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Rabbit on kiddie lit

06 Feb

The Rabbit has listed and rated the books he is teaching at the moment. Naturally, none of these was on the Cronulla High list back in 1966. I agree with The Rabbit about Midnite, which Randolph Stow was probably writing during 1966! The year before he had published The Merry-go-round in the Sea, not a children’s book, which I do like and have taught from time to time. That book is well worth revisiting; it’s also (along with Maestro by Peter Goldsworthy) worth including in any Year 11 unit looking at Australian culture and values.

I haven’t read the others he mentions, though I have heard of most of them. Holes by Louis Sachar does sound good. I haven’t read Boy Overboard by Morris Gleitzman, but The Rabbit’s severe judgment makes me want to. 😉

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6 responses to “Rabbit on kiddie lit

  1. marcelproust

    February 6, 2007 at 11:38 pm

    I have to say that I have always found Goldsworthy a spectacularly banal and second-rate writer. His libretto to “Batavia” was a shocker, his politics are awful and ‘Maestro’ may be teachable but only because it is so obvious (and don’t start me on the bathetic level of musical culture it deals in). I loved “Midnite” as a child. For a small town, a remarkable range of people have come out of Geraldton, but then, having been there, I can see why they might have wanted to leave. Stow is something of a mystery: he had spectacular early success but seems to have stopped writing years ago. What does he live on? Is it just family money or is this one of those cases where there is secret richer older man involved? (That is 100% speculation; but one or the other often accounts for the sustenance of many creative figures: he seems to have quit his last full time job at the age of about 35 and his writing has been pretty sparse since not long afterwards. Of course, there is no reason why it couldn’t be a woman who keeps him).

    I found this provocative quote from an interview with Robert Adamson on the web [the question marks refer I think to uncertainties in transcription]:

    “Well ? I started writing ? probably in the early 60s and by say ’65-’66 I had read most of the poetry that had been published ? certainly in the 20 years prior to that. The poets that were popular then were people like Rodney Hall, Tom Shapcott, David Malouf, Dorothy Hewett ? a lot of them are writing novels now. And ? and they were the more adventurous ones. The other poets were people like Douglas Stewart. AD Hope was still publishing then, and Judith Wright. And the poets that really excited me were ? one of them was in Callan Park ? Francis Webb ? and Randolph Stow I think had already left Australia and gone to England. They were in a sort of mess at that stage ? I think Randolph Stow was addicted to some kind of prescription drugs and hiding ? and they said Francis Webb was schizophrenic. He was certainly in a confused state. I used to go and visit him in Callan Park. They were really ? to me they were the best poets those two writing in those days but it wasn’t very encouraging because, well, they weren’t getting far were they? All the poets that were successful really were academics or retired professionals of some kind.”

     
  2. Lisa

    February 7, 2007 at 7:37 am

    I was going to teach Holes but I opted for James Moloney’s Dougy instead. I like that book and I wanted to start with some strong values. My indigenous kids seem pleased. So I think I made the right choice. Though, Holes does look like fun.

    Meanwhile, Marcelproust – I thought that about Goldsworthy as well until I read Three Dog Night. He has been elevated in my estimation since that book.

    🙂

     
  3. ninglun

    February 7, 2007 at 8:23 am

    I have a better opinion of Maestro than Marcel does. I agree it is a touch obvious, but don’t think it either embarassing or bathetic. The issues it raises are very valuable ones to explore. The last year I taught it — to The Rabbit’s class in fact — I achieved literary balance by opting for The Scarlet Letter as the other novel studied that year.

     
  4. marcelproust

    February 7, 2007 at 11:28 am

    OK, I admit that was a bit of a splenetic outburst, and it is a long time since I read “Maestro.” Perhaps I would have a less dogmatic response now.

    But the libretto to “Batavia,” heavy-handedly dotted with references to Homer (“wine-dark see,” can you believe? – and more than once!) reinforced my early-formed prejudices.

     
  5. ninglun

    February 7, 2007 at 11:51 am

    Was that really “wine-dark see“?

     
  6. marcelproust

    February 7, 2007 at 12:47 pm

    Ha ha: no, it was “sea.” Blame the hangover.

     
 
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