Children's Literature Discussion
"The history that makes us wish fairy tales did happen, that life were
like a children's book and we all lived happily ever after, is not an
easy history to read or write. If we persist in thinking that children
need hope and happy endings then the stories we give them about the
Holocaust will be shaped by those expectationsâ€¦ For there are those
who would tell us yet another fairy tale, one in which the mass murder
of millions of people did not happen I know that it did, and I know
that we need to find ways to tell children."
(Kertzer, 1999, p.253)
Children's literature continues to inspire both children and adults,
and more recently while doing so, has prompted questions to emerge
concerning the appropriateness of particular content. When adults
begin to delve beyond the pastel coloured, cheery fairy-tales and
nursery rhymes into something deeper the realism they discover becomes
disquieting. Should children be permitted to read and immerse
themselves in illustrations of soldiers, concentration camps and
bombs? Should young people be dwelling upon and receptive to concepts
of war and violence through literature? The manner, which authors
explore and attempt to depict these sensitive and graphic issues such
as acts of violence and war, comes into question when a microscope is
placed over such contemporary and historical children's literature.
However, the answers seem to be unattainable or non-existent until the
stories are examined closely.
Analysis into junior fiction classified as 'Realism literature'
reveals an array of contradicting opinions and perspectives given by
academics, critics and the like. A critical perspective will be
gathered within this paper by examining and evaluating closely a
selection of writings, these include Roberto Innocenti and Christophe
Gallaz's "Rose Blanche", Gary Crew and Shaun Tan's "Memorial" and "My
Dog" by John Heffernan and Andrew Mclean. When analysing the
respective narratives a range of critical and enlightening issues will
be broached including the outcomes, values and perspectives which are
raised within the stories through concepts of hope, second chances,
misery or new beginnings. In addition to these queries the value of
these books for children, which integrate depictions of war and
violence within both illustrations and text, will be investigated.
Innocenti's "Rose Blanche" is written in a manner whereby the
protagonist's character develops into something which is admirable,
lovable and self-sacrificing, all of which seem to be often foreign
elements within the nature of many children in today's well fed
society. The violence that she experiences in her hometown blossoms a
wary curiosity and traces of foreboding trepidation, the impact upon
her life is displayed in a form one may find difficult to define as
positive or negative. Rose's approach to the war and acts of violence
which surrounds her environment...