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The appeal of children's books

I have just read Jeannie of White Peak Farm by Berlie Doherty, and liked it a lot.  I tried to analyse what its appeal was for me, since it is quite a simple book, though well written and I see she has won the Carnegie Prize at least twice.  

I quite like children's books, but normally find them lacking something, but this one I would rate highly.  It is set on a farm in the Peak District, and since I am a farmer's daughter and we have stayed in Sheffield for a while, that is no doubt some of its appeal.  But the books it reminded me a little of were the books I read as a child - the Anne books and perhaps the Katy books and I decided perhaps I specially liked it because it is definitely a book for girls.  Things happen in this book, but it is not full of great adventures, of people having to save themselves from dreadful predicaments or horrid people.  It deals with a family living close together - Grandmother, Aunt, Mother, Father, and four children.  Jeannie is 14 for most of the book and it begins with Gran taking a journey, then friction between the father and children as they want to go their separate ways, and as he has a difficult temperament and later is badly injured in a farm accident, suffering from depression.  

It is a story of growing up and growing away and yet growing together.  I liked it a lot.  

But I don't know that it would be to all your tastes.  So do you still read children's books, and if so, what do they need to hold your attention and interest?  

Cheers, Caro.

I occasionally turn back to some of the books I used to enjoy as a child, but these are invariably adventure books Ė Treasure Island, King Solomonís Mines, The Prisoner of Zenda, etc. And I recently enjoyed re-reading Leon Garfieldís Smith. But other than these, I canít say I have any real interest in childrenís books. Of course, good childrenís writing is a great skill, but itís not really an area of literature that particularly attracts me. If I want a straightforward adventure story, say, then a children's book can fit the bill, but if I want a book that addresses more serious themes, I can't really see why I should turn to children's books in preference to books written with an adult readership in mind.

I know all the evidence is against it (the dissertation, the detailed rundown of my top 20, the fact that I borrowed two more from the library yesterday), but I don't think of myself as a particularly great reader of children's books. As for what I look for in them, it depends on the book. Something like my cherished Marianne Dreams certainly possesses aspects that will appeal as strongly to adults as to children, if not more strongly. Other children's books I love (Emil and the Detectives, maybe?) don't tackle themes likely to engross the adult reader, but I think one can always appreciate a good story well told, and I quite like falling back into the child mindset and not having to think too hard about things. I find children's books are a good antidote to the stuff I normally read. Unlike Himadri I find adventure books by and large the least appealing genre, though I suppose a lot of my favourites have aspects of adventure, albeit in the context of a more recognisable world.
mike js

Hello Caro. I do like reading children's books occasionally.

At times when I have lacked apparent energy or interest for reading fiction, I have sometimes been happy to read something aimed at younger readers. I suspect there is a kind of comfort there for me, and I have worried that I am retreating from adult reality. But I suppose all my reading of fiction is such a retreat anyway.

Certainly, with a book like Marianne Dreams, there can be something deeply affecting for a reader of an age. Thanks to Gareth for recommending this brilliant, haunting story.

I wonder if many stories for children are written from an adult viewpoint; with an adult protagonist. I guess most deal mostly with the viewpoint of a similar age to the proposed reader. If only for the technical convenience of being able to use appropriate vocabulary (and behaviour!) convincingly.

Bond,junior James Bond

With my son, we have read the Young Bond series. I think they are popular,they do deserve to to be. All the classic cliches of Bond are here,even "la femme fatale". My kid knows nothing of Bond,so it was fun watching his reactions when we were reading the sports contests and when Bond punches the baddy,or delivers a sly put down.I do not know if they appeal to nice to know if any females have read them....whilst sipping a lemonade and lemon stirred!

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