I discovered Katherine Paterson‘s work as an adult, and it changed what I thought I knew about books for young readers. I have a special fondness for The Great Gilly Hopkins. It was the first Paterson novel I read and it made me laugh and cry, sometimes at once. Gilly was an eleven-year-old with grit I never had when I was eleven. And she deals with circumstances I’m lucky that I never needed to contend with.
I can’t wait to see the movie adaptation of this beloved book. The Great Gilly Hopkins stars Sophie Nélisse, Kathy Bates, Julia Stiles, Bill Cobbs, Billy Magnussen, with Octavia Spencer and Glenn Close. It’s directed by Steven Herek. The screenplay is by David Paterson. From Lionsgate, to be released October 7, 2016.
Last January at VCFA, Katherine Paterson signed a copy of The Flint Heart for me, the middle grade fantasy she wrote in collaboration with her husband John. On first read it was a lovely romp, with its charming child characters, its fairytale backdrop, the sinister Heart itself, an adorable anthropomorphized hot water bottle, and its sly asides on the nature of writing and life. My writer self delighted in the glorious fun of its many literary allusions. But read it again and it becomes something more–a parable for our times, perhaps. A commentary on power, on those who hunger for it and on what it does when one gets it, even by chance. It offers the discerning writer a way to mingle the real and fantastic. The structure is impeccable. The story weaves from one world and one time to another with seemingly effortless ease. A revival of the British fantasy by Eden Philpotts, The Flint Heart is a gem reimagined and infused with the customary Paterson magic.