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Coping with stories

Concerning major characters coping with particular personal situations


Across the Barricades

Style: Good

Attitude: Unobjectionable

Kevin McCoy is a Catholic and Sadie a Protestant in divided Belfast.

Needs an understanding of the religious-political situation in Northern Ireland.

Coping with, Growing-Up, Romantic

Ash Road

Style: Good

Attitude: Unobjectionable → Fairly Positive

By accident, some boys start a devastating bush fire in Australia.

A small-town book, dealing with peoples' reactions to fire.

Adventure, Coping with

Astercote

Style: Good

Attitude: Unobjectionable → Fairly Positive

Peter and Mair Jenkins come to live in a village when their father becomes headmaster of the school there.

Intriguing, mixing semi-supernatural with modern superstition.

Coping with, Spooky

Back Home

Style: Good

Attitude: Some Care Needed → Positive

Rusty is a 12-year-old English girl returning home after spending the war years with a family in the USA.

Honest efforts by a returning young evacuee to fit into now unfamiliar surroundings. Contrast between pre- and post-war expectations of conventional roles. Casting in a good light a more bohemian style of upbringing, less concerned with conventional taboos and more with children's freedom. Family tension and break-up.

Coping with, Family, Girls, Growing-Up, Historical, War

The Battle of Bubble and Squeak

Style: Good

Attitude: Fairly Positive

Sid Parker is given two gerbils by an emigrating friend.

A short book, pithy and true-to-life.

Coping with

Blue Moon

Style: Average

Attitude: Take Care → Positive

Mia and her boyfriend go too far in the fields one day and Mia finds that she is pregnant.

Abortion treated as matter of fact by everyone except the mother-to-be.

Coping with, Moral Issue

Dear Del

Style: Average

Attitude: Positive

Fran is looking forward to a girl of her own age coming to stay, until Del arrives and turns out to be a citywise girl of mildly outrageous appearance who's not averse to scrawling graffiti and to taking things she wants without paying for them.

Contrast between semi-rural quiet family life and an embittered city teenager, who dresses and acts slightly outrageously. Positive attitude towards an autistic teenager.

Coping with, Growing-Up

Dear Nobody

Style: Average

Attitude: Take Care

Helen becomes pregnant with her boyfriend's baby and as she is so young and distraught she does not know whom to turn to.

Coping with, Moral Issue

The Devil's Children

Style: Good

Attitude: Unobjectionable → Positive

Nicky Gore is left alone in London after a strange compulsion takes hold of the population of Britain to revolt against mechanism and technology.

Using a slightly fantastic near-future to highlight the differences and similarities between different races, and our dependence on technology. Dignity and strong family bonds of the Sikhs; Quiet friendship of Gopal & Ajeet with Nicky; Positive place for older relatives within the community

Coping with, Fantasy

The Divide

Style: Average

Attitude: Positive

Accidentally crossing The Divide, Felix finds himself in a world where humans and science are myth and mythical creatures and magic are real, although with different names.

Coping with, Fantasy

Dogsbody

Style: Average → Good

Attitude: Unobjectionable → Positive

Sirius, the personification of the Dogstar, is exiled to Earth and given the lifespan of a dog to discover the whereabouts of the Zoi, a celestial tool of immense power which was allegedly used by him to destroy another Luminary.

Entertaining story mixing fantasy and reality. Intelligent celestial beings. Arawn and his hounds from Welsh mythology. An Irish girl who draws strength from her dog when her father is imprisoned for terrorism. Family tragedy. Non-judgemental references to the troubles in Northern Ireland.

Animal, Coping with, Fantasy

Dragonsinger

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

Menolly is brought by the Masterharper to the Harper Hall on the far side of Pern.

Feminist theme but without a tub-thumping style. Stylistically little more than an extension of [Dragonsong] but fitting in with the others in the series, with which it runs parallel. A nice story essentially about forging friendships.

Coping with, SciFi

Dragonsong

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

Three of the books in the Pern series group together as the Harper Hall Trilogy.

Well-evoked loneliness and despair of the sensitive girl musician caught friendless in a place where little music is needed, and certainly none from a girl. The final third of the book is less engaging, although it does show the efforts of the new Harper, Elgion, to widen the outlook of the Sea Holder and his people.

Coping with, Growing-Up, SciFi

Drift

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

Rafe, a westener, and Taweena, a native American Indian, visit the cave of a bear and are carried off on an ice floe.

The whole book is geared to showing how unaware the white people are and how deficient their philosophy is, compared to the nature-wise Indians.

Adventure, Coping with

Esperanza Rising

Style: Good

Attitude: Edifying

Esperanza, accustomed to a comfortable life, has to come to terms with poverty when her father is killed, leaving their land to his self-serving brothers.

Dignity in poverty. Generosity of families and individuals, helping others even when it is difficult.

Coping with, Growing-Up, Historical

Find a Stranger, Say Goodbye

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

Natalie, at 17, is about to go to college.

Coping with

Framed

Style: Average → Good

Attitude: Unobjectionable → Positive

Dylan unwittingly becomes an art consultant to the National Gallery in exile when one painting a week is to be selected for display in London.

A quirky story using the difficulties faced by a small town and by one family in particular to highlight the effect art has on people. Family difficulties because of money problems. The efforts to make an unattractive town appealing.

Coping with, Family, Humorous

Goggle-Eyes

Style: Weak

Attitude: Unobjectionable

Helen is upset about her mother's boyfriend; her friend tells Helen of the difficulties she had coming to terms with her own mother's "boyfriend" (both are middle-aged) whom she nicknames "Goggle Eyes".

Coping with, Family

Goodnight, Mr Tom

Style: Average

Attitude: Positive

Willie Beech, a timid 9-year-old, is evacuated from Deptford to Sussex, and is billeted on Tom Oakley, a widower who has allowed himself to become bitter and misanthropic since his wife and child died of scarlet fever 40 years before.

Slightly awkward storyline, but heartwarming; religious-driven cruelty of Willie's mother, her illegitimate baby and eventual suicide; the kindness of the villagers and especially of Tom Oakley.

Coping with, Friendship, Growing-Up, Historical, War

The Great Harlequin Grim

Style: Average

Attitude: Take Care → Unobjectionable

Glenn Jackson has to adjust as he is uprooted from his home in Burnley to a village in Cumbria, but his mother refuses to come without explaining why and he finds it difficult to fit into the village community.

Marital difficulties with some attempt at reconciliation. Implied and condoned dishonesty by the main character and others. Some sensuality between 14-year-olds. Commonsense portrayal of a character with hearing difficulties. Negative portrayal of a religious character.

Coping with, Family, Friendship, Growing-Up

Holes

Style: Good

Attitude: Unobjectionable → Positive

Stanley Yelnats, sent to a harsh young offenders' camp in the desert when he is wrongly convicted of stealing a pair of shoes, finds his place among the other boys and offers to help one of them, nicknamed Zero, who is illiterate.

Quirky and feelgood story. Bearing misfortune optimistically. The benefits of helping others. Living in the shadow of a curse.

Coping with, Friendship, Growing-Up, Humorous

The L-Shaped Room

Style: Good

Attitude: Take Care

Jane is pregnant by an actor with whom she had a brief holiday affair.

Coping with, Moral Issue

Man in Motion

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

Lloyd (13) leaves his friends in a Hampshire village and moves to an (unspecified) city elsewhere in England with his (divorced) mother and student sister.

Coping with, Friendship, Growing-Up

The Midnight Fox

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

Tom, a townie, stays with his farming uncle and aunt, convinced he will hate every minute.

Animal, Coping with

A Monster Calls

Style: Average

Attitude: Some Care Needed

Conor is a boy who cannot accept the reality of his mother dying.

How a young boy copes with the impending death from cancer of his mother.

Boys, Coping with, Family, Fantasy, Gritty, Growing-Up, Moral Issue, School, Thought-provoking

The Rag & Bone Shop

Style: Good

Attitude: Unobjectionable

Jason, a shy 12-year-old, is questioned about the death of his friend Alicia, not realising that the interrogator is already convinced of his guilt.

A delicate dialogue between an ambitious and unscrupulous police investigator and a boy, friend to the young children in the area, whose friend has been killed.

Coping with, Detective

Red Sky in the Morning

Style: Good

Attitude: Edifying

12-year-old Anna Peacock is determined to look after her baby brother Ben even though he is hydrocephalous.

Loving acceptance of a handicapped child. The stress this places on his familiy. General attitude of respect towards elderly or less capable people (including a harmless kleptomaniac). Anna's efforts to hold things together. Faith seen as meaningful if not entirely understood. Some vulgarity among teenage girls.

Coping with, Family, Growing-Up

Seed Time

Style: Average

Attitude: Positive

Tony's best friend at school has learning difficulties, problems at home, and is adept at getting himself into and out of trouble.

Two boys play truant and lie to their parents to get back an historical artefact they saw on a school trip; their parents, teachers and a policeman are understanding while pointing out what is wrong.

Coping with, School

The Sleeping Sword

Style: Good

Attitude: Positive

A story within a story: Bun, now 12 years old, tells a story of his blindness two years before, and of how a sword he found in a hole under their field led him to King Arthur's resting place and helped him recover his sight.

Arthurian, Coping with, Friendship, Mythical

Starseeker

Style: Good

Attitude: Take Care

Luke Stanton, a gifted young musician, falls in with a local gang after his father dies but when he starts to rob an old lady's house, he finds himself drawn into her life.

A gifted boy runs with a gang to rob a house; the boy's mother apparently sleeps with a man; a childless woman keeps a child she finds injured by the roadside; existence as music; delight in music as a gift; the support of another girl for the boy who's trying to come to terms with himself

Coping with, Growing-Up, Thought-provoking

The Swallow and the Dark

Style: Average

Attitude: Take Care → Unobjectionable

Sam is diagnosed with Spengler's Syndrome, a terminal illness, and must come to terms with his own mortality.

A story which tries sincerely to balance and contrast life and death for a modern youngster and his counterpart in the Great War, but which ultimately lacks depth. Inconclusive look at life & death; divorced family background

Coping with, Historical, Time-Travel, War

Up on Cloud Nine

Style: Outstanding

Attitude: Positive

The narrative is led by Ian, a 14-year-old schoolboy, at the hospital bed of his best friend Stolly (Stuart Terence Oliver) who's just recovering from a serious fall, which may or may not have been from an attempt at suicide, which has left him with breaks and bruises and concussed.

Play-like appreciation of the life of an unusual boy; the support and friendship of the main characters and their families. Possible suicide attempt.

Coping with, Friendship, Growing-Up, Humorous

Viaduct Child

Style: Average

Attitude: Take Care

Dushma lives in a society where being registered is everything, she is not registered with the authorities due to a defect during pregnancy and so she is not entitled to do anything.

Coping with, SciFi

Wendy

Style: Good

Attitude: Take Care

Wendy Darling, an inquisitive but innocent girl, learns more and more about the adult world as her family goes through difficult times.

Coping with, Family, Growing-Up