Edgar Cantero – Meddling Kids
A group of kids (and a dog) solve local mysteries while on their summer holidays, they set off in search of supernatural and invariably find a guy in a costume. But 15 years later where are the kids, and what if one of the mysteries still haunts them? It’s a great idea for a story, with lots of fun opportunities to play with the ideas of Scooby Doo, Enid Blyton. Nancy Drew and who knows how many other things that almost everyone grew up with, whatever their age now. It’s a really great idea and Cantero develops it very well. The only problem I had was that I really didn’t get on with his writing style. The writing just didn’t seem to flow, I kept getting bounced out of sections because I’d lost track of who was speaking, or where they were, and for some reason he chooses to drift into script format occasionally, like he got bored with writing it out in full. Slightly disappointing, but overall I think it’s still worth reading for the ideas.
Joanna Cannon – The Trouble with Goats and Sheep
I found this book irritating. Having a 10 year old as one of the primary narrators is just plain annoying. I’ve not had much to do with kids of that age, but I don’t think I’d like to spend a lot of time inside their heads, and this one seems particularly obnoxious and bad company. There are a lot of characters and I found them incredibly hard to keep track of, even with the stereotypes they all fall into, keeping the names straight was hard. It also has the problem that it’s hard to maintain a mystery when you’re doing first person point of view of people who know some of the answers. They had to keep referring to everything cryptically, even when they were only thinking things to themselves. It just made it incredibly artificial. Mind you, the mystery itself was rather poor, and frankly even when it was explained there were so many questions left unanswered that it was very unsatisfying.
Spencer Johnson – Who Moved my Cheese?
This is a very short book (circa 100 pages of large print) which I had recommended to me via a couple of change management courses and experts. It’s an odd structure, in the middle is a children’s style story of creatures dealing with change (the eponymous moving cheese), wrapped around that is another story of a group of friends that are telling the story and reacting to it, and then around THAT is a bit of blather telling us how amazingly transformative the story can be. After all that setup it’s hard not to be underwhelmed and I was. I actually read the core story a second time a couple of weeks later just to try and get the key point of the book without all the Americanised sales waffle. There is a lot of good change management stuff in the story, illustrating different attitudes and actions. But the delivery is so bad that’s it’s a real effort to get to the points. I would have much preferred a proper, grown up book about change management with the key story surrounded by actual psychology and sociology instead of salesmanship. The ideas are excellent, the delivery is terrible.