collection of essays and talks selected from those written
over the last fifteen years. A companion volume to BOOKTALK.
School Librarian Volume 50, Number 2, Summer 2002:
new collection of Aidan Chambers' essays is always a delight,
not least because it reminds me of why I became a librarian
in the first place…One of Aidan Chambers' great gifts is
to make me think about reading and its value. It would be
invidious to pick out a favourite piece from this collection.
Read them all and enrich your understanding." Elspeth S.
Times Educational Supplement Book of the Week, 11
the writer makes me want to write; Chambers the reader makes
me want to read. Enjoy this collection for its range, eloquence
and wisdom, and for its unique 'companionship'." Linda Newbery.
Children's Books Ireland, Summer 2002:
Chambers has remarkable things to say and he brings a fine
scholarly method to the study of youth literature." Siobhán
Future of the Book
Some people say 'the book' is,
if not dead, then finished as an important form of communication.
Right or wrong, what is certain is that Big Changes are
already taking place. As a dyed-in-the-book person, it
seems to me we must start from scratch, think out what
a Book is, and work out whether or not the Book is a form
with unique qualities which make it essential to our lives.
This essay is an attempt to do that job. It leaves me
full of optimism.
I've been hooked on The Diary of Anne Frank since I was
a teenager. A favourite book. The only masterpiece written
by a thirteen-to-fifteen year old. Anne used a treasured
pen to write more than half her book. Then one day, the
pen was lost. She tells the story of that minor disaster
in her diary. This essay tells another story, which describes
what it means to be an author (rather than a writer) and
how Anne evolves from being an everyday adolescent writer
and reader into an author of astonishing ability and dedication.
It also compares the first, 1947, translation in English
with the new, 1995, translation, discussing the variations
between the two, and what differences these make to the
of a tremble to see his danger: Huck Finn and Youth Literature
It seems to me that Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn
is the first great youth novel. I don't know who said it,
but it is true that 'all great artists and writers are contemporaries'.
Huckleberry Finn still has a lot to tell us about how
to write youth literature and how to read, and how not to.
Its failures are as interesting as its strengths. Besides,
it's an unfailingly entertaining book.
spite of being a translation
From 1989 until 1995 along with David Turton I published
English translations of youth and children's novels from
other European languages. They were all books I wished
I could have written and seemed to me to add to the range
of our own literature for the young. I thought and learned
a great deal about the problems and pleasures of translation
in those years, which enabled me to look afresh at the
subject. This essay sets out some of the things I learned,
and describes the process of translating and publishing
one of the Turton & Chambers books.
First given as a talk in celebration of the fiftieth birthday
of the premier Norwegian children's author Tormod Haugen,
this is a 'reading' of Haugen's extraordinary children's
novel Zeppelin, which I published in English as a Turton
& Chambers title. I've been careful to quote sufficiently
so that you don't have to have read the book in order to
enjoy the essay. It is as much about a way of reading as
it is about the novel which is its subject.
in Stories: Talbot Baines Reed
Reed was the most innovative, literary and successful of
all the writers of school stories. During the second half
of the nineteenth and into the twentieth century, he was
one of the most popular writers for the young. As he and
his achievement are now all but forgotten I wrote this celebration
of his 100th anniversary in order to explore his place in
the history of youth literature, what it was he did with
the school story, how he developed the form, why it is that
Reed's novels far exceed in value those of other writers,
and what it is in the school story as he and others used
it that was fatal to the lives of some of its readers. It
is the story of an attractive and talented man and of a
form that is still flourishing. It reminds us that knowing
our history and the history of our literature is essential
to our own well-being and practice.
up a Penguin
A personal, anecdotal essay which uses my own education
and experience to look again at what it means to be a reader
and writer of the stories we call literature.
published by Thimble Press, 2001
you have difficulty buying a copy, MAIL
contents are ©Aidan Chambers unless otherwise