On apocalyptic children’s books

Via sbpfeffer, Newsweek has an article on the popularity of apocalyptic children’s books.

I don’t know that children’s books ever really “frolicked through tales of ponies and princes,” but once one gets beyond that, the article says some pretty reasonable things.

The books also help kids understand that “there’s a direct connection between things they may do and the end of the world,” says Grant. “When I was a kid hiding under the desk from Russian missiles, no one ever said, ‘Here, Michael, here’s what we need to do to avoid that’.” Kids’ post-apocalyptic books aren’t all doom and gloom. They typically feature smart, courageous children who figure out answers to problems with scant adult help, and they tend to end on a positive, if not happy, note. “You have an obligation when you’re writing for a younger audience not to demolish all hope,” says Pfeffer. “You have to leave some sense that life will get better.”

Which makes me ponder ways in which the nature of the apocalypse has changed since the cold war days. There’s maybe less sense of inevitability now, and perhaps a little more sense (realistic or not) that we have some control.

Or maybe not–it’s not like, say, we can control whether an asteroid hits the moon, or whether the Faerie folk attack, or whether the zombie invasion happens. All those apocalypses are more about how we survive in the changed world afterwards.

Also some talk there about the City of Ember movie, which I’m looking forward to–and even more I’m looking forward to the fourth Ember book, which is due out in a little more than a month now. 🙂

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