Fuse #8

Monday, July 03, 2006

I'm Sensing Something Here. Something That Rhymes With "Pope".

Oz and Ends once again has come up with a dead-on critique of a children's literature trope that few of us have ever taken the time to notice. Does the phrase, "a sense of hope" mean anything to you? Well try reading descriptions of a kids' book or two and suddenly it's everywhere. I, personally, prefer M.T. Anderson's Boston Globe/Horn Book Honor Acceptance Speech for Feed which is quoted in the piece:

"Yes, I do have hope. Not for the human race--we're doomed--but for the Insect Overlords who will follow us".
Amen to that, brother.
Definitely seek out J.L. Bell's thoughts on the matter.


At 11:44 AM , Anonymous Monica said...

Sense of hope DOES mean something to me. I know it is a trite trope, but I also think it does mean something in terms of kids' literature. See my Katrina Kids child_lit post to see what I mean. I was depressed as hell after touring NOLA on Tuesday, so thank goodness for those hopeful kids I saw last night on Ellerbee's show. M.T. Anderson does have a particularly gloomy outlook (as I've heard him hold forth before --- and, think he is cool even as I don't necessarily stand with him on this). But I don't. And I think kids are by and large hopeful and do think it is an important condition of childhood and, thus, for children's books.

At 12:21 PM , Blogger fusenumber8 said...

All of which I can understand too. Of course, I did find it interesting that you so rarely find this term to describe adult books. As you yourself have pointed out, adults need a sense of hope just as much as the kiddies. So why use the term on children's literature and near to never on adult? Is it because it's considered a juvenile phrase?

At 12:40 PM , Blogger Adrienne said...

Of course, now I'm frantically trying to find the full text of the Anderson speech, but I can't. Some librarian I've turned out to be. If you could give me a pointer...? I just so happen to be rereading Feed right now (and am astonished again at Anderson's command of language in that book -- so good!), so it's particularly timely.

This discussion reminds me of something that one of my writing profs said to me back in the day that's really stuck. He said that writing is an act of faith and that if one truly didn't hold out some hope for humanity, one wouldn't bother, which, the longer I live, seems to me to be very true. And it also seems to me that many adults feel a powerful need to communicate a -- forgive me -- sense of hope to children because they know how very much anyone's sense of hope will be tested in this life and how painful and awful it will be. We want to tell kids that it will all be okay, almost as much as we want and need to believe it ourselves -- so, as with so many things, it all has way more to do with the adults than the kids. Such is the way of things. As Christie Mellor says in The Three-Martini Playdate, we were here first.

At 10:44 AM , Blogger Lone Star Ma said...

That's a hilarious quote. I will try to rein in the platitudes in my reviews(:


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