The Literary Review has been a weakness here for as long as I can recall and probably started as a frantic attempt to get in touch with the book world long before the internet arrived. Incidentally I can hardly remember those days, how strange they must have been and how did we manage? But then I wonder that about all sorts of things, how did we manage without black bin liners? We just did,so it's possibly irrelevant.
This month's edition has just arrived and as always I head straight for the editiorial as,since the death of the esteemed Auberon Waugh, it is always a guest writer .They still adhere to the heading "From the Pulpit" so it's often a chance for a bit of flame throwing and shooting off a bit of literary hellfire and brimstone.
This month it is Amanda Craig, Children's critic of The Times, writing on my hot reading topic of the moment, books for children, or as she calls it Turkey Twizzlers for the Mind.
For anyone not in the know there has been a hue and cry here over the fact that these fat laden delicacies, of uncertain origin in terms of turkey anatomy, were regularly offered on the school dinner menu for UK children.
Amanda Craig would appear to be in the very fortunate position of having her postman struggle to the door with 100 books a week, there'd be Royal Mail mutiny here if that happened but I'd cope.But she is not bemoaning the quantity as much as the quality and in there the plethora of celebs, grown ups in touch with their inner child or just those who think writing for children must be easy who add a vast amount of dross to her weekly intake.
There are a multitude of really valid points in this piece, not least the fact that so few writers of good adult fiction actually make that leap into writing good children's fiction.Her roll call of past success is quite short and she reckons on there only being about twelve living authors who
"produce new picture books or novels that give the greats a run for their money"
In fact she suggests that apart from these, children would be better off reading the same books their parents and grandparents loved.
Amanda (by this time feeling like a kindred spirit so we are on first name terms now, I hate the way we are supposed to be all literary and use surnames) also makes another very valid point, "too many people overlook the fact that all great children's literature is about death".
My last six reads have all been, to my adult mind, great children's books and every one has had death as its central theme, fascinating.