Mirrors? Windows? How About Prisms?

9781406306552Monica Edinger has an interesting post about some of my favorite chapter books, the Anna Hibiscus books by Atinuke.

Elsewhere, I’ve suggested prisms as a concept, something to add to the usual array of glassy metaphors about reading. I maintain that cultural content in children’s books needs to be woven into the story so the authors intention is not stamped all over it. It needs to be taken for granted by the character concerned, the way Anna takes her melded identity. Simultaneously, it works when it is knowingly complicated–as in  Atinuke’s decision to use the noun “Africa” instead of “Nigeria,” or my own decision to avoid italics in Hindi or Tamil language words in some of my books. My character would not set those words apart as “foreign” so why should my narrative do so?

For the most part you can only render cultural content in this way, knowingly, only when it is deeply familiar to you. Speaking of which, here’s a writer to watch.

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