Thursday, August 11, 2005

Children's books

Today the Mobile Library had Margaret Mahy: A Writer's Life by Tessa Duder which I requested ages ago. Even though I have many things to do and other books to read right this minute, I haven't been able to resist dipping into it this afternoon. Maragaret Mahy is one of my favourite New Zealand authors, though she is usually unrecognised by the literati here because she is writes for children and young adults. Pah! Her young adult novels, like Phillip Pullman's, are just as enjoyable, intellectually stimulating and deeply resonant for adults as for teens. I suppose the advantage of this lack of recognition is that she is untainted by the stigma of being required reading in schools - a process that seems to make many books unpalatable in the wrong teacher's hands.

Funny old thing, the stigma attached to anything seen as children's or youth culture. It's like sexism, this derogatory attitude and probably not unrelated to sexism since children are traditionally women's business. I've always liked reading intelligent kids books, and still lurk around the young adult section of the library looking for novels as good as John Marsden's, for example.

A common reaction from people encountering my books is that I should make some for children. I don't think it's stigma that makes me disinterested so much as practicality. My work is so fragile, and so labour-intensive=expensive that there would be even less of a market for children's books than adult books. But I usually respond by asking why should kids have all the cool, fun, creative books? I want to make playful imaginative books for adults who are generally considered too grown up for pop ups and other unusual structures- but show me a single human of any age not entranced by a pop up book?

1 comment:

zydeco fish said...

I think you are quite right. Pop-up books are very cool. Most of ours have been destroyed by the hands of children, however. Still, she loves the monkey with no arms and the swan with no head.