Saturday, February 16, 2013

It is not the book's fault...

I have been bleating on too much recently so it's time to go a foraging in the interweb for some juicy links for you'all. This lovely piece in the Guardian by Oliver Jeffers about picture books and influences (thank you to The Children's Bookshop Wellington for the link) makes the very sensible point that picture books are books with pictures. They are not necessarily just for children (although children generally know a good thing when they see it). There are many picture books I have bought myself and enjoyed reading many times without a child involved. The best picture books can work on multiple levels, have twists and revelations and evoke a deeper understanding or emotional response. Or they just make me smile, or laugh or prod at my heart a little. They can enlighten, satisfy and uplift better than many tomes of adult literature. Not every picture book achieves this, but there are plenty that do. People who suggest picture books must be the easiest of all literature to write are people who don't really read picture books. But that is not the books fault.

Of course many writers and readers and the public in general believe children's and young adult's books cannot be as complex or sophisticated as adult books. I have examined this issue on my blog before. Fab writer Jane Bloomfield drew my attention to this blog post by Cathy Butler at An Awfully Big Blog Adventure which discusses what makes books complex and how adult and children's fiction measure up. My biggest question is why there is an 'us and them' kind of attitude in the first place - not Cathy Butler but the adults who like to dismiss children's literature as automatically less complex/inferior in the first place. It is a defensive posture and those adults guilty of this behaviour might like to examine the motives for their arguments. A good book is a good book irrespective of the age of its readers. Dismissing literature read primarily by children as automatically simple and naturally inferior dismisses the readers as well. Some adults don't seem to remember they were ever children, or how complex and smart they were as youngsters. Its kind of funny really. Actually, now I come to think about it, that might make a good picture book.

1 comment:

Jane Bloomfield said...

Your last para has made me think of a few good one liners for the naysayers. You know mid grade mystery series are the new next best thing? Book Two, Sally Bangle?