Tag Archives: Aidan Chambers

Blindside

Blindside is a dyslexia friendly revised version of Aidan Chambers’s Cycle Smash, from almost 50 years ago. If you read it as an adult, your heart will be in your mouth as young Nate cycles off into the evening. Because you can imagine it being your child and you can tell what must be about to happen.

But if you’re a teenager, it will presumably just read like an interesting and exciting story about an athlete who likes running, and who is about to go on to great things. Were it not for the bike accident, of course.

Aidan Chambers, Blindside

Seriously injured, Nate is furious that he won’t be running again, and is not terribly grateful for actually being alive. We see him in his hospital bed, feeling sorry for himself and ready to do really stupid things. But then – and I reckon this is where the original date of the story shows through – his kindly nurse tells him what she thinks of his behaviour and sets him off on a new course.

Because there are people far worse off than Nate, and it’s time he realised this. As he does, you might want a tissue handy.

And if you are a parent, you’ll be out locking your child’s bike away.

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The Kissing Game

I thought I’d never get round to reading anything by Aidan Chambers. And now I have!

Having previously looked at a couple of his longer novels and come to the conclusion they were not for me, I wanted to find something I could read and enjoy. Aidan’s new short story collection The Kissing Game is a nice little volume of stories ranging from the very short to one longish one.

Unlike me, the Resident IT Consultant has read other books by Aidan, so he grabbed it pretty quickly when it arrived. And then someone else was asking if she could read it, so I found myself hurrying to to get to it before it was too late. Packed it to read on the train to Scotland last week and it was a perfect read for a journey. Not too big and not too complicated.

To be honest, I found some of the very short pieces slightly on the short side for me. Flash fiction I think it’s called. And the title story was, well, maybe I shouldn’t say anything here. It stands apart from most of the other stories.

My favourite was probably the first one about the girl who’s always been taken for granted, and who was finally going to do something about it. I thought I could see where it was going, and then it changed direction.

Actually, I also really liked the one which was a letter about PE lessons at school, and the one about planning permission for ‘alternate’ living. To finish, Aidan has included a story written by the 17-year-old Aidan Chambers, which is quite an interesting thing for an established writer to do.

Nominations for the 2010 Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award

The ALMA people have a long longlist of 168 nominations for next year’s award, and I won’t write them all down here. I had a little look for individual authors that you may know and be interested in:

David Almond, Quentin Blake, Aidan Chambers, Morris Gleitzman, Margaret Mahy, Michael Morpurgo, Walter Dean Myers, Axel Scheffler, Kate Thompson, Tomi Ungerer, Jacqueline Wilson and Diana Wynne Jones.

There are absolutely masses of Scandinavian writers, as well as others from countries we rarely pay attention to in the English speaking world. And then there are the organisations. Boring as it may seem to vote for a group that brings books and reading to many children, I wonder whether that is what they should do after all.

The above writers are all good and worthy, and as Sonya Hartnett found last year, five million kronor will do a lot for a person. But the good the money will do through an organisation is very different.

I also wonder why these particular authors are on the list. Presumably because they have someone who campaigns for them and who are allowed to nominate. I need to find out who does get to nominate. I can see myself nominating, you know.

Age-appropriate advice

Would you suggest to a proficient 14-year-old reader that they read The Witches by Roald Dahl?

It’s not the first thing that would come to mind, is it? Especially if the advisor is someone in publishing, who knows about books for young readers. I’m reminded of my Swedish teacher when I was that age. She kept suggesting books that were far too young for me, even if I hadn’t been permanently glued to Alistair MacLean. In English.

The magazine ViLÄSER arranged a meeting between a children’s publisher and a 14-year-old for a discussion on books, and I was appalled to find the Dahl being her first idea when the girl said she likes exciting books.

Even the previously mentioned Petrini crime novels are a little young, although the girl had enjoyed them. I could barely keep up when the next suggestion was Aidan Chambers, which is a huge jump. The girl’s current favourite is The Hunger Games.

In the end they produced a fairly good list of books, including Ink Heart, His Dark Materials, The Princess Diaries, The Diary of a Wimp, and Before I Die.

But why should it be so hard to give advice?

I found an interesting thought in an interview with a children’s author called Åsa Lind. I have no idea of what her writing is like, but like this quote: ‘You don’t need to write for everyone. It doesn’t have to be easy to digest or easy to buy. Better chewy than soft. But still enjoyable, rather like Romanian poetry.’