In which Annie (high school teacher, mother of two young girls and a younger boy) and her aunt Deborah (children's bookseller, mother of two young women in their 20s) discuss children's books and come up with annotated lists.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Beyond action and intrigue

Dear Annie,

I'm so glad you mentioned Brat Farrar. I'm quite fond of it.  Our 16 year-old in question had already read it.  He's definitely been wandering into more complex literature, away from the thrillers.  Books he's read recently include:

  • Slam by Nick Hornby, about a 15 year-old father, which appeared on here back in December.

  • The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian
    , a  funny and moving story of a boy who's the first from his reservation to go to the white kids' school 22 miles away.  It's a diary full of drawings and wonderful writing.  An example of the art:

(Click on illustration to be able to read it.)

  • I've mentioned Godless by Pete Hautman before, but it's so good, I'm doing it again.   It's about a boy from a Catholic family who with his friends invents a religion centered on the local water tower: the Ten-legged God.  Her are the first four stanzas (chapters? verses?) of the religion's text:

In the beginning was the Ocean.  And the Ocean was alone.
And the Ocean did not know where it ended or where it began, and so it created Time.  And the Ocean passed through Time.
Still, the Ocean was alone in Time, and Time was endless, and so the Ocean drew in upon itself and became finite, a writhing ball of water and foam surrounded by nothingness.  And the Ocean Passed through Time and Space.  But the Ocean was still alone.
The Ocean created Land, so that it did not have always to be with itself.  And it cast off fiery bits of itself to light the sky, and it created Wind, and it filled itself with tiny nodes of Energy called Life.  And still it passed through Time and Space, but now it was not so alone.

So why doesn't anyone worship water?

The story of this boy who went from resisting reading to thrillers to much better-written novels with complex realistic characters added a new chapter the other day in the store.  His mother and I discussed many different books, but the one that caught her eye -- and she's been reading his changing taste for some years now -- was The Knife of Never Letting Go, the first in the Chaos Walking trilogy about which you and I have both written.  It's extremely well-written science fiction.  It fits in the progression this young man is going through into more complex language and plots, but for him, as for the characters in the book, it's a whole new world.  An excellent reminder that there's so much to discover out there, especially when you're a book-hungry 16 year-old.  I hope they come back to visit again next year.



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