This fortnight we have a brand new, hot off the press young adult fiction book set in Yorkshire to add to the literary canon of books set in God’s own county. With pirates, smuggling and a long lost glamorous family, what’s not to like? Let me know what you make of it. We also have an amazing reader review of The Hate U Give from a young reader. In Reyt As Rain Reads, a frazzled mum asks for books to help her rediscover her reading mojo. What would you recommend for Josephine? Get in touch on firstname.lastname@example.org or via twitter @AnnaCaig
Read of the fortnight - Jiddy Vardy by Ruth Estevez
I was contacted by Ruth Estevez after the recent Reyt As Rain Reads where I was asked to recommend children’s books set in Yorkshire. She alerted me to the fact that her brand new novel for young adults, Jiddy Vardy, is also set in God’s own county, and asked if I’d like to take a look.
How could I resist? Set in Robin Hood’s Bay in 1794, this is the coming-of-age tale of our eponymous heroine. Jiddy is born on a ship making its way back to Britain that is boarded by pirates. She is ripped away from her parents when she is only a few minutes old, and taken to the small North Yorkshire coastal community where she is adopted. Despite finding the love and care of a kind family in her new home, Jiddy never feels completely accepted in the community. She has her mum’s Neapolitan looks, and stands out a mile among the local people.
After her action-packed first few hours of life, we join her again when she is 16 and as they say in Yorkshire (and everywhere else, probably) it’s all kicking off. Jiddy has the usual tribulations of a young girl’s life to contend with: she is falling head over heels in first love,
and there are rivalries and bullying among her peers, but she has a whole lot more on her plate than that. Estevez mixes delicious ingredients from pirates to smuggling to stolen jewels to a glamorous, long lost family, all combined deftly in an entertaining literary mix.
Despite Jiddy undergoing a Cinderella-like change in fortunes, Estevez steers clear of easy, neatly tied-up resolutions, and this is far from a clichéd fairy tale. Some of the book’s most satisfying moments come when characters confound our expectations, and turn familiar tropes on their head.
As Jiddy’s worlds collide, there are plenty of surprises and twists along the way, and particularly as we get to the second half of the book it all rattles along at roller coaster pace.
The story builds to a denouement that, while satisfying in its own right, sets us up nicely for a sequel.
Jiddy Vardy is published this month, and is a worthy addition to the illustrious canon of Yorkshire children’s literature. And I can’t wait to find out what she does next.
Reader Reviews - The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas, Elsie, age 12, from Hope Valley College, says:
The Hate U Give is a good book because it is about extremely sad things but it isn’t a really sad book, as you’d expect.
At the beginning, Starr, the main protagonist, is the only witness to her best friend’s murder by a police officer. Starr is hopeful about the incredibly unfair things in her life getting better, instead of giving up and letting these things happen.
Something that you don’t earn and that you can’t change about yourself, like race, defines Starr and many other people, whether black or white.
It made me think that people should be treated differently because of what they do, instead of how they look.
Difference should not be treated as a bad thing, but as something to be proud of.
Starr’s family are very supportive of her, from when she’s going to school to when she’s talking to the police about Khalil’s murder.
They don’t pressure her into doing things, but still help and support her whatever she wants to do.
This book also made me think about the law on guns in America. The police carry guns and can get away with using them.
I’m reading the Carnegie list at the moment, and in my opinion The Hate U Give is one of the best in the shortlist.
It made me think about things I haven’t really thought about before and I think other people should read it too.
Reyt As Rain Reads - Books To Make It Better
Josephine says: I am a time-poor, mostly tired working mum with the attention span of a distracted flea, and I often don’t finish books. Please could you recommend some reads to keep me gripped until the end.
Anna says: My go-to book when I’m asked for recommendations for people who, for whatever reason, seem to have fallen out of love with reading, is Treasure Island.
A children’s book published in 1883 might not seem like the obvious choice for grown-ups in 2018 who want to rediscover their reading mojo, but Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic tale of adventure on the high seas is about as perfect a novel as it is possible to find.
If anything is going to remind you that reading is the best way of spending time ever, it is this. Granted, the lack of decent female characters is annoying. But it is still an absolute joy.
You don’t mention how old your children are, but another benefit of this book is that you can share this with them if you like. Or not. I admit I would be tempted to give them a bowl of cereal for tea, curl up by yourself and get lost in one of the finest stories ever written.
My second recommendation for you is Strange Magic by Syd Moore. It tells the story of Rosie Strange, a very modern woman, who inherits a witchcraft museum from her grandfather. She is eager to get shot of the place, and assumes it is out of the question to run it as a viable business.
Rosie and her employee, the grumpy but attractive museum curator Sam, are commissioned to track down the bones of a centuries-dead suspected witch, and we embark upon a gripping adventure that encompasses the past and the present; Moore skilfully weaves Rosie and Sam’s investigation with the story of Ursula Cadence, a sixteenth century ‘cunning woman’ who is based on the real figure Ursula Kemp, known as ‘the witch who wouldn’t stay buried.’
At the heart of this book is the tension between a belief in the supernatural, and the conviction that all events have a rational explanation, no matter how well-hidden it may be at times. It all builds to a deliciously sensational denouement, which sets us up nicely for the next book in the series.
Strange Magic is an enjoyable adventure, rather than horrible and frightening: this is the fun side of witchcraft and possession. If you like your dark arts served up with a giggle and a cheeky wink, then dive in. I hope you enjoy these books, and they rekindle your love of reading.