Too Ghoul for School: Terror in Cubicle Four

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B. Strange
May 2007
St Sebastian�s School in Grimesford had the misfortune to be built upon a Mediaeval plague pit. Throughout the series, a veritable medley of ghosts and ghouls manifest themselves within the school and, in this, the first book, it is the girl�s toilets that is the primary target.

Choice of the plague as a colourful backdrop for the novel betrays a pedestrian storyline and prose style that relies largely upon stereotype and sweeping generalisation as to the tastes and �truths� of childhood. Eclipsing the novel is the story of its production. This is the first of several series in Egmont�s cynical �2Heads� imprint, which sees children consulted over the contents of the list.

Reliant upon the notion of a set of �universal� truths that are somehow applicable to all children and are made available through consultation with a select group, consultation is located firmly within the contemporary preoccupation that active engagement in the arts is possible without tutelage or awareness of the field. A necessary lack of experience and restricted reading base become limitations that seriously impinge upon the imaginative scope available to writers, necessitating that the ways reading is able widen our windows onto the world and our sense of perspective and understanding. Reading at its widest and most liberated instead becomes substituted for that which is already known and has been experienced. It becomes a process of less than enviable recirculation�

The self-flagellating approach that children should be consulted with all that concerns them, limits the choices and opportunities available, only to those which are readily within a said �child�s� field of experience. It is invariably difficult to rise above the mundane with something that is lasting and likely to make an impression. �Terror in Cubicle Four� lacks the characterisation and emotional base that make it possible to empathise and understand.

Production values are low, illustrations by Pulsar Studios bear little relation to the text � the tentacle described on page twenty-three is visualised as a distinct creature, a nematode of sorts and the choice of illustration feels arbitrary and often poorly orchestrated.

Our approach to writing, publishing and making reading material readily available for children is seriously jeopardised when reticence over �adult� involvement is made whether that be instigated through commercial or egalitarian motivations�

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This page contains a single entry by Jacob published on September 9, 2007 11:42 PM.

The Trouble with Wenlocks was the previous entry in this blog.

The Iron, The Switch and The Broomcupboard is the next entry in this blog.

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