Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about kids books and why I write the sorts of books I write.
They are mostly realistic fiction, even my fantasy books have an element of realism. They aren’t epic adventures, and are often about kids discovering their own power.
The first book I remember reading was Storm Boy by Colin Thiele. We were living in Nepal at the time and the teacher gave it to me to read because I was Australian and this book is Australian. I would have been about 7 at the time.
Playing Beatie Bow by Ruth Park is another book I remember, though I don’t remember much of the actual story. I loved the idea of time travel, and a book set in Australia.
One of my favourite books growing up was Eleanor Elizabeth by Libby Gleeson. I have read this again as an adult and still love it. The idea of going to the country and finding my grandmother’s diary to learn more about her was fascinating, as well as using the diary to make a difference now has stayed with me. I also really enjoyed the way that the diary entries were mixed in with the modern story.
Another one that has stayed with me is The October Child by Eleanor Spence. I was given this book ask I’m born in October and also won The Book of the Year in 1977. This is one I read a number of times and has themes of starting over and siblings.
Many of these stories may be classified as ‘books where nothing happens’. There are no huge fights or events that change lives. There is time travel, bushfires, brothers going missing, pelicans, and other events that change their lives, but they are, mostly, every day events (OK, time travel is a bit different). The main character grows through their experiences and discovers strengths they didn’t know they had.
They also have a slower pace to many adventure stories. There is quite a bit of time setting things up before the climax.
These are the sorts of stories I enjoy reading. Even as an adult, I tend to gravitate towards these sorts of stories. Not all books need to be fast paced and exciting. Calmer stories have a place too, as well as stories that look at the lives of the main characters and how they grow just dealing with everything life throws at them.