Tag Archives: Linda Press Wulf

Twelve don’t go to Anglesey

Or ‘how to fail at getting Daughter to read’. Something. Anything.

She went on a Geology field trip to Anglesey last week. So obviously they were going to spend lots of time staring at rocks. And other geological things. But you just never know what you might want if you wake up in the middle of the night in a strange place. Or if your room mates are boring.

Small luggage allowance in the college minibus meant we decided on just one very good paperback. But which one? Daughter wanted it to be adventurous. ‘It will be, dear’ I said. ‘Oh, the book you mean?’

Nothing girlie. Not too long. Not scary.

I dug out twelve contenders to share with the waterproofs and thick socks. They were: Between two Seas, Burn my Heart, Chains, Crossing the Line, Halo, Hootcat Hill, Ondine, Revolver, The Cat Kin, The Night of the Burning, Time Riders, When I Was Joe.

Having lined them up (sorted according to colour of the covers) on the piano, we met and she pruned. Oh how she pruned. Too pink. Too chavvy (cover). Scary dragon. No. Don’t get it. Too political. No. No religion. Prefer to read this at home. (!) Don’t think so.

Then it was down to two. Halo and Between Two Seas. Hard choice, but Between Two Seas ‘spoke’ to her.

So this historical tale set in Jutland was the one that got squeezed into her bag. The one she would have read, had she read a book there.

Oh well.

(Looking on the bright side, at least she didn’t tear the pages out and stuff them inside her boots to make them dry faster. Seeing as they had no newspaper to stuff with.)

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Journeys

I once started a mental list of “journey books”. By that I mean stories that are one long and difficult journey, usually walking, from A to B, done by a lone child or a group of children. These books generally require hankies, both during and after.

Linda Press Wulf’s The Night of the Burning, which is now out in paperback, is a journey book. It’s about two Jewish sisters going from Poland to South Africa. While many Jewish stories are connected to the second world war, this one starts in 1921.

Another journey book is Last Train From Kummersdorf by Leslie Wilson. This is set in Germany during the war, but it’s not primarily about Jews. So again, that makes it a little bit different. Sometimes it feels as if all war stories set in Germany are about the persecution of Jews, when in actual fact there must also have been many other children suffering hardship.

The boy Hanno and the girl Effi end up in each other’s company, and they slowly make their way to Kummersdorf, to catch a train. It takes on a sense of not being real, and you somehow doubt that they’ll ever get to Kummersdorf, or if they do, there’ll be no point in having arrived. The story is based on real events, which makes it much more poignant.

I don’t feel you can have enough of these stories, whether about Germany, the war or simply as journey books. I can sense a whole series of journey posts coming on…

Were these the best?

OK, it’s list time. Was inspired, if that’s the right word, by various lookings back to 2007 in the papers.

Here’s my suggestion for ten best older children’s books of 2007. They are books out in 2007 in Britain, to limit the choice just a little bit. I’ve only considered books I’ve read (obviously). What did I forget?

Burn My Heart, Beverley Naidoo

Crusade, Elizabeth Laird

Falconer’s Knot, Mary Hoffman

Just Listen, Sarah Dessen

King Dork, Frank Portman

London Eye Mystery, Siobhan Dowd

Skulduggery Pleasant, Derek Landy

The Night of the Burning, Linda Press Wulf

The Red Necklace, Sally Gardner

What I Was, Meg Rosoff

Please put me right now. I considered guessing at the best to come for 2008, but as my knowledge only stretches a few months into the new year, it wouldn’t work. And sometimes assumptions about what will be good, is so wrong, that I need to be careful.

Does anyone remember that day in the spring when I got stuck at the bookshop with “only” a pile of new proofs to while away the time with? Well, three of the four are on the list. Hardly surprising I had a hard time on that occasion.