Tag Archives: Diana Wynne Jones

Five books or series my eight year old boy’s devoured in three or four sittings

Eight year old boys are notoriously difficult to find books for. Here are five books or series that dudelet has absolutely raced through.

Billionaire Boy by David Walliams. A boy becomes a billionaire and learns that too  much money brings nothing but trouble and that the love of a father is worth more than, ooh, billions of pounds. It’s actually funny, politically incorrect, unsentimental and dudelet was enthralled from beginning to end. Yes, it is that David Walliams. I had no idea he wrote children’s books.

The Chronicles of Ancient Darkness by Michelle Paver are set in a prehistoric tribal time of shamans, magic and dread. Dudelet’s teacher has been lending him them and he’s deep into the second trilogy. They’re quite stunningly well written but full of action and spectacle. “They’ve got all of the things I like – swords and ancient history and tribes.”

Anything with Horrible Histories on the cover. For the unitiated, Horrible Histories is a cult CBBC children’s programme that provides a thoroughly unvarnished look at the lives of everyday people in the past. It’s revolting, vile, smelly, filthy, full of farts and diseases and much loved by both our children. A new Horrible Histories book will keep dudelet busy for hours, even if one has to consequently put up with being drip fed details of what the Romans used to wipe their bottoms (sponge on a stick if you must know) or exactly what being hung, drawn and quartered involved.

Michael Rosen’s Centrally Heated Knickers. Michael Rosen was children’s laureate from 2007 to 2009 and dudelet loves his poetry. He can quote chunks of Centrally Heated Knickers, which riffs witty, rhythmic verse against short paragraphs outlining the scientific inventions or facts that inspired them.

Diana Wynne Jones‘  The Lives of Christopher Chant. There has to be something by Diana Wynne Jones, of course. At the moment, we tend to read him her books (currently, we’re enjoying Archer’s Goon) and this one in particular captured his imagination. Christopher Chant is an enchanter – and that’s all I’m going to say (more here but spoiler alert)

Guitars and stars

It’s a miscellany. Listen carefully.

I dug out my Danelectro from behind the bed board last night, found a toy amplifier supermum gave me for my birthday last November (I’m a Scorpio, fact fans) and tried out the new guitar tuner on my iPhone. I worked out the chords for Joe Jackson’s “It’s Different For Girls” for the first time. It rocks on single coil pick-ups through a speaker with a diameter of two inches.

Dudelet came in to watch.

“You’re playing air guitar!”

“Ah, not quite.”

“You are! Just like a real rock star…”

“Oh. Yes. I suppose so.”

He wandered off with my iPhone (no doubt making a mental note to investigate the guitar further at a later date) and I dug into “Everyone Knows This Is Nowhere.” Then back to the Joe Jackson song.

I really must grab the lyrics from somewhere.

When I grow up, I want to be an 8x12 Marshall Stack.

When I grow up, I want to be an 8x12 Marshall Stack.

◊ ◊ ◊

Earlier today, I finished Diana Wynne Jones’ The Game. It’s a comparatively short but densely imagined book that gives no quarter in its demand that you immerse yourself in the world of its central character, and her unusual family. It finishes abruptly, seemingly with much left to be said. Perhaps she just needed to get on with the next book. We can, after all, perfectly well fill in what happens next ourselves if we want to. What happened before, we needed Wynne Jones for.

Neil Gaiman calls her the best writer of magic there is. He’s right. She’s also provided me with a model of what I’d like to be in my own writing  – a lightness, a firm but contingent moral compass and the capacity of, perhaps,  the blue guitar “to see things as they are.”

♥ ♥ ♥

Much later that night.

“You may bang your head against that board if you stay where you are.”

“I may quite like the idea.”

• • •

At work, I have a desk. It was shot in India, in 1969. I don’t know how the CDs all got there. Those pesky wormholes.

There's a teapot. And CDs.