Sunday, 22 May 2011

Free books!

When I was young, I prayed to be sent away to boarding school. It wasn’t that I was particularly unhappy at home but simply that I had fallen head over heels in love with the idea thanks to Enid Blyton’s Malory Towers and St Claire’s books.  I wanted to play pranks and have midnight feasts with a gang of friends.  Okay, so I also rather fancied the idea of swimming in a natural seawater pool and having my own pony in the school stables. At the bottom of it, I guess I just wanted to escape from the tedium of suburbia.  I was a lot younger than my siblings and I spent most of my time alone in my head. I wanted ‘chums’; I wanted merry japes; I wanted passionate friendships and drama and secrets.
The allure of the school saga has not diminished over the years. When my son first saw his school he muttered, with deep awe, ‘Hogwarts’.  And I smiled broadly when I saw that Lyn Gardner had written her own school series, starting with Olivia’s First Term (oh that title - so delightfully reminiscent of Blyton’s series).
I met Lyn when we both worked for the London listings magazine, City Limits.  Lyn was the theatre editor (I fixed the typewriters  – which says it all really).  Lyn went on to The Guardian (and remains there today) and continues to review theatre with her habitual insight, sensitivity and humour.  If anyone knows theatre inside out and back to front, it’s Lyn. Oh, and she has daughters so she’s the business twice over.

Now, you know me. I love dark and doomy and depressing. I inhale supernatural and overcast and heart-broken and wretched.  So how come I devoured a book about a bunch of kids at stage school, for pity’s sake?  Olivia’s First Term is about dancing and acting and singing; it doesn’t even have one vaguely creepy moment (though there is plenty of drama).  I hated High School Musical. I loathe Glee.  But, you know, this isn’t like that…not one bit.  It’s really got that old Malory Towers magic about it (though the writing is way better). I’ll let you into a secret – I even shed a few tears at the end.
Anyhow, if you have stage-struck daughters (roughly aged 8-12), they’ll devour it (and, fear not, it teaches valuable lessons about Not Being A Brat). I know a lot of you have young girls in the house and so I asked the publishers, Nosy Crow, if they could let me have some copies to share. They very kindly agreed and I have six copies to give away. So, if you’d like to win one, simply leave a comment and we’ll do the usual paw in the hat routine.


Oh, and talking about writing and young people, check out the Wicked Young Writers’ Award finalist entries, now published in an anthology by Headline.  www.wickedyoungwriters.com – some amazing stuff here.


29 comments:

English Mum said...

I don't have daughters, sadly (or not - judging by what my nieces get up to!!), but oh how I loved Malory Towers... *sigh*..

That is all.

Sandie said...

Oh, I always wanted to go to boarding school too... but I craved to be one of the Famous Five in summer holidays as well (George - that was me!!).

I guess it's a desire to be away from the nagging of adults in both those scenarios. But the school thing - all those giggling girls and their midnight feasts - was, for me, probably more to do with growing up with brothers.

My youngest now has those same cravings and devours that sort of scenario in books herself.

rasmbisilodge said...

Mads and Scarlet will LOVE this, they adored Malory Towers and St Clares (as did I).

Exmoorjane said...

Hey guys, do let me know in your comment if you'd like to be entered in the draw... :)

Sandie said...

Yes, please enter me in the draw - my youngest would love it!

rasmbisilodge said...

yeah, go on then :-)

Justin said...

The Hardy Boys are probably responsible for my vague sense that I would have been a brilliant detective, had I ever pursued it.

Put me in the draw, I have two girls of exactly the right age. :)

Rona Amiss said...

I was more keen on famous five than mallory towers. But my girls would love to win! Elsa has been complaining that many of the books in the school libary are depressing and about unhappy children with problems. Maybe that's why Enid Blyton works, we all need to escape to an endless summer.

Aaron Paterson said...

Stayed up late writing a story for my goddaughter last night and this one looks perfect too. While she was sleeping, her mother and I were discussing how to get her an agent as she regularly acts and is a wonderful singer, and I saw a big smile creep across her face. She was pretending to be asleep and loved overhearing all the fabulous things we were saying about her. I'd be delighted to be able to give her a copy of this book so do please put me in the draw.

Zoë said...

Oh! this sounds the perfect book for my niece Naomi(11), who is hoping to follow in her brother's footsteps to the National Youth Theatre. (especially the bit about how not to be a brat!)

Please enter me into the draw - thanks :-) xx

Hilary said...

Ooh, oldest just 5 but I'm reading older books to her and she's mental about all things stage. Would be nice to have something more contemporary than Ballet Shoes to read her!

zenandtheartoftightropewalking said...

I confess.
I wanted to go to a boarding school for exactly the same reason.
Though I suspect that me asking my parents if I could go to an approved school might have been one small factor in NOT going....

Tiger Princess said...

Put me in the Draw please!

My daughter would love these stories - she's a real diva and loves to sing and dance!

Mrs S-D said...

please put me in the draw too - girls of 6 and 9 who spend all day dressed up doing plays.

Solange Noir said...

Sounds so fab, my 10yo will love it! My Nora was in her first play at 5 and the love of stage and footlights is in her blood. She pleads weekly for a trip to London for her 11th birthday, would happily leave me to go to Hogwarts lol

Kyra Lennon said...

I always thought boarding school sounded fun, and I LOVED Enid Blyton books. Malory Towers was great, but The Faraway Tree books were my favourite by Enid Blyton.

jaxbee said...

I read them all - Secret Seven, Famous Five and anything else written by EB it would appear. BUT I had a bizarre fear of being sent to boarding school. Bizarre in being one of four children to a very lefty teacher and part-time nurse, the chances of them even affording, let alone wanting, to send me to boarding school were less than remote. But yes, it was a big fear - maybe it was because I knew there'd be no money for any sweets for the midnight feasts?
Great post as ever, Jane and yes please for a hand in the hat for the book. My youngest would love it and I dare say the eldest would sneak a peek too.

Joanne Mallon said...

I would love to win a copy for my 11 year old daughter who is an avid reader and recently very much enjoyed Lyn's previous book Into the Woods

trisha said...

Put me in the draw! my friend's girl Alex is an avid book reader.
I loved Malory Towers and St Claire's and the famous five and there was a dog. Anyone remember the Bobbsy Twins!! Hidden away in my parents attic is boxes of my books must have a rummage!

Solange Noir said...

Yes, please enter me :)

Polly said...

My 8 year old is intrigued by my boarding school stories - especially about various friends who got expelled for running away! She's just got distinction in her Grade 1 ballet so she's also a bit stage struck at the moment! this would be a perfect read for her!

Exmoorjane said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
clarekirkpatrick said...

I have four daughters and my oldest has just turned 8! Would love to win :)

Kerry said...

Aaaaah, Enid Blyton... I feel about 9 years old again :) I have 3 little girls, so would love to enter. Thank You for organising!

@PaulineCoxy said...

LOVED Malory Towers! Child no 2 is 12 today & so please enter me into the draw :D

gidders1 said...

My eldest is 8, and I really don't think I will ever tire of enid Blyton type stories - Ive always fancied I'd have loved boarding school, if only for the midnight feasts and tuck boxes!

speccy said...

Oh, please enter me :) Girls of 8 and 10, all into dancing, singing, music- and we have the school musical in a few weeks. Apart from that, I'd like to read it.

Philip van Wulven said...

My daughters are adult now, but I have a grand-daughter who loves to read; the other g-d is only just 3 months young.
I'm sure the reader will devour this.

Exmoorjane said...

PLEASE NOTE: COMPETITION IS NOW CLOSED. No more entries are being accepted. Huge thanks to everyone who entered.