Did we make it?

I think we did.  In the news: Australian fantasy writer, and winner of the 1984 Boston Globe-Horn Book Award (for A Little Fear), Patricia Wrightson has died. More happily, Hans Christian Andersen awards have been won by David Almond (also a BGHB winner, for The Fire Eaters) for writing and Jutta Bauer for illustration (although I suspect Ms. Bauer is somewhat older than the fifteen years the IBBY site would have her be!).

More later–but a question about Wrightson, and Mayne and Garner: still read by kids? In the U.S. at least, these three were more critics’ darlings than popular favorites but I still wonder how they’ve stood up amidst the great wash of fantasy published in the last decade. It’s much more of a populist genre than before, yes?

share save 171 16 Did we make it?
Roger Sutton About Roger Sutton

Roger Sutton has been the editor in chief of The Horn Book, Inc, since 1996. He was previously editor of The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books and a children's and young adult librarian. He received his M.A. in library science from the University of Chicago in 1982 and a B.A. from Pitzer College in 1978. Follow him on Twitter: @RogerReads.

Comments

  1. >My kids loved The Nargun and the Stars.

    Thank you Patricia Wrightson.

  2. >I doubt if any children in the UK have heard of Patricia Wrightson. A friend of mine who was a children's librarian some years ago is the only person I know who has read her books. I've never seen them on any shop or library shelf.

    William Mayne is generally not known in the last couple of generations of children, and his books are rarely on shelves – partly because of his conviction for child molestation. Those who were children in the late 80's/90's would remember a TV serialisation of his book Earthfasts, and a tie-in reprint was available which appears often in second-hand and charity shops. This is the only book of his likely to be found in bookshops.

    …I have just checked his name on Wikipedia and it states there that Mayne actually died two days ago, March 24th 2010…?!

    Alan Garner's books can all mostly be found in shops but I suspect few children have read any of them. I suggested a school bookgroup I assist with, read The Moon of Gomrath and Weirdstone of Brisingamen but few of the children liked the books: judged "too hard a read" or boring. Fantasy seems to come in a different package these days.

  3. Peni R. Griffin says:

    >I didn't discover Patricia Wrightson till I was in college (when I loved her). I would find her books in the paperback F/SF sections of bookstores and the children's room of the local library, which didn't have a YA department back then. And though I read Alan Garner when I was young, he was one of those authors I could feel stretching my brain in odd places and when I found that I couldn't read his more recent stuff at all, I blamed it on my trading in some mental flexibility for other benefits as I matured. Face it, Garner's style and thematic concerns require a certain amount of intellectual work. That makes great literature but doesn't appeal to the lowest-common-denominator that drives great sales.

    I think the question is, did the majority of kids ever read these authors? Weren't they always a specialist taste? The same kinds of kids will read these books now as read the books "then" – if they can find them. Almost every book ever written gets crowded onto the backburner sooner or later. That's to be regreted but I don't see how it's to be prevented, and the same thing will happen to today's authors.

  4. Anonymous says:

    >I think that if the books were presented to readers, by which I mean the children and young adults who really like to read and read a wide range of books, then they would still have their tiny market segment in perpetuity.

    I'm sorry to hear about Mayne. I think because I am sorry to hear anything about Mayne. I wonder if his books will have a renaissance now that their author is dead?

  5. Anonymous says:

    >I think that if the books were presented to readers, by which I mean the children and young adults who really like to read and read a wide range of books, then they would still have their tiny market segment in perpetuity.

    I'm sorry to hear about Mayne. I think because I am sorry to hear anything about Mayne. I wonder if his books will have a renaissance now that their author is dead?

    antse

  6. Anonymous says:

    >whoops. Sorry about the double post.

  7. Charlotte says:

    >My kids love William Mayne's Hob stories, and Alan Garner's fairy tales. But it's not as though they chose them for themselves, and these are a different kettle of fish from middle grade fantasies.

Speak Your Mind

*