Jenny Smith's 'Diary of a Parent Trainer' is a well-observed celebration of the minutiae of family life, written partially in the form of a very funny ‘how to handle your grown-ups manual’ – a guide Katie Sutton is writing to help teenagers get on better with their parents, with herself firmly in the role of ‘expert’.
The format provides plenty of fun and young teens will find lots to recognise and chuckle at (and I did), such as the useful hints (note Katie’s stress on the importance of frequent light vacuuming in helping you generate positive response from your grown-up). I loved this imaginative format and how the story unfolds.
Grumpy mode – one of the easiest modes to identify because it is when everything in the world annoys your grown-up. Even if you asked them if you could go to London to receive a Bravery Award from the Prime Minister for saving loads of people’s lives they’d probably say no.
Katie lives in ‘the most boring village in Oxfordshire’, but her mates and her family provide plenty of fun and laughter and Katie reckons she is the best at keeping up her mum’s spirits (especially since Dad died).
And Katie certainly is pretty good at managing her mother, subtly steering her to her way of thinking, from winning approval of mini skirts to making the most of sympathy mode. Mum is pretty pliable (with often not a lot more than a bit of light vacuuming needed).
But things are about to change. The story proper opens with the fact that Katie, her sister and mates reach the age when they have a new distraction: Boys!
But the fun really starts when Mum shocks everyone by being first to find herself a boyfriend and chaos ensues.
An imaginative, light and funny read that’s also very wise at its heart.
So . . a short read and a short review this week and therefore no excuse not to go back to my kale sandwiches (we started a veggie box last week). I did wonder what Katie and her mum might make of our veggie box. My suspicions were aroused when the salesman made a particular point of asking if we ate kale (in such a way as to suggest that they might be able to offer us a very cheap deal on half a hundred weight if we were interested in helping unload it quickly). This was reinforced by the first box containing not only the expected large head of kale, but a quirky leaflet entitles ‘100 unexpectedly delicious ways with kale’.
‘Of course you can always go on line and change it,’ the salesman had assured me. Did he really think I was the sort of person who would cave in after Week One of Coping with Kale and go and click on having some of those nice pea pods freshly air-imported from Kenya instead? Surely the point is that you get into the flow of the seasons. (‘and of course we do bananas and oranges’ he also said, making me feel that there was more than a chance he was missing the point).
So. Now into Week Two and we have a kale (very likely to lead to another comment like last week from my four-year-old ‘that’s green and it’s not broccoli’), a threateningly large looking swede and a butternut squash and not a knife in the drawer that isn’t more used to the challenge of that film that covers that very tasty ready prepared ‘swede and squash mash’ we’re all very fond of.
‘We’ve given you a free gift’ chirruped a notice on the top, making me quake for a double portion of kale to inventively finely chop into recipes (it even went in the pizza last week). But no. A nice friendly box of eggs. Kale omelette anyone?
Diary of a Parent Trainer Jenny Smith Scholastic 5.99