Friday, 18 December 2015

Most underrated book or author????

Ooh...I could be naughty here Vanessa and say, "Me!"
I mean, let's face it, I write don't I? But I am not published so I must be underrated? It really means I can't be rated at all.
But that's not what you meant? No, of course it isn't and there are some published authors who are definitely underrated.
John Verney is - or was - one such author. "Going to the wars" is one of the best war memoirs ever written but I doubt there is a copy on any library shelf in the entire state I live in. It is funny and yet kind and essentially very human. It should be better known.
But John Verney also wrote for children and I fell a little in love with the Callender family when I was just a kitten. What's not to love about a family where the children get called things like "Friday" and "February"? Their father, "Gus Callender" is a "left winger" - and this was before it became popular to have such characters in books. He's a journalist - enough said. And then there is  "Lord Sprockett" in "Friday's Tunnel". He is an undesirable piece of work - a thinly disguised Tory peer perhaps but also more than that.
"Friday's Tunnel" and "February's Road", "Ismo" and "Seven Sunflower Seeds" and "Samson's Hoard" would perhaps be considered a little old fashioned now. The setting is old fashioned I suppose. 
The Callenders live in a large house. They are upper class (the older children are away at boarding school part of the time) and slightly bohemian at home. The older children know their classics and their reference books. (Does a modern child even know what "Who's who" is?)
But, like Going to the Wars" these books are funny as well. There's resourcefulness as well as chaos and they care about people.
And John Verney once wrote a long and passionate letter about International Literacy Year for me to the relevant United Nations official. He was a remarkable man - an author who should be much more widely appreciated.

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