… from a trio of kid lit apologists, which I had jotted down during a course on children’s publishing and just found again. Right up there with finding money in the couch!
“These days, the place where you find the best stories is in children’s books, not in adult books. And by stories I mean stories, as opposed to obscure, postmodern exercises in whatever.”
-Peter Carver, children’s editor at Red Deer Press
“A YA novel [is simply a novel that is] concerned with the basic building blocks of adolescence. That’s very fertile ground for a writer. I am still obsessed with many of those things. They haunt me.”
-Susan Juby, author of Canadian teen lit
Children need the dark materials of fairy tales because they need to make sense—in a symbolic, displaced way—of their own feelings of anger, resentment, and powerlessness. Children also benefit from learning about violence and brutishness in fairy tales, Bettelheim writes, for it counters the “widespread refusal to let children know that the source of much that goes wrong in our life is due to our natures—the propensity of all men for acting aggressively, asocially, selfishly.” Many fairy tales—and most of Dahl’s work—are complex narratives of wish fulfillment. They teach the reader, Bettelheim writes, that “a struggle against severe difficulties in life is unavoidable, is an intrinsic part of human existence—but if one does not shy away, but steadfastly meets unexpected and often unjust hardships, one masters all obstacles and at the end emerges victorious.” Or, in any case, this is a hopeful fantasy which sustains us all.
-Margaret Talbot, The New Yorker