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Total Stars out of 5: 2.33
This book is a classic and clearly a dystopian version of a future world. Since it was written a few of the things he wrote about as fiction would now be considered fact and that in itself is more frightening than prophetic.
On the whole the reading club found it unusual and interesting but, did not enjoy the story.
The descriptions of this ‘Brave New World’ is quite chilling in many respects. The wholesale indoctrination of children from infancy, the test tube babies taken to the extreme degree, society has pretty much being turned on its head. The very things that make humans human has been eradicated as evil or outdated. A family, mother and father, marriage, in fact emotional attachments are discouraged or forbidden outright. Their lives are ‘happy’ but only in the shallowest sense, all deeper meaning has been removed. Being an individual is discouraged, you must listen to your programming and follow all the precepts set down by the Controllers. If this is the ‘only’ way to have a happy and stable society we want nothing to do with it!
We decided that instead of it being called a ‘Brave New World’ it should be called a ‘Horrible, Scary World!’
Congratulations to Paul Stephens-Wood! We at the library are especially proud of him as he is also a volunteer at our library!
With Paul’s permission here is his entry that won him the third prize.
I’m reading my world.
I’m reading the stones. What stories they tell, as they lie beneath protecting glass in their wooden cases. In the whorled and pressure-flaked flints I can see human intelligence honed over millennia. I can see people in small groups hunting across the barren tundra. Their sharpened flints, hafted into wooden spears with the stringed entrails of their prey are razor sharp. Even now they can cut and slash as they did hundreds of thousands of years ago. In a case further down the room lie crumpled, ill-stamped coins from a Roman hoard buried two millennia ago. The owner sought to protect his wealth from thieves; whether neighbours or raiders we do not know. But he never came back, and I feel his insecurity across time.
As I move through the museum’s galleries, I read the stories of other objects. Objects of clay, iron, gold and miraculously preserved textiles. Some express a sense of the divine; others tell of the daily drudge. Some are beautiful; others plain and utilitarian. Some speak of aggression and death; others of the care and love that binds communities. Whatever stories each object has to tell, I return from these hushed galleries with a better understanding of what it is to be human.
I’m reading the flight of birds. The migrating geese, cackling in a wedge as they drive westward across a cloudless sky confirm the beginning of the year’s rhythm. Soon the buds will peel open and bees will hang from the heavy scented flowers. New life erupts. The geese will graze and breed in the year’s fullness. Then as the days lengthen, swirling murmurations of starlings bring an Autumn spectacle. Through the winter thousands of birds gather on the wing and swoop in unison across a red tinged sky in freewheeling, pulsating curves. Rooks and Jackdaws also fly from their foraging grounds to mass in huge numbers on a winter roost, filling the air with a raucous cacophony. Each of these great gatherings shows me the forces that bind the natural world in a constant fluid state of movement and renewal.
The evolution of the year can be read in small things: the appearance of the first butterfly; an annoying gnat’s bite; the scurrying beetle across a dusty path; a dew sparkled spider’s web; the brown leaves trodden black. Each observation has significance. It opens a thousand stories. Stories about the rhythms of life; about death’s terminal blow; about our place in a world we only partly understand.
I’m reading my children’s eyes. In gestures they tell me what they feel. From the pouting sulk of frustrated desire, to the tiny contraction of a cheek muscle – a fleeting glimpse of fear and uncertainty; I gauge their moods. Their faces are a barometer of the windy emotions driven by momentary impulses. These I observe with a protective love and care. At work I read my colleagues too. The drumming of finger tips, or the unfocussed eyes scanning the ceiling; the stiffened jaw, or the open palm tell me what can be done, and what will never be done. On the open street I protect myself by an acute sensitivity to the way a stranger tilts his head, or how a hooded glance flashes from a passer by.
Just as the evolution of the year can be read in small things, so can we measure ourselves by the gestures of others. We see and explore the place we hold in our families and communities. It often speaks of love and acceptance, but sometimes of loneliness and rejection. In gestures we have an affirmation of the joys and sorrows of being human.
I’m reading words. Thousands of words. Each one part of a structured dialogue across countless pages. The books that stuff my bookcases are an eclectic collection. If people look closely at the titles they can to see who I am. They will see books about archaeology, birds, and the histories of peoples and nations. There are books on science and philosophy. Some are on art and photography, and there’s a row of carefully arranged poetry books. There are novels in crisp modern paper covers alongside classics with ripped and torn spines: I’m the last reader of many others across the generations. Some I will donate to charity shops when I have finished them. Some have given me great pleasure and enriched my world, so I will keep them.
I have read the objects in museums. I have read the pulsating forces of nature. I have read the moods of friends and family, and felt the pulse of community life. And, I will always do so. But, it is what I read in books that instruct me more than anything else. I know of the sharpened flints because I have read about them. The starling’s swirling flocks have been studied, and I read of a growing understanding of why they gather in their thousands. Bronte and Dickens, Heaney and Hughes have observed the gestures, emotions and passions of others. The novelists stories dissect their characters private thoughts and the conventions of the societies that give them meaning. The poets give lyrical form to a shared experience, and explore the landscapes of feeling. All these books are accumulated wisdom and experience across many millennia. They have travelled time and space to give me a context and understanding to what I see and know. And, from all my reading, I have learned what it is to be human.
We also have a video of Paul reading his entry out loud.
Andrew Taylor announced the winners of the Festival’s writing competition on Saturday evening, and each excellent entry was read out to the audience.
Izzy Daly for Him – winner of the Youth Award, donated by Foresters’ Forest, Reading the Forest project
Deborah Gregory for Postcard – first prize, awarded by Chepstow Bookshop
Val Ormrod for The Joy of Word – second prize
Paul Stephens-Wood for I’m Reading my World – third prize
Information taken from: http://www.thecolefordhub.info/the-winners-announced/
The Day the Crayon’s Quit by Drew Daywalt and Illustrated Oliver Jeffers.
Stars Awarded: 5 Stars
Reading out loud potential: Absolutely excellent
Overall a perfect picture book to read to your young child. The final picture at the back is a great time to point out where Duncan used his crayons where they demanded (requested) 🙂
A very humorous part is Peach crayon complaining about his wrapper being taken off leaving him naked!
A fun and engaging book.
A truly entertaining magical piece of fantasy.
All of our readers enjoyed the beautiful descriptive writing of Erin. Some found the beginning a bit difficult to follow with the abrupt changes of time and scene, though others found the whole mystery of it all utterly engrossing.
Basically, there are two ancient magicians who set their two star pupils against each other to find out who is the best. The issues are that the pupils don’t know the rules, or how the winner is declared. The competition arena, is the Night Circus.
There is a great deal that is left to the reader’s imagination as not everything is completely explained, which only adds to the enigmas and magic entwined in everything. This is not an ordinary novel. We first get a full view of the almost playfulness of the magic and later the darker aspects of it are explored. How everyone involved in the circus whether directly or not is caught up in it and pays a price as well as benefits from it.
Walking through the circus is so beautifully written that it feels as if you are there, smelling the caramel popcorn and watching the white flames dancing. The joy of the circus permeates the pages, people who visit the circus leave it ever changed.
The love story between Marco and Celia is restrained, elegant and ultimately otherworldly in its strength and beauty. They ‘write love letters’ to each other through the different tents in the circus. The demonstrations of their affection to each other are so beautiful; so dazzling as to wish that everyone could find such love.
The competition though integral to the story becomes the hardest part to reconcile as the pages flip by and the costs mount up for the magic being used, the balancing that must be maintained. Some of these costs are very heavy, burdensome and even fatal. The darker side of the competition is shown in all it’s sinister aspects and we are left waiting for the ‘other shoe to drop’ so to speak.
To show that this book is not for everyone, half of our readers adored this book and would absolutely recommend it as a must read, and the other half were not at all convinced, conceding only that the descriptive writing was excellent but the plot felt thin.