Wednesday, 15 April 2020

'Make More Noise' - Short Story Collection

During these strange times of isolation, social distancing and almost-lockdown in the face of the coronavirus pandemic, like many people I am seeking comfort in books. So whether anyone wants it or not, I will be writing here about the books I've been reading.



Book five in this Lockdown Literature series is, like book four, a return to suffrage stories for young adults. Make More Noise is a collection of ten short stories by female YA writers aimed at empowering younger readers to think positively about their own actions. Published by the independent Nosy Crow in 2018 to tie in with the partial suffrage centenary, £1 from each book sale goes to the charity Camfed (the Campaign for Female Education).

Opening with a whopper from the always excellent Sally Nicholls (see my write-up about her excellent book Things A Bright Girl Can Do here), the story 'Out For The Count' follows a schoolgirl as she and her sister, mother and female house staff camp out for the night to avoid the April 1911 census report. Sally uses this as an opportunity to bring in a range of issues without it being too clunky. So we hear about how women are paid less than men for doing identical jobs, how women are expected to leave work once getting engaged, and even how women had to turn down engagements to their sweethearts because they had adult dependents who they wouldn't be able to afford to keep caring for, especially once marriage obliged them to leave the workplace. It's an excellent way of showing that the suffrage campaign wasn't a one-trick pony. There was a lot more to the suffrage campaign than just demanding votes for women. 

Elsewhere in Make More Noise, we meet other suffrage sisters but the range is not just confined to the Victorian and early Edwardian eras. We also have a ghost story (albeit not a spooky one) in 'The Tuesday Afternoon Ghost' (by Ella Risbridger) which is really about the values of friendship and forgiveness. 'The Bug Hunters' (by MG Leonard) covers the topic of schoolyard bullies and the issue of liking things, such as bugs, that are not seen as a traditional 'girl' interest. While 'On Your Bike' by Jeanne Willis was an absolute treat - written in diary form, it tells the true story of American woman Annie Cohen who became the first woman to cycle around the world in 1894. 

PS - If you're struggling to explain the coronavirus situation to your kids, Nosy Crow has a free book that you can download that aims to help you with this. Click here for to go to the web page.


Now, more than ever, it is so important to support your local, independent retailers to help ensure they are still here for us on the other side of this pandemic. So please consider ordering books direct via your local, independent bookshop rather than that very problematic online monolith. Thanks.

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