I'm looking forward to finishing the first draft of the second book in the A Girl, a Boy, and a _________ for any number of reasons. Among them, I'd really like to clean my desk, which has become a source of embarrassment even to me.
Last night I was looking for something related to my cell phone plan when I found a hard copy of Writing for Children by Diana Wynne Jones. I have absolutely no recollection of downloading this or even of having found it on the Internet in the first place. I cannot imagine how it happened.
Well, I read it today, and it was filled with fascinating things.
First off, recall that earlier in the month, I raised a question regarding whether or not Anansi Boys should be considered young adult. I didn't see why it would be included in a list of Best Books for Young Adults. I didn't see much of anything in the book that would attract young readers.
Okay, Diana Wynne Jones has this to say on the subject of characters in children's books:
"It follows that they usually have to be fairly strong, dynamic characters, and some of them have to be people that children will follow willingly into the action. For this reason, it was thought at one time that the main characters always had to be children. This turns out not to be true...as long as someone in the story is likeable, understandable or a loveable rogue and so on."
I think the most important part of that last sentence is "loveable rogue and so on."
Rogues don't fit very comfortably into the adult world. Kids and YA's don't fit very comfortably into the adult world. That kind of adult character may very well be attractive to young readers. They may be able to identify. They may also feel that these roguish "and so on" characters make adulthood a little more palatable.
Remember, Diana Wynne Jones is the woman who created Howl in Howl's Moving Castle, who certainly falls into the category of "loveable rogue and so on." And Spider, in Anansi Boys, does, too.
This provides some of the definition that, as I've mentioned before, I desperately need.