Review Blog

Aug 14 2019

New Class at Malory Towers by Patrice Lawrence et al.

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Hodder, 2019. ISBN: 9781444951004.
(Age: 8-11) Themes: Short stories, Boarding School, Girls. Enid Blyton's Malory Towers popular boarding school stories were written in the late 1940s and early 1950s, suited to the children of post-war Britain. Now, a new generation of writers has taken these stories and added new characters, twenty-first century thinking and issues. Blyton's central character Darrell, named after her second husband, still plays a central role.
Patrice Lawrence's introduces Marietta whose 'skin was still much darker than her father's and her face was framed by rows of neat plaits.' Marietta comes from a circus background; her mother's been injured in the boxing ring and consequently something drastic has happened to her daughter. 'A Bob and a Weave' explores themes of acceptance, diversity and overcoming fears as Marietta grows and changes.
Lucy Mangan's story 'Bookworms' challenges stereotypes and looks at the problems schoolgirl pranks cause. Popular girl Darrell is on thin ice, her mischievous actions have been noticed by the sports mistress. One more misdeed and she's benched from the next lacrosse game. Darrell discovers a new place to hide and meets a new friend, Evelyn Hartley who loves keeping the library in order. She recommends a new book for Darrell, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and opens up the world of literature to her.
'The Secret Princess' by Narinder Dhami brings new girl Sunita Sharma into Malory Towers. There's an air of mystery about her and the third form girls speculate about her family background. When Alicia comes up with the idea that she's an Indian princess, Sunita decides to play along with interesting results.
Rebecca Westcott's 'The Show must go on' sees the girls preparing for the fourth form showcase. Everyone has different talents, some are good at sports, others at tumbling and juggling. They must come together, work through their differences and present a unique performance for their parents and visitors.
New Class at Malory Towers rewrites Blyton's elite boarding school stories making them accessible to a new generation of readers. These four authors have set their stories in post-war Britain in a world without technology and social media. The issues the school girls face are still familiar, developing their self-esteem, struggle with acceptance, inclusivity, bullying and building friendships.
Rhyllis Bignell

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