Thursday, 26 August 2010

Utterly Me, Clarice Bean

Ok, so I’ve long been a fan of Charlie and Lola. I love Child’s use of textures and believable young voices. I love the way she portrays real life and make-believe alongside one another in the same way that children’s brains work. I love the textures and colours, and her incredible observational humour. But for some reason it never occurred to me to pick up the Clarice Bean books.

Clarice Bean, Utterly Me, has all the above. It’s clever, witty, and believable. And it explores one of my favourite book themes: why are books important? What can we learn from books? It turns out reading books for pleasure is important, and fiction can teach you just as much as that dreary non-fiction title! Who knew? :D

Also notable is the layout. In the same way that Charlie and Lola draws younger readers in with collage elements and wonderful illustrations, Clarice Bean is young-reader friendly, littered with pictures and text that does not stick to boring lines, but wanders off to do its own thing.

I am converted.

Wednesday, 10 March 2010


Lucy Christopher's Stolen recounts (in the form of a letter to her captor) the abduction of 16 year old Gemma, held captive in the Australian outback by a man who, it transpires, knows everything about her.

Although utterly creepy and deeply disturbing, this book is more than a simple thriller, providing glimpses of calm and beauty pocketed inside the tension. Christopher cleverly parallels her description of the desert with Gemma’s (and the reader’s) perception of her captor, which is gradually revealed as complex and conflicting; not only the dangerous, stark place we initially picture but also a place of safety, comfort and splendour.

This book will leave you confused, but in a good way; confused about what you should be thinking and feeling, exactly as Gemma is. And like Gemma, you may find the desert and everything that she’s been through, stays with you long after the letter is sealed and the book closed.

Stolen is a fantastically gripping read, dealing sensitively with motive and perception, against a stunning, affecting backdrop: Read it now!