A JOURNEY OF DISCOVERY: On Writing for Children by Ivan Southall

A JOURNEY OF DISCOVERY: On Writing for Children

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The subtitle could be misleading; this is less a general discussion of the process or product of ""writing for children"" than a chatty monologue on Southall's own experiences as working writer, public author and private person. Originally six lectures delivered to librarians or would-be writers (mostly in Australia, though one is the 1974 Arbuthnot lecture), this has the informal, anecdotal, ultimately superficial tone that makes for agreeable convention-going but thin reading. Literary remarks are on the order of defending children's books from adult scorn or deploring writers and critics who aim to protect or ""housebreak"" young readers rather than stretch them. Southall him, self, we're told, draws on his younger thoughts and feelings (and, as his novels reflect, remembers fear as ""permeating"" childhood) but makes a point of ""going out"" for regular communication with today's youngsters. Elsewhere he recalls growing up in Australia where British boys' stories didn't make much sense; starting out on a primitive farm with a wife and growing family; coping with audience questions, new writers' manuscripts and children's letters; and now generally leading the life one leads when one is ""a chairman of things and a secretary of things."" Southall calls his writing since Hill's End a journey of discovery and as we admire the work we don't question the assertion; but his reminiscences here read more like a mild day's outing than an expedition into the unknown.

Pub Date: Feb. 16th, 1976
Page count: 102pp
Publisher: Macmillan