A collective of bibliophiles talking about books. Book Fox (vulpes libris): small bibliovorous mammal of overactive imagination and uncommonly large bookshop expenses. Habitat: anywhere the rustle of pages can be heard.
There are many things that make Children’s Bookselling an attractive career choice. We have numerous skills and responsibilities that we take very seriously. However, above all in importance is Wine and Bookchat. We undertake this noble task with unselfish commitment and are aware that our self-sacrifice in this undertaking is for the good of our long term success. So, this week after a particularly strenuous bookselling shift, Danielle Howie, my partner in all things Kids and I ventured out to throw ourselves unashamedly into this task.
The book on the table this evening was 15 Days Without a Head by Dave Cousins. We have been championing this book in our section ever since it landed and we felt the need to explore what it was about this book that had captured our hearts. So, I thought I would share a bit of our conversation with you. (The rest of the conversation is really…well…you know what Booksellers + Wine =… !!)
Eve: So, fellow Children’s Bookseller we have before us this evening a wondrous Teen Novel called 15 Days Without a Head. This is a somewhat gory title, I feel we should explain.
Dani: Indeed, it sounds like a zombie novel. But it most certainly isn’t. It’s about a boy called Lawrence who is 15 years old. He has an awesome little brother called Jay who’s only 6 and thinks he’s a dog. Their mum is an alcoholic and spirals out of control and then leaves them alone and penniless.
Eve: Lawrence wants to win a holiday in a competition on the radio so his mum will come back and get better, but since he’s only 15 he has to pretend to be his dad. They run out of money for food. The Social Work Department are chasing them…all sounds a bit deep and heavy. But it isn’t at all is it?
Dani: Oh no! It so isn’t. It’s funny and quite lighthearted. I think there’s a stereotype of making teenagers who are in really bad situations lash out and be depressed and be violent when something bad happens. This doesn’t have to be true. Lawrence does get down and worried about his situation, but he has to keep going and hide the truth from his brother which means he just gets on with it. His bother is really, really funny too which lightens the story a lot.
Eve: And the part where Lawrence dresses up as his mum to try and get money out his bank account…
Dani: Oh I know… hahahaha… hilarious! Another thing about this story is how it’s full of really lovely characters. Everyone in it (apart from the crap mother and the horrible neighbour) is so nice and thoughtful and kind. And for such a heavy subject, this is also very refreshing.
Eve: Oh yes, his girlfriend was so considerate. And he was so scared she’d find out about their situation. But she was lovely.
Dani: I think one of the really great things about this story was the relationship between Lawrence and Mina which wasn’t about love or sex or anything self-absorbed. She was just supporting him through a really hard time.
Eve: The whole situation of a poverty stricken neglected teenager who was left alone and in charge of a six year old could have easily been turned into a grim, depressing story. And I thought it was a really original idea to make it light-hearted. I imagine there will be teens out there who may be faced with this in their lives and deal with it by not lashing out or being depressed. This story was a great interpretation of how that could happen.
Dani: Absolutely and I think it will widen the audience for it. There are a lot of teen boys put off these kind of books by thinking they will be too heavy but this is an appealing read for them. Because even though it has really tense points and sad times it’s also funny.
Eve: And it’s not too teenagy… if you know what I mean.
Dani: Erm… is that another of your made up words?
Eve: I believe it might be. I should say it’s a book that’s suitable for the younger end of teen.
Dani: Ahhh, yes there’s nothing unsuitable in it really. It’s wonderful though and I’m hoping more and more people will read it. I loved it.
Eve: We agree!
The rest of this conversation has absolutely no influence on whether you’ll enjoy 15 Days Without a Head, so I shall stop transcribing here. If only to spare you the girly gossip. My thanks to Danielle, without whom I would be a total wreck and whose input into all things Kids Lit is invaluable. We both want to cheer for 15 Days Without a Head and urge you to get out into a lovely bookshop and buy it.