Today, I had a blog post about grammar planned. It was going to be thrilling, controversial and epic. But then I woke up and saw something. Something that enraged me so much that it was either post, or explode.
This article. This. It's called No More Adventures in Wonderland and it basically mourns the loss of childlike adventure and enchantment in children's stories, and says that children's and young people's fantasies are being edged out by adult anxieties which writers are apparently projecting into reader's brains.
There's so much I'd like to say about the blatant wrong-headedness of this article.
I'd like to ponder how, in one paragraph, the writer can admit that more children and adults are reading today's YA books together than ever before, and then, in her closing paragraph, state that modern children's and YA novels lack the ability to '[bridge] generational divides'.
I'd like to marvel at how can she can praise J.M. Barry's famously twisted, melancholic Peter Pan, apparently without ever noticing its sinister undertones, and then criticise Harry Potter for its darkness and completely miss the colourful, funny, disgusting, WONDERFUL world that J.K. Rowling created and which fills children (and adults!) the world over with smiles and glee ('Alas! Earwax!').
But mostly, I'm just brain-boggled by the fact that she is apparently seriously suggesting that in a world where Suzanne Collins draws her inspiration to write a book about child warriors from news footage about real life child warriors, today's children's writers should try to find out 'what children [want]' by spending lazy afternoons in boats or public parks with the privileged offspring of the wealthiest five or ten percent of the population.
Because, you see, the privileged offspring of the wealthiest five or ten percent of the population are the children we all ought to be writing for. They're the default setting. They're the 'normal' kids. The kids who've seen darkness - death, poverty, abuse, bullying, illness - in their own lives? Well, they're not anything like the writer of the article, are they? They're not like the kids of anyone she knows. They are outside her experience, just a hazy and troubling smudge on the edges of her awareness which it is so much more comforting to ignore.
So they don't count.
What a shame we can't all go back to that halycon Golden Age of civilisation where J.M Barry and Lewis Carroll cavorted in the warm summer sunlight with pink-cheeked infants - real children - while thousands of other children - you know, the ones who didn't count - languished in poorhouses, orphanages and on the streets and probably never learned to read at all, let alone survived to be adults.
Clearly life held so much more:'...redemptive beauty, cathartic humor and healing magic' back then.