The child thief by Brom

This book is causing controversy in my library. 

Firstly what is the story?  It is a take on the original Peter Pan, far more dark and disturbing than anything Disney would do.  This is no piece of fluff!  Peter sits in the trees, he creeps around, hiding behind corners and up high, out of sight of all but the neediest children.  He senses those who need rescuing from horrible home situations, those who are on the run from baddies and the lost and abandoned.  There is some fairly graphic violence and some nasty stuff going on fright from the start of the book.  Peter whisks off these kids and takes them to his world which sits alongside the real world, through the fog, he can’t take them unless they agree to go but most of them are pretty desperate and anything will be better than the life they currently have……. or will it.  Peters world is full of extremely scary stuff, battles and starvation, it is a dog eat dog world in there.  Life in the forest is being gradually destroyed and there are many many threats.

What is not to like?  For a start the sheer frequency of words which occur after 9pm at night and that start with f and c.  While it only very occasionally feels gratuitous it occurs so often I found myself sighing in frustration.

What is to like?  It is a great story, a cool freaky retelling of a classic.  The illustrations are stupendously good, and the look of the book was one of the things that attracted me to it when I spied it in the University Bookshop.  Lovely format, lovely paper, lovely pictures.  There is a touch of books with a simple story made sinister in this book, in the style of The Graveyard book by Neil Gaiman.

What is the issue?  A staff member read it and loved it, all of it, thought it was cool and clever and wasn’t upset by the language at all, he says “They’ll love it Bridget, stop being a prude.”  Another staff member read it, she said “Gross, it is far too graphic, violent and too much swearing.”   I read it first, I said “It is great, but the language and the constant battles got a bit wearing, and do parents really want kids to take home books like this?  Would I be happy if one of my kids bought this home?  Not if they were a junior that is for certain.”

Will I put it in the library?  Yep I will, but with a big loud seniors only sticker on it.  I’ll have the student librarians have a go at it first and see what they think.  I know some will love it, but some will not be so sure, discussion will rage I hope, and that is a good thing.

Want to see the art?  Head over to Brom’s website, lovely lovely lovely.

Some of the art from the book

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One comment

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