Monday, October 22, 2007


As a reader, I find myself getting out of condition at times. You know, picking up a book for five minutes and putting it aside without really absorbing anything. When this happens, I go back and rejuvenate by reading YA and older children's books (not picture books, or at least not for this purpose.) There are a couple of reasons for this. Writers for young people know they have to deliver, to give up an interesting story and engaging characters. Writers for adults can slide on this. Also, reading kid lit reacquaints you with the 5 W's, and that basic framework serves you in many contexts.

For my most recent rehab project, I picked up Madeleine l'Engles Dragons in the Water. L'Engle, who passed away about six weeks ago, is a writer I didn't really know for a long time. As a kid I knew A Wrinkle in Time and that's about it. But she was one of the authors in a college class on Young Adult Lit, and that familiarized me more with her.

She doesn't write down to her audience. If you're in grade school, or even high school, some of her references may send you to the encyclopedia (or something like it). Of course if you're reading now as an adolescent, you're already in somewhat select company.

This book has some knowing touches of Faulkner, which I liked. The young protagonist--Poly O'Keefe is more a helper figure--comes from a declining Southern aristo family, and is actually kind of poor. Also, shady relative, connections to another cousin named Quentin. It's there if you look for it.

Actually I haven't described the book in any detail at all. And I won't but I can say the effect for me is like a refreshing dip in the pool.

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