Forget Jack Reacher. Hercule Poirot is so passé, don't you know? Bergerac? Well, he focuses all his attention on Jersey, doesn't he? Even my favourite detectives, Morse and Lewis will have to move over to make way
for - the Animal Agents!
Yes, the start of the 2017 Summer Reading Challenge is fast approaching and this year’s theme is Animal Agents. It could have been
called Animal Detectives but such a title, though accurate, would be Short on Alliteration. Which would never, ever do.
Yesterday I took myself off on the Pulse
bus into town to Worthing Library where a second Induction Evening was being held for all the volunteers on this year’s Challenge, of which I am delighted, nay excited, to be one. I was supposed to be attending the first session last week but was unable
to make it due to being held up by a traumatic visit to the dentist with Mr B. Traumatic, that is, because transferring from wheelchair to dentists’s chair proved almost impossible for poor Mr B, even with the help of my favourite Tooth Fairy. (We have
to go back next week for some treatment. The Tooth Fairy is allowing a full hour for this follow-up Dental Experience.)
I donned my sunglasses (on loan from the
Youngest of the Darling Daughters) so as to shield my Operation Eye from any fellow passengers who might be of a sensitive nature but once I reached my destination, I had to remove them (my sunglasses, not my fellow passengers, don't be silly), all the better
to see two short films explaining certain changes to this year’s Challenge.
While I was waiting for the session to start, I helped myself to a glass of summer
fruits squash and a custard cream biscuit (this is for those of you who, I know, like to hear the Finer Details) and took a seat next to a young lad on his first year as a volunteer. I chose to sit next to him on purpose, in case he might need an encouraging
word from an old hand, such as myself - but he turned out to be brimming with confidence. We talked about Books We Have Read, like the Alex Rider novels by Anthony Horowitz and the Cherub series. I am always grateful to grandson Jack for introducing me many
years ago, to the books he was reading at the time. My new Best Friend Forever (at least for the duration of this Information Session) advises me to read Artemis Fowl and I promise him I will, just as soon as I work out who or what Artemis Fowl is and to what
degree he / she / it is Chicken Related.
The session starts. The Rather Wonderful Frances, who is one of the Children’s Librarians, tells us how very
difficult the Library staff would find it to run the scheme without our help. We all preen ourselves inwardly. Then she drops a bit of a bombshell - a new on-line registration process is being introduced this year as a pilot. My friend Francesca, who is here
representing Outset Youth Action, the organisation which finds most of the young volunteers, grins at me across the lecture theatre - she had warned me that Changes Were Afoot.
Yes, this year instead of asking the children’s parents, grandparents or carers to fill in a registration card, it is hoped they will have done this on-line before visiting the library for the first time. Should they not have done so then we volunteers
will have to suggest that they quickly do so, using their smart phone, tablet or - failing all else - one of the library’s computers. It is doubtless purely down to my Great Age that I foresee Trouble Ahead, especially on launch day when the library
will be under siege from hundreds of young’uns. I keep my fears to myself because I don't want to sound like a dinosaur. I don't have anything against dinosaurs, you understand, but they are well known for Living in the Past.
Frances is having trouble playing the short film which will demonstrate the new process. My young neighbour knows exactly what she should be doing and whispers to me. I nod, knowledgeably for all the
world as if I, too, have reached the same conclusion.
Never fear all you 4 - 11 year olds who can't wait to take up this year’s Summer Reading Challenge,
including Pippa and Daniel and my three (Not So Very Little) Welsh Boys. All the most important aspects of the Summer Reading Challenge remain the same. There will be wrist bands (which may or may not glow in the dark) to signal that you have taken up the
Challenge. There will be scratch and sniff cards, some of which will be very, very smelly. There will be a certificate and a gold medal for all those of you who complete the Challenge by reading six books over the course of the summer. Most importantly,
there will be books galore from which you can take your pick.
There will also be evidence of various Nefarious Deeds, the perpetrators of which it will be up to
the Animal Agents to uncover.
They are, in no particular order, Bart the Bloodhound (he has a nose for trouble); Slip and Slide the snake twins (not many
criminals can slither out of their grasp); Daisy the rabbit (in turbo-charged wheelchair - could I find one of those for Mr B?); and Bernice the Bear who heads up the Animal Agency.
Please do come and meet them, all you young readers! They are arriving at a library near you from Saturday 15th July!