Review: Springboard Shakespeare Macbeth

by Ross Grainger
by Ross Grainger

Springboard Shakespeare by Ben Crystal

 

Rehearsing his lines ahead of the opening of Macbeth at the Springfield Theatre, Homer Simpson improvises as only he can: “‘Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow…’ OK, today’s Tuesday so that would be Friday.” The beer-loving dunce would have done well to purchase Ben Crystal’s fine guide to Shakespeare’s Scottish tragedy. ‘Guide,’ though, doesn’t quite do it justice. What Crystal has written is part reading guide, part theatrical guide and part critical analysis, presented in three sections – ‘Before’, ‘During’ and ‘After.’
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Review: The Third Chimpanzee

by Ross Grainger
by Ross Grainger

Monkey see, ape do.

 

With evolution and inheritance back on the primary science programme of study, now is a great time to delve into the family tree of Homo sapiens with an outstanding new adaptation of Jared Diamond’s fascinating book The Third Chimpanzee.
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Review: Riding The Black Cockatoo

by Ross Grainger
by Ross Grainger

Riding the Black Cockatoo by John Danalis

 

Lots of kids have felt it: a dark reluctance to invite a friend back to your house. You might be worried about your parents’ propensity for humiliation. Or perhaps you’ve become acutely aware of some material shortcoming. For Queensland local John Danalis, though, the problem is a great deal more morbid. For as long as John can remember, the mantelpiece in his parents’ living room has been adorned with the skull of an Aborigine affectionately known as Mary.
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Review: Cider With Rosie

by Ross Grainger
by Ross Grainger

Cider With Rosie by Laurie Lee

 

What a joy it is to happen upon a book in which nearly every line reads like an impressionist landscape. Louis de Bernières’ Birds Without Wings was one; Cormac McCarthy’s The Road another. Cider with Rosie has elements of both — a fantastical rural idyll of grass ‘tattooed with tiger-skins of sunlight’, where in winter ‘One’s nose went dead so that it was hard to breathe’ and there are ‘jigsaws of frost on the window.’
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Review: Whale Boy

by Ross Grainger
by Ross Grainger

You’ll have a whale of a time

 

Take the sperm whale-shaped obsession of Moby Dick, add the fantastical zoology of Free Willy, sprinkle with the green undertones of Pocahontas and then throw the resulting quandary in the path of a loveable, fearless and indefatigable adolescent protagonist and you have Nicola Davies’ Whale Boy.
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Review: The Golden Day

by Ross Grainger
by Ross Grainger

All that’s gold doesn’t quite glitter.

 

Eleven schoolgirls and their teacher go to the local park one normal day in suburban Australia. The goal of their field trip is, as the teacher says, “to think about death.” The year is 1967. Far away, in Melbourne, a man has been hanged. Further away still, the Vietnam War rages.
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Review: All The Truth That’s In Me

by Ross Grainger
by Ross Grainger

You can handle All the Truth That’s in Me.

 

Several of my recent reviews have drawn criticism from some twitter corners. ‘Quite chippy,’ wrote one. ‘A bit harsh,’ tweeted another. I stand by my words. To build a tedious plot on flimsy premises is one thing, but to do it by telling and not showing is unpardonable. ‘Don’t tell me the moon is shining,’ wrote Chekov. ‘Show me the glint of light on broken glass.’ While many YA titles are nought but moon-shine, Julie Berry’s All the Truth That’s in Me is a moving mosaic of glinting panes.
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TECbook: A Better Breed of Book

hannahby Hannah Cook

927779.752We are often reminded that we live in a digital age. A free app on a smartphone can direct us to the best restaurants, dating websites to meet potential life partners, on-demand streaming services give us instant access to an entire television series at the click of a button – even one-touch coffee machines make better flat whites than a high-street barista. But whilst it’s hard to imagine a world without these comforts, they  come to reveal just how binary we now are with the internet.

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Review: The Bunker Diary

by Ross Grainger
by Ross Grainger

Diary of a kid who’s far from wimpy.

 

I’m never sure how to approach blind people walking alone in public. My first instinct is altruism, but then I think, ‘Well, they’ve made it this far. I don’t want to be patronising.’ Of course, were I to see a blind person looking lost, say, or struggling with his or her shopping I would offer a helping hand. But then, that is just the reaction Linus has when he sees what appears to be a blind man having difficulty with a suitcase. more “Review: The Bunker Diary”