Search This Blog

Friday, 27 January 2017

The Demon Headmaster

Author: Gillian Cross
Publisher: Oxford University Press, first published 1982, this edition 2009

So after we finished 'All at Sea' from the The Worst Witch Series last week (The Worst Witch Series Review) I started to think what other CBBC series from my childhood I'd love to see remade and re-run. Now the 1997 version of The Demon Headmaster, that was scary! BBC Demon Headmaster. As a child I was fortunate enough to have read the books before seeing the series, and if there's any literary gift that you can bequeath upon your child, I'm telling you, it's exposing them to this concept of  'The Demon Headmaster' in print form first, only that way do you really feel and build up the full force of the eerie, controlling 

Alf (7) is usually slow to fully absorb in a new chapter book, and this edition of 'The Demon Headmaster' (a tatty library copy) has no illustrations other than the cover page. We're now six chapters in and he's fully sold, in fact he's coming to some interesting conclusions about teachers at his own school. I've been surprised as to how well he understands and follows this; he guessed that lead character Dinah Glass was being hynoptised by the swirling green eyes of her new headteacher. He was also able to speculate what the pin prick on Dinah's finger at the close of chapter three might be (a blood test to see if she's immune to the Demon Headmaster's control, we thought). I had forgotten the subplot about Dinah being fostered by Mrs Hunter, which when you read as an adult, or older child I imagine, adds a whole new level to this book. In fact it offers a whole new layer of extra relevance and emotional depth as you start to release Dinah's fears, anxieties, behaviours are tied into 
her attachment issues and transition as a foster child, and are somewhat ironically the saviour of her from the clutches of The Demon Headmaster (a parallel to her chaotic birth home perhaps). 

This is a really exciting, challenging book to be sharing with Alf. It's opening up a lot of 
dialogue for us about how he finds school, about conformity, authority, not questioning the 
status quo. (This might be taken further when he's older as a way of introducing ideologies such as individualism and communism). We're also talking a lot about how Dinah feels and why she acts a certain way in this book. Gillian Cross is very deliberate in opening up this invitation to psychology, and I hadn't appreciated until this revisit how useful this book might be, both in the classroom and at home, in terms of opening up this discussion about how people might think and act differently owed to varied reasons and influences. 

This only leaves me to say #BringBackTheDemonHeadmaster! 

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...