Everywhere you look this last week there has been talk of diets and detox so it must be the year! I have a diet with a difference to offer you, a diet of books and for my first offering I would like to set you up with the books on the short list for the Red House Children's Book Award which from now on will be referred to as RHCBA.
In the school in which I work as a librarian, Downsend, in Leatherhead, we have set up a reading group or three for the different age groups, all these groups have been reading and sharing the books on the short list, discussing their relative merits and being candidly open and honest about how they feel.
The younger children have been enjoying the picture books, we read them together and they love exploring them in detail, something they don't always get the chance to do as they are pushed into chapter books too soon, I meet with one group again tomorrow so will report back on their progress. In the meantime however on Friday we met with the older group of children from Years 6 & 7 who have read a number of the books now between them and had some interesting thoughts to share. Today I'll start with the Tom Gates title which they enjoyed but felt that it was trying too ha to be an English Wimpy Kid. The book, they said was funny but coming after so many other books in a similar style they were slightly bored of the format and didn't find that giving it an English rather than American setting really made any difference, after all, they id, they are so exposed to American culture that the setting of a book makes little difference.
Another interesting comment was that the main character, Tom, is too good, there is too much focus on him and it takes away from the humour of the story.
For the adult members of the group, myself and an English teacher, the book is perhaps a 21st century version of The Secret Diary of Adrain Mole with which we grew up and have find memories of laughing at. It appears that this format is successful with every generation but it is how the characters are portrayed that really makes the difference between enjoyment and tedium as experienced by our group.
There ends our first instalment. The awards are voted for on 20th January and the winners announced on 11th February, a celebration we hope to attend so between now and then remember to check back here regularly for our updates.