Children’s Book Club

This weekend my nieces and one nephew converged on my house for our first Book Club meeting. We had decided that we would like to get together once a month to talk about the books we are reading, maybe read a story together, and generally to have some book-related fun. Rather than all trying to read the same book, which wouldn’t really work with the infant to secondary school age range, everybody chooses a book to read that they then bring to Book Club to talk about.

We chose a more interesting name for our club  – Book Chase. This has lots of different meanings for us, including the old printing term ‘chase’ for keeping the metal type in place. My Dad and Grandad, along with many many people in Watford, were printers for many years until the industry went into decline. ‘Chase’ also uses the initials of all the members of the club: CJ, Hannah, Alex, Sarah and Eloise. Here’s the poster that CJ and Eloise made for us.

 To start things off I read one of Hannah’s choices out loud – Barry the Fish With Fingers. This is a fun story with lovely bright illustrations. Hannah, who is 5, particularly likes the bits where the words are printed really big so she can read them extra loud, and she loves the little cute fish called Puffy. Alex (9 years old) liked the way the text was laid out. It’s definitely a winner of a book – Hannah gave it a huge 5/5 stars!

Eloise brought with her the second Famous Five story, Five Go Adventuring. At 7, I think she is the perfect age to start enjoying these stories. There were a few difficult words, but nothing off-putting. This one involves a suspicious tutor, Mr Roland, who is rather too interested in the work of the gang’s father. A theft leads the children to a house with hiding places and, of course, adventure. Eloise likes the series, and she thinks that it’s OK not to read them in order. This one also got the maximum
5/5 stars.

Alex brought with him some Annuals, of which the LEGO one was his favourite. He loves the mixture of short comic strip stories and games and puzzles. The stories are based on the different types of LEGO, such as Ninjago, City, and Space. Each double page story is one complete tale; his favourite was a Space one called ‘Latecomer’. The very high satisfaction rate continues, with another
5/5 stars.

CJ is the eldest at 11 (times slips by very fast indeed!), and she loves the Tom Gates stories by L. Pichon. She’s already read 2, and is now reading Everything’s Amazing (sort of). The things that appeal to her are the style of the book, with lots of doodling and different typefaces, and they are very funny. This one has a series of good and rubbish things that happen to Tom. I’ve never read any of these, but I always thought they looked amusing. I will sound one note of caution though, one ‘jokey’ bit that caught my critical eye was a section about his teacher’s facial hair – Tom calls her Miss Worthingtash rather than Worthington and counts the number of hairs on her moustache to keep awake. Ha Ha, woman with facial hair as the butt of a gag, how not excellent. I can’t help feeling a bit irritated by this and I must admit it put me off the book completely.  However, maybe I’m misjudging the overall context, I’ll investigate further and see if the situation is redeemed at all. CJ is still reading it, so for now she is giving it 4/5 stars – but the first 2 both get the full 5/5 from her.

I thought I’d take a trip down memory lane and read What Katy Did, which I haven’t read for nearly 30 years. Sadly, I wish I hadn’t. The first half is quite fun, with Katy and her siblings charging around outside playing games and getting all scruffy but with no discernible storyline as such. Then angelic invalided Cousin Helen pays a visit. Katy wants to be as good as Helen, but the next day wakes up in a foul mood and gets in all kinds of trouble including having a terrible accident that leaves her bedridden for the foreseeable future. It then becomes a moralistic tale on the virtues of patience and forbearance until Katy becomes the very model of saintly, passive behaviour. Yuck. I liked irrepressible, rowdy, bossy Katy not the sanitised, ‘feminised’ version. It certainly shows it’s age, being originally published in 1872. I couldn’t really recommend it, and had to give it only 2/5 stars.

We finished up with a short section from the book I’m reading for next month – Oliver Fibbs: Attack of the Alien Brain – which got a lot of laughs and requests for a lend, so I’m optimistic this one will be much more fun. I’m already looking forward to next month’s Book Chase!

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