Sunday 19 May 2024

Celebration Event for the House of Clementine 8 May 2024

Time for Tea did us proud. There was a lovely atmosphere and most people knew each other so the conversations flowed well.

I explained a little about how I’d got the idea for the series: the Peace Child was a child given from one tribe in Papua New Guinea to another to help maintain the peace. The Peace child would understand the points of view of both tribes. That is Kaleem’s mission. He doesn’t deal in compromise. He always delivers win-win.

The first book was part of my PhD, where I examined the nature of the young adult novel. It was an emerging genre then. Between 2003 and 2007, the time it took me to complete my PhD, I pretty well knew every YA book in print. That’s not possible now; the explosion that started between 1996 and 2004 has really spread.

The boundaries keep on being pushed. What shocks the adults delights the young people. The adults then accept that material and for the young people it’s no longer edgy enough.  Something more shocking must appear.

I read some passages form the latest book. How might Kaleem, the ultimate Peace Child have dealt with Brexit? Well he kind of has the chance to find out. Rozia reports in her U-log of what happens after a similar referendum happens in her world:

Rozia's Ulog

Hi all,

Time has just gone by so quickly since I was last in touch. I'm afraid, though it's not such good news at the moment.    

As you know I've been made so welcome here on Zandra and it hadn't ever occurred to me to question whether I belonged at all. But that has all changed in just one day. That routine referendum. Why do so many people want to leave the One World Community all of a sudden? What does that mean for Petri and me? Will they not want us anymore? Will they see us a drain on their resources?

It's all right for Kaleem. At least he looks a bit Zandrian. He is partly Zandrian.

Petri had been doing so well. But then she became ill quite suddenly. It was terrifying. She was obviously in so much pain - worse, I think, than ever before. Although Kaleem was with me when it happened, I really felt alone. We're away from home.

The wands didn't work. How could the wands not have worked? Had someone interfered with them? I'm really scared that somebody is trying to get at us. The doctor admitted that this kind of thing has happened a few times now. 

I was glad Kaleem was there and that he took us to the medi-centre.

Doctor Joahnsa Brooken was brilliant. I'm not sure that she believed me, though, when I said that I had applied the wands to Petri. But she soon sorted her out, anyway. It was really kind of her to give Petri something to make her calmer before she started applying the meds.

It was all still very worrying, though. The doctor admitted that this kind of thing had happened a few times now. And she doesn't even trust all of her colleagues. What is happening here?

I'm really grateful to her, anyway. I'm going to go to her for the wands in future - not rely on a courier to bring them, just as she suggested. And I'll only take them from her, not from one of her colleagues.  

It took Petri a while to recover, even after we'd got her home. Kaleem stayed with me. He was so kind and I was glad he was there. I hope he hasn't got the wrong impression, though. I do care for him and I know he cares for me and Petri. But I don't think we can ever be together again the way we were. Not after the way he left me. Not with me having to care for Petri.       


Science fiction acts for adolescents and perhaps for adults as anthropomorphism does in picture books. It objectifies the world. Many of the issues in the futuristic world are actually ones that we’re dealing with now.

All of the peace Child books, though, have another story buried within them. This can often be magical or historical or a little of both. This is the second episode about how the House of Clementine was formed:


Obek looked up at the high ceiling of the new Clementine Family Store. It was glorious. The tiles on the walls gleamed. The skylights let in air and light but an automatic system made blinds draw across when the sun shone too fiercely. The polished but slip-proof floors smelt faintly of orange and were orange in colour. The best quality goods were piled high. It was exciting and enticing.

The doors swished open. Tomik, Penni and Harissa came in. Tomik had not brought Flanda.

"It should be family only," he'd said to his father.

Obek thought it was a shame. Flanda would soon be part of the family and she would be a real asset. He was pleased that Harissa had been included, though, and that despite her problems she had been involved with the project: the orange and green theme in the window displays had been her idea and they did seem so right for the House of Clementine.

"Are we all ready?" asked Tomik as they rushed in.

Everyone nodded. If Harissa smiled any harder her face would split in two. Obek was continuously amazed at how well she understood the Order.  

"Okay," said Tomik to the newly-appointed manager. "Let them in."

They looked almost frightened to walk on the sparkling floors at first. This was so different from the dusty little general store they'd been used to. Gradually though, the noise level went up as the sales assistants began to talk to the shoppers.

"We ought to play some background music," said Tomik. "It would stop it getting too noisy."

A good point. Obek nodded. Well this was Tomik's concern now. He could arrange it.

More and more people came into the store. Soon some were leaving, though, and they were carrying bags full of goods. Obek was pleased that there were such nice things for them to choose and that in fact they could afford them: they were able to pay their workers well. Now all of these sales assistants were going to enhance what was already a thriving economy.

A small lunch, accompanied by fresh clementine juice, had been set out for Obek and his party in the meeting room upstairs.

"We can't stay too long." Tomik touched Obek's arm as they sat down. "We have to get to the Elders' meeting."

Ah yes. That. He'd better enjoy this lunch while he could.


The board room in the lodge was getting too small. There were too many Elders now. Obek thought back to the time when it had been mainly he and his father who had dealt with the Order. It hadn't even been this crowded when his father had held meetings about all of his business interests. But the Order was getting very diverse now. It had been Tomik's idea to give the name of Elder to the representatives of each branch of House of Clementine activity.

"It's a bit of a romantic idea, isn't it?" he'd suggested to Tomik.

"I think it will command respect. Anyway, Elders should be elected for their wisdom and experience and you should be the first one."

So, ridiculous as it had sounded, he had become Elder Obek and was in charge of all the work in the clementine orchards. Soon there had been Elders to represent the health care system, the money system and a crude judicial system. Just recently Tomik, at the tender age of twenty-six, had become Elder of Retail. There was no one overruling Elder. That pleased Obek. They took it in turns to chair the sessions. It was Tomik's turn today. Had the boy been a little nervous? Was that why he'd been in such a hurry at lunch time? In the end they'd arrived much too early. Tomik always seemed so confident. Perhaps he wasn't though.

Tomik cleared his throat. "Everyone, will you please take your seats."

Well that seemed assertive enough.

They all sat down and the meeting began. Much of it was very routine. Obek resented a little how all this careful planning took away the excitement he'd felt when he first set up the Order but he supposed it was necessary.

"Any other business?" said Tomik at last.

Good. They would be able to get home soon.

"I have a proposal."

It was Janik Hanson, Elder of Law.

"Go ahead," said Tomik.

Was this about to become interesting?

"I think we should introduce a system of knights."

There was a general murmuring of what sounded mainly like disapproval.

"I don't mean men covered in armour who charge around on horseback. I rather mean a hierarchy of people, working towards being Elders, going through three stages: ordinary knight, knight of the second order, knight of the first order. They could apply or be nominated and they would have to work through a series of tasks. It could be very motivating."

Obek felt wide awake now as they began to debate the matter strenuously.


The documents that Hanson had supplied were spread out over the polished oak table in the larger meeting room of the grand lodge. There was so much paper that this was the only place where they could see them all at once.  

"He's certainly put some work into this." Obek couldn't really fault any of the ideas the Elder of Law had put forward for how the knights on all three levels should be tested and trained. "I like the way the established knights will train and assess newcomers. But how are we going to test the first ones? And who is going to test them?" Tomik was frowning.

"I suppose it will have to be selected members of the committee. It would be only polite to include Hanson. I expect, though, we'll have to put it to a democratic vote." Always that. At times Obek thought he was beginning to lose control of his own order. His son was still frowning. "Do you want to be involved?"

"I don't think I should be."

Of course. Tomik would want to be a knight.

Tomik sighed. "It's important that the first knights are really special."

"Naturally. I'm sure you'll do a great job. There's no need to worry."

Tomik shook his head. "I was thinking of Flanda. She would be superb and she deserves this." 


Flanda looked glorious. She had chosen a white, calf-length dress decorated with a red band which suggested the knights of old.

Tomik had been right. She made a splendid example as the first knight. It hadn't been that easy, even for her, though. Tomik had had to encourage her and even Penni had stepped in from time to time to reassure the young woman. Harissa had been the most helpful in the end. "You can do it, Flanda," she'd said. "You're not a poor empty head like me."

Then Flanda had laughed, stroked the younger girl's hair and said "You're not an empty head. You are the kindest, the most generous person I know. We can all learn so much from you."

"I have a present for you," said Harissa. She handed Flanda a bulky parcel wrapped in brown paper and tied with string.

Flanda blushed as she struggled to untie the knots. Harissa was always so good at wrapping up parcels. At last it was open and out tumbled a glorious blue velvet cloak. It was beautifully soft and it would keep her lovely and warm on the colder days. She held it to her cheek. "This is lovely," she whispered. "Thank you so much." She hugged the younger girl.      

Flanda had succeeded and here she was, ready to be knighted. She knelt down in front of Obek. Yes, a democratic process had taken place but the Elders had been unanimous in putting him and Hanson in charge of the Order's knights and everyone had also agreed that he should conduct the first ceremony. Maybe the Order did still belong to him after all. Naturally it had been Tomik's idea that this should still be done with a sword.

He smiled at the young woman. "Flanda Regan, you have proved yourself worthy of the title of Ordinary Knight of the House of Clementine. You have proved that you are worthy physically, mentally and spiritually of this title, so I hereby name you Ordinary Knight of the House of Clementine." He placed the sword on both of her shoulders in turn. "In bestowing this knighthood on you, I tie your loyalty to the House of Clementine for as long as you shall live. Arise, Madam Knight and take up your duties."

Everyone in the crowd clapped vigorously. Flanda blushed then turned to Tomik and grinned. He smiled slowly back but his arms remained crossed over his chest.

"For goodness sake, marry the girl before someone else snaps her up," Obek muttered. What sort of fool was his son exactly?     


I had another reading but didn’t get round to it. I’ll include it here because it shows a gentler side of Kaleem:

He’s helping to ‘wand’ Petri, Rozia’s sick step-daughter:


Kaleem's useless." Petri giggled.

"Don't be such a cheeky little monkey." Rozia was frowning.

"She's right, though, I am. Just like with the kaartjes." Rozia had been so much better at driving those strange little vehicles than he had been when they lived together in the Z Zone.

"Oh, you weren't so bad really. That was a long time ago anyway."

There was now an awkward silence again. Kaleem got a little better control of the wand and it finally gave its double bleep to show that the treatment was complete.

"I'll get going," said Kaleem.

"Don't go just yet. Wait in the lounge while I tuck her in."

Kaleem made his way through to the lounge. Dare he hope? Maybe that conversation about the kaartjes and their time in the Z Zone meant something? And now that Petri's medication was sorted again? 

She seemed to take an age. He had the impression that she was hesitating. At last she came through though.

"I know what you're thinking," she said as she came into the lounge. Her eyes were fixed on the ground and she wouldn't look up at him. "We're still going back though."

"Why? Now that Ella's really fixed the meds? She will take care of you. You know that."

"Yes, yes. She's been very good. You all have. But you'll be going away soon as well."

"My parents will look out for you and if Saratina comes?"

"They would. I know. But it isn't just that. We just don't feel wanted here. By too many other people. My mind's made up." Now she looked at him and he could see the tears in her eyes. That was something at least. It was as hard for her as it was for him.

"I'd best get going then."

Rozia nodded and pressed the buzzer that opened the main door to the apartment.

Kaleem left without another word. He ran down the fourteen flights of stairs and out into the cold night. He jogged home, despite the cold.

He decided he would go and see her again the next day.


The poor, poor child. I wish I didn't have to be so cruel. Yet on the other hand I'm glad. I so often have to suffer physically like that. What they all do hurts me. I am the physical manifestation of their rot.    


And of course that last paragraph is a voice that we hear every so often in the story. I won’t say who it is. I don’t want to give any spoilers.   

There was time for questions and answers and time to sell a few books. 

And as one would expect – the afternoon tea was delicious.   

I am still selling books ta a discount. Details here. 

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