One criticism of Thais is that they do not read books, other than comic books, which come from Japan. When you then look at what children are not reading, the situation is even worse.
This week, I decided to go to the children’s section of my local Bookazine and see what is being published for young people. Quite frankly, I was very disappointed with the books on offer. Not disappointed at Bookazine, but disappointed at the lack of imagination shown by publishers of children’s books.
There were a fair few very young children’s books, ones to be read aloud by a parent, while teaching a child that “This is called an elephant.” However, there was nothing that would be good for children of seven to eight years old. This group is taught English at school, but there appears to be no books to interest their young minds.
The next category moving upwards is called “young adult fiction” and there does appear to be many books in this category, and I selected one called “Thai-riffic” to review this week. So putting a baseball cap on with the beak sideways, I began to see what we are offering 12-14 year olds.
This book had been written by Oliver Phommavanh, who describes himself as a Thai-Aussie, having been born in Thailand, but with his family emigrating to Australia when he was two years old. Interestingly, looking at his surname, I think he is more correctly described as Laotian-Thai, rather than Thai, but that is just me being pedantic.
The title Thai-riffic (ISBN 978-0-14-330485-2, Puffin Books, 2010, Young Adult Fiction) comes from the fact that apparently his parents run a Thai restaurant of that name, whilst Oliver went into teaching and then stand-up comedy.
The stories are well paced, with 12-14 year old attention spans in mind, and the principal characters in the chapters do all sorts of pranks that 12-14 year olds consider amusing, like wrapping their teacher’s car in toilet rolls.
One chapter deals with distributing flyers for the family restaurant, and all the problems that this can bring, such as irate householders who consider (rightly) that flyers are ‘junk mail’. Innocent childlike experiences we have all had.
It’s B. 530 for a fairly slim volume, so it isn’t the cheapest book in the place, but does make a suitable Xmas present for 12-14 year olds. The language is not too difficult, nor is it too ‘babyish’. In fact, one of the recommendations for young journalists is for them to write using vocabulary that a 12 year old would understand!
As an afterthought, I would have preferred to see age recommendations on the books for children (after all they do it for jigsaw puzzles), and maybe as an idea, Bookazine could section the shelves by age groups?
However, there still appears to be a dearth of suitable books for children 8-12 and that group that I would call ‘young adults’ 14-16. However, realizing that I am not really in that age bracket, I have handed back my baseball cap, but have found you can get them with the beak at the front.