In the May issue of Books for Keeps we asked you to tell us about a book that really worked for you this year. A book, perhaps, that suddenly broke through, or worked in unusual circumstances, and got an individual or group really enthused and absorbed. It could be an unexpected title or a well-known and popular one. The response was so interesting that we’ve decided to keep the idea going (see below for details).
Meanwhile – here is our first `winner’.
Doris Rushton of the Senior Primary School, the International School in Geneva, nominates The Secret of the Seventh Star, a Tracker Book from Transworld, which really worked for ten-year-old Nicky.
‘Nicky couldn’t read, and didn’t want to – although he was bright enough to have no real problem. Teachers and librarians wheedled, bullied him, introduced books/authors/pictures. Nothing seemed to catch his interest. He would come into the library, fool about, get into trouble and be sent out. In library lessons he refused to listen. Books were to hit other boys over the head with.
And then our librarian took the Tracker Book, The Secret of the Seventh Star, and asked Nicky whether, on a stormy night in a strange, weird house, he would go up the stairs or through the nearest door. She showed him the illustration offering two possibilities. Nicky chose one, and they turned to the correct page together. After the second choice, he took the little book out of her hand and went away to a corner to work it out for himself.
He came back begging for more Tracker Books. When he’d finished all we’d got, he went on to Willard Price. After that, there was no further difficulty. Nicky loved reading.’
Doris Rushton thinks the book worked because it demanded his involvement, `his own imagination became part of the plot’.
The Secret of the Seventh Star is now out of print, but there are currently nine Tracker Books available. Each one is a picture story adventure, (some have sporting backgrounds) and throughout the book the reader is offered alternatives for action. The ‘track’ through the book depends on these choices and there are several possible endings, so the same book can be read in different ways. Prices range from 45p to 65p.
The two latest titles are
Codebreaker International, 0 552 57048 6, 65p
Reporter on the Trail, 0 552 57049 4, 65p
Have you a story about a book that worked’? It doesn’t have to be a book that has worked in school. We’d like to hear from parents, librarians or anyone involved with children and books, as well as teachers. A £5 book token for each one we print.
Sources of information on multi-ethnic books
The National Association for Multi-racial Education (NAME) 23 Doles Lane, Findern, Derby.
The Commission for Racial Equality, Education Dept., Elliot House, 10-12 Allington Street, London SW1.
Books, Journals and Pamphlets
Slant of the Pen, ed. Rov Preiswerk. £3.75. Papers by participants in the World Council of Churches International Workshop on Racism in Children’s and School Textbooks.
Report on the W.C.C. International Workshop, 60p
Both available from Third World Publications.
Positive, Negative – a collection of varied contributions, by NAME. Details of price and availability from NAME.
Issues– a twice termly newspaper produced by London NAME.
£1.50 p.a. Details from Sylvia Riley. 7 Elder Avenue. London N8.
Childrens Book Bulletin, see page 21.
Positive – Negative. Racial Bias in Children’s learning materials.
Images of Africa in British textbooks. Racism and Anti-Racism – Prepared with the Department of Educational Media at the Institute of Education. London. All three exhibitions available for hire. Details from Anne Marie Davies, 45 Anson Road, London N7 OAR. 01 226 2922.
Books for under-fives in a Multi-cultural Society.
Maureen Taylor and Kay Hurwitz. £1.00 from Mrs V. Long, The Central Library. 2 Fieldway Crescent, London, N5.
A Multi-Ethnic Booklist.
Compiled by Rosemary Stones. Available free from Children’s Marketing Department, Penguin Books. 536 King’s Road, London, SW10 OUH.
Catalogues listing those books on their lists that publishers have selected out as particularly appropriate for a multi-ethnic society are available free from The Bodley Head, Heinemann Educational, Methuen, Puffin and Oxford University Press.
Mail Order Lists
Send a large sae with your request for a catalogue.
Bogle L’Ouverture, (children’s books from Africa, the Caribbean and Black British Presses) 5a Chignell Place. London W13.
Third World Publications, (children’s books from Africa. the Caribbean and Black British Presses) 151 Stratford Road, Birmingham B11 1RD.
Soma Books, (children’s books from the Indian sub-continent in English and in Asian languages) 38 Kennington Lane. London SEI 14LS.
New Beacon Books,
76 Stroud Green Road, London N4 3EN.
9 Newport Place. London WC2.