Wednesday 16 July 2008

Children's Books: Dissed through the Years

I was discussing writing with a good friend the other day, how I felt every novel I completed was practice towards the next one. His well-meaning response was:

And then when you're ready, you can write an adult novel.

Sigh. An adult novel is always a possibility (maybe when I'm 80 and thinking about oldie stuff) but writing for children is as tough and as deserving of regard as writing for adults and no way is it a little league trial before moving on to the big league. I think.

Which leads me to this great article from the New Yorker which I found signposted on the Achuka blog (thanks, Achuka!) - a must read for all who love books for children.

It is the story of the clash between EB White (Stuart Little, Charlotte's Web) and the legendary librarian/critic Anne Carol Moore (1871 to 1961), to whom the world owes the elevation of children's books to a status that deserved bespoke libraries and book reviews. And yet she subscribed to children's books as twee, cute, sentimental and worthy objects.

EB White described their quarrel thus:
Children can sail easily over the fence that separates reality from make-believe. They go over it like little springboks. A fence that can throw a librarian is as nothing to a child.
It was a tough business then, it's an even tougher business now - speaking of which, I have just been asked to do more work on one of my manuscripts. Argh!

All ye who are near despair over their manuscripts can take heed of this poster I've just put up on my study wall:
Keep Calm and Carry On.


  1. and bask in the joy of knowing that someone thinks it's worth working on

  2. Total sympathy on the rewrite, Candy, at that point myself but it is fun and I think Sue might be right! :)


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