Quill and Quire

Book news

« Back to

A bit of the old ultraviolence: kids’ edition

What’s missing from children’s books? Earnest messages about the evils of bullying and the importance of tolerance? Stories that build sensitivity for other cultures and races? Books that inculcate a sense of history?

Not according to children’s author Ted Dewan. In Dewan’s mind there’s one thing missing from most kids’ books: violence.

Dewan notes that children, and boys in particular, often produce violent images in their own artwork, but these images rarely make it into kidlit. To redress this, Dewan’s new book, One True Bear, will include pictures, drawn by children, of images “that don’t get put up on the fridge.” The BBC reports that “[t]hese primary school children’s line drawings include battlefield scenes, planes dropping bombs, people shooting each other, tanks, someone impaled on a spike, buildings on fire and a clown with limbs pulled off.” The article continues:

It’s not some kind of Tarantino for toddlers. It’s a moral tale of how a self-sacrificing teddy bear wins the affections of a violent boy. The bear’s gruff generosity redeems the angry youngster. And almost all the illustrations are soothingly traditional, with these grittier images kept in the background.

Dewan’s book will no doubt elicit a flurry of objections from well-meaning parents wishing to shelter their children from the psychological effects of violent images. But according to Michael Thompson, the American author of Raising Cain: The Emotional Life of Boys, these fears are unfounded:

“There is no connection between writing violent stories and committing violence. If you write violent stories, you are not going to end up in jail, you are going to end up in Hollywood writing action movies.”


May 25th, 2009

11:56 am

Category: Book news

Tagged with: children's books