Saturday, 6 August 2011

August 2011: Anthony Horowitz's "Stormbreaker" and our next book

Yesterday was our third meeting, and - holidays excepted - most of us were able to come along to discuss Stormbreaker (our July book), eat chocolate chip cookies and have quite a few laughs!  We welcomed another new member - with a welcome view from an older generation - and it was nice to see two members' children to remind us how much we enjoy sharing the pleasure of reading.

Well, Stormbreaker certainly caused a lot of comment!  While we agreed the story was fast-paced and exciting, the negative - or just plain disappointed - generally outweighed the positive.  "One-dimensional characters", "highly formulaic", "commercialised", "cold", "written with an eye to the film rights" - I'm afraid Mr Horowitz's ears were positively on fire!  It was particularly interesting to hear from the school librarians amongst us who have been cheerfully recommending the series without having first read any ...   That said, everyone agreed that Stormbreaker would still appeal strongly to young readers - girls and boys - but perhaps more particularly to boys (10-12) who may not need so much emotional characterisation and would be satisfied with a book which consists largely of descriptions of action with little meaningful dialogue.  We all agreed that if Stormbreaker provides a positive route to encouraging young readers, then it is a perfectly acceptable book - even if it is rather like the proverbial Chinese meal which leaves you hungry again shortly after it's been consumed!

SilverFin by Charlie Higson - the first of his "Young Bond" books - was recommended over Stormbreaker as having a similar structure and formula but better written with more literary content.  Robert Muchamore's The Recruit (Red House Book Award Winner 2005) also received positive support, although perhaps for teenage readers rather than for pre-teens.

Our book for August is The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame (1908), which was probably inspired by his Thames-side childhood in Cookham Dean, Berkshire.  The edition provided for us by Bath Library includes the 1931 illustrations by E H Shepard.

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