Tag Archives: Mary Hooper

2009 Stockport Schools’ Book Award

We all know what a disgrace I am, and I’m sure if I’d had the patience to wait until late Thursday morning, I’d have been furnished with the full results for my local book awards. But I didn’t, so that’s why a Wednesday evening event gets reported on Friday morning.

What I knew before the event, was that Mary Hooper won her category with Newes From the Dead and that Sally Nicholls would be in town, presumably to receive her prize for Ways to Live Forever. That was as far as my detective work got me, and I spent some time even getting that far.

Stockport Town Hall

I double checked the website on Wednesday night in the hopes that the results would miraculously have appeared. All I found was the information that it was a quarter to seven arrival for a quarter past five start. Yes, I know. I’m being picky, again. But some awards not only have press releases, but proof read their stuff before publishing.

Tried to do some clever guessing, and decided that Frank Cottrell Boyce was very likely to win with Cosmic, which he did. Good choice! Beware of the Frog by William Bee won the second youngest category, and I’m blushing as I admit to having no knowledge of either the book or the author. Luckily I have heard of Nick Sharratt, whose The Foggy Foggy Forest won the youngest age group prize, with what sounds a very FFFine book.

As I said, I know Sally and Mary both intended to travel to Stockport. Would have liked to know if the others were here to receive their awards. Frank doesn’t have far to come. All winners tend to get carted round to a school, or two, so I suppose that’s where they are as I’m writing this. It’s a cold and dismal day, but warmed by a book award it might feel better, and Stockport may even look half lovely.

Autopsy trend?

Are autopsies “in”? Newes From The Dead by Mary Hooper is the second book featuring a (historical) autopsy, that I’ve read in a short period of time. The other one was City of Secrets by Mary Hoffman, so 17th century pathology seems to be the thing, at least if your name is Mary.

Mary Hooper’s book was snatched up quickly by three of the teen reviewers this spring, and they loved it. I wasn’t sure how I felt about the real story of someone who was hanged and taken to be dissected, and who was then found to be alive. In fact, I can see that the book is more likely to appeal to a young buyer, than an adult buying a book for someone young. Hangings and autopsies will feature high on the list of things to shelter the young and innocent from.

Newes From The Dead

Being neither, I eventually got to Mary’s book, having already found myself on a trail of death for some time. Newes From The Dead was rather hard to put down once I’d started. Despite knowing how it must end, you race through the story with great excitement. You also can’t believe what things were like 350 years ago. I wouldn’t have wanted to consult a doctor in those days. Being a servant would also have had low priority, if this book is anything to go by.

Anne Green was seduced by her master’s grandson and became pregnant. The baby was stillborn and premature, but Anne was still tried for murder and was hanged.

The book starts with Anne in the coffin, wondering where she is, and eventually remembering. She thinks through her life and what happened to her. Every other chapter shows the Oxford room where the autopsy is due to take place, and is seen through the eyes of one of the men present.

I have been hardened by television, and can cope with much gore these days, but I draw the line at bleeding a potential corpse. Too much blood. The smell was pretty bad, too. But what a read! Don’t be put off.