“So the two of them set off walking in the heat of the afternoon, up the ribbony road and tipping over the hill as the car had done, past the great sleeping lime quarry dazzling the sky; on past the row of dusty fir trees all covered in grey powder…” (15)
I transform into a skeptic when I hear of a well-known author for adult literature having written a book for children. There seems to be a plethora of them since I became a children’s librarian, or perhaps I am just more aware. I do wonder about author’s motives. I ponder the sincerity his or her approach writing for this audience – my audience. Jane Gardam is an author of some stature including the Whitbread and Whitbread Children’s Book Award. Yet, she is recognized primarily as an adult author. So, during our book share after much discussion of Old Filth and God On the Rocks (confession: I have not read either), I decided to do a little research on this children’s title that was awarded the equivalent of our American Newbery Award.
Simply put – I am smitten by The Hollow Land. From the opening pages, I want to walk into this story, run up and down hills and becks, speak the dialect of the “Cumbrian fells,” but most of all, I long to enter the world of Light Trees Farm. Place is evocative of The Secret Garden (Burnett) from the feeling you have, rather than the true landscape; the adventurous friendship between Bell and Harry is reminiscent of those in The Penderwicks (Birdsall). This is an endearing story imbued with gentle humor of two boys forging a serendipitous brotherly bond. This is an author who knows and loves children.* Every page will tell you so.
Gardam, Jane. The Hollow Land. New York: Europa Editions, 2015. eBook.
*Having raised three of her own. See, The New Yorker, “Retrospective” article.