It all begins with a challenge. Morgan sneers at Ditto for getting everything he knows out of books - even sex - and challenges him to prove that literature is ever related to real life. Ditto takes up the challenge. During half term holiday he writes down what happens to him.

And a great deal does. First his father has a heart attack, brought on, Ditto believes, by an explosive row between them. Ditto goes off to the country, is befriended by two strangers, drawn into a drunken brawl, and then, astonished at his own daring, helps to burgle a house.

But the secret, and purpose, of Ditto's journey is a meeting with a girl, Helen - the girl of his imagining - who helps him make the leap from what he has only read about into real, life-changing experience. True? Or 'just a story'? Was it only a game played with words? The answers, Ditto says, are all there in his book for anyone who accepts his challenge to look for them.

'Like many other good novels, it is partly about writing and the nature of fiction, and that makes it first-class reading for anyone who has ever thought seriously about literature. Above all, it's very funny.' Margaret Meek in School Librarian.

A note about The Dance Sequence - click here.

First published by Bodley Head 1978

Buy On-line

Definitions paperback (with Dance on My Grave), January 2007,

ISBN 978-1-862-30288-4, 6.99

All contents are ©Aidan Chambers unless otherwise stated.

In print since it was first published in Britain in 1978, Breaktime has gone through six different editions, currently in a dual volume with Dance on My Grave, which also includes a new 'Afterword' describing its beginnings and its place in the Dance Sequence of six novels.

'Chambers's characters are frequently witty and sometimes wise,' Kimblerley Reynolds notes in Children's Literature in the 1890s and 1990s (Northcote House, 1994, p 49),' but they are not heroic or exceptional - not idealised links to the past saving the world for future generations - and the dilemmas they face belong very much to the [present] teenage world. What is heroic in his texts is not just the decision to deal with the kinds of topics that adults want to keep separate from childhood, but also to employ narrative techniques that disturb or challenge adult notions of what is appropriate for young readers.'


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