A CHILDREN’S STORY

After the impressive and serious minded children’s author Michael Murpugo did his report today on children in the Gaza strip for Newsnight, I thought about something on Sebastian Faulk’s rather limited series on the novel. It was Martin Amis, sallow and precise in his own intelligence about himself, telling Faulks he could never write a ‘children’s book’, unless he had been somehow brain damaged, because for him language and the novel represents ‘freedom’. I quite understand that journey far beyond ‘childhood’, but he clearly does not understand the journey of so many committed ‘children’s authors’, often not placing themselves in that category at all, or their attempt to bridge the psychic worlds of childhood and adulthood. In that is an attempt to guide imaginatively towards adulthood, and to address the losses and challenges that are the very nature of fantasy fiction, because they are the challenge of imagination and freedom too, versus adult ‘reality’, responsibility and death. Murpugo’s report was moving, sad, and may have failed to address the problem of Palestinian children being used as suicide bombers, as well as the devastation the Israeli army has wreaked, or naturally inheriting the ideologies, hatreds and resentments of their parents. He did sensitively touch on that deepest instinct of children to play and connect, and how in the future it is protecting that idealism that may be a road to human peace. DCD

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