After the Snow – S. D. Crockett
This was Luc’s holiday book (every holiday, Luc, one of my godchildren, read a book together, this started as a way to get him to read more English books, he and his siblings are being brought up bilingual and go to a French school.) He chose this and neither of us are quite sure about it. Luc thought that Willo the main character was ‘a bit thick’, I did point out that he wasn’t so much stupid as unaware of what was happening anywhere else and that wasn’t all his fault. Having said that, I really objected to the way Willo spoke, I don’t know if it was being used to convey that he did have learning issues but because no-one else in the book spoke like that I found it jarring and unrealistic. Luc also objected to the coincidence at the end and the series of events did seem a bit to neat and tidy. I also thought the ending was rushed but that could be because I read it quickly because I wanted to be done with it. I felt that Crockett threw the kitchen sink at it, so lots of the book just doesn’t mesh.
Luc’s sister has never needed any encouragement to read in either English or French. However, she announced that she didn’t think it was fair that Luc got to talk to me all through the holidays about books and she didn’t. I told her to go and pick a book and this was her pick, which we read over the Bank Holiday.
First up, Helene and Luc are 12, the only reading rules they have are:
1) If the book is written in English, that’s the language the book needs to be read in and vice versa for books written in French;
2) They can’t see the film until they’ve read the book (this was the Harry Potter rule – they were too young to see the later films without first having read about it).
Aside from those two. They can choose what they want to read, she and her brother are both reading ahead of their age but I think that’s how you learn. Anything she picks up that we think may have tricky content in or be too difficult, we discuss but we’ve (that’s her mother, step father, foster parents, grandfather and me – it’s complicated!) let them make their own decisions and they both know that they can come and talk to us about anything they find difficult or have questions about. This year, Oliver Twist was not a success but H learnt that we trust her to make decisions and she can trust us not to baby her. I did point blank refuse to read Lace and told her why (content and bad writing) and she decided to take my word for it. What has any of this to do with this book? Well, it wasn’t a dreadful book, but it wasn’t good either. H summed it up as, you’re enjoying it when you’re in it but too much of it doesn’t make sense. It’s the princess diaries with mermaids. I’m not going to read the second one but H reads with the single mindedness of a 12 year old so goes through lots of books.
I loved The Name of the Star, which I really didn’t expect and I really enjoyed this one too. Rory sounds like an American living in the UK. When I realised what the school was on top of about 2 minutes before Rory did, I thought it was a stroke of genius, but I did feel that this was all a bit rushed before it was time to move onto the next thing, which made me sad. This is clearly book 2 and has set things up nicely for the next one. It’s going to be a long wait for that book!
This is a re-read for me, but was my pick for Luc and Helene. It’s been an education to read it again with them chipping in. I think I’m most proud of the text I got from their Grandad “Luc says that Mr Frost is the man Jack”. I’m really pleased that he got it but one of the things that I love about Neil Gaiman is the way that all the clues are in the writing. You just think he has a wonderful turn of phrase but everything is there. H told me very early in (pages 33 and 34) that I “only liked the book because the drawings were like my photo”. It’s an illustrated book and I have the book with the Dave McKean illustrations, so that’s the one that they have. She’s sort of right, the illustration over those two pages is painfully like the Rainbow Arch on Lindisfarne.
This is why re-reading books with others is so much fun, you find things that you would have missed by yourself. L & H really liked this, they liked that language was challenging. They loved Silas and Luc did ask if this was my way of telling them I was a vampire (I’m one of their guardians!). I’m not but I’m so pleased that that enjoyed it. It’s also reminded me that it’s nearly time to start Oli on the Gaiman books!
This is on the shortlist for the Arthur C. Clarke Award. It’s set in a near future where responsible people have cameras in every room in the house, where the govt has a law that makes the decision ‘you would have made if you had all the information’ for you. It’s a easy to imagine and quite scary. I really liked it but I don’t have a huge amount more to say about it but I keep thinking about it.
I bought this last year and it’s been sitting on my Kindle ever since, waiting for me to read. It’s a mystery and as a general rule, I don’t read mysteries, so it’s nice when stepping outside my reading comfort zone is rewarding. I really enjoyed this and although it all finished so quickly, I like that Hyland didn’t clean up the people or the way they lived but clearly loved the place and the people that lived there.
I’m not even halfway through yet but so far, I’m loving it.