It’s always nerve-racking to receive your first reviews for a book – almost as nerve-racking as wondering if you’re going to get any. So I was very pleased that Chess Nuts has had two great reviews, last week by Jane Barry in The Courier Mail and this week by Susan Hewitt in The West Australian‘s West Weekend magazine.
Jane Barry commented:
Lawrinson addresses a salient topic in her writing. Why can’t teenagers feel free to pursue different interests and not worry so much about losing face with their peers? Over the years towards maturity, how many opportunities are lost, or passions suppressed, just for the sake of worrying what others will think? She also writes with a clear understanding of the intricacies of chess and the almost complete absorption it demands. References to famous quotes from chess masters appear throughout, lending an air of credibility to the author’s research. A good book for any teenager, especially those who need prompting to follow their own interests.
This book is aimed at primary school kids, and even those who can’t read it themselves will find it easy to engage in the story. All the lessons about acceptance and getting on aren’t daggy or teacherly, they just kind of work themselves in.
It’s interesting that the two reviewers have a different take on the audience for the novel: I think it’s because kids read differently, it would entirely depend on individual interests and reading levels. Hence the madness of the age-banding proposals that were (are?) being debated in the UK.
On another note, it’s delightful that The West has entirely modernised its reviewing of books, thanks (I believe) to new books editor Will Yeoman. At last!