My Lockdown Books: Thirty Eight

I have come to the conclusion that Meg Rosoff is a genius. I’ve been reading her books since How I Live Now which I really didn’t like. I thought it was flawed and convoluted and generally an unsatisfying read. I was part of the Carnegie Medal judging panel that controversially didn’t short leet it. Perhaps it was the controversy that made me carry on reading Meg’s books.

Because, in spite of everything and even with hindsight, I still don’t think that How I Live Now is a brilliant book. But many other people did. So maybe I needed to find out what I was missing in her books. Now, I have read everything she has written since then as though I can’t help myself. I don’t watch out for her books, counting the days until a new one appears, but somehow they impinge themselves upon my consciousness.

When I picked up Picture Me Gone, I could hardly put it down. As much as it’s a story at all, it’s the story of Mila and her father and their journey to find his oldest friend who has disappeared, leaving behind a wife, son and dog.

But, of course, it’s not really about the story; it’s about ideas just as all of Meg’s books are. And this time it’s about truth and how well one person can ever really know another. And it’s brilliant. Written in Meg’s distinctive low-key style, it wraps itself around you and doesn’t let you go until you reach the end.

Back to Barrington Stoke

Yes, I know. There’s been an almighty break in service from me.  My life has taken some interesting turns in the last six months but I’m back now.  And I’m back living in Edinburgh, my birthplace.  It’s also the home of Barrington Stoke, publishers extraordinaire, so it seems fitting for me to start with the phase with two of their books.

McTavish Takes the Biscuit is the third story in Meg Rosoff’s series about the Peachey family’s rescue dog.  In it poor McTavish feels obligated to save the family from Pa Peachey’s baking. But even the most devoted dog can only eat so much.  Clearly something must be done.  But then disaster, in the form of a town bake-off, strikes.  Pa is confident of his ability to win, a confidence his long-suffering family think misplaced.  Only McTavish can save the day – which he does with the help of Betty and a misplaced ball.

As ever, Meg has written a satisfying story full of fun and family.  There’s a warmth to the relationships and an enjoyable story arc.  Young readers will be engrossed by the characters and plot whether or ot they have met the cast before. This is another book in the Conkers series designed to help children continue to develop their reading.

New to the Little Gems collection is Special Delivery by Jonathan Meres.  Little Gems books are for readers just underway on their own and they’re a diverse lot.  Frank starts helping his big sister Lottie with her paper round to so he can earn some money for a new bike.  Together they enjoy being out early in the summer holidays and Frank makes an exciting new friend.

Mary, the elderly lady Frank meets, has dementia and Jonathan Meres introduces the subject sensitively in the context of a very readable story.  The book is short but still well developed in plot and character and is enhanced by Hannah Coulson’s illustrations.

It’s no secret that I’m hugely enthusiastic about Barrington Stoke’s books and I’m delighted to have these to add to my collection and share with children.

 

Picture Me Gone by Meg Rosoff

I have come to the conclusion that Meg Rosoff is a genius. I’ve been reading her books since How I Live Now which I really didn’t like. I thought it was flawed and convoluted and generally an unsatisfying read. I was part of the Carnegie Medal judging panel that controversially didn’t short leet it. Perhaps it was the controversy that made me carry on reading Meg’s books.

Because, in spite of everything and even with hindsight, I still don’t think that How I Live Now is a good book. But many other people did. So maybe I needed to find out what I was missing in her books. Now, I have read everything she has written since then as though I can’t help myself. I don’t watch out for her books, counting the days until a new one appears but somehow they impinge themselves upon my consciousness.

I have just finished reading Picture Me Gone and I could hardly put it down. As much as it’s a story at all, it’s the story of Mila and her father and their journey to find Gil’s oldest friend who has disappeared, leaving behind a wife, son and dog.

But, of course, it’s not really about the story; it’s about ideas just as all of Meg’s books are. And this time it’s about truth and how well one person can ever really know another. And it’s brilliant. Written in Meg’s distinctive low-key style, it wraps itself around you and doesn’t let you go until you reach the end.