Sunday Salon: Hey Ho the Wind and the Rain

It’s been a quiet month in this corner of South Wales – quiet that it is when the rain isn’t drumming down on the conservatory roof.  Even the birds seem a bit subdued today. I can hardly blame them – what’s there to chirrup about when all you can see are miles of leaden skies?

The rain should of course mean that instead of labouring in the garden, I could spend the time curled up on the sofa reading. But somehow it hasn’t worked out like that in the last two weeks. There’s been the small matter of Wimbledon to keep an eye on for one thing. So Monsieurs Murray, Federer and all those Czech players with the unpronounceable names are to blame.

Roll of Thunder, Hear my Cry

Even so, I did finish reading this novel by Mildred Taylor this week. It’s one of the set books on my Open University Children’s Literature course.

Written in 1976, it features the Logan family who ae cotton farmers struggling to make a living from their cotton farm in Mississippi. Although times are so tough their father has to get a job working on the railroad so they can pay the bills, at least they own their own plot of land. What the children – and especially the central character of Cassie Logan – come to understand is why the land means so much to their father. The novel is very much a ‘coming of age’ novel which deals with racism, loyalty and justice.

The message was a bit obvious but there are some well written characters.  Cassie is pitched perfectly as the girl who seems forever angry at the examples of injustice she sees and simply has to speak up.  My favourite character though was Little Man, the baby of the family, who gets very distressed when his few possessions look dirty.

Booker progress

Progress in my quest to read all the Booker prize-winning novels can best be described as ‘steady’. But I realised this week that I’m ok with this – I don’t want this to feel like a chore or an objective against which I will get scored (I have enough of those in work thank you). This is meant to be enjoyable after all. Plus I need to devote some time to reading the children’s lit course books and there are scores of other novels that I have on my TBR list. It would of course help if I didn’t keep adding to the list but I can’t resist all those suggestions from other bloggers. So I decided this week to use a form of rotation – reading one from   the Booker list, then one from the children’s lit list and then one from the TBR list before starting all over again with the Bookers.

I’m a bit behind with the reviews however – they take me a lot longer to write than I expected. But I did get around to posting a review of Staying On by Paul Scott that I read a few weeks ago. Now I am reading my next Booker winner – Offshore by Penelope Fitgerald. After that it’s back to children’s lit with the new Patrick Ness novel.

About BookerTalk

What do you need to know about me? 1. I'm from Wales which is one of the countries in the UK and must never be confused with England. 2. My life has always revolved around the written and spoken word. I worked as a journalist for nine years then in international corporate communications 3. My tastes in books are eclectic. I love realism and hate science fiction and science fantasy. 4. I am trying to broaden my reading horizons geographically by reading more books in translation

Posted on July 8, 2012, in Booker Prize, Children's literature and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. I use rotation too when I’m reading – one library book, one advanced reading copy from a publisher, one book of my own. It’s funny how that really works. 🙂 I’ve only read one book by Fitzgerald and that was The Bookshop. Really enjoyed it. I hope you have a great week.

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  2. Funny isn’t it how you think you’ll spend rainy evenings and weekends reading in a cosy corner but somehow in reality end up doing other things. Hope the sun comes out soon for you (we’re having a sunny evening here in Bristol after a miserable week so maybe you are too?).

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    • I think the sun just came out – there was this strange light in the sky and for a time I couldn’t think what it was. But from deep in the recesses of the grey matter came the feeling that once upon a time there was a concept called summer. But that was when all people on earth were very very good and went everywhere by public transport and never bought vegetables in plastic containers….

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  3. I think ‘Roll of Thunder’ is one of the truly great children’s literature novels. What I find so remarkable about it is the way in which Taylor reveals the true horror of what is happening piece by piece because we are seeing it through Cassie’s eyes and she only realises the enormity of her people’s situation as she matures. Given that this was written for children of around nine and ten this is important. You can trace her growing awareness as the story progresses. Do read the other books about the Logan family. They are well worth seeking out.

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    • Thats an interesting perspective Alex – I hadn’t appreciated it but you’re right that the story is revealed in pieces. Cassie doesn’t realise the significance of what is happening – not only because she is young but also because she doesn’t really ‘see’ that she is any different. Racial differences don’t matter – she has as much right to walk on the pavement as the white girl.

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