BOC staff book group will be reading PAX by Sara Pennypacker on 3rd March 18.

BOC staff book group will be reading PAX by Sara Pennypacker on Thursday 8th March 2018 12 – 1 pm in Committee Room 1.


‘I slowly made my way through this book and I wanted it to last forever, because it was simply the most calming and beautiful thing I have ever read’  (The Guardian)

Compelling, heartrending story of boy and fox in dystopia. (

Foxes are fable animals: Their fur carries the electric charge of literary history. As with cats, their faces suggest they have no need of us, and in literature they have all the power that goes with independence.

The novel is told through alternating chapters, with one strand following 12-year-old Peter and the other Pax, as each grows wilder and tougher. After the death of his mother, we learn, Peter had rescued a baby fox from the cold and reared it as a pet and friend. When his father enlists in an unspecified war (“It’s heading for our town. They’ll take the river”), Peter is sent to live with his grandfather, and Pax is sent into the wild, the car speeding away as he watches in bewilderment.

In the opening chapters Peter rebels, slipping out in the night to walk 200 miles back to the spot where Pax was released. What follows is, structurally, a classic quest narrative; Peter walks through dark woods both literally and metaphorically, breaks his foot, encounters characters who help or threaten him. The most vivid of these is Vola, a female war veteran with a prosthetic leg who takes Peter in, and together they face down their own traumas: the suffering of war, physical pain and inherited anger. What makes the book truly remarkable are two things: the quality of Pennypacker’s prose, which is sharp and restless and vulpine, and the pull of the love between Peter and Pax.

There are resonances in this love of Katherine Applegate’s Newbery Medal-winning “The One and Only Ivan,” which shares the intimate use of the animal voice. “Pax” also offers a meditation on the bond between children and animals, and how the longing for closeness to the animal world shapes childhood: the desire to touch, to squeeze, to be loyal to something as familiar and as unknowable as a pet.

Of course, for a writer to give voice to an animal is to purport to offer up a secret, and the difficulty becomes how to tell it without shading into cuteness. Many writers, even Kipling, have failed, in books in which the animal becomes the mouthpiece for the moral. Like Applegate and E. B. White before her, Pennypacker succeeds. In an author’s note, she explains that “fox communication is a complex system of vocalization, gesture, scent and expression. The ‘dialogue’ in italics in Pax’s chapters attempts to translate their eloquent language.” Pennypacker, the author of several well-regarded books for children, including the “Clementine” early chapter-book series, uses the chapters in which Pax speaks to deliver something more, too: a sense of enchantment in a landscape freshly discovered, as Pax explores the natural world for the first time in the company of feral foxes. “Pax” is not comparable tonally to “Charlotte’s Web” — it has less irony and wit and a less insouciant protagonist — but Pennypacker does share White’s resistance to sentimentality, offering in its place a pragmatic kind of awe. White wrote that he “always felt charged with the safekeeping of all unexpected items of worldly or unworldly enchantment, as though I might be held personally responsible if even one were to be lost.” In this aspect, Pennypacker, with “Pax,” may be his heir.

The book is illustrated by the Caldecott Medal winner Jon Klassen, whose style is a perfect fit. His sharpness of line maps onto the jagged, sharp-edged quality of growing up, which Peter must do. In the end, Peter builds himself back up from scratches and mistakes, piecemeal, and ends the journey braver and bolder and wiser than he began it. “Pax” the book is like Pax the fox: half wild and wholly beautiful.


By Sara Pennypacker

Illustrated by Jon Klassen

276 pp. Balzer & Bray/HarperCollins ­Publishers. $16.99. (Middle grade; ages 8 to 12)




The Keeper of Lost Things by Ruth Hogan

The Keeper of Lost Things by Ruth Hogan (January Bognor Regis Campus Book Group)

Keeper of lost things

The Bognor Regis campus book club will be meeting to discuss The Keeper of Lost Things on Wednesday 24th January in John Parry Room 2.  Any member of staff is welcome to join us.  Please book your space by emailing

Antony Peardew is the keeper of lost things.  He carelessly lost a keepsake from his fiancee on the day that she died and is now obsessed with reuniting lost things with their owners.  At the end of his life he enlists the help of his assistant, Laura, who is herself a lost thing in need of being found.

Looking forward to reading this book over Christmas and finding out what you all think of it in January.

Happy Christmas reading!


Our next book for discussion is CAT’S CRADLE by Kurt Vonnegut on December 14th, BOC staff book group.

BOC staff book group will be reading Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut, as it’s an easy read with short chapters and fast pacing; explores religion, science, war and the apocalypse including some fun characters, satirising the arms race and many other targets along the way.


There are many editions.

Told with deadpan humour & bitter irony, Kurt Vonnegut’s cult tale of global destruction preys on our deepest fears of witnessing Armageddon and, worse still, surviving it …

Dr Felix Hoenikker, one of the founding ‘fathers’ of the atomic bomb, has left a deadly legacy to the world. For he’s the inventor of ‘ice-nine’, a lethal chemical capable of freezing the entire planet. The search for its whereabouts leads to Hoenikker’s three eccentric children, to a crazed dictator in the Caribbean, to madness. Felix Hoenikker’s Death Wish comes true when his last, fatal gift to humankind brings about the end, which for all of us, is nigh…

Happy reading!

university of chichester logo

Small great things by Jodi Picoult

Small great things

BRC book group are meeting on Wednesday 1st November in JP2 to discuss Small great things by Jodi Picoult.  I picked this up standing in my kitchen last night to read the back of the book, then I thought I’d read the first few pages…10 minutes later I was still standing in the middle of my kitchen reading!  I love the way that Jodi Picoult draws you in immediately and grips you with the characters and plot. I’m really looking forward to hearing what you all think of this.  Remember to book your space by emailing and if you can’t come to the meeting then please comment here.  Thanks!



NOGGIN by John Corey Whaley



Travis Coates has a good head…on someone else’s shoulders. A touching, hilarious, and wholly original coming-of-age story from John Corey Whaley, author of the Printz and Morris Award–winning Where Things Come Back.

Listen—Travis Coates was alive once and then he wasn’t.
Now he’s alive again.
Simple as that.

The in between part is still a little fuzzy, but Travis can tell you that, at some point or another, his head got chopped off and shoved into a freezer in Denver, Colorado. Five years later, it was reattached to some other guy’s body, and well, here he is. Despite all logic, he’s still sixteen, but everything and everyone around him has changed. That includes his bedroom, his parents, his best friend, and his girlfriend. Or maybe she’s not his girlfriend anymore? That’s a bit fuzzy too.

Looks like if the new Travis and the old Travis are ever going to find a way to exist together, there are going to be a few more scars.

Oh well, you only live twice.

John Corey Whaley-Who is this guy?

JOHN ‘COREY’ WHALEY grew up in the small town of Springhill, Louisiana, where he learned to be sarcastic and to tell stories.  He has a BA in English from Louisiana Tech University, as well as an MA in Secondary English Education.

He started writing stories about aliens and underwater civilizations when he was around ten or eleven, but now writes realistic YA fiction (which sometimes includes zombies…).

He taught public school for five years and spent much of that time daydreaming about being a full-time writer…and dodging his students’ crafty projectiles.

He is terrible at most sports, but is an occasional kayaker and bongo player.  He is obsessed with movies, music, and traveling to new places.

He is an incredibly picky eater and has never been punched in the face, though he has come quite close.  One time, when he was a kid, he had a curse put on him by a strange woman in the arcade section of a Wal-Mart.

His favorite word is defenestration.  

His favorite color is green.

His favorite smell is books.

He currently lives in Southern California.

Here’s what people are saying about NOGGIN:

*“Travis Coates has lost his head—literally…. [A] wonderfully original, character-driven second novel. Whaley has written a tour de force of imagination and empathy, creating a boy for whom past, present, and future come together in an implied invitation to readers to wonder about the very nature of being. A sui generis novel of ideas, Noggin demands much of its readers, but it offers them equally rich rewards.”
-Booklist, November 2013, *STARRED REVIEW

*”Like baseball great Ted Williams, Travis Coates has his head surgically removed and cryogenically frozen after he dies (of leukemia at age 16). Unlike Williams, Travis is a fictional character, and five years after his death, technological advances allow doctors to attach his head to a donor body that’s taller and more muscular than the original. Whaley’s second novel (following his Printz-winning Where Things Come Back) is far more concerned with matters of the heart than with how head reattachment surgery would work. Travis awakens to restart where he left off—sophomore year—but everyone he knew has moved on. Best friend Kyle is struggling through college; former girlfriend Cate is engaged to someone else. As only the second cryogenics patient successfully revived, Travis is in uncharted territory; he’s “over” high school, but not ready to be anywhere else. Travis’s comic determination to turn back the hands of time and win Cate’s love is poignant and heartbreaking. His status in limbo will resonate with teens who feel the same frustration at being treated like kids and told to act like adults.”

Publishers Weekly, January 2014, *STARRED REVIEW

“The madcap story of a boy who loses his head and finds it again. . . . Readers will recognize the Printz winner’s trademark lovable characterizations. . . . They’ll also recognize the poignantly rendered reflections on life, love, death and everything in between. . . . Whaley’s signature cadence and mad storytelling skillz are worth every page. A satisfyingly oddball Frankenstein-like tale of connectivity.”

Kirkus Reviews, February 2014

“Whaley’s sweet and raunchy first-person narrative provides a thought-provoking look at the notions of self-awareness, the nature of identity, and the angst of a very special teen. The lively, conversational style will engage teen readers in search of an unusual, but relatable, character. At times hilarious and heart-wrenching, Noggin, with its eye-catching cover art, belongs in all library collections serving young adults.”

VOYA, February 2014




This must be the place by Maggie O’Farrell

The BRC book group choice for June has been shortlisted for the Costa Novel Award and is on the Richard and Judy Summer 2017 list.

A reclusive ex-film star living in the wilds of Ireland, Claudette Wells is a woman whose first instinct, when a stranger approaches her home, is to reach for her shotgun. Why is she so fiercely protective of her family, and what made her walk out of her cinematic career when she had the whole world at her feet?

Her husband Daniel, reeling from a discovery about a woman he last saw twenty years ago, is about to make an exit of his own. It is a journey that will send him off-course, far away from the life he and Claudette have made together. Will their love for one another be enough to bring Daniel back home?

BRC group meets on Wednesday 14th June in St Michael’s F3.  Remember to book your place by emailing or if you cannot attend the meeting please leave a comment here.