Review Blog

Oct 10 2011

Inner city : stories from the thick of it, edited by Tony Bradman

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Bloomsbury, 2011. ISBN 978 1 4081 1377 6.
(Ages 11+) Recommended. Realism. Short stories. Six short stories about life in the city are included in this volume, telling of life for a variety of young people living in a variety of different places. In his introduction, Bradman says that all cities are not vice ridden, full of drugs and thieves, but are filled with people of all makes and sizes, bad and good, rich and poor, and many may be living next door to each other. In the first story, A thousand acres of sky by Joanna Nadin, Luca and Manny are going to live with their grandmother in her London flat, after their mother has died. They live in Cornwall and both children are worried about moving to the city where they cannot take their pet chicken, or have their own bedroom, or talk to their friends. Luca particularly will miss her thousand acres of sky that she can see each day, but finds it in the city in an unexpected way. A story of fitting in and of change.
The second story, It's all right I have a list that helps to make everything clear and it's real easy to follow by Ian Beck cleverly allows us into the thoughts of a young boy going home from school. Mum's list is simple, leave school, Walk to the station, Get on the train, and so on, but getting to this point each time is fraught and sometimes dangerous. The reader can see that Robbie is different and empathise with him as her performs his tasks, ticking them off on his list as he goes. It is a great story for getting inside the head of another person and seeing what seems a simple task from another perspective.
Truant by T. M. Alexander, too gives us a story of life as a truant, on the edge of going to another place entirely as he becomes involved in things beyond his understanding. Life at school is dull until a new drama teacher takes an interest in him and encourages him to join the drama club. A brush with the police is enough for him to reject his old friend and stay at school. This is a fascinating story showing what can happen to young boys living in proximity to illegal activities. All in all a stunning collection for use in the classroom or just to read.
Fran Knight

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