I took this photo of an old advertisement for Cadbury’s chocolate about five years ago in a corner of Pearse Station. I don’t think it survived the station upgrade. Cadbury’s is now Cadbury. Still synonymous with chocolate, not sure how wholesome it is.
Delicious Wholesome Always Ask for Cadbury’s
2nd October 2012: I see that Cadbury has secured exclusive rights to the use of the Pantone purple 2685C in marketing milk chocolate, based on their historic association with it.
The last eleven books I have read are from the CHERUB series by Robert Muchamore. My thirteen-year-old son offered to lend me the first one, The Recruit, and I read the next one, and the next one, in a haze of criminal gangs, drug deals, relentless beatings up, early morning training in the dojo, minuscule listening devices, slave trading, bleeding edge surveillance technology, slobbery kissing, teenage sexual yearnings, teenage sex, preteen drunkenness, the attempted rape of a twelve-year-old girl, care homes, sexism, murders, a topless women contest, eco-terrorism, child trafficking, religious cults, prison life and animal cruelty.
The books are good, action-packed, well-plotted, rapid reads, with some strong characters who develop throughout the series, and it’s a compelling series, which is something child readers usually enjoy. On the downside, not all the characters are exactly leaping off the page, and the emotional elements of the various romances which stud the books are too weightless to be believable. After eleven books I still don’t really care for the hero, James. And it’s not just that he’s a bit of an eejit, which is fine, but more that I don’t mind if he gets dumped, kisses other girls when he has a girlfriend elsewhere, damages his kneecaps or is sent to Coventry by the entire campus – I’m in no way invested in his successes and failures.
But who cares what I think? Eleven- to fifteen-year-olds are gobbling up the CHERUB books (and the related Henderson’s Boys series) at the moment. Muchamore knows his audience and he’s able to give them what they want. Some parents have been less impressed, though, and individual reviews on Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com are laced with outrage that adult themes are dealt with in books aimed at young teenagers (and Muchamore himself has said he’s met nine- and ten-year-olds who have enjoyed the books). The author states that:
“…controversial subjects such as drug abuse, human slavery, brainwashing etc are depicted in the books. Although individual characters may espouse this behavior in specific scenes, the overall message of the story is always that these forms of behavior are completely unacceptable.”
The sex in the books, for example, is not described in any detail, which would have been a disappointment to me at thirteen. At that age I had definitely cracked the spines of more than one Jackie Collins; I was fourteen when Jilly Cooper’s Riders came out and was passed around school faster than a spare packet of crisps. If anyone had tried to prevent me from reading the books I’d have been boiling with rage and utterly unconcerned about breaking a ban.
Maybe I’d feel differently if it were, say, my nine-year-old reading the books, but I don’t feel any need to censor the CHERUB books, (though I do believe in being aware of what’s being read), and it doesn’t even seem necessary for Robert Muchamore to say that the books give the message that these behaviours are unacceptable. Do we need books to give us moral messages? Are we wilfully blind to the language and themes that our children come across every day at school? As parents are we overly jumpy about what our precious cherubs read, or are we so slavishly grateful that they are reading at all that we’d pass them a Brett Easton Ellis when we’d finished with it?