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The Controversial Childrens Novel Junk English Books Essay

Whilst assault and evil have long made an appearance in children's books, it is merely recently that widespread violence, including the treatment of the Holocaust within the Youngster in the Striped Pyjamas (Boyne), has been accepted as important in teaching children and young people about the greater sinister aspects of human dynamics. In his 2005 article, Kenneth B. Kidd explains that the treatment of such events in children's literature is now necessary because "we no longer have the blissful luxury of denying the lifetime of or postponing the child's confrontation of bad" (Kidd 121). Moustakis (1982) argues that reading books containing assault can help children to come to non-violent answers to hurdles in their own lives. She promises that in fairy tales, for example, the monsters represent a child's own 'internal monsters' and can allow them to "vicariously learn them" (Moustakis 30); she also echoes Favat's beliefs, saying that the "story book grips justice and retribution in a fashion that young children understand" (Moustakis 29). Kristine Miller (2009) facilitates this view, attesting that war fiction can also speak a wholesome way to deal with conflict. War can be an undeniable part of our world, always relevant, and warfare fiction, Miller argues "helps viewers to think constructively about a world being damaged" (Miller 273).

The realities and implications of warfare and politics oppression are fundamental styles of Beverley Naidoo's The Other Part of Fact (2000). Following the assassination of their mother, Sade and Femi are forced to flee Nigeria to seek asylum Great britain. Separated from their journalist daddy, and discontinued in London with no money and nowhere going, Naidoo promises her novel aspires to "reveal the impact of the wider contemporary society and its own politics on the lives of young individuals" (Naidoo). Following a traumatic series of events, the children are positioned with delicate foster parents, and then discover that their father has been caught, detained and is also facing deportation. Written in the third person, and told from Sade's point of view, the novel contrasts the children's encounters in London with the old life in Nigeria and their objectives of England based on BBC World Service broadcasts. The contrasts between the two countries are shown in the treatment that Sade and Femi get at the hands of the kids at school, the strangers they meet in London, and the welfare and interpersonal systems; and support Naidoo's notion that the world of refugees in Britain "is largely submerged under public indifference and significantly overt hostility" (Naidoo, Carnegie Medal popularity speech).

The major theme of the book is suggested by the name and has a number of interpretations; a person's view of the world predicated on their own framework; the distinction between Sade and Femi's middle-class perspective of themselves in the politically oppressed Nigeria versus the racism that they face in Britain; and perhaps the most important within the novel - Sade's moral struggle between her received knowing that "Truth helps to keep the palm cleaner than soap" (Naidoo 74), and the realisation that her father's truth-telling led, inadvertently, to her mother's fatality, and their consequent struggles in Britain. As the oldest sibling, Sade has to believe the 'parental role', making the decisions regarding what information she'll tell the specialists to get help, whilst at the same time trying to protect herself, her brother, and her daddy. Her surrender to deception and lies weighs heavily after her, and is particularly noticeable in her dread and disgust after her theft of the lighter from Miriam's uncle's shop, particularly in light of Mariam's revelations about her past. It is not before children find that their daddy is alive and in London that they commence to experience some sort of serenity, although their desires are quickly dimmed by the data that he is on hunger reach and encounters deportation back again to Nigeria. The novel's finish, whilst not the simplistic 'happy-ever-after' is nevertheless, positive, and is a direct result of Sade's conviction and decision to share with 'her fact'. As Jana Giles records, the note of the book is apparently that non-violent alternatives are the answer, quoting Folarin's comment in his letter to his children that "We must dare in order to. Across the oceans of your energy, words are mightier than swords" (Naidoo 193). With her books, Naidoo tries to encourage children to examine the "the historical, social, [and] politics context", hoping that they will begin not only to question "'What may happen next?' but 'Why is this happening'" (Naidoo, An Interview with Beverley Naidoo). Naidoo's comments on her literature appear to reveal Falconer's beliefs, though on a more world-wide scale; while Falconer seems to limit her commentary to the reality of the expected reader, Naidoo aims to address the wider reality of the "moral real human universe" (Naidoo, A Writer's Quest: Retracing 'The Other Part of Real truth' 340).

The issue over what is suitable materials for children's books is "one of the oldest and most active" (Reynolds 88). Previously highly traditional in content, modern times have seen an increase in the amount of books offer with "sex, death, sin and prejudice, and good and evil are not nicely separated but mixed up in the mixed up and often turbulent feelings of the central personas themselves" (Appleyard 100). In his article, Melvin Burgess admits that Rubbish was an "experiment", describing that he sensed there to be always a lack of literature that would 'speak' to "real" teens (Burgess). Like Naidoo, Burgess strived for "authenticity", knowing that the publication was likely to have a "rough ride" (Burgess), and regardless of the criticism, Junk went on to succeed the Guardian Fiction Prize and the Carnegie Medal.

Junk is certainly completely different from the portrayal of children by earlier writers like Ransome. The book focuses on two 14-year-old heroin lovers; David, who have for years, been guarding his alcoholic mom from his abusive father, and Gemma, who yearns for trip and get away from from her oppressive parents "They had no doubt in any way that unless my life was made as unpleasant as is possible, I'd be considered a junkie whore by midnight. " (Burgess, Rubbish 65). Gemma's attitude is within stark distinction to for example, Wendy's self-confident opinion that her mom would always leave the window open for her (Barrie 4. 1). Both Gemma and David desire freedom, however, not the freedom of your innocent childhood, rather the perceived freedom of early adulthood; "It was. . . being on my own, having an excursion. Yeah. It had been life. A huge, fat slice of life. " (Burgess, Junk 69) That Gemma is merely able to experience this excitement by giving her parents is sadly ironic, and, means that perhaps such excitement can't be found within child years, only by leaving it back of.

After a short third-person narrative in the first section, Junk is composed of the individual testimonies of the personas, with Gemma and 'Tar' taking approximately half of the chapters. This form of first person narrative, known as "immediate-engaging-first-person narration" (Schwenke-Wyile 185), allows the narrative to be more seductive and revealing because the narrating agent and the focalizer will be the same (Schwenke-Wyile 188-189). Whilst Junk doesn't openly condemn drug use or prostitution, Burgess' use of irony and the contradictions between your individuals' testimonies, expose the truth about the events of the book and the consequences those occasions have on the people. Burgess depends on his readers' ability to "make a moral judgement" (Burgess, Sympathy for the Devil 319), alternatively than lecturing, which he says teenagers "get enough of at college" (Burgess, Sympathy for the Devil 319). Whilst Burgess would like to avoid lecturing his visitors, his desire for authenticity in his novels, and his reputation for "honest writing" (Burgess, Sympathy for the Devil 316), claim that he still wants to teach them. This is reminiscent both of Beverley Naidoo's intentions when writing The Other Side of Fact, and of Rachel Falconer's belief that children's literature should "address the reality of their lives".

There is some controversy over whether or not historical fiction can addresses contemporary issues; Coram Boy however, can be an exemplory case of historical fiction that deals with issues such as competition, abandonment, and even teenage pregnancy. As Ringrose highlights, in showing that children of days gone by endured injustice, it indicates similar injustices are experienced by today's children, and furthermore, in reading the novel, a child "would find out much about eighteenth-century Britain" (Ringrose 359). Coram Youngster exposes viewers to the stark variations between the lives of the children of wealthy aristocrats, those blessed to the lower classes, and the bleak certainty of the lives of orphaned children. Through Gavin's heroes, the interpersonal injustices of eighteenth-century Britain are disclosed; children empty to perish, sold into slavery or the military services; the contrast between the opportunities open to children of the wealthy aristocrats versus those of the low classes; the mistreatment of mentally-challenged individuals; racial discrimination. Slavery may now be unlawful, but almost all of these issues continue being relevant today. Gavin promises that historical fiction can permit writers to "explore events, issues, interactions or situations, which sometimes can be much easier to deal with when removed from a contemporary context. " (Gavin 363) Coram Young man allows visitors to compare their own culture recover of Britain in the eighteenth century and in doing this means that whilst culture may have advanced; you may still find many things that need to be performed. As Ringrose attests, "Jamila Gavin brings to Coram Young man a modern curiosity about difference, contest and justice" (Ringrose 361).

One of the issues with historical fiction, especially for children, is historical correctness. Gavin believes that "First of all, a author of fiction is showing a story, so sometimes, intentionally or unintentionally, precision may not be as detailed as it would be in non-fiction" (Gavin 365), and uses this to justify some of her 'stretched truths' and 'distorted facts' (Gavin 366). The usage of narrative sharing with in Coram Boy is also significant with regards to evaluating the way the historical period is portrayed. The majority of the situations are narrated in the third-person, and indirect speech is favoured over direct conversation. These techniques improve the consistency and objectivity of the narrative, implying that the book is an profile of historical event rather than a work of fiction. The nominal use of immediate speech may be an attempt to avoid the condition of people' period speech which can result in inconsistencies, such as Melissa's modern-day consumption of the expression "hanging out" as opposed to Isobel's past comment that Otis has "such too little value in his bearing" (Gavin, Coram Youngster 129). The consequence of such inaccuracies in a novel is open to question; if, as Falconer feels, literature should focus on the 'truth' of children's lives, then is 'poetic licence' justified as a means to a finish - should it matter if the history is accurate so long as the problems are relevant?

Much of the books produced for children today has relocated away from the Romantic notion of childhood, which change is largely due to the way the entire world is today; significantly urban, with a growth in criminal offense rates (House of Commons) and drop in familial support systems. 'Years as a child' can be an 'umbrella term' and will not reflect the average person, as Peter Hunt argues that it is vital that "the inevitable variety of child years and childhoods is acknowledged in its real visitors, and it variability as a cultural and commercial engineering is acknowledged in the texts" (Hunt 23). With such variety and variability then, the 'truth' of young people's lives must surely be subjective, since each individual child encounters things, and reacts to these experience in their own way. Whilst I agree with Rachel Falconer's assertion, and think that children should find out the reality about the planet in which they live, I feel that Slayton has better conveyed my opinion: "to avoid in children's literature anything that children neglect to avoid or cannot avoid in their own lives is to do them a considerable disservice" (Slayton).

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