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“Both boys were absolutely silent, satiated with a great story.”

Yesterday Elissa posted Elizabeth Partridge’s reminiscence about reading Avi’s 1991 Boston Globe–Horn Book Fiction winner, The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle, to her boys. As this post’s title suggests, her anecdote shuts down anyone who might question whether or not boys can enjoy books starring girls (including Elizabeth’s own sons: “‘What?’ My ten-year-old shot straight up in bed. ‘This is a story about a girl?’”). As Elizabeth tells it:

There was serious begging each night for more chapters as Charlotte sailed in 1832 from Liverpool to Providence, Rhode Island, the only female with a murderous crew. At times this novel was so bloody and vindictive and torturous, I had trouble reading it. But the delight and/or horror of every plot twist captivated us all.

Now that is our kind of bedtime reading. I’ve been spending way too much time digging into the new Boston Globe–Horn Book website, becoming reacquainted with previous years’ winning titles. I’m looking at the books now through the lens of being a parent, thinking about what would appeal to my own kids. Charlotte Doyle is a sure bet; Robert Westall’s The Machine Gunners, a 1977 Honor Book for Fiction, sounds right up my eight-year-old’s alley (in a year or so). The Magazine‘s Martha Parravano hits all the right notes in her reflection:

The setting is the British WWII home front; the protagonist is fourteen-year-old Chas McGill, an ambitious boy with the second-best collection of war souvenirs in town. When one day deep in the woods he happens upon a downed German plane with a working machine gun, it becomes his mission to possess (and eventually fire) that gun.

Oddly, our library system doesn’t own any copies of The Machine Gunners, so I have a mission. Until then, I will check out (pun not intended—but ha!) Charlotte Doyle and prepare for my own captivated listeners.

About Kitty Flynn

Kitty Flynn is consulting editor for The Horn Book, Inc.

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Comments

  1. Katie Bircher Katie Bircher says:

    “Wait. Is this a kissing book?!” 😉

  2. Kitty Flynn says:

    Inconceivable!

  3. Shoshana says:

    You keep using that word. I don’t think it means what you think it means

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