Welcome to our Anniversary Blog by resident blogger Jake Hope. Jake will be reading and reviewing all of the past CILIP Carnegie Medal winning books during the anniversary year. We are also asking shadowers to "Adopt a Book" and join in reading and discussing the anniversary titles in their shadowing groups.

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"If this professor wanted to think they were why not let him? If he was really silly enough to pay five thousand pounds for some old wooden soldiers, then it was likely he was sufficiently gullible to accept any that were offered. No, Philip decided, the chance was much too good to be lost, and he had better get in first before anyone else offered theirs."

The Twelve and the Genii

Carnegie winner: 1962
Author: Pauline Clarke

Twelve year old Max and his family have moved house to live in Yorkshire, where he discovers a set of twelve battered old toy soldiers buried beneath the floorboards.  Incredibly, each of the soldiers is able to come to life and has his own character, personality, attributes and name – the deliciously titled Butter and Stumps being two firm favourites.  Sometimes courageous, sometimes cantankerous, the soldiers come to believe Max, and latterly his sister Jane, are their Genii and protectors.  This role becomes a crucial one when a collector, tipped off by Max’s older brother, is determined to buy the toys as he is convinced they belonged to none other than Branwell Bronte.  So ensues an exodus across the wild untamed Yorkshire landscape to evade the collector

Imaginative play and historical fact converge in this unusual story as the toy soldiers Max discovers were indeed Branwell’s and their various escapades and adventures are influenced by those detailed by the Bronte children in their juvenilia.  There is a clever echoing of sibling relationship and creative play as well as subtle hints towards faith and belief which echo between Max’s family and that of the Bronte children.  

Drawing upon literary heritage, the boundless expanses of childhood imagination and offering a quest as the figurines flee from attempted capture, this is a book that despite the small-scale of many of its lead characters, is nonetheless big on ambition and aspiration and that continues to hold huge appeal.


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