I have read to my daughter since she was a baby. She is now 13 and although she probably beats me in her reading prowess. We do still enjoy reading together though we don’t seem to have as much time as we did when we were in the bed time routine of her early childhood. We promised ourselves that over the holidays we were going to read together the prequel to The Red Necklace by Sally Gardner reviewed here https://fionadranesblog.wordpress.com/2014/02/07/sharing-with-my-kids-a-love-of-reading/. The prequel is set like the first during the French Revolution and is called the Silver Blade.
We started the book on Harris but finished it with speed this week on a few sunny nights in the garden both gripped by the storyline that we needed to know what happened to the two hero’s Yann and Sido. I love history and have loved historical fiction since I was my daughter’s age. If it’s done right it brings a period of history alive for you which is what this book and the Red Necklace does. It brings the horror of the French Revolution to life. Although a young adult book Sally Gardener tells the story of the guillotine and the awful and needless loss of life in detail. At the start of this book Yann is in France and is the Silver Blade saving people from the guillotine and taking them to the coast and a boat to take them safely to England. When he frees people he leaves a Silver Blade hanging behind and he has become a legend. Sido meanwhile is in London with her aunt and uncle and struggling with her aunt’s hostility to her love for Yann who she thinks is an inferior class to her. Thus bringing the issues of that age and the French Revolution to life. In addition there is a parallel story which is more fantasy. The sinister Count Kalliovski who died in the last book is now ghost or is he? He lives in a palace in the catacombs decorated by the bones of his victims. He is after revenge. This factual and fantasy approach actually works well and for me I began to wonder if the writer was actually describing purgatory. Without giving any more away this is another great book by Sally Gardner.
I am hoping that I will read more to my daughter but if this is indeed the last book we share together it is a worthy book to finish with. We have been from baby books, to Julia Donaldson, to the hideous fairy books. To Enid Blyton. To CS Lewis. To Harry Potter. The wonderful Annabel Claridge who is now a friend and her Bo Books and many more beside it’s been a part of my reading life I have treasured. As I have seen my daughter see the magic of books and re discovered some old favourites myself and read some new classics on the way. Reading to your child is not a chore it’s an investment in their future but it also creates a memory bank that I will value for ever.