Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly book blogging initiative hosted by The Artsy Reader Girl with new themes each week.
This weeks theme is Settings I’d Like to See More Of (Or At All)
Whilst I love to see books in fantastical worlds and books in different settings are becoming more popular I would like to see these.
I know Faeries are not as fashionable anymore but hey, look at my user and blog name- I’ve been a die-hard Faery fan since I cannot even remember- good Fae, dark Fae, folkish Fae, fairy tale Fae, I want it all.
Outside of London (Americans you can probably compare New York and other big cities)
This is speaking as someone who was born within the sound of the Bow bells and has ancestral links to London going back to Elizabethan times.
Too many books are set in London or if set outside of London too often feature characters wishing or planning to move to London because like many they think that they are going to be like Dick Whittington and seek their happiness and fortune there and everything will be better and they will be glorious there.
Fine and all and some of those books need to happen but there is so much more to Britain than London and the tendency to a London-centric focus perpetuates the bigger issue of regional neglect and under-development that has sadly been happening for centuries (it was a causal factor in the English Civil War)
Between Worlds/ Parallel Universe Crossover or interaction
I loved What If history books when I was younger and there’s plenty of Prize-Winning alternative history books for grown ups but what about kids? Help me if you know one?
Also along these lines is the idea of that underpins the back story of Stranger Things & Jon Ronson’s The Men who Stare at Goats , psychologically research into remote viewing and Astral projection etc using the ‘astral plane’ to travel and listen undetected and I love that idea too- the idea of slipping between the worlds reminds me a lot of Yggdrasil and the BiFrost.
Now I know, most historical fiction is based on the UKS2 national primary curriculum because publishers know that if they publish books set during studied periods then grandparents especially may buy a book to help give context or extend interest.
But by sticking so rigidly to Victorians and Home Front (I& II) & Evacuees and now a trend for Vikings gives such a narrow view of history.
Joan Of Arc in The Hundred Year’s War
Ok this is a personal one on two levels, one for me and one for Littlefae who has been obsessed since we watched Bill & Ted.
I’ve always been fascinated with Jehanne and wondered how a teenage girl found the belief and gumption in herself to even present herself let alone command a nations army. Faith is only a small part of this amazing story, the factor of a young peasant girl rising and falling in the 15th century misogynistic world is an awesome and heartbreaking one certainly deserving of historical novels.
Early Stuart Witchfinder times
Ok let’s avoid Scotland and the continent as then there is no burnings but exploring the culture of hysteria and snowballing consequences around Witch accusations and trials from the perspective of children is an interesting one especially if a child accuses out of spite or stupidity to see the community crumble because of a lie.
The Americans have done this with the Salem Witch trials but are more often from an adult or grown up perspective and are a Puritan rather than Stuart England’s Protestant with a dash of Catholic flavour and there is a difference plus I’d like to see an UK upper MG take at this.
We have seen books set during the French Revolution, and we see a lot of British Home Front books set during or just after WWI but we don’t tend to see the experiences in other countries.
The Russian Revolution is one of the most tumultuous times in history and children’s experiences aren’t really considered yet offer a rich seam of perilous and adventurous storytelling for historical fiction writers prepared to step outside the ‘safer’ territories.
Interesting points are plenty whether it be the immediate impact of the Revolutionary War between the Reds and Whites, the fleeing and sudden poverty of the aristocracy and separation of families, the question of identity as Russian, Georgian, Ukrainian, Polish etc suddenly under Communism or the impact on agricultural communities of the wars and new Communist policies which contributed to famine in the early 20s.
This doesn’t have to be about educating, but the potential experiences of children in these historical events is interesting .
Ok this is a Stranger Things binge inspired choice. I was too little to personally remember the 80s but the influence on society, economics, and culture is palpable even today.
Because many authors personally remember the 80s it probably feels too close to write about it but it is now undoubtably a historical period and we can get a greater understanding of thinking and cause and consequences when we look at the experiences of others in different times- and I think that reading about ET, Back to the Future, She-Ra, Jem and maybe even the harder sides of the 1980s such as Miner’s Strikes or just ‘normal’ life would be interesting.
Sometimes setting isn’t about place or a time it’s about the conditions in which the story takes place whether contemporary, historical or fantastical.
Not always set in school or about school or talking about school
I get it, school is a huge huge part of many children and teens life, where you feel that there is nothing in life BUT school and these people for better or worse; and yes there are some fantastic and funny books set 100% in a state school setting.
However speaking from experience both my own and as a teacher not every child enjoys their time at school, and books that keep putting them back in that setting with useless teachers, bullies and lunchtime shenanigans even if dressed up as Unicorn or Dragon school is going to just make them more anxious and miserable.
And then sometimes we all need escapism. I’m pretty sure office workers wouldn’t want to read book after book about someone going to work as a office worker and little else happening- even books where the protagonist does have a boring job the plot works hard to focus on the bits outside of that job so why do we do it to children?
Boarding school settings are exempt from this however because they are an exotic and unreachable mysterious world for many readers unless privileged.
Positive Home educating experiences
I’m going out on a limb here as I know many Bookish twitter people are teachers, school librarians etc. But this is for the children who don’t go to school at all, of which there are an increasing amount and (excluding of religious fundamentalism issues) so many are very effectively and thoroughly educated but it consistently has a bad reputation and misrepresentation in the press and books.
Whether you agree with home education or not isn’t the issue, but books with the experience and for some exploring the reasoning will include many children who don’t resonate with school based stories especially ones where children like them are treated as victims or weirdos.
Elly Griffiths was fantastic in a positive representation of Home Education in A Girl called Justice as was Patrice Lawrence in ‘A Bob and a Weave’ in the New Class at Malory Towers collection where although they both end up in 1930s Boarding school settings their experiences in Home education are positive and effective with them both being capable and intelligent. This is a great thing for children who have an alternative education experience to feel included and valued too. More please.
LGBTQIA+ families where it’s just what it is not THE issue
Ok Picture books are better at this than MG and YA however where it does appear there’s more Gay Dads than Lesbian mums out there, I don’t know why that is really but can we see more Lesbian mums not just a whisper of big sisters and aunties?
But I do want to see all shapes of families in books, ‘mainstream’ (I hate that term) publishing is now filled with single parents, divorces, step parents and blended families alongside nuclear heterosexual families and not always the ‘Issue’ just the setting which is fantastic but we need to see this with LBTQIA+ families too to show children that everyone deserves love and happiness regardless of their identity or orientation.