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This is my second post tonight; just feel like posting. Give me five minutes - my six year old wants me to read him a bedtime story - glad he likes reading and books - by the way, I'm in Australia, and it's 8.28pm here as I type this, so please don't think I keep my kids up to ungodly hours.
In one of the Sunday newspapers here in the book review section, they ask a reviewed author to list five books that 'changed' them. I often dream up my answer for when they interview me! (ahem).
So what changed me? I'm going to list two books here.
1. "Puberty Blues" by Gabrielle Carey and Kathy Lette. Has anyone in the States heard of this one? Lette actually worked as a writer on 'The Facts of Life' for awhile, I do believe. Anyway, PB is a first-person narrative from the point of view of a 13 year old surfie chick in Sydney in the early 70s. What this book showed me was that your narrator doesn't have to have perfect grammer and syntax per se (a little like Huck Finn). Although I grew up in a farming community, the attitudes of the teenagers were similar to those at my school. I remember kids reading aloud passages about the girl in the back of the panel van with her 17 year old boyfriend. I don't know if you call them panel vans in the States. Another nicknames are 'shaggin' wagon' and 'fuck truck'. One of my friends agrees that this is a 'Catcher in the Rye' for Australian teenagers, especially of the 70s and 80s.
2. "Charlotte's Web" by E B White. It had grown up characters that believed children (remember the doctor who told Fern's mother that Fern MIGHT be telling the truth about the talking animals?). It didn't 'talk down' at its audience. The titular character -SPOILER ALERT - dies. I read this book as an eight-year-old, and bawled my eyes out when Charlotte went to her reward. I survived my heartbreak. This is book that speaks about death to children, but shows them life has to go on. And couldn't you just see some human characteristics in the personalities of the animals? I used to work with a bitchy woman who just reminded me so much of that spiteful old sheep, always wanting to tell people bad news! I still read 'Charlotte's Web' as an adult. I still love it.