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Noughts and Crosses (NHB Modern Plays) (Royal Shakespeare Company) [Paperback]

Malorie Blackman , Dominic Cooke

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Book Description

6 Dec 2007 Royal Shakespeare Company
With echoes of Romeo and Juliet, Noughts and Crosses is an electrifying, bittersweet love story set in a society divided by racial bigotry and a world rocked by terrorism. Sephy (a Cross) is the daughter of the Deputy Prime Minister. Callum is the son of a Nought agitator. United by a shared sense of injustice as children, and separated by intolerance as they grow up, their desire to be together begins to eclipse all family loyalty sparking a political crisis of unimaginable proportions.

Dominic Cooke's thrilling stage adaptation of Malorie Blackman's hugely successful novel was premiered by the Royal Shakespeare Company in 2007

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Noughts and Crosses (NHB Modern Plays) (Royal Shakespeare Company) + Noughts & Crosses: Book 1 (Part1 of Noughts & Crosses Trilogy)
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More About the Author

Malorie Blackman is acknowledged as one of today's most imaginative and convincing writers for young readers. The novels in her Noughts & Crosses sequence have won several awards, including the Red House Children's Book Award, and she has won many other awards for her books. Both Hacker and Thief! won the Young Telegraph/Gimme 5 Award - Malorie is the only author to have won this award twice - while Hacker also won the WH Smith Mind-Boggling Books Award in 1994.

Her work has appeared on screen, with Pig-Heart Boy, which was shortlisted for the Carnegie Medal, being adapted into a BAFTA-winning TV serial. Malorie has also written a number of titles for younger readers including Cloud Busting, which won the Smarties Silver Award, The Monster Crisp Guzzler and Whizziwig. In 2005, Malorie was honoured with the Eleanor Farjeon Award in recognition of her distinguished contribution to the world of children's books. In 2008, she was then honoured with an OBE for her services to Children's Literature.

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Dominic Cooke's excellent adaptation... a dark, politically unsentimentalised story about teenage love transcending the barriers in a deeply divided society... heart-rending. --Independent

I haven't read the Malorie Blackman novel which Dominic Cooke has adapted and directed for the RSC; and, for once, I was grateful for my innocence. I found myself caught up in the narrative twists of this absorbing political allegory which posits a society in which a white underclass, the Noughts, is pitted against a ruling black majority, the Crosses...Clearly, the play doesn't offer a realistic picture of modern Britain but still expresses disturbing truths about a society in which worth and status are determined by racial origins. --Guardian

About the Author

Malorie Blackman worked as a database manager and systems programmer before becoming a full-time writer. Her reputation has steadily grown and she has been awarded a number of prizes including the WHSmith's Mind-Boggling Books Award and the Young Telegraph/Gimme 5 award for HACKER, the Young Telegraph/Fully Booked award for THIEF! and, more recently, shortlisted for the Carnegie Medal for PIG-HEART BOY. She was voted Voice/Excel Children's Writer of the Year in 1997. Her novel NOUGHTS AND CROSSES has won both the Children's Book Award and the Lancashire Children's Book Award 2002. THE TIMES recently described her as 'a bit of a national treasure.' Dominic Cooke's previous adaptations include the spellbinding Arabian Nights for the Young Vic. He is Artistic Director of the Royal Court Theatre.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.7 out of 5 stars  74 reviews
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars you must read this book!!! 18 Feb 2004
By Franki - Published on Amazon.com
when i first picked this book up, i almost put it back down. for some insane reason it didnt jump at me but i opened it anwyay, and i read it. from the first chapter onwards i was hooked. i loved the way you saw the story from both Sephy and Callum's point of view so you understood their actions and i loved the way they grew up through the book. i wanted to scream with frustration at the incredible injustices in the book and its scary to think that racism like that does exsist in this world.
you definately need tissues handy. i dont think i have ever cried as much at a film or a book as i cried when i read noughts and crosses and as soon as i had finished it i had to go and tell everyone in my house about it and my friends. i've read it so many times now adn every time it still makes me cry. this is the best book i have ever read and everyone in the world should read it!! Malorie Blackman is a genius. the ending of the book was so sad and so beautiful it was incredible, i didnt close it even after i'd read the last page for a while, i was so moved by it.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My Favorite Book EVER!!! 23 Jun 2005
By Imhere - Published on Amazon.com
Naughts and Crosses by Malorie Blackman is a fantastic book. In this book, the racial roles of our society is reversed. The whites aka naughts, work for the blacks aka crosses. Callum's mother used to work for Sephy's mother but that all changed when something happened(you'll have to read the book to find out what). With the alternating view points in every chapter you can really see into their personal lives and their inner thoughts. The book really has a lot of exciting plot twists. Their love for each other and what other people will do to ruin that will show you how shallow some people can be. What Callum does towards the end of the book will BLOW YOUR MIND!!!!!!!!!But you'll have to read it to find out.I encourage everyone to read this. I was so into this book I finished it in 1 day and it has almost 400 pages!! READ IT ASAP!
10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good premise but ultimately disappointing 21 Jan 2009
By Zlatko Ceraj-Ceric - Published on Amazon.com
This book annoyed me very much. At first I enjoyed the characters and the great gimmick that is the setting but as it progressed it revealed too many plot deficiencies to be comfortable with. It is simply not executed to perfection, which I personally think is a great disappointment. It had all the potential of a classic but will end up only a good youth book. A crying shame.

The plot deficiencies:
1.An absolute hinge of the plot is Callum's father and brother getting arrested. Yet this arrest is brought about so clumsily as to render it completely unbelievable.Why the charade with the hospital? If they had fingerprints on their ID cards then the fingerprints would have already been in the government database. Also, believing any modern terrorist to be so clumsy with their fingerprints is simply not realistic.

2.Another hinge is Callum's sister getting beat up. In light of the McGregor later propensity for vengeance I find them doing nothing about it for three years highly unbelievable.

3.Callum's mother is the focal point of their family for the first half of the book but later disappears without mention. Sloppy.

There are other things that bothered me but nothing as major. On the positive side, the book has great pace and enjoyable if aggravating characters.
It is an OK book and will help young people to come to terms with racism from outside the box. Sadly, it missed out on greatness.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Angieville: NOUGHTS & CROSSES 21 May 2010
By Angela Thompson - Published on Amazon.com
Originally published back in 2001 in the UK, NOUGHTS & CROSSES is the first book in a series by British author Malorie Blackman. I first encountered it as part of the Young Adult Reading Group (YARG) over at Readerville. It was chosen as one of our monthly selections and a dear friend of mine actually picked up copies for several of us while she was in England and mailed them out so we would have time to read them before the discussion. Those were just the kind of people that filled the YARG in those days. Sometimes I miss them all so much it hurts. But my copy came just in time to take it to Italy with me to visit my parents. And I read it while sitting on their terrace watching the waters of the Mediterranean lap the shore below. When I got back, we had a marvelous discussion and pondered as to why it hadn't been published here in the states. It took four more years for it to come out in hardback in the U.S., and I quite like the U.S. cover, even if they did change the spelling of noughts to naughts. A couple of years after that the U.S. paperback was released with a different cover and, strangely, a different title--BLACK & WHITE. Personally, I'm not a fan of the most recent cover or title. Why mess with something as awesome as NOUGHTS & CROSSES? Why talk down to American teenagers just because they might not be aware that in England Tic-Tac-Toe is known as Noughts and Crosses? It's beyond me and I'll hang onto my hardback and UK copies, thank you very much.

Sephy and Callum are best friends. As kids they don't see any problem with a girl from the privileged Cross class playing with a nought boy from the wrong side of town. And their parents let things slide for reasons (or secrets) of their own. But as growing teenagers, Callum particularly is highly aware of the differences in not only their skin tone, but their education, opportunities, and circumstances. Sephy doesn't want anything to change. She wants to go on tutoring Callum in maths, roughhousing with him on the seashore, and crossing her fingers he gets accepted to Heathcroft High and will maybe be in some of her classes. But Callum walks home everyday to his hovel of a dwelling place and watches the hope in his parents' eyes slowly die. He watches his older brother Jude grow angrier and more volatile by the day. And he watches his sister Lynnette draw farther inside of herself, so that even the family can no longer tell how much of her is left anymore. But Callum does get into Heathcroft. And he and Sephy do strive to keep their unsightly friendship alive. And things, both inside and outside of them, grow more and more complicated just as they grow more and more beautiful. Until one day the pressure becomes too much and something happens that threatens to blow the whole fragile relationship into infinitesimal, unrecognizable pieces.

Set in an alternate, present-day England, NOUGHTS & CROSSES explores what the world would look and feel like if the ruling class were black and the oppressed, subservient class white. The two main characters--Sephy and Callum--each belong to one "side" and the crux of the problem arises as they grow up and continue to reach out to each other across enemy lines. I won't lie to you--this dystopian Romeo & Juliet setup worried me in the beginning. I felt like I'd read it before, like it would come off as impossibly melodramatic and tired. But from the very first page it was apparent that such was definitely not the case. As unlikely as it may seem, everything about this story feels new and every passage seems chosen and placed carefully for proper effect as Ms. Blackman swiftly and impressively navigates the deep, gray waters of racism and adolescence amid a stifling society at large. Sephy and Callum are easy to like, their personalities are distinctive and strong, and nothing, repeat nothing is easy. But my emotions were captured instantly and held for the entire, intense and heart-palpitating read.

An early passage that, I think, highlights Callum's desperate situation:


We walked into the downstairs room. Lynette and Dad sat on the sofa. Jude sat at the dinner table poring over what looked like a map--not that I was particularly interested. Mum sat down next to Dad and I sat next to Lynette. It was a squash but a cozy squash.

I looked at my sister. "You okay?"

Lynette nodded. Then a slow-burning frown spread out over her face. And that look was back in her eyes. My heart plunged down to my shoes and bounced back up again.

Please, Lynette. Not tonight . . . not now . . .

"Lynny, d'you remember my seventh birthday?" I began desperately. "You took me to see my first film at the cinema. There was just you and me and you got annoyed with me because I wouldn't take my eyes off the screen, not for a second. D'you remember you told me that I could blink because the screen wasn't about to vanish? Lynny . . . ?"

"Why am I here?" My sister's troubled gray eyes narrowed. "I shouldn't be here. I'm not one of you. I"m a Cross."

My stomach lurched, like I was in a lift that had suddenly plunged down at least fifty stories in about five seconds flat. Every time I convinced myself that Lynette was getting better, she'd get that look on her face . . . She'd stare at us like we were all strangers and she'd insist she was one of them.

"What're you talking about? You're a naught," Jude said with scorn. "Look at your skin. You're as white as the rest of us. Whiter."

"No, I'm not."

"Jude, that's enough," said Dad.

"No, it's not. I'm fed up with this. Keeping Lynette in this house so she won't embarrass us by telling everyone she's a Cross. She's barking mad, that's what she is. And Callum's just as bad. He thinks he's better than us and as good as the Crosses, even if he doesn't say it."

"You don't know what you're talking about," I hissed.

"No? I've seen you looking up at this house when you've come back from your dagger friend. I've seen you hating it and hating us and hating yourself because you weren't born one of them," Jude spewed out. "I'm the only one of the three of us who knows what he is and accepts it."

"Now listen here, you brainless--"

Jude sprang out of his chair, but only a couple of seconds before I did.

"Come on then, if you reckon you're hard enough," Jude challenged.

I stepped forward but Dad got between the two of us before I could do little more than clench my fists.

"See?" Lynette's small, puzzled voice rang out as clear as a bell. "I don't behave like that. I can't be a naught. I just can't."

All the fight went out of me. Slowly, I sat back down again.

"Listen, Lynette . . . ," Mum began.

"Look at my skin," Lynette spoke as if Mum hadn't. "Such a beautiful color. So dark and rich and wonderful. I'm lucky. I'm a Cross--closer to God . . ." Lynette looked around at all of us and smiled. A broad, beaming, genuinely happy smile that lit every line and crease on her face and squeezed my heart.

"Stupid cow," Jude muttered.

"That's enough!" Dad shouted at him.

Jude sat, a sullen, brooding look on his face. Lynette looked down at her hands, stroking one over the other. I looked too. All I could see were pale white hands, blue veins clearly visible through the almost translucent skin. She looked up at me and smiled. I smiled back. Forced it really, but at least I tried.

"Don't you think I'm beautiful, Callum?" Lynette whispered.

"Yes," I replied truthfully. "Very."


Make no mistake. This book will wring your heart out. You'll need to breathe a few times rather deeply when you're finished and I wouldn't advise winding it up in public. But it's utterly worth it, a not-to-be-missed hidden gem from the wonderful Malorie Blackman.

Reading order: NOUGHTS & CROSSES, AN EYE FOR AN EYE (novella), Knife Edge, Checkmate, Double Cross
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Noughts and Crosses 22 Nov 2003
A Kid's Review - Published on Amazon.com
'Noughts and Crosses' is a heartbreaking novel, upon the love and troubles of Callum and Sephy, their lives crushed by two different communities. Sephy who is a Cross (black), is the teenage daughter of a powerful Cross leader who rules both communities and is strongly against Noughts. Sephy works hard to protect their relationship, but soon learns the true meanings of difference, and how dangerous it is if they are found togethor. Callum, who is a few years older, is a Nought (white), and he lives with his poor family of violence and suffering. In his community, they are treated as if they are are not human, blamed and treated badly. They both struggle through their difficulties, but are shattered when a bomb explodes pulling them apart...
I loved this novel because it was so emotion, you couldn't put the book down at any point of the story. Some of their problems they faced seemed to relate to real life, the racist world we are in now, of not only black and whites, but many other different communites. I also enjoyed the book because it explained different problems in different points of view and how they struggled to cope against the difficulties they had. I think this book is brilliant for anyone to read, it captures your attention and makes you think about the problems that you may face.
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