I am here on the Summer Reading Challenge Desk at Worthing Library for yet another entertaining and illuminating afternoon. Yes, I reckon I learn even more than the young participants over the course of the long summer
Today I met two boys who actually read The Beano. Every week. They are the first youngsters I have registered this year who take the comic on which the
2018 theme - Mischief Makers - is based. Usually it’s the parents who remember the comic from their youth. The brothers tell me that it is their grandparents who buy The Beano for them - which doesn’t surprise me one little bit. As I am sure I
have mentioned before, Mr B used to take great pleasure in buying The Beano and The Dandy for grandkids Jack and Hazel when they were young’uns. Perhaps The Beano is seen as a trifle subversive to the parents of today, at least compared with dinosaur
adventures which have the advantage of being prehistoric?
When explaining the theme of SRC 2018 to the youngsters signing up, I usually ask them if they
are Mischief Makers at home. It never ceases to surprise me how many of them feel the need to consult whichever parent or grandparent they have in tow before responding. Perhaps it’s no longer the done thing to admit to Mischievous Moments, however harmless
they may be?
You can tell, I imagine, that I am feeling what Faris the Rascal calls my Great Age. It’s the way so many things have been, well, changed to
meet Modern Sensitivities. So, when one young lass recounts the story of King Midas and his golden touch, I am devastated to discover that someone has seen fit to alter the most poignant moment in the story - when King Midas goes to hug his beloved daughter
and turns her into a lifeless golden statue. The re-writer of the story must have decided this was a Step Too Far for delicate young minds and has substituted a random dinner guest at the King’s table for the fair maiden. Travesty!
Inevitably one of the young readers presenting herself at my table has read several from the Rainbow Magic series of books about fairies. Apparently some 200 titles have been published
since 2003, all - as far as I can tell from my admittedly slightly jaundiced position - variations on a single theme. Dare I say, if you have read one book about the Rainbow Fairies, you have more or less read them all. They are, however, much beloved by readers
of a certain age so who am I to carp? And I am immensely impressed with the lass at my table who proceeds to recount the storylines of four Fairies books in turn, in great detail, from heart without so much as a glance at the blurb on the back of each book.
She is, I tell her, admiringly, an Ace Storyteller.
A three year old reader shows me the book she has finished. It is a very worthy story about feelings like loneliness.
The main character is afraid to join in the other children’s play in case he gets hurt so he sits on a park bench feeling alone. What happens at the end of the story, I ask? The Little One gives me a calculating look from wide, brown eyes and tells me
she didn’t finish the book - because she thought it was boring. I am sure she has a great future as a literary critic.
I am able to reward two “finishers”
by handing over their well-deserved certificate and medal. We herald each presentation with a drum roll on the Summer Reading Challenge Desk. There is something so very satisfying about making a noise in a library.
I think I may be a Mischief Maker...