I've only just read 'The Apple Tart of Hope' by Sarah Moore Fitzgerald and I really loved it. I thought the way the friendship between Meg and Oscar was affected by the words of the new girl Paloma was brilliant. I don't want to spoil the story for anyone who hasn't read it - but there is one part where I couldn't put it down, whilst at the same time feeling almost sick at the way that words were being used. Words can be terrifyingly destructive weapons and I think this book is great at showing how hard to fight the lies and half truths of 'spin' can be. I look at the way politics is reported in this country at the moment, and think how such use of words hurts individuals and our wider society.
I think the job of a writer for children is wonderful. We can use words in such a positive way. We can write stories about people or communities whose stories are not normally heard, redressing negative historical and/or contemporary 'spin' (For me, for example, writing 'Dog Ears' was about trying to tell children that some of their classmates might be suffering in silence, telling young carers that their story was being listened to, and help from e.g. The Children's Society, was out there).
Secondly, hopefully we can try to use words in such a way that we inspire our readers to want to write too - so we can give them the power of words to tell their own stories. I love that. There are so many breathtakingly good writers out there, whose sentences just make we want to stop and read them out loud so that I can enjoy the rhythm or the rhyme or the wordplay. I also LOVE the way so many picture books use words and illustrations to such stunning effect. Words are FUN!
Thirdly, we can use words to give readers the ability to look at other stories they are being told and who is telling them. That is what I tried to do in 'Girl with a White Dog', showing how years of anti-semitism in stories and newspapers in Nazi Germany poisoned people's minds. I wanted them to look at the storyteller, not just the story.
At this time when there is so much spin, so much distortion in the media and press, so much said by people with vested interests, and so many stories NOT told which should be, I think our job as writers for children is so exciting, fun and worthwhile. We are so privileged to be wordsmiths. It is wonderful to be amongst so many amazing writers committed to diversity, to using words so creatively and positively and who give so much pleasure to readers. Hooray for writers - but also for illustrators who support our words on covers, within or alongside the text. Hooray for agents and publishers and all who work in publishing! Hooray for editors and those who market our books! Hooray for librarians and booksellers and teachers. Hooray for those who buy or borrow our books - and most of all, Hooray for the children who read our words!
P.S. So sorry this blog post is late today! I had in mind I posted on the 25th, and was feeling very virtuous that I had put my words down early, untilI came to schedule my post and found my day was 21st and that I was late.