Friday, May 26, 2006

Boys and Girls and Fiction

Josh Lacey takes a look at spy fiction for boys for the Guardian. Lacey begins with the following question and scenario:

  • "Why don't boys read fiction? This is a question that is often asked by worried parents, teachers, librarians and other guardians of public morality. The answer, of course, is that boys do read fiction. If they didn't, publishers wouldn't be spitting out so many books aimed specifically at them. Pursuing the success of Anthony Horowitz's Alex Rider series, most follow fairly neat guidelines."

Lacey reviews a series by Andy McNab and Robert Rigby (the first book Boy Soldier, was published in the U.S. last spring; future titles are forthcoming) and finds, "It's all good dirty fun, assisted by lots of jargon, acronyms, gadgets and authentic-seeming procedures," but also has some "sadism" and "carnage."

Lacey also considers Higson's Young Bond series and Robert Muchamore's Cherub series and finds them both fun reads. And, despite "clunky writing," Lacey recommends the Cherub series (first two titles, The Recruit and The Dealer have been published in the U.S.; future titles forthcoming), writing, "his characters are lively, likable and completely believable, his plots are gripping and his stories have surprisingly serious undertones."


Julia Eccleshare considers what girls like to read and writes:

  • "Seen as the more natural and omnivorous readers, pre-teenage girls are now far less explicitly targeted by authors/ publishers than are boys. And it shows."

Eccleshare takes a look at new publications at The Hay Festival and highlights the following new titles:

  • Jaqueline Wilson, Candyfloss. ("Wilson handles the family difficulties with her usual deftness, and Floss's mix of resourcefulness and hopelessness is endearing and convincing.")
  • Jeanette Winterton, Tanglewreck
  • Cathy Cassidy, Scarlett ("...captures the fury of girl teen rebels everywhere, especially those living with the aftermath of family break-up.")
  • Malorie Blackman, Checkmate ("As the trilogy has unfolded, Blackman has escalated the tension, giving insight into what prejudice is and why it leads young people to rebel against the pigeonholes in which they are trapped.")
  • Sue Limb, Girl 16: Pants on Fire ("Against a background of duplicitous friends, confusing families and unfair teachers, Jess's embarrassments will be all too easy to identify with.")
  • Meg Rosoff, How I Live Now ("Rosoff's themes - and the situations she creates to illustrate them - are as profound and challenging as anything published for adults in the past few years.")