It turns out that my prediction for the winner of the Guardian Children’s Book Prize was wrong. The winner was actually Mal Peet for his book, Exposure. Alison Flood from The Guardian describes Exposure as “a modern retelling of Othello, in which the Moor of Venice and his wife Desdemona are transformed into the South American equivalent of Posh and Becks.” The book follows the fictional football legend Otello and sports journalist Paul Faustino, who have also featured in several of Mal Peet’s other books including The Penalty and Keeper. Peet turned to writing these football themed novels for young adults as he felt that all football books for children were a load of rubbish.
We have all of his books in the library and you can read an interview with him in The Guardian here.
Sport? Never interested. Shakespeare? Sometimes interested. Celebrities? Always interested. So a book about sport, with a plot based on a Shakespeare play and featuring a couple very similar to David and Victoria Beckham put me in something of a quandary.
On the one hand books about sport make me feel faint with boredom. On the other hand a book where Posh and Becks-like characters fall victim to several of the deadly sins has got to have something going for it.
And so it proved with Exposure, a Young Adult book with something for everyone. Mal Peet writes about soccer well enough to make it exciting to someone who regards not following sport as something of a badge of honour and he’s no slouch at building suspense in a part of the story that’s concerned with political corruption and homeless children. He can even handle romance – the doomed love story of Otello and Desmeralda is believable, romantic and sad without being soppy.
I’m so impressed I’m going to check out his other books – this could be the start of a beautiful friendship. Peet’s a definite must see at this month’s <a title="Mal Peet, appearing at this year's Auckland Writers and Readers Festival.