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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"There was going to be trouble when she got home. She could feel it developing all the way along the Calstead road, past the Methodist Chapel, rising out of the ground as the mist did in the evenings; so when she rounded Calstead Corner and saw Hall Farm Cottage with Auntie Joan standing in the road outside, she was worried, but not surprised. The worry was situated halfway down and somewhere near her middle, dark and flattened like a second liver."


Carnegie winner: 1983
Author: Jan Mark

Hailing from an urban flat, Erica Timperley has a love of motorbikes, but her holiday visiting her Aunt, Uncle and their son Robert, seems to afford little opportunity for her interests to be indulged.  Behaving as though her presence is an imposition, her relatives make little effort or endeavour to accommodate or interest her and she occupies herself picking vegetables in the garden.

Erica’s fortunes for the holiday take a turn for the better when she heads to the Mercury Motor Cycle garage seeking the return of her Uncle’s jump leads.  There she befriends owners Elsie and Bunny and becomes interested in tinkering about the motorcycles, learning more about them, their owners and the business itself

The title of the novel is a play on the idea of handles of motorbikes and handles as monikers, the names that hold particular relevance and resonance to who we are.  Appropriately the novel ends as Erica has her own handle bestowed upon her and when some of the mischief she has carried out among the marrows comes to light.

Meticulous observational humour, an ear for dialogue and an eye for the absurd in reality, makes this a delightful sun-filled read. Erica’s character challenges gender roles with a lightness of touch that feels wholly natural and there is a touching sense of belong in spite of some of the unusual and massively characterful characters that populate the novel.


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