Sunday 24 June 2012
Happiness is sharing books
Once a month, I help to organise the children's book group at my fantastic local independent bookshop, Big Green Books in Wood Green, North London. It's on the last Saturday of the month (although next month it's the second to last), and all keen readers 9-14 are very welcome. I love doing it, it makes me enormously happy to eat biscuits and talk about a book with keen, intelligent readers. This month we read Undead by Kirsty McKay.
The children choose the books, which is fantastic as they lead me to read books I often wouldn't read otherwise. Undead is not a book I would ordinarily have chosen to read, but it is hugely enjoyable. Bobby has just moved from the US (where her mum has been working) back to the UK. Just before term starts, she goes on a skiing trip to Aviemore, Scotland with her new classmates. It's a disaster. She's marked out by both her American accent and by her proficiency in skiing, and has had a thoroughly miserable time. So, when the coach taking them back home pulls into a service station, she decides to stay on the bus. A boy in her class, Smitty, is banned from leaving the coach too as he has been caught drinking. The rest if the group rush for the cafe (and the man dressed as a carrot giving out free juice), and so far- so awful. Until they see a figure racing through the snow. It's blonde mean-girl Alice, with horrible news. Everyone is lying in the cafe, dead, including the teachers. However, they don't stay quietly dead. Soon Bobby, Smitty, Alice and the only other survivor, geeky Pete, are escaping their zombie classmates in the Scottish countryside, with no adults, weapons or mobile phone reception. Will they survive?
We loved this book so much that next month we're reading another zombie book: Charlie Higson's The Enemy.
Sharing books is a wonderful thing to do. Reading is a solitary pleasure, and that for me is a delight- my working life is intensively people-focused, and much as I enjoy that, I need time and space alone to recharge my batteries. However, I get so much delight from books and reading, I want to pass it on to other people. I do that through my job- lecturing student Primary teachers in the teaching of English- and in my personal life. I've pledged to share 20 books this year to help celebrate Bookstart's 20th anniversary. I hope that you will, too, through recommending books to friends, family and work colleagues, through tweeting book recommendations (perhaps with #bookstart20 hashtag), on your Facebook page or in person. But please do. It will help Bookstart to secure future funding, to continue providing packs of books for new babies.