Around half of the books I own in hard copy (so about 1000) were published for children and teenagers. They’re an odd mixture of the books I seriously collect, books from my own childhood, books I’ve been sent to review and contemporary children’s books I’ve come across either personally or professionally. The one thing they all have in common is that I like them! Lack of bookshelf space (and however much space I had, there wouldn’t be enough) means that I have to choose carefully what I will keep and I do have periodic clear-outs.
The ongoing self-isolation situation has curtailed my work somewhat. Very few publishers are able to send out review copies and authors are not looking for help with tours! So I thought I’d indulge myself and share a book a day from my collection. It’ll be a random selection. I’m not planning this out; I’m just going to choose one book each day.
My first choice is Hero on a Bicycle by Shirley Hughes. As you can tell from the image, I received a proof of this and I went on to select it for my round-up in The Scotsman. It’s the first novel that Shirley, who is of course best known for her picture books and illustrations, wrote for older readers. When working as a young people’s librarian I’d recommend it to upper primary and lower secondary kids.
The book is set in Florence in 1944 during the German occupation of the city. It’s an aspect of the Second World War that I knew very little about when I first read the book so I found that interesting and Shirley Hughes’ characters engaging. I’ve always enjoyed novels with a wartime setting or backdrop. I think it’s the element of society standing together against a common enemy. Perhaps, then, it’s an appropriate choice for just now.