The Naming of Cats is a difficult matter,
It isn’t just one of your holiday games;
and the naming of illustrators is equally important, Mr Eliot.
I had an old ruler, a freebie from an advertising company. On its clear plastic length, it read
It’s the Eye that Buys
I can’t argue with that – even for books. But there’s more than immediate appeal,we also say that:
This post should not be read by 7-9 year olds in possession of a new Oxford Junior Dictionary. Their world doesn’t need natural words rampaging through it. Continue reading
Amongst all the debate about Kathleen Hale’s piece in the Guardian and the Goodreads reviewer allegedly* hit over the head with a bottle by an enraged author, I want to put my emphasis on the positive aspects of reading and reviewing.
*it is under police investigation at present
10 reasons to review - with examples
I’d never make a Hollywood leading lady – but I can do character.
This evening I am braving possible thunderstorms and the rumblings of my own trepidation to attend the annual SCBWI BI Agents Party at Foyles Grand Design of a new bookshop. Choosing what to wear was tricky enough – but archfiend Nick Cook has issued us with a second badge.
We have to select one character from children’s lit we’d like to be. Crumbs. Where to start? All of them is not an acceptable answer. One close to me seems good.
Hermione? Well, I am a bit of know-it-all but she is too recent. If I included all the children’s characters I have grown to love as an adult, it would be impossible. Also I suspect Hermione will be very popular – as will delightful bookworm Matilda.
Eowyn? I think that’s cheating. OK I read LOTR when I was still a child but she’s not really a children‘s character. So how about Alan Garner’s Susan? Could be – I was utterly convinced that a bracelet of my grandmother’s with blue tear-drop stones was a magical talisman – and I’d get two books to inhabit (three if you count ‘Boneland’).
What about the other Susan – Narnian queen and healer ? Well, putting aside The Problem of Susan for another day, she does get four books to go at – but she is a bit of a bystander. I feel like that with Jane Drew in ‘The Dark is Rising’ books – I don’t really remember her that well.
That goes for many others – and I won’t pick ones I only really know from films or TV. Princess Eilonwy from The Chronicles of Prydain is too pretty, and so too is Princess Irene. Never could be doing with that. I will admit to fancying a few ‘baddies’ , though. Empress Jadis of Charn – who wouldn’t want to be remembered this way?
But she was a dem fine woman, sir, a dem fine woman.
That’s grown up me speaking, I suspect. Still, I’m far more fond of Captain Hook than Tinker Bell or Wendy – though I do have soft spot for Tiger Lily. She used bow-and-arrows in my mind – and how marvellous was that?
Of course, I can gender-swap. That gives me Kay Harker and Eustace Scrubb. Yes I know – Eustace is a complete prig – but he gets to be a dragon and learns his lesson. I’ve always loved that. I can identify with the miseries and misfits – Eeyore, Puddleglum, Bard the Bowman [though he gets a bit grand].
Well, time has run out. I have made my choice. If you’re at the Agents Party, you’ll know. If not, I will reveal all tomorrow.
There has been quite a bit of uproar about Richard Dawkins supposed opinions on Fairy tales and their effect on children.
Do listen to https://audioboo.fm/boos/2226602-richard-dawkins-fairy-tales-can-be-beneficial-for-children to hear what Richard Dawkins actually said on Radio 4 and if you want some silly fun, follow
#DawkinsKidsBooks on Twitter.
I don’t intend to comment on over-simplified reporting or whether Mr Dawkins stirred up controversy for the sake of notoriety – whilst these are interesting topics, this is a blog about writing after all.
What I do want to do is to celebrate the love for fairy tales and fantasy I share with thousands of others – and to think about why this is a good thing.
First of all, stories must entertain – and stories with magic of one sort or another can absolutely enthrall both children and adults. The glorious inventiveness of, say Catherynne M.Valente or Frances Hardinge, uses enchantment to engage. We delight in sheer ingenuity – and that I think has much to do with Einstein’s point of view.
Secondly, all stories that last act as settings for things we hold precious. They let us experience the results of hope and courage, love and steadfastness for example. They teach, more or less obviously through fable, and the wonder of the fairytale world helps us remember what we learned all the more.
Of course, realistic fiction can do this too – but for those with a taste for the extra-ordinary, characters like Iorek Byrnisson or Eowyn thrill us more. There’s more connection with these invented characters, their largeness and other-worldliness gives us space to explore ideas and emotions.
My third and final point is more contentious. The first two could be agreed with by the most ardent rationalist – unless they regard all fiction as irresponsible lies.
However, I do hold with ‘there are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy’. It is the storyteller’s role to leave room for the numinous. My experience is that the deepest, most treasured parts of human life cannot be measured, weighed, dissected or rationalised – and the wisest stories allow for this.
It should remain for the reader to explore how much is metaphor or magic – and how much is ‘real’.
I leave the last word to Joanne Harris via Katherine Langrish’s excellent blog Seven Miles of Steel Thistles.
A story can bring down a government; or steal away a child’s heart; or build a religion; or just make us see the world differently. Storytellers come and go, but stories never die. And if that isn’t magic, then I don’t know what is.
A shameless variation on Janet Potter’s great idea found here.
Are you stuck for an idea?
Do your settings lack oomph?
Could your characters do with a fillip?
Still using the same old phrases?
LOOK NO FURTHER-
the solution is at hand…
The best answer I know is in reading:
Please enjoy a snigger at my ‘shelfie’ whilst I write.
Normal blogposts will resume in due course…