When is a book not a book?

A couple of months ago, our youngest daughter was informed by her school that she had been awarded a prize in recognition of her achievements during the previous academic year. It would take the form of a book to be presented to her at the forthcoming annual prizegiving evening. In keeping with the increasingly DIY nature of state education these days, she was handed a National Book Tokens gift card (with a face value insufficient to purchase anything worthy of the occasion unless parentally augmented), and told to go and buy her own book. This was to be handed in prior to the ceremony so that somebody could write an uplifting sentence or two in it, thus creating the appearance that the school had done all the hard work.

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