Book to the future… new-look novel grabs the young

We here at Tyndale hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and wish you a Happy New Year! In the meantime, you can check out this article about The Dopple Ganger Chronicles by G.P. Taylor in The Yorkshire Post, the UK equivalent to the Chicago Tribune. The article says the book comes out in January, but it is already available for purchase here in the U.S.

Book to the future… new-look novel grabs the young
Published Date: 29 December 2008
By John Roberts Education Correspondent

IN a world dominated by the internet, computer games and countless television channels getting children to enjoy a good book can be a challenge for both parents and teachers alike.

But now a Yorkshire author is to launch a new style of adventure story which is winning over reluctant readers at schools around the country.

GP Taylor’s latest books, The Dopple Ganger Chronicles, are a mixture of written text, cartoon strips, illustrations and graphics designed to hold the attention of young people more used to gazing into a computer screen.

The books go on sale in the New Year but have already proved to be a major success at schools where they have being trialled.

Mr Taylor said: “I visit schools all the time to promote reading and I have found there is a crisis among 11 to 13-year-olds who do not read – even during the height of the Harry Potter books children were not reading.

“I remember going into a school of up to 200 pupils and asking who had the latest Harry Potter book and 90 per cent of the hands went up, but when I asked who had finished it only about 25 pupils had. “I asked why they had bought it if they weren’t going to read it but they were all waiting for the film to come out.”Teachers admit this is a big problem. I decided to do some research and found that children in years five to nine found books that were mostly text difficult to keep reading.

“They are the first of a visually stimulated society with pictures, colour and graphics playing an important part of their daily lives. Websites, computer games and the like have had a major effect on this yet books are lagging behind.”

The Dopple Ganger Chronicles has colourful graphics surrounded by a black border which Mr Taylor has designed to remind young people of a computer screen.”

The way I approached this book was completely different,” he said.

“I have kept the text much shorter to keep their attention and the story changes between the written word, cartoon strip and some full page illustrations.”

Scarborough-based author Mr Taylor, a former vicar who hit the big time with his best-selling debut novel Shadowmancer, has called his new format “illustronovellas” and plans to produce six books for the Dopple Ganger Chronicles which feature the adventures of twins Sadie and Saskia Dopple and their friend Erik Morrissey at the Isambard Dunstan School for Wayward Children.

The first book in the series goes on general sale in January but has already proved to be a big hit in schools across the country where it is selling out.

Kate Midgley, the head of key stage three English at St Wilfrid’s Catholic High School in Featherstone said the book had transformed the attitudes of pupils towards reading.”

Around 200 pupils queued eagerly for over half an hour to purchase a signed copy and meet the author personally.

“To see 200 pupils give up their lunchtime and demonstrating such utter enthusiasm and excitement about purchasing and reading a book was beyond fulfilling and made all our hard work more than worthwhile.”

Many teachers have reported that you could hear a pin drop as pupils listened to the tales of Sadie and Saskia Dopple.

“We have seen a significant uptake of books in the library; rumour has spread and now pupils from a range of year groups are utilising the library, asking for The Dopple Ganger Chronicles, but also showing interest in other texts if they cannot get hold of these books that are in such high demand.”

Mr Taylor hopes this success can continue in the New Year and appeal to a generation of young people who he fears are at risk of missing out on the joy of reading.