (Teacher DeadJackson)

Benjamin Obadiah Iqbal Zephaniah is his full name, and I’m in awe of the mix of styles he’s been bestowed. I’ve met two young Zeph’s recently – one was a Zephyr and twin of Asher, whilst the other was a Zephaniah.TV’s Julia Bradbury welcomed a son named Zephyr earlier on this year in August.

The name Benjamin is of Hebrew origins and means son of the south/right hand, whilst Zephaniah is also of Hebrew origins and means Yahweh has hidden. For the sake of completion, Zephyr means west wind, whilst Asher means happy or blessed.

And a quick breakdown of each name’s popularity in 2010 in England&Wales:

Benjamin Zephaniah Zephyr Asher
Rank 22 1407 3332 364
Births 3005 17 5 112

Blue Balliett (Chasing VermeerPetra and Calder)

Balliett purposefully chose unusually names, believing that’s exactly what would appeal to her readers. When I initially read Chasing Vermeer about 3 years ago I didn’t like the name Petra all that much, but she’s grown on me. She’s the female form of Peter, which means rock, although the character was named with reference to the ancient city of Petra and as part of family naming tradition.

Now, for some hard data from the 2010 data for England&Wales. Blue doesn’t rank for girls (the author is female), but does for the boys:

Blue Calder Petra
Rank 1801 n/a 1472
Births 12 n/a 20

Cornelia Funke (The Thief LordProsper, Boniface ‘Bo’, Scipio, Esther and Ida)

I adore the name Prosper, and it’s from this book that my love for him was first sparked. I acknowledge that Funke’s other work, the Inkheart trilogy, is better known, but this one has a special place in my heart.

As for the name of the author, first we must note that the author is German, and then note the name is the female form of the Latin name Cornelius. The name comes from the Latin element cornu, which means horn. 4 girls were named Cornelia in 2010 in England&Wales, putting it at #4688. On the flip side, 6 lads were named Cornelius last year, and thus at a ranking of #2941. And for the names of her characters I mentioned above? (The ranking for Bo is the male ranking)

Prosper Boniface Scipio
Rank n/a n/a n/a
Birth n/a n/a n/a
Esther Ida Bo
Rank 156 878 1483
Birth 334 40 16

Cressida Cowell (How To Speak DragoneseHiccup, Fishlegs and Camicazi)

I know that I’m probably too old for Cowell’s books these days, but I am still eagerly awaiting the next installment of the Hiccup franchise next month (the film adaption of the first book dissolved me into tears-the only film to ever do so). I love the name Cressida, and she’s the medieval form of another name I love: Chryseis and also means gold. In Greek legend, Chryseis was the daughter of Chryses, a priest of Apollo. Since Hiccup and friends don’t rank, but Cressida does at #4688, with 4 births – same as Cornelia.

Enid Blyton (The Mystery of the Burnt CottageFrederick ‘Fatty’, Margaret ‘Daisy’, Lawrence ‘Larry’, Philip ‘Pip’ and Elizabeth ‘Bets’)

Enid is almost synonymous nowadays with the author, and the name comes from Welsh and means either soul or life. As an author, she chose rather classic names, all of which are not as popular nowadays as they were back when the books were first published, the one mentioned above came out in 1943:

Enid Frederick Lawrence
Rank 2104 95 355
Births 12 688 117
Philip Margaret Elizabeth
Rank 296 505 49
Births 152 80 1356

Compare the rankings of 2010 with that of 1934 when  all six names were in the Top 100:

Enid Frederick Lawrence
1934 68 24 72
2010 2104 95 355
Philip Margaret Elizabeth
1934 56 1 14
2010 296 505 49

Malorie Blackman (Noughts & CrossesPersephone ‘Sephy, Jasmine and Meggie)

The Noughts&Crosses trilogy was the one which first introduced me to the name Persephone, although I wasn’t sure of the pronunciation until I watched the television show Firefly. My copy of the first book is also signed by the author, Malorie Blackman, which I won, rather than stood in a line for.

The name Malorie is a variant spelling of Mallory, a name that comes from Norman French and means unfortunate. Rather makes me think of the CBBC show Trapped, where the contestants are known as unfortunates. Persephone’s meaning is not established, although she has been linked to Greek words which means murder or to destroy, whilst Meggie is a short form of Margaret and Jasmine is a lovely botanical name. They rank, as such:

Malorie Mallory Persephone
Rank n/a 4688 3156
Births n/a 4 7
Jasmine Meggie
Rank 41 5707
Births 1466 3

Tamora Pierce (The Magic In The WeavingSandrilene ‘Sandry’, Trisana ‘Tris’, Daja, Briar (male) and Lark)

I actually took this book out of my local library by mistake more than anything, but found myself reading it anyway. Whilst a little difficult to follow to begin with, I loved it enough to read all it’s sequels. This is the first real occasion I came across the name Briar, since I was never really shown Sleeping Beauty as a child, and I actually like it. The character himself chose the name, wanting something botanical, yet masculine. I think he achieved that, since I’ve often misread the name as Bear.

As for the name of the author, Tamora, she’s a variant spelling of the name Tamara, which is a variant of the name Tamar, which means palm tree in Hebrew. Predictably, none of the names have really made an impact in the popularity data for England&Wales (the data for Briar is the female one, since there is no male ranking):

Tamora Tamara Sandry Lark
Rank n/a 458 n/a 5707
Births n/a 90 n/a 3
Trisana Daja Briar
Rank n/a n/a 5707
Births n/a n/a 3

Tom Becker (DarksideCarnegie, Vendetta and Marianne)

I listed him because of his surname, rather than his first name. Becket is a nouveau name getting some attention right now, and I think I like Becker a tad more. He’s a German surname and variant of another surname, Becke, which means baker. The Carnegie Award is given out annually to a single children’s book which has impressed, and named after Andrew Carnegie.

Out of all the names, only Marianne ranks in the England&Wales data – at #946 with 36 uses.

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