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Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Book Meme - Day 13

Day 13 - Favorite childhood book OR current favorite YA book (or both!)

I've already written a bit about favorite childhood books, and some other YA/children's books that I have read more recently, so I thought I would pick a couple of ones I haven't mentioned before.

The Tomorrow series, by John Marsden.  Baby Bear got me onto this a couple of years ago and I read them pretty much all the way through in one go.   There are seven books in the original series, published between 1993-1999, and then a short series of three more novels published 2003-2006, which finish the story off.  Basically it's about a group of teenagers in a non-specified Australian country town and their attempts to survive after Australia is suddenly invaded by non-specified foreign forces.  It;s exciting, with bangs and things, but what made it really important to me was the wonderfully crafted development of the characters throughout the various troubles they face.  They were all on the edge of adulthood when it happened, and they are all tipped various ways with the stressors that face them.  The final three books, known as The Ellie Chronicles after the main character, deal with their attempts to rebuild their lives after the invasion is defeated.

The first book starts with the kids going camping in a secluded gorge, and being woken at night by fighter planes going overhead, and bombs exploding.  Not long after Baby Bear and I had read this first book, I was out shopping with George and Wombat and fighter planes started going overhead.  Baby Bear was at home on her own.  None of us were aware of any air shows or parades in Melbourne that might have justified this.  It creeped me out a but but I assumed there was a good reason for it, but she phoned me quite upset and was genuinely fearful.  I tried to dismiss it but realised that she actually needed her fears to be taken seriously, so I told her to check out the Internet for news of anything and then, if she really still felt scared, to go and hide under her bed.  I know that wouldn;t have done much actual good in a crisis, but it seemed to help her -  having a task to do, a contingency plan, and the fact that I was taking her fears seriously.  We never did find out why the planes were there, but it was an enduring reminder of how powerful the books were, and how fragile the status quo can be.

I also want to mention The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon.  When this first came out I looked at it in a bookshop and wanted to cry, it was so close to home.  After a couple of years I steeled myself to read it, and thought it was excellent.  Anyone who wants to know more about Aspergers Syndrome/High Functioning Autism should read it and learn from it.  (Though apparently in 2009 Haddon declared that it was not specifically about Aspergers, which I think is probably right as the character was mixture of the characteristics of various types of autism). I was delighted that it won the Whitbread Prize in 2003.  Apparently he wrote it for an adult audience but his publishers wanted it marketed to young adults, which is how it was shelved when I bought it, and I know a lot of schools include it in their curriculum.  


Real life - we have all pretty much recovered from our colds, thank goodness.  I hope that last night's garlic and chicken casserole killed off the last of the bugs!  (Chicken, potatoes, carrots, cabbage, and a WHOLE LOT OF GARLIC, like kill off every vampire in teen fiction for the next ten years amounts of garlic).  I am reheating the leftovers with extra chicken stock and pureeing it to make chicken soup for me for lunches for the rest of the week.

Valuing books left to Baby Bear by my father must be started.  A large hiatus occurred with sorting out all the stuff, owing to sicknesses of various sorts.  But now work must recommence.  Might even be fun, sort of!

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