About Me

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Stockport, United Kingdom
Angela Cater is a writer, illustrator and self-publisher. Her books are published by Tabby Cat Press. She is the writer/illustrator of "The Adventures of Sailor Sam" and "A Perfect Nest for Mrs Mallard."

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Out of the Shadows by Jason Wallace (Carnegie finalist)

This book generated the best discussion so far, which surprised me as I really hadn’t been sure at all what the girls’ reaction to it would be. The school staff, whilst not disliking it as such, had found it quite a bleak read with nothing positive happening in it to draw you out of the misery.

This novel is set in Zimbabwean boarding school for boys, in the early years of the Mugabe government after a long, bitter struggle for black independence. Long held school traditions are being overturned by the admission of a few black teachers and students and this breeds resentment amongst many of the pupils.

New pupil, Robert Jacklin, freshly arrived from England, initially makes friends with a young black boy, the first pupil he meets there. But in the end, he turns his back on his friend in an attempt to avoid the vicious bullying of Ivan, and he is drawn into his gang’s violent and racist games.

The girls felt that they could empathise with Robert’s predicament and inner turmoil and felt greatly sorry for him as his home life was a mess too. Although they did not understand a lot of the history and political references, they felt that this did not detract from their enjoyment of the book. This scored the highest so far amongst the group.

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Prisoner of the Inquisition by Theresa Breslin (Carnegie finalist)

Our second book, “Prisoner of the Inquisition” by Teresa Breslin was a historical novel set in the era of the Spanish Inquisition and the exploratory voyages of Christopher Colombus. It is fast paced and begins with a harrowing scene of a woman being burnt at the stake for treason.

The story has two main characters – Zarita who is the spoilt daughter of the rich town’s magistrate. Saulo is the son of a peasant who is hanged by that magistrate and he seeks revenge on the family.

The majority of the girls in my group loved the book. Its simple language explained the history behind the Inquisition in a way that was easy to understand and inspired them to get on Wikipedia and find out more about it, and the instruments of torture used! In particular, they enjoyed the swashbuckling chapters of the sea voyage and the battle with pirates. At the same time the romance between Saulo and Zarita satisfied those who had been yearning for the Carnegie to present a Mills & Boons type of offering. They also recognised the moral that runs throughout that even your smallest action can set of a chain of reaction that has huge and devastating consequences for those around you.

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

The Death Defying Pepper Roux - Geraldine McCaughrean (Carnegie finalist)

Shadowing the Carnegie Medal is without doubt my favourite time of the school year as it affords me the opportunity to read books that I normally wouldn’t pick up. I have discovered some great authors this way. This year, I have a Year 9 group from the independent girls’ school where I work. Their differing (generally very strong!) opinions are as entertaining as the books themselves – sometimes more so. So far, we have read three of the books on the short list.

The Death Defying Pepper Roux – Geraldine McCaughrean

Personally, I was disappointed with this book as I had loved one of her previous novels, “The Kite Rider,” and had high hopes for this story. From the group, one of the girls absolutely loved it and gave it top marks of 20 (the same girls has top- marked all the books so far!). The rest felt that it was too far-fetched and unbelievable and were bored rather than amused by it. They could not understand what period it was set it or why it had to be set in France. Their favourite character was the Duchess (although there was some confusion as to whether he was male or female). Pepper’s many changes of identity also confused and they did not believe that he would have been accepted as a Captain on the ship. Most of the girls said that they had looked forward to reading this book but it had ultimately disappointed. The book was scored from 0 to 20, with 7 been the average mark given.