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Children’s literature and place II

July 9, 2010 Leave a comment

Is there some kind of connection between good kid’s books and place? Of course, that begs the question what is a ‘good’ kids book. Jacqueline Wilson and Harry Potter are both good, but they did nothing for me.¬† And neither have much place-ness. King’s Cross and a vague Wild North via the Settle-to-Carlisle doesn’t count; the film went further, both in this respect and in fleshing out the paper-thin characters. But my daughter loves both, and rightly says they are good to read to yourself. I think that defines their quality well: perfectly written for a 10-year-old to read to herself, and be totally absorbed in. That’s a real achievement: but they leave me cold and are both nowhere-books.¬†Whereas with Northern Lights, or Mark Haddon’s Boom!, which we’ve just begun, I knew we were off as soon as we left Oxford/Hounslow…