- Helen Dunmore - Orange Prize winner - Childrens books - The Silver Bead - Extract
Helen Dunmore
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The Silver Bead / Extract
 
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It’s the first morning of the holidays. Zillah and I are lying on her bedroom floor, surrounded by heaps of stuff which Zillah is throwing out.

‘The worst thing is that my mum still treats me like a little kid,’ says Zillah, ‘and my dad still thinks he’s doing me a huge favour if he lets me drive the tractor. There you are, girl, steady now, remember where your brake’s to. I've been driving that tractor since I was nine years old. I’m not going to roll it.’
I’ve never driven a tractor, but Mum lets me drive our van up and down the lane from the farm to our cottage. I know how to change gear, and brake and steer and everything. Yes, I did scrape the wing once, but our van is so old and beaten-up that any new scrapes soon blend into the old ones.
Zillah and I have spent the whole morning sorting stuff into piles. Clothes that are too small, books with cartoons or pictures of cute animals on the front, and Zillah’s amazing collection of sticker books are crammed into a jumble sale binbag, her school-books, millions of drawings, old diaries and all the rubbish from under her bed are in another binbag.

‘Are you really going to throw your diaries away?’
‘No. I’m going to burn them. When we’ve sorted out your stuff as well we’ll have a huge bonfire.’
‘Um ...’
I’m not sure I want to throw away quite as much as Zillah. I like old books I’ve had since I was about six, and maybe when I’m grown-up I’ll want to look back at my school-books, and ...

‘You have got one sock and two Barbie dolls without heads in your binbag,’ says Zillah two hours later, when we’ve finished doing my bedroom.
‘Is it a white sock with a blue stripe down the side?’
‘Yeah ... whitish ...’
‘I’ve been looking for that one! Give it here, Zill.’
‘You’re down to two Barbies without heads, Katie.’
‘OK, they can go. Oh no, wait a minute! Zillah, remember that man in the Friday market who sells vintage Sindies and Barbies for about fifteen pounds each? Maybe he’ll give me lots of money for these.’

‘I’ve never seen any headless Barbies on his stall,’ says Zillah, snatching the binbag from me. ‘Katie, your bedroom doesn’t look any different.’
‘It’s tidier.’
‘But is it emptier? Don’t you want to change things, now we’re going to secondary school?’
‘Of course I do,’ I lie. ‘Zillah, you know those sticker books you’re throwing away? If you really don’t want them ...’


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Stormswept
The Islanders
The Crossing of Ingo
The Ferry Birds
Tide Knot
Ingo
The Lilac Tree
The Seal Cove
The Silver Bead
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Brother Brother, Sister Sister
The Ugly Duckling
The Allie Books
Tara's Tree House
Aliens Don't Eat Bacon Sandwiches
Great-Grandma's Dancing Dress
Clyde's Leopard
Amina's Blanket
Fatal Error
Go Fox
In the Money
Going to Egypt
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