Saturday, 29 June 2013

Children's Writing

 by Ashley Lister

 I spent a good chunk of last year lecturing on the subject of Children’s Writing. It was a lot of fun because I was working with some very talented writers and we were discussing classic children’s literature as well as contemporary material.

Classic titles will undoubtedly be important to all readers but it’s the contemporary stuff that I’d like to recommend here today.

Obviously the Harry Potter books deserve a recommendation. They’re too good and too iconic in their representation of contemporary British children’s literature to be missed.
I’d also say that The Hunger Games trilogy (by Suzanne Collins) should be read because they’re exciting and fun in their narrative construction. (I need to put in a small note here and admit, by the end of book three, I wanted President Snow to shoot Katniss Everdeen and maybe hack her corpse into small pieces – but I’m probably not the ideal reader that Suzanne Collins envisioned when she wrote these books).

However, my favourite series at the moment has to be Derek Landy’s Skulduggery Pleasant books.  According to Wikipedia:

“Skulduggery Pleasant is a series of fantasy novels written by Irish author Derek Landy. The books chronicle the adventures of the skeleton detective, Skulduggery Pleasant and a teenage girl, Stephanie Edgley along with other friends.

And, if this sounds too childish and surreal to be of any interest, consider the following examples from the first book in the series:

He put on his hat and wrapped his scarf around his jaw, but did without the wig and the sunglasses. He clicked his key chain and the car beeped and the doors locked.
"That's it?"
He looked up. "Sorry?"
"Aren't you afraid it might get stolen? We're not exactly in a good part of town."
"It's got a car alarm."
"Don't you, like, cast a spell or something? To keep it safe?"
"No. It's a pretty good car alarm.”

Derek Landy, Skulduggery Pleasant

“It's really not as bad as it sounds. I was attacked by a shark once, back when I was alive. Well, not so much a shark as a rather large fish. And not so much attacked as looked at menacingly. But it had murder in its eyes, that fish. I knew, in that instant, if our roles had been reversed and the fish had been holding the fishing pole and I had been the one to be caught, it wouldn't hesitate a moment before eating me. So I cooked it and ate before it had a chance to turn the tables.” 

 Derek Landy, Skulduggery Pleasant


Colin Davies said...

There is definitely a children's book missing from this. Can't think what the title is, something about maths... Nevermind.

Cracking list. I been meaning to read the Skullduggery books.

Lisa McFleeca said...

I'll definitely have to check out Skullduggery as Patrick gets a bit bigger. We are currently on the BFG which is my childhood favourite! Love young adult literature - the Hunger Games books are fab.

The Tomorrow Series by John Marsden is worth checking out, although don't make the mistake and read more than the first 3 books - it gets a bit silly after that.

I'm hungover and have nothing more constructive to say - I enjoyed the post!

Ashley R Lister said...


I did think of including Mathamagical in my list - but I figured you'd be able to mention it :-)

Lisa - Patrick is lucky to have a mum who will be overseeing his allotted measures of quality literature.


vicky ellis said...

Very worthy mention. I recall a rainy afternoon in Liverpool, queueingnin the rain so Raven could get her new Skulduggery signed. She was wearing her Skukduggery sweatshirt that her dad made for her. Derek liked it so much he took a photo and out it on his blog:
His blog is a lot of fun and he really seems to care about his readers. He'd answer Raven's questions when she wrote to him. In short, great writer, top bloke.

Ashley R Lister said...

Fantastic picture. And the quote is perfect: "Doors are for people with no imagination."

I'm really looking forward to Last Stand of Dead Men - the eighth book in the series.


Colin Davies said...

I think I'll by buying this series come payday. With such high recommendation, it just has to be done.