Jack (@jackhawkins17), our most recent intern, wrapped up his week with us on Friday and left this blog full of questions for us to answer:
Coming to the end of my internship here and responding to the questions of why I became interested in children’s literature, it got me thinking about what I really wanted to do as a ‘grown-up’ when I was younger. It was always a close call between a power ranger (the red one) or a footballer, and now after spending time seeing the inner workings of children’s book publishing I wondered to myself whether there was more room and indeed appeal in writing sports-based books for children. As I know I was not alone in having the dream of being the next David Beckham. In sport there is so much passion, desire and drama which could all be easily harnessed and transformed in to stories for a younger audience.
Films have successfully adapted fictional and real sporting events to create powerful, funny, exciting and intense pieces of cinema, which makes me wonder why there aren’t as many sports related books especially for children. Sporting films have not only succeeded in the box office, but recent films like money ball received huge acclaim and was in fact nominated for Oscars. This film was adapted from Michael Lewis’ 2003 book of the same name. This clearly shows a huge appeal to readers, and maybe a possibility that is not being fully explored by children’s authors or publishers.
Every year there is some sporting event that grips the nation. Everywhere you look there articles and programs following these events. Why couldn’t this huge wave of enthusiasm not also be harnessed by the literary world? For example, every year after Wimbledon tennis courts are fully booked until the end of the summer. All Brits suddenly become obsessed with playing tennis and becoming the next big star. Especially children.
This interest could overflow into children’s literary fancies. And as we have seen from book’s such as Mal Peet’s Football come ghost story ‘Keeper’, the idea of sport does not have to be an overpowering theme, but a device to interest readers initially as well as acting as a platform to express different ideas and themes.
This theme is so universal it allows any story to become relatable and accessible. This does not just apply to fiction as some of the most important historical events of modern times have surrounded sport. Jesse Owens at Hitler’s games in 36, the Munich Massacre in 72 or even the football games played in no-mans land between German and English troops during the WW1 Christmas truce. There are incredible, rich, compelling and emotional stories in all of the events and countless more, and by using the incredibly accessible medium of sport you could translate these stories in an extremely successful way.
Commentators often say ‘You just couldn’t write it, could you?’ But could we? Should we?