Books seen behind Boris Johnson tell their own story | Boris Johnson

The prime minister’s address to the nation’s children as they prepare to return to classrooms was upstaged by Twitter tongues wagging over a school librarian with a sense of humour.

As Boris Johnson told children at Castle Rock school in Coalville, Leicestershire, that exam results had almost been derailed by “a mutant algorithm”, eyes turned to the bookshelves behind him, lined with titles like The Twits, Betrayed and The Subtle Knife.

On the day it was announced that the top civil servant at the Department of Education (DfE), Jonathan Slater, was to leave his job, hot on the heels of Ofqual chief Sally Collier, the titles had a resonance which did not go unnoticed.

“Has a savvy school librarian or English teacher snatched a golden opportunity to have a pop at the PM in front of the nation?” asked a reporter from the TES.

“Whichever librarian managed to get not just the “The Twits” but also “Betrayed”; “Resistance” and “Fahrenheit 451” in the shot behind Johnson has my admiration,” tweeted Sam Freedman, a former senior policy advisor at the DfE. Fahrenheit 451 is a dystopian novel by American writer Ray Bradbury about a society where books are banned.

Freedman continued: “It has been noted that the Subtle Knife; Glass Houses; The Toll (about a monstrous dictator); and Guards Guards (about a shady villain installing a puppet king) are all there too. It looks like it’s been carefully curated!”

The thread that followed included much praise for librarians.

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