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When I arrived to pick up my son up from school last Wednesday, I found him sitting with his nose firmly buried in a new novel. I had to guide him through the packed parking lot to the car as he refused to stop reading long enough to manoeuvre himself, and there was none of the bickering between him and his sister that normally punctuated the afternoon car drive home.
“Mommy,” he said, “I have to have this whole series!”
I frowned when I took my first look at the book. The cover was not a typical children’s book cover. I actually don’t recall the details, but it was a subtle illustration, more like the cover of a Tom Clancy or Michael Connelly novel than the books to which he was accustomed to reading. I quickly turned it over and noted with relief that it had won a children’s award. I read the blurb and was surprised at the level of adventure, action and intrigue which the author purported to have fit into his children’s novel.
I read sections of the book and, although it was like no children’s book I had ever read, it was certainly appropriate. I realised at that moment that children’s authors sometimes behave like parents. We don’t want to acknowledge that our children (whether natural ones or our readers) must grow up and if we want to maintain our relationship with them, we have to keep pace with the level of stimulation to which our children are exposed today and which they have come to expect.
It was an eye opener to me, and a discovery which will certainly impact my future writing.