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War in children’s literature

April 28, 2011

Carrie's War

Books for Keeps have an article I just stumbled across (see Books for Keeps No. 187), in which the author writes:

“War has long been a favourite setting for British children’s books: it offers ready opportunities to ‘get rid of the adults’ and provides child protagonists with a chance to put both courage and integrity to the test. The historical background often plays to our penchant for nostalgia while yielding endless possibilities for adventure and excitement, joy and sorrow. More than that, the child protagonists caught up in war are ordinary people, just like their readers; their plight readily fires imaginations young and old alike. ”

[Kate Agnew ‘Once upon a wartime: classic war stories for children exhibition’]

There’s something to be said for these ideas … they’re worth considering critically alongside books about war/violent conflict anyway…. do they apply to books like Maurice Gee’s O series?

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