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Posted by Kate, September 5, 2012

Going Back to School

School starts for many London schools this week. My younger daughter (interviewed here) started secondary school today, so this autumn feels like a milestone for our family. Watching her disappear through the gate today surrounded by bigger, older girls (with much shorter skirts) was sort of lumpy-throaty, though I was glad that the preparation time was over: the quest for narrow-fitting UK size 7.5 girls’ school shoes has been particularly trying.

I don’t really have any memories of starting school – and I “started school” five times because my family moved about a bit in the course of my school years. I am shamefully hazy about my children’s first days at nursery and primary school too. Imogen, who continues to like things neat and organised, remembers the thrill of a new pencil case, and Ola remembers reading the books for her Polish literature classes throughout the summer holidays, because she couldn’t wait until school started. She says that she loved going back to school. But Tom says he just remembers being vaguely miserable. No-one in the office, sadly, could come up with a really cracking back-to-school anecdote… or, at least, they wouldn’t share it if they had one.

Anyway, we thought that we’d remind you of our best of back-to-school reading blog posts from this time last year.

Since then, we’ve published several more books set at least in part in school. We’ve published three further Olivia books by Lyn Gardner, all with a stage school setting, Olivia Flies High, Olivia and the Movie Stars and Olivia’s Enchanted Summer.

Though the farm setting of acclaimed debut novel, The Secret Hen House Theatre , by Helen Peters is very much to the fore in the book, Hannah’s school life provides her with friends and enemies and with embarrassments and challenges.

And this month (and there’ll be more on this tomorrow), we’ll be publishing Vulgar The Viking and the Spooky School Trip, the third book in the Vulgar the Viking series by (ahem) Odin Redbeard, and a funny, warm debut novel firmly set in the stormy and changeable atmosphere of school friendship groups, My Best Friend and Other Enemies by stand-up comedian Catherine Wilkins.

Here’s a taster of a very real 11 year-old voice:

“So. I did come out of the toilet, fact fans. I stayed in there for about ten minutes, trying to gather my thoughts. My thoughts were quite unhelpful as it happens. They kept veering from a desire to cry to a desire to smash things.

They’ve started a gang without me.. They’ve started a gang without me. I just couldn’t believe it. I still can’t believe it. I’m on the bus home now and that sentence is just kind of playing on a loop in my head.”

Finally, I saw this image this morning in the Metro as I was taking my daughter to school today. It mirrors her resigned expression of crossness and shame at my annoying maternal presence.

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