The Perse School

Perse pupil is prize-winning critic

24 Nov 2014

Year 9 pupil Ekaterina Rahr-Bohr recently entered the Guardian Young Critics competition, where young readers aged 17 and under are invited to read and review one of the books long-listed for the Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize. Ekaterina’s excellent review of The Diaries of Bluebell Gadsby: Flora in Love by Natasha Farrant made her one of the winners of the competition, earning her a ticket to a glitzy awards ceremony.

She said: “I always enjoy reading the books for young readers shortlisted by The Guardian, since they are handpicked by authors of children’s fiction and are among the best books I’ve ever read. When I came across Mr Green’s announcement about the Guardian Young Critics Competition, I thought it would be a good opportunity to share my thoughts with other young readers about one of the recommended books.”

At the awards ceremony, Ekaterina was presented with a certificate, book vouchers and copies of all of the shortlisted books for the competition, and she also had the opportunity to meet some of the biggest names in children’s fiction. She enjoyed speaking to Francesca Simon (author of the Horrid Henry series), Andy Stanton (author of the Mr Gum series) and Katherine Rundell (author of Rooftoppers) about her interests and goals. She said that a particular highlight was “being present for the announcement of Piers Torday (The Wild Dark) as the winner of the Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize for 2014.”

She added: “I will always remember my fascinating evening at the awards ceremony, and I am grateful to the Guardian for all they do for children’s literature and young readers like myself.”

Here is Ekaterina’s winning critique of The Diaries of Bluebell Gadsby: Flora in Love – we hope you enjoy reading.

The Diaries of Bluebell Gadsby: Flora in Love is captivating, witty and ‘out of the blue’. The reader discovers the world from the vantage point of Bluebell Gadsby, a teenage schoolgirl from London, who films and keeps a diary about the strange and amusing incidents going on in the Gadsby household. Surrounded by commotion, Bluebell feels that she is the only normal human being in her peculiar family. When strange things happen, such as a newfound poetry genius springing up or her sister getting a boyfriend who lives in a state of emotional precariousness, all Bluebell wants to do is live an ordinary life.

The flowing edginess of the plot and the funny characters allow the book to reach its full potential. When one problem is solved, another jumps right into its place, leaving the reader with a sense of perpetual chaos. Flora and her boyfriend, Zach, make you want to laugh and cringe at the same time, Twig and Jas (the babes) are sweet and random and Blue is completely unpredictable (especially when it comes to milkshakes!). Blue’s dad made me cry from laughing-so much so that I was clutching my stomach. Perhaps the author could have developed more fully the character of Iris, Blue’s deceased twin, who clearly continues to have a strong impact on the Gadsbys.

I would recommend this book to anyone who wants a good laugh – but especially to teenage girls who love to fall in and out of love. The ending was completely unexpected and I didn’t know what to do with myself when I had finished the book – I can only hope that Natasha Farrant will write another book in the series!

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