Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Links for the next meeting - Room by Emma Donoghue

The site for the book, including this diagram of the layout of the room, & 12 questions (see below)

Click to enlarge

A Q&A with Emma Donoghue

A review in The Observer
"Donoghue has not been so crass as to make light of their plight: at times it's almost impossible not to turn away in horror. When Ma's kidnapper comes to the room in the evening, she makes Jack hide in the wardrobe, where he listens as they get into bed: "I always have to count till he makes that gaspy sound and stops." Ma has days where she is "gone" to blank-eyed depression and Jack, left to his own devices, reveals: "Mostly I just sit." But the grotesque is consistently balanced with the uplifting and there is a moment, halfway through the novel, where you feel you would fight anyone who tried to wrestle it from your grasp with the same ferocity that Ma fights for Jack, such is the author's power to make out of the most vile circumstances something absorbing, truthful and beautiful."

A review (with lots of comments) from someone who liked the first half but not the second:
(Too many spoilers to include an extract)

Plus - the 12 questions from the official site:

Why do you think the entire book is told in Jack’s voice? Do you think it is effective?
What are some of the ways in which Jack’s development has been stunted by growing up in Room? How has he benefited?
If you were Ma, what would you miss most about the outside world?
What would you do differently if you were Jack’s parent? Would you tell Jack about the outside world from the start?
If Ma had never given birth to Jack, what would her situation in Room be like?
What would you ask for, for Sundaytreat, if you were Jack? If you were Ma?
Describe the dynamic between Old Nick and Ma. Why does the author choose not to tell us Old Nick’s story?
What does joining the outside world do to Jack? To Ma?
What role do you think the media play in the novel?
In a similar situation, how would you teach a child the difference between the real world and what they watch on television?
Why are we so fascinated by stories of long-term confinement?
What were you most affected by in the novel?

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Penguin Threads

Penguin Threads is a sumptuous new set of 3 books, with covers hand embroidered.

The three titles are The Secret Garden, Emma, and Black Beauty.

See more at the artist Jillian Tamaki's website. As you can see, both the front and back are embroidered, although from what I can see, the books you can actually buy will be embossed rather than hand embroidered (because that would be pretty impractical). They're available to buy from October.

Thanks to Beth for the link!

Monday, 11 April 2011

50 books every eleven year old should read

There's some good inspiration in this list of 50 books that would be ideal for kids starting secondary school, compiled by The Independent.

Selected by Philip Pullman, Michael Morpurgo, Kary Guest, John Walsh and Michael Rosen, there is lots to induce nostalgia, or spark the curiosity, for example:

Emil and the Detectives
A Hundred Million Francs
The Phantom Tollbooth
Just William
The Elephant Child
Refugee Boy
When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit
Private Peaceful
The London Eye Mystery

Lots to think about for our next 'Classics We Should Have Read' month.

Thursday, 7 April 2011

Penguin Essentials

Penguin Essentials is a new collection from Penguin. Essential books, with specially commissioned covers, capturing the feel of the book, and the time in which they were published.

We've read several of the books (we're so damn essential), including The Great Gatsby, On The Road, Lolita, and A Confederacy of Dunces.

I think I like the Confederacy of Dunces cover best (by Gary Taxali)

Great books, great covers, would make great presents!