Monthly Archives: January 2015

Proof

I’ll say this; there was an awful lot of list left at the end of Friday. At the end of the whole week, in actual fact. Things on my to-do-list kept getting carried over to the next day. And the next.

I did things for other people, which I suppose was nice of me. Other people being Offspring. They both had need of proof reading, and luckily for them, I had finished one by the time the other came along with his request. Only by half an hour or so, but at least it wasn’t simultaneous proofing.

And what they had really needed proof reading. Not saying it was bad, what they had produced. On the contrary. It was pretty good, which is why you definitely need that last bit of making it’s into its and segregating the affects from the effects. Making sure the year is 2015, or people will have turned up last year.

One was easier to read than the other, but I persevered with the difficult one as well. The words were mostly normal, but put together in such a way that it wasn’t completely obvious – to me – what they were saying. There were wobbles. And jitters. Those were the folksiest of the descriptions.

The easier one was read by both me and the Resident IT Consultant. We compared notes at the end of it, and interestingly enough, except for one overlap, each had found different mistakes.

If I can let Friday count as the end of my – working – week, I finished off by assisting with an application. The old-fashioned kind; not an app (which I still have trouble getting my head round). I almost fell asleep in the middle of it. I find my eyes are more comfortable when they are closed, but it does make accidental snoozes more likely.

Never Odd or Even

Eliot in Never Odd or Even probably has Asperger Syndrome. And I reckon this book will appeal to children with similar fondness for prime numbers and palindromes and stuff like that. It even appealed to me, although I had feared it might not, what with all the numbers and things to begin with.

As with other aspie books, it’s about being bullied at school and about solving a crime. The two are obviously connected.

John Townsend, Never Odd or Even

We never learn all that much about the main character, who has to be called Eliot or his name wouldn’t fit in with the palindromes and all the rest. I’m thinking John Townsend likes stuff like that too.

I didn’t set out to learn all those prime numbers, nor to decipher the anagrams, but was happy to let Eliot guide me. But I have to mention that it’s difficult to have Friday the 12th of July any time soon after a Friday the 13th. I couldn’t help checking this. And if the word for fear of Friday the 13th really is Paraskevidekatriaphobia, it will never be able to score you 44 or more in Scrabble, because the word is too long. (I might also have some doubts about the length of Summer term at Eliot’s school…)

Sorry.

It’s a short and entertaining book about a boy with special interests and his interactions with the villain of the piece, Victor. Victor is vile. Evil.

I was a little surprised by the crime, as well as its solution. I won’t say more.

Walk the Walk

To begin with I have to admit to a few thoughts I had when I learned that between them Scottish Book Trust and the Scottish Government have put money into a scheme to try and teach people about the trouble with sectarianism.

Gowan Calder and Jill Calder, Walk the Walk

My mind immediately went to Islam versus some other religious group (whereas the book in question – Walk the Walk – is about Catholics and Protestants). And then I thought that I don’t believe in artificial stories or fiction that is brought to us to teach us how to behave. To top it all, when I began reading Walk the Walk (downloadable as a pdf here), I was unable to tell the Catholics from the Protestants. My first guess was – probably – the wrong one, so I turned the situation on its head.

Gowan Calder and Jill Calder, Walk the Walk

That in itself should prove that either I’m exceptionally dim, or that it’s not actually terribly obvious. Take away skin colour and religious uniform and we tend to look surprisingly similar. Set in Glasgow, the only black character is from Edinburgh. And with my Swedish hat on, I have to admit that this kind of official attempt to make life better and to have people love one another, sometimes might work, a little. So I’m pleased to live in a country where they at least try.

Gowan Calder and Jill Calder, Walk the Walk

Launched yesterday by Scottish Book Trust and Paul Wheelhouse MSP, Minister for Community Safety and Legal Affairs, the book will be distributed to literacy tutors across Scotland. It was written in dramatised form by Gowan Calder and illustrated in comic book style by Jill Calder.

Walk the Walk Launch, Gowan Calder (author of Walk the Walk), Marc Lambert (Director, Scottish Book Trust), Paul Wheelhouse MSP (Minister for Community Safety and Legal Affairs), Danny Parkes (project participant), Jill Calder (Illustrator of Walk the Wal

And for a story born in this way, it’s pretty good. At least the first half which I’ve had time to read. I think we should all give it a go. It might make us feel that those others aren’t so strange, after all. Whoever ‘those others’ are, which will vary depending on who you are and where.

Numbers, or is it art?

One, three, forty, eighty, one hundred. This Numbers book by artist Paul Thurlby might be ‘simply’ a children’s picture book to teach them numbers.

Paul Thurlby, Numbers

But I don’t think so. It’s art. The adult in me could – almost – be willing to tear the pages out and frame them. Luckily I have no wall space left.

Most books that teach young children numbers go to ten. This one goes to one hundred, by doing one to ten and then the tens up to a hundred. (So you get more for your money…)

Paul Thurlby, Numbers

There is nothing average about these pictures. Take four, for instance. You get the Beatles, the Fab Four, no less. (I just have to tear that one out!)

I know nothing about retro-modern Paul, but it seems he’s also responsible for Alphabet, and I bet that’s wonderful to look at, too.

You don’t need a child for this book.

War Girls

Another irresistible collection of short stories for you. This time to mark the anniversary of WWI, and it’s all about girls. In War Girls nine of our best authors get together to tell the stories of the young females left behind. And there are so many ways to do that.

War Girls

I loved Theresa Breslin’s tale of the young artist who took her crayons with her as she went to France as a nurse. Matt Whyman looks at the war from the point of view of ‘the enemy’ in the form of a female sniper in Turkey. Very powerful story.

Mary Hooper has spies in a teashop, and you can never be too careful who you speak to or who you help. I found Rowena House’s story about geese in France both touching, and also quite chilling. I’d never heard about the theories for the outbreak of the Spanish flu before.

Melvin Burgess tells us about a strong heroine, who can’t abide cowardice, even in those close to her. Berlie Doherty’s young lady can sing, and that’s what she does to help the war effort. And singing isn’t necessarily safer or easier than being in the trenches.

Anne Fine deals with hope, and whether it’s all right to lie to make someone’s suffering less heavy. Adèle Geras has updated her story The Green Behind the Glass, which I’ve read several times before. It’s still one of my favourites and can easily be read again and again.

Sally Nicholls may be young, but she can still imagine what it was like to be old and to have survived as one of the spare women of the war; one of those who could never hope to marry. I don’t believe there is enough written about them, and Going Spare is a fantastic offering on the subject.

Montmorency on the Rocks

The second of Eleanor Updale’s novels about Montmorency begins five years later, which means there are definitely no young people in it, apart from a few incidental babies. Much more of a 39 Steps setting, this book appears to be about drug use, and how to get off the drugs if you’ve been stupid enough to start.

Eleanor Updale, Montmorency on the Rocks

And it’s our hero, Montmorency, who is the addict, and it is horrible to behold. Perhaps that’s the idea. His aristocratic pal George does his best to help, even when he doesn’t want to be helped. They go to Scotland to recover, narrowly missing a bomb at King’s Cross. (This is the late 19th century, but it feels much like today in some ways.)

In Scotland another mystery introduces itself, which seems to be totally separate from the bomb. Both mysteries only get tackled by our heroes after some time, but it certainly gets exciting.

The drug problem, the poverty and the violence could be part of life anywhere, but maybe not the seemingly charmed existence led by the titled and the rich. It’s very wrong, but so charming and thrilling at the same time.

I’ll be interested to see where Montmorency will go from here. He’s not all nice, and he is clearly not getting younger. Or more law-abiding.

We hear you, Gloria

This week I found a rather lovely video by Debi Gliori on her blog, Fiddle and Pins. I clicked on it, expecting a few minutes of something, but what I got was 25 minutes of Debi-history.

Debi Gliori video

She begins with her birth, which Debi draws with surprising accuracy (I assume she really remembers this being born stuff), and then she continues to draw her childhood and school years.

There are drawings of her pet dragon (I just knew that’s what Debi would have had) and the nuns at school, and her own first baby.

It’s all very Debi, and just as she was grateful for the library which supplied her with a lifeline in the shape of books to disappear into, there are some of us who are pretty grateful for all of Debi’s books, and those ‘doodles.’

And unlike that silly nun, I do know Debi isn’t Gloria (although it is quite a nice name).

(My own, now quite ancient, interview with Debi isn’t a patch on this video. I should have asked about her dishwasher-like birth…)