Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Charlie Bone series

Kelly at Big A little a is intrigued by the Charlie Bone books by Jenny Nimmo. Today in the Dallas Morning News, Nancy Churnin has an article about this series (Children of the Red King) and the author. Because Charlie goes to a special school for talented kids, comparisons to Harry Potter are inevitable. I think the school is more like Professor Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters -- only dark and malevolent.
Ms. Nimmo has made it a point not to read or be influenced by Harry Potter. (She looks forward to reading the Potter books when her own series is done.) She relies on her editor to tell her if she has written anything that will remind readers too much of Harry.

Once, she had to rewrite her first choice for Charlie's birthday – her son, Ianto's, birthday – because it was too close to Harry's July date. Instead, she made Charlie's birthday Dec. 31.

I love these books. Kids who enjoy fantasy, like these stories and I think they are more accessible to kids than HP. Charlie has a special ability to hear what people in pictures are saying. There is also an ongoing mystery about the disappearance of his father and the question my nephew asks, "Why are his aunts so mean?"

There is a great deal of Jenny Nimmo in this series. She identifies with many of the characters in the books.

Charlie's tall, quiet Uncle Paton – her favorite character – was modeled on the kind, reserved guardian who helped raise her. But the character she identifies most with is Billy Raven, who yearns for a home.

"I had no home," she says. "My mother moved 12 times. And every time she moved, she threw my things away."

Charlie's father is a pianist, because Ms. Nimmo loves the piano. Her love of animals is also evident throughout the books. Like Gabriel Silk with his hordes of gerbils, she and her family have kept as many as 26 gerbils at one time in addition to hamsters, goats, cats, rabbits and birds. She dreamed up Pets' Cafe because she wished for a restaurant where you have to bring a pet to be served.

Ms. Nimmo lives in an old, converted watermill in Wales. Thanks to Charlie, they finally had central heating put in last year.
Charlie Bone Website


Kelly said...

Hi Camille:

Thanks for all this great info! I had a feeling she had not read Harry Potter--that it was just one of those great coincidences.

I'm a little worried about the gerbils, however :)

Anonymous said...

This is very interesting. My younger daughter has brought home The Witch's Tears by Jenny Nimmo for this week's school reading book and I had already registered that the writing was of a higher quality than many! I hadn't heard of the author before but it sounds like she's definitely one to explore further, especially as my daughters have not really caught the HP bug (unlike me!)

Camille said...

Besides the Charlie Bone series, I've read one other book by Nimmo, "Griffin's Castle." It was VERY VERY different from Charlie. She is interesting.