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brilliant book to read aloud and share. Reading it provides a very different experience to that of seeing the film, as it creates space for the imagination to work and its length gives an opportunity for the cliff hanger – the wait to find out what happens next.


Varjak Paw


S.F.Said, illus Dave McKean, Corgi Children’s Books, 978-0552572293, £6.99 pbk


‘Don’t stop. Read some more,’ is a real accolade. It’s a shame that many older children think they’ve outgrown sharing books, but I think the way round this is to pick stories that are very gripping. Outstanding in this respect is S.F. Said’s Varjak Paw. I believe the adventures of Varjak, the Mesopotamian Blue cat who faces the terrible Sally Bones, will have everyone hooked, and is story telling at its best. There is the added drama of the illustrations by David McKean.


Dakota of the White Flats


Philip Ridley, Puffin, 978-0140368932, £8.99 pbk


As I’ve said, books that give the reader the opportunity to put on different voices can further the opportunities for enjoyment and memorable sharing. Philip Ridley is an author whose writing is perfect for this. A favourite of ours was Scribbleboy but perhaps an easier introduction, though just as anarchic, is Dakota of the White Flats. This is a book that, I found, could hold the attention of a class of KS3 children – praise indeed!


Black Ships Before Troy: The Story of the Iliad


Rosemary Sutcliffe, illus Alan Lee, Frances Lincoln Children’s Books, 978-0711215221, £9.99 pbk


A great source of stories that work well read aloud, whether one-to-one or to whole groups, are myths, legends and folktales. There are many outstanding collections: Greek (Tales of the Greek Heroes by Roger Lancelyn Green); Norse (Viking! Myths of Gods and Monsters by Kevin Crossley-Holland); Indian (Seasons of Splendour by Madhur Jaffrey), to mention a few. However,


Black Ships Before Troy: The Story of the Iliad, a retelling by Rosemary Sutcliff, is both adult and accessible, and captures the mood of this wonderful but challenging story for everyone.


The Graveyard Book


Neil Gaiman, illus Chris Riddell, Bloomsbury, 978-0747594802, £6.99 pbk


Neil Gaiman is another author whose books are equally appealing to both adults and children. The Graveyard Book is a modern classic and one that is, like the Kipling stories that have inspired it, perfect for sharing. Younger listeners will just enjoy Bod’s adventures and be captivated by the imagination, while adults will recognise themes that add depth and resonance, making it a particularly satisfying experience.


The Complete Stories


Isaac Asimov, Collins, 978-0006476474, £8.99 pbk


I found that detective stories, aimed at adults, are perfect for reading aloud to teenagers, especially those written as short stories. Sherlock Holmes, Poirot and Miss Marple are great characters. However, my choice would be Asimov’s Casebook of the Black Widowers. Originally written for magazines, these are pleasingly concise stories and the puzzles are very intriguing. My children asked for these to be read to them again and again.


These ten of the best share a direct narrative (with not too much reflective description), dialogue, dramatic or funny incidents, and characters who intrigue or jump off the page. And most important of all, they are stories that you will enjoy as much as your audience. Magic! n


Ferelith Hordon is a former children’s librarian and Chair of the Youth Libraries Group, and editor of Books for Keeps.


Books for Keeps No.208 September 2014 9


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