How does an author make a subject as brutal as war appeal to a child?*sigh*
Only a modern BBC employee could possibly consider that a dilemma. War stories have been enthralling children for years. Even the article can’t get away from the fact that ‘Carrie’s War’ and ‘The Diary of Anne Frank’ have been popular children’s classics for decades.
But there has to be a modern angle, so the Beeb can push this new Imperial War Museum exhibition:
A new exhibition suggests young readers today get a less sanitised version of the horrors of warfare, says Sanchia Berg of BBC Radio 4's Today programme.Really?
The Imperial War Museum in London has a new exhibition, Once Upon a Wartime, which illustrates a shift in the way war has been depicted to young readers, and brings five novels to life.Interesting! Go on, then…
Geoff Fox, a consultant to the exhibition, remembers reading books and comics about war during the 1950s. "The children's books I used to read, we always won - often with a 'straight to the jaw'. Death, if it was there, was no different from a cowboy shooting an Indian, as we used to say."Ah. I see where this is going…
Now, he says, death is described in detail. Subjects once considered taboo for children are now the topics of many books, even the Holocaust. The Final Journey by Gudrun Pausewang takes place almost entirely in a cattle truck with families going to Auschwitz, and spares the readers nothing, says Fox.Those are all good novels. They do all deal with it responsibly. So what’s the problem?
He says children are far more "acculturated" now to violence, through the films and television they watch, and the computer games they play. "What's important is to deal with it in a very good novel, responsibly."
However, not all books have age guidance, the equivalent of film certification for children's literature.Ah. Right. Parents need to worry, damn it! And the progressives are going to make sure they do.
Some parents may worry whether their own children really are able to deal with the detail of wartime violence, or whether it will give them nightmares.
Mumsnet are going to love this one, aren’t they?