How far is too far to go to get an authentic feel in your book? Is it up to your armpits in the internal organs of a pig? That is what author J.C. Burke did to get a feel for what it was like to be a pig hunter for her latest book, Pig Boy. I listened to her talk on Saturday, and she was awesome! She decided the only way to get the feel for it, was to do it, get on a quad bike with a dirty great pig dog slobering down her neck, and go pig hunting!
It was a great talk, and I have to report I was impressed with her depth of research, not just on the subject of pigs. It is an object lesson to see the amount of research she did on the Bosnian conflict, and how she pulled the text together. Well worth the read.
Every year the Children’s Book Week announces not just a shortlist for Book Week Awards, but a notable books list of titles considered worthy of mention. What makes a book week book? It would be useful to explore the process that goes into this. From time to time, concern is expressed that choices have been inappropriate. Certainly, some of the Young Adult choices have lead to fascinating discussions about what constitutes a Young Adult novel. One that certainly promoted intense debate was Sleeping Dogs by Sonya Hartnett. A novel that has been compared with those of Tennessee Williams or John Steinbeck, it brings a gritty and confronting realism to the treatment of family relations. Well worth a read, but challenging. What other texts have been confronting or raised questions of crossing boundaries. Certainly some of the picture books have engendered a debate about what is a picture book, and who is the audience!