Guest Author - Siobhain M Cullen
Exciting children’s author Anthony Horowitz seems guaranteed to please both parents and older children. His ‘Three of Diamonds ‘ collection provides three books in one, each of which is suitable either for parents reading aloud or children reading alone.
Parents sometimes worry that once their children, particularly boys, reach a certain level in their reading ability, they will ‘grow out’ of wanting to have stories read to them. This stage often coincides with the transition to ‘Free Reading.’
At this point children are crossing over from supervised reading, where perhaps they might read to a teacher or parent - to a new level where they are choosing their reading material more independently, and perhaps reading alone.
The next level of books often comprises those which kids sometimes call ‘chapter books.’ These books look less like story or picture books, and more like novels, just shorter. Sometimes children have to get used to new challenges such as the fact that these longer stories may not even have pictures on every page!
It is often a challenge to find books and authors that can motivate boys and hold their interest. Anthony Horowitz is that rarest of authors – one who can make a story not only exciting enough for a boy to hear but also interesting and funny enough for an adult to read out! Packed full of jokes, wise-cracks and sharp observations, the stories rattle along like the Eurotunnel train to Paris which features in the first story.
Well known for his highly acclaimed ‘Stormbreaker’ and ‘Alex Rider’ series, Anthony Horowitz has also written short stories for boys (and maybe for girls too!) His Diamond Brothers Stories depict the trials and tribulations involved in being the long-suffering younger brother of a ‘Private Eye.’
In ‘Three of Diamonds’ he presents three stories in one book. Each story is divided into smaller ‘bite-sized’ chunks that are ideal when timing the length of a story that has been requested! Long-drawn out demands to read for longer or kids’ delaying tactics at the end of a long day can be avoided simply by setting the time limit simply as the duration of one of these short succinct chapters.
The first story begins with that most familiar of childhood kitchen-table dreams – finding the wrapper with the lucky prize hidden inside. After fighting in typical brotherly style over whose money paid for the strawberry yoghurt in question, and who was eating it at the time, the kids decide they will accept the free holiday in Paris and travel together.
The punchy writing style and crisp dynamic of the book are likely to engage even the most picky of boy readers - and to entertain any parent to whom the task falls to read the story ....
“It’s not fair. I do my homework. I clean my teeth twice a day.
Why does everyone want to kill me?”
However, more conservative parents may find some of the jokes a bit ‘ near the mark.’ A quick look ahead at the story might be a good idea if this is the case. The end of the first chapter finds the boys fighting over whose job it is to drag the luggage through the Gard Du Nord and discovering a grisly murder to solve. The Eurotunnel train steward has been found dead under a train.........
“Tim” I asked. “What’s the French for murder?”
Tim shrugged. “Why do you want to know?”
“I don’t know...........I’ve just got a feeling it’s something we’re going to need.”
An ideal place to leave the story in the hope that previously uninspired boys might read on alone?