Tag Archives: Barrington Stoke

The Ghost in Annie’s Room

It’s the anticipation that does it. I thought this story by Philippa Pearce was going to get quite scary at some point. And when it didn’t happen immediately, I expected it soon. And then shortly afterwards.

Philippa Pearce, The Ghost in Annie's Room

It wasn’t all that scary. I think. Unless I missed something. But that doesn’t matter, because as I said, it’s the expecting it, thinking that the ghost will jump out at you any second now. That’s scary.

Emma goes on holiday, staying with Great Aunt Win, and getting to sleep in Annie’s attic room. Emma’s brother helpfully informs her the room is haunted. And yes, there’s the noise in the night, and the shape in the dark.

There’s thunder.

And…

(Cosy illustrations by Cate James)

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The Mystery of Me

Karen McCombie, The Mystery of Me

We don’t always know who we are. And re-inventing ourselves can sometimes seem quite attractive, even if experience has taught me it’s virtually impossible. Although I keep trying.

Ketty in Karen McCombie’s The Mystery of Me has forgotten a lot after her serious accident. It takes time for her body to heal, and longer still for her mind to catch up.

She returns to school and feels tired and confused, but gets good help from Otis, whom she didn’t really know before.

I thought this was going to be your average school relationship story, albeit in a dyslexia-friendly format. I really didn’t see where it was going, and that made it so much more satisfying.

Ash Boy

In Ash Boy for Barrington Stoke, Lucy Coats introduces us to Cinders the fella. She turns most of the traditional Cinderella story upside-down, in what turns out to be a really enjoyable tale. I mean, I object to the bad treatment of anyone, just about, but it’s quite satisfying to have someone other than a girl do some of the cleaning…

Lucy Coats, Ash Boy

Not only is Cinderella a boy, but I suspect an Asian boy, which brings another welcome aspect to this well known story. I can’t quite place it in time, as it appears both thoroughly modern and also several hundred years old. It borrows ideas from the fairy tale and the Disney film as well as the traditional panto. (Swedes have no Buttons, for instance.)

I digress. This is great fun, while obviously being rather sad, what with the demise of Cinder’s mum and the hardship he suffers, bullied by his step-brothers Rock and Boulder and their mother Mrs Karim.

And then comes the invitation from the Royal family, where the winner of the Grand Quintain Contest will be granted a favour of their choice by Princess Betony on her 14th birthday.

You can guess how it goes.

Did I mention that this is really fun?

Defenders – Killing Ground

Another football-based book from Barrington Stoke by Tom Palmer. Tom is good at writing stories about sport to tempt reluctant boy readers, and then adding something else to entertain and educate.

Tom Palmer, Defenders - Killing Ground

In Killing Ground we meet Seth, who lives with his mum in Halifax, a few minutes from the football ground. They both love going to matches, but now Seth’s mum is ill, so it’s becoming harder for her to go out.

And Seth sees things, old-fashioned looking people, sometimes scary looking. He’s not sure why or how, but it’s getting worse, and he needs to do something about it, and not just because the bad vibes in town causes Halifax to lose to Stockport (sorry about that!).

Are those Vikings he can see? Seth’s best friend Nadiya is good with books, and together they look up the facts about local history. But how to stop the Vikings from killing local, innocent people, a thousand years later?

The easy read

Another thing I discovered at the library (see yesterday), was their section of beginners’ fiction in English.

Well, that’s what they called it. I noticed the thin books in English by, among others, Bali Rai and Kevin Brooks on the shelves on the end of one of the sections.

I didn’t recognise these books, so went closer, and realised that they were older Barrington Stoke titles. And yes, as such they are easier to read. Shorter and in a simpler language, and thereby ideal for the novice reader of English. We should have had books like that when I was at school! We got Somerset Maugham instead.

Have no idea how popular they will be, now that impatient young readers tackle Harry Potter in the original, because they can’t wait. And I get the impression that having started, many young teens go on to read a lot more in English, because they’ve realised it’s possible. That they can.

But for those who can’t, these dyslexia friendly books are just the thing.

Rook

In Rook we’re back with Nicky and Kenny from Anthony McGowan’s Brock and Pike, and it is as enjoyable and fun and excellent and heartrending as the first two books were.

Anthony McGowan, Rook

Both boys are growing and Nicky, who’s the younger of the two, is surprised to realise that Kenny is a person in his own right; and not just a special needs boy who must be helped at all times.

This time they find an injured rook and Kenny simply has to take it home to nurse it back to health. Nicky helps, but he’s finding life extra taxing because he’s being bullied at school. And he’s in love.

It’s hard, and it goes bad, but things can be sorted out eventually, except perhaps for the library closing hours, robbing Nicky of a safe place to escape to. These books are so inspiring and give the reader so much! And if your brother claims to be friends with Doctor Who, well, maybe he really is.

Children can

Old hands Bernard Ashley and Gillian Cross have written a book each for Barrington Stoke. I feel what they have in common is that children can do many things quite well, and sometimes better than the adults.

Bernard’s Lena Lenik SOS is about young Lena who lives in London with her brother and their Polish parents. Both children are keen scouts, which is really what’s behind this story.

Lena’s mum is pregnant with another baby and Lena needs to show quite how prepared she is.

In Film Crew by Gillian Cross Lara and her class are on a school trip, doing arts for a week somewhere in the woods. They are extremely keen and have lots of ideas of what they want to do.

However, their teacher has other ideas, and he ends up getting in the way of what’s good for his students. Luckily the young ones take control and save the week.

These books for relatively young readers should help them feel that they can if they want to.