Saturday, 25 June 2016

Tommy V Cancer

I’m sure many of you will already know all about Tommy Donbavand, the author of almost a hundred books including the Scream Street series. Tommy is currently undergoing treatment for throat cancer, and you can read his honest and moving account of it here.

A large part of the children’s writing community has come together for the Tommy V Cancer blog tour. For the whole of this month, we’re posting reviews of Tommy’s books on our websites. You can find the rest if you follow the hashtag #tommyvcancer on Twitter.

I write for the same Badger Teen Reads series as Tommy, so I’ve chosen one of his books from it, Home.

When I started writing for reluctant readers, one of the first books I picked up was Home. It’s about a teenager called Danny, who loses his twin brother Max in a car crash. But it turns out he hasn’t seen the last of him…

Home is a brilliant example of how to entertain struggling readers without talking down to them. It’s got the word count of a short story, but it’s divided into ten chapters with cliffhanger endings, giving it the feel of a novel.

The book starts in the sort of family setting the readers will relate to, before gradually introducing a supernatural element. It takes the story into territory that’s somewhere between The Monkey’s Paw and zombie movies, all filtered through Tommy’s darkly humorous style.

The grisly subject matter lets teenagers know the book has been written for them. Titles like Home mean that struggling teen readers no longer suffer the shame of being handed a book clearly aimed at younger children.

The text is broken up well but the book doesn’t make the mistake of making every sentence unnaturally short to create an easy read. The paragraphs build up pace nicely, leading to punchy chapter endings.

Home is a great example of how gripping storytelling can hook unconfident readers into the world of books.

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