Chosen by Year 8 children (12-13 year olds) at Dover Grammar School for Boys, Kent.
Thanks to Christine Gabriel, English teacher, and Mrs L George, Librarian.
Adrian Mole: From Minor to Major
Sue Townsend, Mandarin, 0 7493 1120 7, £6.99 pbk
Plot: This book is a collection of Adrian Mole’s first three diaries: The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13 and 3 Quarters, The Growing Pains of Adrian Mole and True Confessions of Adrian Albert Mole. All these diaries are a collection of Adrian Mole’s thoughts and philosophy on life. Adrian goes through many stages in his life and soon becomes fixated with a girl called Pandora. Adrian also wants to become a poet, and thinks that he is an intellectual. When all these things become mixed in his life, the results are hilarious.
General Thoughts: This book is one of the best books around for teenagers. You can really empathise with Adrian, with many problems being those of a teenager today.
Recommendation: I would definitely say this book is for teenagers. Some younger people may not understand it, while older people may not understand its humour.
Six Shakespeare Stories
Leon Garfield, Heinemann ‘New Windmills’, 0 435 12424 2, £5.75 hbk
Plot: The plots of these stories are very interesting and once you start reading one of the stories you just keep on reading it until it is finished. The plots range from magical adventure to romantic ones. Some of the plots are pretty hard to follow at times which is not because they are difficult to read, but because the author (Leon Garfield) still uses some of Shakespeare’s old English in some of the dialogue.
Criteria: There is not really much wrong with the book, apart from the parts when the old English is still used, even though that’s only in part of the dialogue and not in any other parts of the stories. I also like the way that Leon Garfield has changed the old English and made the stories shorter as they’re in story form instead of play form, but they still make sense.
Recommendation: I definitely recommend this book to any Shakespeare lovers and anyone who has not actually read Shakespeare before. It is not really a book for very young people as it is quite hard to follow in places.
Stranger than Ever
Chosen by Wendy Cooling, Dolphin, 1 85881 600 9, £1.00 pbk
‘Vandaland’ is the first story written by Hazel Townson. ‘Vandaland’ is about a group of children who get lost on their way to a birthday party. They soon come to a dead end where a gang of older teenagers jump out on them and take them to an underground cave where broken street signs etc are stored. Their leader tells them to take their jackets off and give them to him. He also takes their bikes and then orders them to leave. The children then tell a passer by what has happened and she rings the police. As the police arrive the cave collapses and the gang are killed.
Two days later one of the children is down the town when he sees one of the gang that died in the cave, ride by on his bike which was crushed in the cave. The boy then wonders if he’s seen a ghost or whether he was imagining it.
This is just one of the five stories in the book, Stranger than Ever. The other titles are ‘Road to Nowhere’ by Nick Gifford, ‘Three Hundred Milliion Years’ by Anne Campling, ‘The Great Pandolfo’s Last Trick’ by Simon Edge and ‘The Moss Garden’ by Suzannah White.
I would say the stories are suitable for children aged 8-12 and are best read on a car journey or something where you have some spare time.
Bullies Don’t Hurt
Anthony Masters, ill. David Kearney, Puffin, 0 14 037484 1, £4.99 pbk
Alistair Hall is the leader of the rat pack, a group of four pupils, determined to make trouble for new teacher Bill Radford.
After Bill keeps Alistair’s class behind, Ali is beaten up by the school bully, Stuart Kennedy. This makes Alistair determined to make life even more difficult for Mr Radford.
After a series of stunts, Ali is exiled by the rat pack. His stepfather abuses him, and now Ali is out on his own. Dare he attempt another stunt to get back to the rat pack, or does he tell somebody of his troubles?
This was a great book, and it gets you into the action straight away. The characters are lively and the story line exciting, and very realistic. It’s a horrible insight into the sensitive issue of child abuse and gets you feeling really sorry for Alistair. A great read for teenagers.