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Monday, May 9, 2011

Noah Barleywater Runs Away

At some point during my childhood, an adult looked at the picture book I'd made and asked me if I would like to be a children's author when I grew up. More than a little miffed, I replied, "I think I'll write for whatever level I'm at." I could see it clearly: my writing evolving as I gained better spelling and grammar skills, leaving behind childish things as I slowly became no longer a child. (Was that adult asking if I was going to continue writing for my own pleasure beyond schoolwork and maybe become a famous novelist? If so, he/she should have asked in a less roundabout way.) And so, early on, we see that I grew a disdain for the apparent simplicity of books for children.

Noah Barleywater Runs Away, by the astounding John Boyne, is another book that makes me reconsider the power of children's literature. With beautiful writing and whimsical characters, the author puts together a pretty serious meditation on human mortality. It's a subject I'm sure not many writers could pull off so well.

Although it's a children's book, meant for "the 8 to 12 market," Noah Barleywater uses everyday objects and events, and even world folklore, to make a much grander point about the human experience. It's the same thing I'm doing in books like Tree/House. In that sense, I'm still writing at a children's level, which turns out to be the highest level there is.

I won an advance reader's copy of this wonderful book that releases tomorrow. Preorder it today through the links!