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Glass Figurines and a Snog Bottle

'Kiss' by Jacqueline Wilson
Random House (RRP $40) Reviewed by HANAHIVA and JEREMY ROSE for the Scoop Review of Bookscover1.gif
A Kid’s View of Kiss
Kiss is about Sylvie, a teenage girl who lives in a fantasy world with Carl, her best friend from childhood. Carl has a huge collection of glass figurines, which he and Sylvie adore. At school, Sylvie befriends Miranda, a spoilt brat with a bad reputation.

Miranda invites Carl and Sylvie to a party at her house. During a game of “Snog bottle” Miranda and Carl kiss. After that Sylvie becomes scared that Carl is attracted to Miranda because they are always flirting.

Miranda and Sylvie start flunking school and going to town, and because of this Sylvie and her other friend, Lucy, fight. Leaving Carl and Miranda as Sylvie’s only friends.

Carl has recently made friends with Paul, a boy from his school, and begins to talk about him so often that Sylvie starts to become jealous. Carl, Miranda, Sylvie and Paul go bowling to get to know each other.

Sylvie finds Paul cold and shallow, and doesn’t see what Carl sees in him. For Carl’s birthday, Sylvie gives him a glass champagne flute, which Carl loves.

Carl has a birthday party and invites Sylvie, Miranda and Paul to it. They go to glass museum and wander around for a while. Then they find a maze, and split up to try and find the end. Sylvie gets to the end but becomes worried after she’s been waiting a while and when no one else shows up she rings Miranda, who has left and gone off with Paul. Sylvie finds Carl, who is crying and refusing to talk to her.

For the next few days Carl stays in his room refusing to come out or talk to anyone. Then, Sylvie goes into the glasshouse where Carl keeps his collection, she finds everything smashed.

Sylvie is desperate to find out who did it. While she’s trying to figure it out she uncovers a secret of Carls that will affect his relationship with her.

I think that Kiss is a lot more grown up then Jacqueline Wilson’s other books and that it is definitely one of her best. I would recommend it to ages 10+.

A Parent’s View

I can’t say how Kiss rates against Wilson’s other books, as I’ve never read any. I wouldn’t have read this one, if a couple of adults – including a bookshop owner – hadn’t mentioned that Wilson’s books “contain some very adult themes”.

I periodically, worry about the levels of violence my kids are exposed to on TV (particularly during the news) but it hadn’t occurred to me to worry about books.

With the possible exception of Marjane Satrapi's superb graphic novel Persepolis it’s just never been an issue. Hanahiva – who reads at the speed of light – had finished Persepolis before I had time to consider whether a story that includes drug taking, loss of virginity, torture and war was suitable reading for an 11-year-old girl.

As soon as she finished it she asked whether we could get the next volume and after a moments reflection I more than happily agreed.

A librarian in Barcelona wasn’t so sure and told her that she couldn’t take out another of Other book but then she wasn’t allowed to take out cook books or classic English language novels on a child’s card either.

Kiss doesn’t so much deal in adults themes as honestly portray the hormonal fuelled teenage years.

Hanahiva has carefully avoided giving away the glass ballerina-loving Carl’s secret – but it’s not a secret that would leave many adults guessing past the first couple of pages. Which brings me to my one slight gripe: the cover.

Wilson’s books are marketed as chick lit for pre-teens: and the covers reflect that. It’s hard to see any boy – even one that treasures glass ballerinas – wanting to be seen reading a book with a cover like Kiss’s.

It’s been a long time since I read many books aimed at this age group but I suspect stories of boys “coming out” are still something of rarity.

I would recommend it for girls and boys from 11 up.


****************************************************


Hanahiva Rose is a student at South Wellington Intermediate. Her last published work was an interview with the Governor General in the School Journal.

Jeremy Rose is Hanahiva’s Dad.

Links

Independent on whether children are being robbed of their innocence.

An interview with Marjane Satrapi

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