Sunday, June 7, 2009


It's Sunday so I figure it's a good time to discuss preachiness in children's literature. I bring this up because a recent review of COMFORT called it just that!

Ouch! I don't like preachiness. Or being didactic. Yes, the review said that too.

Hmmmm. I can see maybe where the reviewer is coming from when it comes to being didactic, I guess. I love to include history in my stories and I can imagine a few places where someone might think I was slipping too much in there.

Also, I think the very nature of the era makes for a little more preachiness in the way people related to each other. Ann Fay kind of puts all her thoughts out on the table so even her ponderings and conclusions might be interpreted as being preachy.

Scary thing is, my next book has even more potential for preachiness in the traditional sense of the word. My characters are motivated by their Christian faith. I've struggled for a year now with finding the voice that can tell this amazing story in a way that teens will appreciate and not feel preached to.

I think I am finding it. But this particular COMFORT review is a good reminder to tell the story in such a way as not be be teaching a lesson at the same time.

This doesn't mean people can't learn from it. But a book should not be a sermon. A story is just that. A story. Each reader takes what they need from it. It's not my job to spoon feed them anything.

Here's the review that is up on Amazon. It's from Booklist.

In this sequel to Blue (2006), Hostetter continues her WWII-era story about Ann Fay and the North Carolina teen’s efforts to recover from polio, which has left her physically challenged and emotionally vulnerable. Sadly, Ann Fay is not the only one now dealing with illness. Her father, newly returned from combat and suffering from postwar trauma, becomes angry and abusive. His worsening condition forces Ann Fay to interrupt the course of her therapy in Warm Springs, Georgia, to return home and help her family. The best part of Comfort is Hostetter’s loving depiction of life in the rural South in the 1940s. Less successful is her attempt to integrate factual material about Warm Springs, postwar trauma, and post-polio syndrome into a fictional context. As a result, the novel is too often didactic and, occasionally, preachy. Nevertheless, readers of the well-received Blue will welcome this new story about a close-knit community and a courageous protagonist.

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