Friday, 25 May 2012

'I, Coriander', alternative jacket design.

If you've been following this blog you will know that it has always been my hope that the bookclub would encourage kids to respond to books in interesting ways. I asked the older group this week to write something for me, and was delighted when instead I received this illustration from one of our members.

I love the way she has captured the elements of the 'fairytale'; the mirror and the silver shoes.

I, Coriander

This book was pretty weird. As it was not what you would have expected. The cover and blurb don't tell you anything about what the book may be like, and I am constantly getting cross with publishers and writers for giving away too much about the book on the cover and blurb. The book began like a journal, as it is first person narrated by the heroin of the book, Coriander Hobie. She writes of her family and her surroundings. You will learn about the history and politics of the time as it is talked about a lot during the book. So from the beginning you think it's going to be a book about a girl growing up in London in the sixteenth century. Well, with the introduction of a magical land and various magicians appearing here and there you end up with a fairytale. And for me it took some time to start reading it as a fairytale and not a historically accurate girls journal. Overall a good read. Read if you enjoy the Studio ghibli films or the book 
Mortlock by  Jon Mayhew.

Review by Lol. 

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Mr Stink

Our most recent bookclub book (younger group) achieved a positive response from all the children. They all warmed to the character of Mr Stink; one boy particularly appreciated the scene where Mr Stink appeared on television. Other than that, they admitted that they did not find the book 'laugh out loud' funny.

I was slightly disarmed by the fact that this book was clearly designed to look like a Roald Dahl book, and felt this set the story up to be something it was not. I can see the marketing angle, but to offer comparison between the talents of both men was unhelpful. David Walliams failed to be a 'Roald Dahl' for me, but having been encouraged to make the comparison, I failed to hear his voice, and felt the whole book was derivative, which I think is probably unfair.

It is however always delightful to see Quentin Blake's illustrations, so for the session, I chose to look at some of Quentin Blake's own illustrated stories, by exploring the role of the 'eccentric' in children's stories.

In groups we read, 'Mrs Armitage and the Big Wave', 'Mr Magnolia', and 'Cockatoos'. From these we came up with a checklist of things that an eccentric character needs to have; obsessive behaviour or unusual interest, unusual appearance, interesting way of speaking, unusual name....

The group then brainstormed ideas for two characters, which I drew on the whiteboard, and they drew their own versions on paper. I must admit there was a tendency to prefer to design unpleasant characters, but we agreed that eccentrics are likeable, so had to ditch many of the more unpleasant suggestions....

Here were our brrainstormed ideas:

Name: Darling McDuck.
Appearance: a Top hat with champagne corks hanging from it, jester shoes, a duck beak shaped nose, webbed hands.
Unusual behaviours: collects Champagne corks but hates Champagne. Talks nonsense, such as, "Propesous is necessary". Makes random animal sounds. Keeps ducks and gives away their eggs.

Name: Doctor Macaroni.
Appearance: Overweight, with clown shoes, and a Top hat.
Unusual behaviours: Always eating macaroni. Confuses his festivals (Christmas at Easter etc.). Makes friends out of macaroni, which he then eats.Greets visitors by throwing macaroni over them. Doesn't speak, but has a constant supply of paper speech bubbles, which he writes his speech on.

The stories for these characters have yet to be written.....