23 February 2010

Book of the Week (49): “Threads” by Sophia Bennett

There’s an awful lot of reality in books for girls: the reality of tower blocks, gangs and the everyday misery of growing up. Boys seem to get guns, spies and saving the world whilst girls get pregnancy, ‘issues’ and boys with fangs – unless of course the book in question has a pink (and sparkly) cover in which case you get girl-meets-boy-plus-misery-before-luv4evah…. But, hang on, the cover of Threads is pink. With sparkles. Does that mean…

No, it doesn’t! There’s romance here, yes, but the romance of perfectly cut clothing, of colour and fit and designers who want to make the world more beautiful. There’s the romance of finding what friendship means. The romance of a world where dreams can come true. The romance of a fairy tale – where the wicked witch is the reality of war-torn Uganda and Cinderella is a dyslexic girl in a tutu and fairy wings. It’s also all about the romance of being yourself, regardless of shape, colour or creed. And most of all it’s about love.

Sophia Bennett won The Times / Chicken House prize for an unpublished author. That this wasn’t snapped up by some publisher long before the prize is a mystery as the writing is fresh, funny and the story is utterly captivating. There’s a sequel, Boys, Beads and Bangles, coming out in May and I for one am eagerly looking forward to finding out more about Crow, Nonie, Edie and Jenny.

Threads also has the best use of a museum in a kids’ book since Charlie Fletcher’s Stone Heart – not the Natural History museum this time, but the glorious Costume gallery next door at the V&A. Go and check them out, as whether you choose to wear a tutu or not, they’re brilliant!

Recommended by Leonie Flynn

Ballet Shoes by Noel Streatfield – another fairy story for girls who like things real.
• The Susanna series by Mary Hogan is about a girl who wants to be a journalist – try Susanna Loves London which has more about the London teen scene, and London fashion too. Or maybe start with Susanna Covers the Catwalk which is about New York fashion week.
• They’re pretty much classics now, but you can’t beat Meg Cabot’s The Princess Diaries for girls, friends, and family. Oh, and boys. And a bit of fashion too.

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