Monday, 25 March 2013

The Argos Catalogue and other assorted catalogues

C has not been to school today.  He certainly *was* poorly at 6am, but was decidedly less so by 11am, as if often the way with small children.  "9 o' clock recoverer" my Dad says, even though you had to be virtually dead to get a day off school in my house.  Apart from the time I got spotted up the garden eating sweets at 10am (stupid garden backing on to the school playground).  And the time where my brother and I had flu, but he was much poorlier than me, and I still got the whole week off because Mum didn't think it was worth the hassle of taking me for a couple of days.  By Friday we had brought the mattresses downstairs from our rooms and spent the whole time Mum was at work (she was a school dinner lady and we were Year 7 and Year 6) trampolining on the mattresses.  OK, perhaps you didn't have to be dying.  I digress.

When his sister is also at home, default option is to watch TV.  A is somewhat obsessed with TV, and has been since she was very small.  She is a much more active child in general than C, so when she wants to relax she tends to totally veg out, whereas he is more of a potterer.  Today the TV was hardly on.  Instead he spent a good hour looking at the Argos catalogue.  This is definitely the book of the moment as far as he is concerned.  He enjoys reading the descriptions to himself, and when he's finished looking at the toys, he weighs up the various merits of things like chests of drawers.  Thrilling stuff.

Happily, today  Baker Ross and Happy Puzzle Company catalogues also came through the door.  Another hour well spent in companiable silence.  Apart from when he needed to read a description to me.  Luckily an "Mmm!" or "Oh!" seemed to suffice in terms of his expectations of a response.

At the moment C is not keen on reading his school reading books.  Shame the Argos catalogue is quite so ridiculously heavy...

Sunday, 10 March 2013

Cirque du Freak by Darren Shan

One of the lovely things about teaching very small groups is that the students are able to choose from many different books to read during lessons.  Having so far read War Horse and Mr Stink my Year 9s have chosen Darren Shan's Cirque du Freak as their next read.

I tried to read this whilst training in 2003 but did not get much beyond the first few pages. I found the short sentences and ridiculously liberal use of the exclamation mark faintly un-nerving.  However, having read it to check its suitability for the group, I realised it's actually quite good.  Very fast-moving, lots of extremely strange and interesting characters, heavy on plot and light on character development.  Eleven books in the series.  It's a boy thing, but the one girl in the group and I are rather enjoying ourselves!

Children of the Dust by Louise Lawrence

I read this after reading a thread on Mumsnet about whether or not it would be suitable for a Yr 7 child.  I gathered from the discussion that it's about a nuclear war and its aftermath.  Although I never watch the actual news because I find it too depressing, bizarrely, I completely love books like this.  Not content with depressing myself beyond measure with When the Wind Blows, I downloaded this book, despite the Mumsnet thread containing many spoilers, all of which made me fairly certain that the book would make me cry.  Copiously.

It did, but it was rather brilliant.  It's a bit like Oryx and Crake. But for teens.  And not rubbish.  I didn't like the kind of religious-y wish-washy bit towards the end; that was the only thing about it that made it seem really quite dated (which it has every right to be really, having been written in the mid-80s).  I also was a bit annoyed about the of evolution of man which drives the plot, given that we all know full-well that evolution simply would not happen over only two generations of people.  But, if you put aside the fact that, scientifically, it's impossible, it's a really really gripping read.

It was compared in the thread to Robert Swindell's Brother in the Land, which I know I have read, but can barely remember anything about, aside from the fact that I found it boring.  So if my fading memory is anything to go by, this one is certainly the better of the two.  Highly recommended for teens with a fascination for dystopia.