Over the Rainbow by Brian Rowe
My rating: 1 of 5 stars
Following LGBTQ YA month over on Once Upon A Bookcase, and the realisation that I too wanted to increase the amount of titles I read with LGBTQ protagonists, I found Over The Rainbow on Netgalley and became instantly intrigued. Any book that came across as a hybrid of The Wizard Of Oz, Jurassic Park and Lost was either going to be outstanding – or not.
Rowe is a solid enough writer, and his style is strongly approachable, but what I think fails Over The Rainbow is the haphazard nature of the story. Writing can be great, fine, but when the story itself is lacking both in structure and an underpinning truth, that’s when I start to disengage. Because it doesn’t matter how good your writing is when the protagonist (Zippy) zips (badumtish) herself up in a suitcase, survives being put through baggage handling on an airport, survives being thrown into an aircraft hold, survives the crash of the airplane when everyone else (except for a guy in the toilets) disappears because of The RAPTURE , survives a road trip involving encounters with dinosaurs, manages to convince her father of the wrongness of his ways (her devoutly Christian father who previously was going to send her to ‘straight-camp’), and ultimately lives happily ever after.
I can believe a lot in books; lord knows, one of my favourite books in the entire world involves a boy who chats to dead saints, but when a book is so devoutly lacking in believability as this, it undercuts any sort of tension in its world and therefore undercuts the experience for the reader. My fantasy needs a little bit of fact, other than that it’s just floating in the wind.
From the LGBTQ perspective, I commend Rowe for writing a strong and passionate relationship between the two heroines. I do acknowledge though that I had substantial issues with the semantics of this relationship, and in particular the relationship between Zippy and her father which was full of difficulties for me. I would not actively recommend this book due to these difficulties.
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Hello! Here’s some of the news and articles I came across this week from the world of children’s literature.
1. After reading the excellent and poetic Red Ink (which I then added to my books about bereavement reading list), this article in the Guardian had a lot of relevance for me. In it, the author asks whether young children should go to funerals or not. There’s also some guidance from counselling professionals in the article which is very worth a read should you be struggling with a decision of this nature. Articles and moments like this remind me why I keep my reading lists. It’s in the hope that somehow one of these books may help to mediate a child and a family through one of the darkest of moments and that’s why I keep them. Please do let me know if there’s any titles you would particularly reccommend. You can comment below or, if you’d be more comfortable, email me.
2. On the topic of diversity in children’s and YA literature, here Non Pratt from Catnip Publishing talks about “The Lack of LGBTQ YA in the UK” and here Mark McGlashan argues that LGBT inclusive texts should be utilised in primary schools. I need to look more at McGlashan’s research in order to comment more thoroughly on his findings, but it’s clear to me (and has been for some time) that children deserve a right to see themselves and their familial contexts reflected in our societal literature. I’ll let you know once I’m able to find out more on his findings.
3. Patrick Ness and Shoo Rayner had an epic, articulate and polite discussion on the ‘suitability of YA literature for ‘children”. Rayner’s blog post which sparked it all off is available here and a roundup from the Guardian is available here. I think there’s a world of issues with Rayner’s blogpost and the fact that our adult perspective is nowhere near that as a teenage or child readers. You can’t map your experience of childhood onto todays. However, as with a lot of these things, it is worth taking the time to read these posts and comments and formalising and confirming your own stance of things. If there’s one thing I’ve ever believed regarding children’s literature and the critique of it, it is that you have a voice and your opinion matters.
If you’d like to view other posts in this series, they’re available here. See you next week!
Happy Sunday! I hope you’ve managed to have an ice-cream this lovely sunny weekend and have had chance to put your feet up and enjoy things 🙂 Here’s the round up of things that caught my eye this week.
1. Zoe from @playbythebook pointed me in the direction of this excellent and powerful piece: “How to Really Read Racist Books to Your Kids” It’s one of those things you really need to read. It reminded me of this other blog post: “How to be a fan of problematic things”. Both posts are really brilliant in how they approach the issue of reading difficult and problematic texts with a modern day perspective.
2. If you’ve not discovered KM Peyton (who is one of my utter author loves) have a look at this review of Fly-by-night. It totally sums up why KM Peyton is the wonder that she is. Also on a KM Peyton note, have a look at this beautiful piece from Meg Rosoff.
3. I *loved* this. One professor asked his students to do him a comic instead of take a final exam. Clearly the students chose the right option in comic-making 😉 and here are the results.
4. And finally, here’s some excellent posts on diversity with a lot of links in them that are worthwhile to take a bit of time in exploring: “Female Sexuality in YA Fiction : Exploring the range of experiences” and “Heck YA, Diversity! Pro-Tips Edition”.
If you’d like to view other posts in this series, they’re available here. See you next week!
It’s that time of the week again! Here’s a catch-up of things in the world of children’s literature that you may have missed. Warning, it includes rants, farting and school stories. Well, would you expect anything less of me? 😉
1. Several new school stories have been released this week. They’re middle grade and the start of a series and all look really interesting. Here’s a preview of “Stars” by Laura + Luke Jennings and here’s a preview of “First Term At L’Etoile” by Holly & Kelly Willoughby. I’ve had a look at both and I really like the Enid Blyton-y meets Alice-Miranda meets Noel Streatfield overtones of them. They’re both very much on my TBR pile now.
2. In the world of interesting articles, these caught my eye. Laura Lam, author of Pantomime, writes a fascinating article on “The Grey of Gender : Intersex and Gender Variant / Non-Binary Characters in YA”. It does include mild spoilers for Pantomime itself (which I review here) so if you’re wary of spoilers stay away until you’ve read it. It is very much worth reading!
In this piece (“Get rid of the parents!”), Julia Golding wonders why there are so many orphans in children’s literature. It’s a thought-provoker for sure, and one worth having a think about.
3. Review wise, I had a look at Azzi In Between (an award winning graphic novel), the vibrant Geek Girl, and The Fabulous Phartlehorn Affair. I also had an in-depth rant about an aspect of Girls’ Own books which really bothers me and had a look at paratextual theory in Egg. That’s a review of a comic about refugees, a review of YA about models,a rant about turn of the century boarding school stories, a look at a MG about musical farting and an in-depth post on picture book theory. How’s that for an eclectic week!
If you’d like to catch up on previous round-ups, you can view them here. See you next week!
Look, it’s a new series! I’m hoping to do this sort of catch up post as a bit of a weekly thing. There’s a lot of good stuff that flies around the Twittersphere and so this series of round-up posts is designed to catch some of them that you may have missed and stuff that I think warrants highlighting. And things I, to be frank, just like.
1. It’s been a big week in children’s literature as Malorie Blackman continued to storm the media following her being announced as Children’s Laureate. I’m in great love with what she’s been saying and long may it continue. Here she talks about the need for “more books about non-white children” (a sentiment reinforced here by Tanya Byrne). In a separate article, Blackman discussess how honest sex scenes in books will stop young people learning from p*rn (asterisked solely to prevent errant search results) and I have to say, she’s on point. Very much so. (As is Sarra Manning who is a bit brilliant in this post on the topic.)
2. Related to the above, there’s been a flurry of interesting posts relating to the issue of diversity in children’s literature. The new issue of Write4Children came out and it was a themed issue on diversity. The range of topics covered, and the skill that they’re covered in, is massively impressive and I’d urge you to have a long look through it. In addition to this, there’s been some interesting blog posts on the topic of diversity. I was particularly struck by this heartfelt and vital post from Rhino Reads “Mommy, Mama and Me and the importance of diversity in children’s books”.
3. In the land of picture books, this article on reading wordless picture books is really interesting (and lavishly illustrated which is always a plus). And I discovered the best / most bonkers range of children’s board books ever! Have you touched these? Are they amazing? Are they terrifying? I need to know!
See you next week 🙂