From British children’s writer and my colleague at Bath Spa University, Julia Green, Tilly’s Moonlight Garden. Tilly’s moved, her mother’s dealing with a difficult pregnancy, dad’s distracted, and there’s a fox in the garden. Imagination and the supernatural juggle for room in a beautifully crafted text that captures the liminal spaces of an eleven-year-old’s mind. Uncertainty and ambiguity are not easy craft choices and Green opts for them every time, refusing to connecting every last dot, trusting that the reader will get it.
And from two gifted American writers, my VCFA colleague Kathi Appelt and Allison McGhee, a delicate, moving story about friendship, love, and loss, Maybe a Fox. I’m fascinated by the fact that this is a collaborative text, because of how seamless it is. You can’t tell where one writer’s voice leaves off and the other picks up. Two narratives–Jules, missing her sister, and Sam–intertwine with tender connections. Immediate losses. Memories, symbols. But the literary devices are never heavy-handed. The narrative never flinches from difficult moments, yet its always loving. In many ways, like Green’s novel, this too is an ode to the child’s heart and mind. A lovely twist at the end of the story leaves the reader with an echo as soft as a touch of the young fox Senna’s fur.