Sunday, July 02, 2006

Children's literature

During the last federal election campaign, fellow blogger James Bow invited his readers to forecast the results. As it turned out, I came fourth in the contest, and, as a prize, James generously sent me a copy of his just-published novel for young people, The Unwritten Girl. The story is a clever fantasy about a girl who must enter the Land of Fiction in order to rescue her brother from mental illness, and who, in the process, ends up learning about herself and about life. Bow writes well and the story has the ingredients of good children's literature: it has a moral, but the moral is integral to the story and doesn't get in the way of what is likely to prove a satisfying adventure for the young reader. I understand that this is James Bow's first published fiction as a professional; I'm sure it won't be his last. All those unwritten books of his look promising.

Speaking of books for young people, I also recommend just about anything by Kit Pearson. My particular favourite by her is Awake and Dreaming, a terrific story with vividly drawn characters, which blends fantasy and realism, and which won the Governor General's Award. Moreover, much of it is set just around the corner (literally, around two corners) from where I live. Another novel with a local setting, this one a historical fantasy, is White Jade Tiger by Julie Lawson. Travelling further afield, to the exotic U.S.A., there's the absolutely gripping quartet by Caroline B. Cooney that begins with The Face on the Milk Carton.

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