Admittedly, I have already failed in my promise to post a few blogs a week but I am back on top form now and ready to do my best! So, what was it that caused me to completely ignore my internet obligations? The art of full-time work.
I did work experience at a small publishing house last week, and having just got over swine flu, it completely drained me. However, during my time at Ransom publishing I came across a great range of books which I think are worth a mention as they target such a niche market. This market being high interest, low reading level children. The difficulty publishers have with children who struggle to read is finding something relevant. Whilst a child may have a low reading age of 6-7 when they are actually 12 years old, they are not going to want to read about Spongebob or Peppa Pig. That’s the most pressing thing when it comes to publishing these books and I believe Ransom has succeeded in producing quality books that quite frankly, do not insult the child’s abilities.
One book I was asked to read and review is ‘Stained’ by Joanne Hichens. It is part of a series called Cutting Edge. There are 16 fiction books in these series and they are all classed as ‘quick-reads’. To you and me this means they are formatted to appear like a regular novel but are shorted in length, around 25,000-35,000 words in fact and the font is larger and paragraphs spaced out.
So the issue of presentation appears not a problem for Ransom Publishing. But the most important question remains…is the content any good? Well in all honesty, yes it is. The book is for teenagers and young adults and so it’s important to acknowledge issues with society which these kids may well be going through.
‘Stained’ is set in a poor area of Cape Town and focuses on Grace, an adopted child trying desperately to remain on the good side of the law in a place so tempted into destruction. Grace’s authentic narrative is juxtaposed with the gripping diary of Crystal, who, just having had a baby when she herself is still a child is going through inner turmoil no one could possibly comprehend before it’s too late.
With these two impressionable young girls, the story is lightened somewhat by the endless support and love of Grace’s carer Martha. As the story progresses, what we begin to see is a story of turmoil, of tragedy and destruction but also of hope amongst the fallen.
The story cashes in on such topic of teenage pregnancy, abuse and drugs which so need addressing in the confusing society children are growing up in today. I would not recommend this book for children under 14 or 15 as it features swear words throughout and the topics are very sensitive and I think this book should be chosen at the discretion of the parent.
What makes the novel even more relevant is the authorship by Joanne Hichens. She lives in Cape Town and draws upon her own experiences to produce a novel which is perhaps more a hybrid of fiction and a representation of societal demands, than fantastical fiction which has no relevance to a lost child today.
‘Stained’ is available to order from www.ransom.co.uk