A new thing. A thing with technology! A thing where I should probably have put the lights on. Ah well…the book’s still ace, you can buy signed copies from the fabulous Solva Woollen Mill too.
Stephen King, Back to Haunt Me.
I love the satisfying structure of circular stories.
Wuthering Heights was my favourite book for years. Catherine and Hareton coming together at the end turns the book into one of hope. Out of all that ugliness, all that sorrow, come two people capable of kindness, strength, love.
J K Rowling does a similar thing in Harry Potter. I know some people don’t like the end – the happy ever after – but I do. Not the marriages, but how the orphaned Ted Lupin isn’t shoved in a cupboard like Harry was. Ted is surrounded by loving families and treasured. Hope out of sorrow. Continue reading “Stephen King, Back to Haunt Me.”
A Guide To Word Counts – 14+ ( that’s not the guide, that’s the target age)
I am fast approaching the end of the final edit of my current manuscript which, obviously, is turning me into a gibbering wreck.
Is it too mad? Have I moved too much towards humour and too far from the original dark idea? Can I really keep chopping all these words out and still have a book?
And there it is.
The WORD COUNT issue.
It was 60,000 words. Then it was 56,000 words. Now I’m at 55,000 and dropping. Panic is setting in. So it’s time for one of these – a Word Count Blog, where I can justify poring over the word counts of other books and comparing them to mine. Want to play?
There is No Dog – Meg Rossoff – 56118
The Knife That Killed Me- Anthony Mcgowan – 45422
Almost True – Keren David – 94254
1984 – George Orwell – 88942
The Amber Spy Glass – Phillip Pillman – 156664
Angus, Thongs and Full Frontal Snogging – Louise Rennison – 41958
Before I Die – Jenny Downham – 69548
Oliver Twist – Charles Dickens – 155960
The Selfish Giant – Oscar Wilde – 1642
Withering Tights – Louise Rennison 55170
My extensive research reveals that as long as I hit the narrow window between 1642 and 156664 words, I should be fine.
Fun isn’t it? Now go on, ask me another.
PS Here’s some I prepared earlier: https://viviennekathrynevans.wordpress.com/2011/06/10/word-counts/
Why you should care about libraries.
When I was younger I had no money for books. Discovering I could borrow books FOR NOTHING was a wonder to me, a miracle, it truly felt like the best gift. In fact, that feeling has stayed with me, more than any Christmas or Birthday presents.
Of course in those days we didn’t have computers…
Few children read books on line, fewer still will have an Ipad or a Kindle. But they must have access to books – for pleasure, for knowledge, for comfort, for escape, to show them what our nation values.
Free access to books is one of the defining things about our country. We care that EVERYONE has access to learning, to culture. Don’t we? We should, access to ideas, freedom of thought, is integral to our democracy.
There is no turning back when our libraries are gone.
So I’m adding my voice to Michael Rosen’s, a previous Children’s Laureate, who said this:
Books have become optional extras in schools. They’ve been sidelined by ITC and worksheets. There is now a generation of young teachers who have been through teacher training with no more than a few minutes of training in children’s literature and little or no work on why it’s important for all children to read widely and often and for pleasure.
So, what we have is the notion that there isn’t time to read whole books, there isn’t time to help all children browse and read and keep reading – but there is time to do worksheets on different aspects of ‘literacy’. And yet, the people running education know full well that children who read widely and often and for pleasure find it much easier to grasp the curriculum as a whole. There is an international study showing this.
What does this have to do with libraries? If the government (or the last one) had felt willing, all they needed to do was formalise the link between schools and libraries. They could have required every school and every library to lay down some fixed, timetabled sharing of time and resources, which would involve turning the present voluntary arrangements into certain ones. In one fell swoop it would guarantee library-use and massively enhance the children’s progress.
I put all this in a document in Margaret Hodge’s library review where it was immediately ignored. I sent it to Ed Vaizey (because he asked me to), and he too has promptly ignored it.
Ed Balls and Vernon Coaker both refused to ask schools to develop their own policies on the provision and reading of books. Neither Ofsted nor schools’ ‘Self Assessment forms’ require schools to make the provision and reading of whole books something that they monitor.
In short, education and library ministers aren’t really very interested in the idea of everyone reading whole books, and they’re certainly not very interested in the idea of every child reading whole books. I even gave them a 20-point blueprint or outline on how to turn every school into what I called a ‘book-loving school’ (based largely on the TV programme I did ‘Just Read’. And that’ blueprint is now available on various websites. The ministers I met weren’t interested in sending it out, either as it is, or in any adapted form.
It’s clear that they think ‘reading’ is about ‘doing literacy’ ie learning how to ‘decode’ print. What they don’t seem to understand is that literature is one of the main ways in which we can engage with difficult and important ideas in an accessible way. It offers children a ladder between their own personal experience, the apparently ‘personal’ experience of the protagonists in any given text, and the ideas that are thrown up during the adventures, scenes and feelings that the protagonists go through. So, the reader encounters the protagonists’ feelings of, say, pity, anger, fear, guilt, envy and the like but in a school context (or indeed many social contexts) those feelings become talk about those feelings as ideas…eg what is ‘pity’? what is ‘guilt’? ie through reading, the young reader starts to generalise the particular or put another way, discover abstract thought.
Children who read widely, often and for pleasure are the ones who can make the transition between particular experience to abstract thought that all education asks of children between the ages of 8 and 13. The more you read, the easier that transition is. The kids who fall behind don’t fall behind because they haven’t done enough worksheets. It’s because the education curricula haven’t helped them discover a wide range of texts through being regular readers.
Michael Rosen’s message:
It’s about READING, stupid (not ‘doing literacy).
The teachers I know are passionate about school libraries – I think we’re very lucky – my son’s school has revamped its library and is now asking parents to help stock it with new books. They care – what about you Margaret Hodge, Ed Vaizey, Ed Balls, and Vernon Cloaker ?
Don’t you care two hoots whether the poor, the young, the old, the disaffected have access to books? Let’s have those names again: Margaret Hodge, Ed Vaizey, Ed Balls, and Vernon Cloaker ? I hope you have google alerts on your names and squirm with shame.
All these people have things to say about our libraries, it matters, it really does!
Alan Gibbons Campaign for the Book!
Candy Gourlay and Teri Terry.
If I’ve missed any please add them in comments.