Some books you don't get - however loved and praised they are by everyone else. I have never got along with Just William.
I love the idea of it: the trouble-prone child, the continual scrapes, the childhood anarchy, the poking fun at the grown-ups. It's all the kind of stuff I put into stories myself. And it's not that I have a problem with dated books about English school boys - give me a copy of Jennings and Darbishire by Anthony Buckeridge, and I will laugh so hard I'm falling off the sofa.
But every time I pick up a copy of one of William's adventures, I struggle. Just not for me, I thought. The language seemed convoluted, not witty. William's manner of speech annoyed me. Maybe I didn't read it at the right age. Maybe it's one of those books that adults love for nostalgia, but in actual fact is not that good. Maybe it works for others but it's not my cup of tea. (Not everyone likes the same thing, which is something I always stress talking to children in schools. A book may have prizes, or be your teacher's favourite - but that doesn't mean you have to like it. The important thing is don't give up on books - just go back to the shelf until you find a book you do like.)
It slightly annoyed me that Just William was constantly reissued and Jennings wasn't. It was on the radio too. And lots of children seemed to enjoy it. It was, a friend told me, her kids' favourite. What was wrong with everyone, I wondered?
Then something happened. I happened to watch an episode on the TV. (I didn't even know the BBC had adapted Just William. If I did I would have snorted "typical".) But I happened to watch it and it was ...good. Delightful. Clever. Witty. Best of all, it was extremely FUNNY.
So as soon as I have written this, I will be heading for the book shelf, digging out my neglected copy, ready to give William Brown one more try. Which makes me wonder - which books would you give another chance? Which books did you discover first thanks to TV?