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Summer Reading round-ups

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Last week, Kate blogged about the extraordinary triple-review of The Secret Hen House Theatre in The Guardian, and the cheering effect it had on an otherwise miserable weekend.

Well, the weather may have changed (for the better – the picture above is of the colour of the sky from my window), but the good news continues! Yesterday we learnt that The Secret Hen House Theatre has been selected by Booktrust as one of their Great Summer Reads.

In their review, Booktrust say of the book:

“Helen Peters has drawn on her own childhood on a farm, and her memories of writing and acting out her own plays, to create this lively story with a very convincing rural setting. Peters depicts a cast of strong and believable characters, from Hannah’s overworked and under pressure father, to her stroppy 10-year-old sister Martha, who soon proves herself to be a true ‘drama queen’. With a hint of Pamela Brown’s ‘The Swish of the Curtain’, there is much for aspiring young actors to enjoy here, but this hugely enjoyable story of family, friendship and country life will also have a broad appeal for children at upper primary level.”

And there was more good news to be had elsewhere. The Telegraph and The Independent ran lists of summer reading over the weekend, including both Dinosaur Zoom! by Penny Dale (out next month) and Goldilocks and Just the One Bear by Leigh Hodgkinson.

For The Telegraph, Dinah Hall wrote of Dinosaur Zoom:

“Little boys love dinosaurs. Little boys love trucks. Put the two together in the worryingly appealing Dinosaur Zoom! and you have the recipe for a night-time battle over bedtime stories. Resign yourself to reading the same book over and over again for the next two years – and make sure it’s a girl next time.”

On Goldilocks and Just the One Bear, Hall writes:

“With Hodgkinson’s fetchingly retro midcentury modern illustrations matched by her brilliantly animated text, this is a triumph.”

And in The Independent, Nicholas Tucker writes:

“Penny Dale has a new slant on ever-popular prehistoric animals in her picture book Dinosaur Zoom! Whether driving a blue convertible through the desert or reversing a lorry into the woods, these dinosaurs practically leap from the page.”

What are you summer reading plans?

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No Responses to “Summer Reading round-ups”

  • Congratulations all round. But oo, the sexism in that Dinosaur Zoom review is making my blood boil. If my daughter was the right age to enjoy it I’d buy the book immediately.

  • I wholly understand your point, Elli, though it has to be said that the book was inspired by Penny Dales’ experience of spending time with her grandson, whose intense interest in vehicles struck Penny as being entirely different from the interests his mother, Penny’s daughter, exhibited at the same age. I know that however much I tried to ban Barbies, encourage people to give my girls trains or cars or buses, and however much I read them vehicle/dinosaur books, they were princess/fairy/cute animal fixated when they were little. When we publish books, we do try to have a child in mind who represents to us the CORE audience for that book, and, though we know that there are girls who’d like it (and older and younger children who might enjoy it too), the child we had in mind for that book was a boy who was between the ages of two and three.

  • It’s the review I’ve got a problem with, not the fact that you’ve got a particular audience in mind. Inevitably some books will, on average, appeal to one gender more than the other, but when parents are actively told that a book is for one gender that seems to me to be overly proscriptive. If there’s any indication on the book itself, or in the marketing of it, that it’s intended for a particular gender then it actually puts me off buying it.

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