Tuesday, July 25, 2006
Someone at child_lit let the rest of us know that Maurice Gee has won a major award in his native country, New Zealand.
I am a big fan of one of Gee's earlier books, The Fat Man. It's a Depression-era story that came out a few years before Out of the Dust, which I didn't care for nearly as much.
Evidently The Fat Man was controversial at the time of its publication. The controversy seemed to focus on whether the book should be classified as children's or YA. (One of my favorite questions, right!?) It was classified in the Junior Fiction category for judging purposes for the New Zealand children's book awards and won in that category as well as their Supreme catgory even though one critic said "that at a stroke the judges had deprived children of their innocence; the book 'neatly equated' evil with physical imperfection; moreover, it would disturb or even damage nine to 12-year-olds."
Well, I loved the book. The child main character was a little flawed, the bad guy had some legitimate complaints, the book made readers feel the desperation that I assume people felt during that period, and the ending...Well, let's just say the ending was thought provoking.
At Amazon you'll find some unflattering reader reviews for The Fat Man from what appear to be child readers. In an attempt at fair play, I feel I have to acknowledge them. There are only a few of them--there are only a few reader reviews, period. Do they mean anything? As usual, I just don't know.