My Sister Jodie by Jacqueline Wilson

My Sister Jodie – Jacqueline Wilson ( web ) Publication: 2008 Page Count: 244 My Rating: A Rainy Day Read Suggested Audience: Girls Background When Pearl’s parents get jobs working at prestigious Melchester College, it spells a move to the country … Continue reading

Stig of the Dump by Clive King

Stig of the Dump – Clive King
My Rating – Rainy Day Read
Suggested Audience– Teen Boys
Page Count– 157
Publication– 1962

Barney decided he wasn’t dead. He didn’t even seem to be very much hurt, he turned his head and looked around him. It was dark in this den after looking at the white chalk and he couldn’t see what sort of place it was. It seemed to be partly a cave dug into the chalk, partly a shelter built out of the mouth of the cave…

Background

When Barney falls into a disused chalk pit (now only used as a dumping ground for broken, unwanted junk), he is amazed to find a caveman living amongst the rubbish! Although he doesn’t speak any English, the caveman is a friendly young boy and he and Barney quickly become friends and embark on a series of wonderful adventures.

My Thoughts

When you read this novel, you need to remember that it was written over 50 years ago. Today’s modern child may be appalled by the idea of discarded junk being tossed unceremoniously into a disused chalk pit and may be surprised by the advent of a caveman living amongst the detritus and say “but that’d never happen!” But once you get over the logistics of this novel, you will be completely drawn into the world of Stig and the adventures he and Barney experience.

I think a modern reader would be fascinated by this book; some of the ideas explored are quite revolutionary considering when this novel was first written. For instance, many of the adventures hinge on Stig and Barney using some of the discarded items in the chalk pit to build items. It is a very environmentally friendly concept (without forcing this ideal onto the reader or being superior about it) and as an adult reader, I couldn’t help smile. When I was a child, much play was spent building items out of junk (with varying success – who can forget the billycart which had its brakes fail halfway down the hill…), but a modern child might not think in this way as a matter of course. So as an adult, I appreciated how Stig of the Dump may inspire a “new” way of thinking for children whose minds and imaginations are somewhat quashed by mind numbing computer games.

Barney looked at one side of the den, the darkest side, which really needed windows. It was built of wooden boxes from the dump, bottoms outward, open tops inward. He took the digging tool and knocked the bottom out of one. There was now an open square where daylight came in. But so did the wind, and Stig didn’t seem at all pleased at sitting in a draught.
Stigs like to be snug, thought Barney.
He carried the jars in and stacked them in the frame of the box. They fitted quite well, the light came in, but the draught came in too…

Each chapter in Stig of the Dump is a new adventure, making this a great novel for someone who wants bite-sized chunks to read instead of a long narrative. It’s perfect for bedtime reading or helping a child who might not be the most confident reader. A more advanced reader might not enjoy this novel, purely because it doesn’t offer a challenge, but nonetheless it is a very enjoyable story for a pre-teen audience.

Where Can I Get It?

To buy Stig of The Dump for a great price and have it shipped straight to your door for free, follow this link to the Book Depository.

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Thoughts While Having Sex by Stephanie Lehmann

Jennifer, a shy playwright living in New York finds the dating scene incredibly alluring – and incredibly nerve wracking. Any time she finds herself in a -ahem- ‘naughty situation’, she imagines the ghost of her deceased sister looking down at her and laughing. Cue awkwardness! Continue reading

Picture Me Gone by Meg Rosoff

Picture Me Gone – Meg Rosoff (web | twitter | facebook)
Publication: 2013 (received through NetGalley, thanks!)
Page Count: 200
My Rating: A Rainy Day Read
Suggested Audience: Young Teenager


Background
Just days before scheduled to travel with her father to America to visit his old friend Matthew, 12 year old Mila and her father receive the news that Matthew has suddenly disappeared without any warning or trace. Mila and her father take off on a roadtrip across the USA to look for Matthew, unravelling a mystery and learning truths about growing up.

My Thoughts
I found this to be a hard book to get into, but as the narrative progressed I became more and more interested in how the journey would end. Meg Rosoff has an uncanny skill in luring the reader in and then suddenly changing the subject, compelling the reader to keep on turning that page.

As I read, I considered what age-group I would personally recommend this novel for, and if I’m honest, I’m still not sure of my answer! Written with heavy use of descriptive language, this book might not appeal to readers who are in the same age group as the protagonist. But at the same time, Mila’s inner thoughts are written in a way so that a younger audience may relate.

“At Suzanne’s, I Googled cases of people who suddenly walk away from their homes or families. Some of the reasons are: madness, amnesia, money problems, marital woes, secret second family, depression, fired from job but hasn’t told wife, crisis of religious faith or near death experience, terrible secret, kidnapping, mental illness, doesn’t know why…

Many of these reasons are confusing. Why wouldn’t you tell your wife if you’d lost your job? What’s so bad about a crisis of faith? What sort of secret? Someday I’ll understand more of these thing…”

Although listed as “children’s fiction” and YA (young adult), in many ways this novel did not read as “children’s fiction”, and I think would be better suited to an older audience (say 15+). However, what with typical teenage ego, I wouldn’t be certain if an older audience would read a novel with a younger protagonist! I think that rather than depending on the readers age, the suitability of this novel should be decided based on the readers maturity.

The one element I personally found completely unnecessary is that Mila refers to her parents by their first names. At first, I wasn’t sure if this was a cultural thing, it if this book was possibly set in the future, or if it was simply a nod to the “coming of age” narrative. It is my opinion that the majority of readers who Meg is aiming to appeal to will find Mila’s reference to her parents by their first names to be awkward. Irrespective of her reasoning, I thought it an entirely unnecessary choice and it annoyed me throughout my reading of Picture Me Gone.

But before potential audiences are frightened off, let me say that this is an interesting read, and that Picture Me Gone focuses on themes that aren’t frequently considered in this genre of literature. Alcoholism, depression and death are all meshed into this story, making it a very thoughtful read. Again, while I would question the suitability of this novel for “children’s fiction”, Meg Rosoff considers themes thoughtfully and is subtle in their conclusion, making it a very gentle introduction for young teenagers to the “adult world”.

Where Can You Get It?
To buy Picture Me Gone for a great price and have it shipped straight to your door for free, follow this link to the Book Depository.

Free Delivery on all Books at the Book Depository