Top Ten Tuesday: Settings I’d Like to See More Of (Or At All)

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)

Places:

Whilst I love to see books in fantastical worlds and books in different settings are becoming more popular I would like to see these.

Faery kingdoms

Image from A Midsummer Night’s Dream

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.

Time

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.

Russian Revolution

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 .

1980s

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.

Context

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.

So what would or did you pick?

29 thoughts on “Top Ten Tuesday: Settings I’d Like to See More Of (Or At All)

  1. Someone else mentioned wanting UK books set outside of London as well this week. Honestly, I’d like to read them, too. There are many other places in the UK that would be good settings, I think.

    My TTT.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I just don’t think it’s good to perpetuate that seeking your fortune in London is the only choice for children born outside the city. Sometimes it’s the best thing for a person, sometimes the worst, a little balance and celebration of other places would be great- MG admittedly is better at this than many other age groups especially adult.

      Like

    1. I think the time is right as quite a few middle grade and a few YA readers parents would have been born in that era. The rest would certainly remember it!!!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. As an upstate New Yorker, I so relate to the London thing. xD Everything set in NY is set in the city, and the city is this teensy little place that most of NY pretends doesn’t exist. Love some of these suggestions! So much yes to Joan of Arc, and the Russian Revolution is an interesting one. I’ve never thought about it, but you’re right in that I don’t remember seeing much literature at all about it, and it was a pretty big thing in the course of history.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The Russian Revolution was huge, like epoch-defining huge with so much nonsense of the 20th century and so many consequences today that directly effect us all stemming from the event itself and international reactions to it you would’ve thought Western literature and particularly children’s literature could’ve come up with something a bit more meatier than oh the poor Romanovs and wannabe Anastasias.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. You would think so, right? Unfortunately, as you’ve said, Anastasia and the Romanovs are about all you hear about, and some of these even are so one-sided about the conflict that was going on or so focused on Anastasia in particular.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I REALLY want someone to write faerie books soon! It feels like no one does anymore 😭😭
    Love lots of your others too, and have a couple of suggestions for you- there are lesbian mums in the Pea quartet/the Secrets of Sam and Sam for sure, there is definitely a 1600s witchfinder one by I think Sarah Naughton (I wasn’t keen but you may like it!) And I think having more books outwith school would be amazing. My personal hatred of my own school was incredibly complicated, but seeing other people struggling with their school or loving it could be really difficult when I was in a bad headspace.
    Amy x

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Your point about school books is exactly my own- I skipped quickly from kids books to adult books partly because of poor teachers and rubbish school librarians who were more interested in bragging about a child reading X in year 7/8/9 and partly because the silly teenage drama and bullying culture in books often aimed at teens was too much. Middle grade didn’t really exist like it does now it was early chapter jump to teenage angst back then unless you read the classics.
      I think if there had been middle grade fantasy like there is today I would have been more happy in school.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. One of the reasons I still read MG during high school (other than loving it, ofc) was that even if they were set in school it wasn’t secondary, which gave me some very welcome distance. There are definitely months where I’ve avoided some YA because my own school life was so difficult to cope with. I can’t remember exactly what I’ve told you about my school, but it was a deeply unpleasant place, particularly with regard to disability and I spent most of my 6 years there wishing I could leave. 2 and a bit months on it still doesn’t feel real! So sometimes people in books moaning about trivial problems at school turns me against them, which is probably mean but it was definitely a thing I struggled with. Bad depictions of disability in schools enrages me too actually Although there are some books that get it so very right- if you’ve not read it I suspect Flying Tips for Flightless Birds might mean a lot to you. Finch is such a relatable character for me in how he feels about school in some ways. Sorry for going off on massive rant 😂

      Liked by 1 person

    3. No don’t worry at all, I feel you. I was bullied mercilessly in school at the highest emotional and intellectual level because clever bullies don’t leave external bruises they just brainwash you into hating yourself and believing al the nastiest things you wouldn’t say to another human being but you say to yourself.
      My bullies were the toxic peer group I was foisted within because of how cliques operate in school, I was too intelligent to be popular, too musical and nerdy to be with the ‘normal’ kids -that’s how it worked clever kids had to be with the other clever kids in school- and the competition was so toxic- I’m going to rant myself a little in my review of Jemima Small as despite the fact I was a size 8-10 in school so mine wasn’t about being overweight (although boobs and puberty had a big part to play) Lottie is a real girl and her name was Laura and I wish I had had even a millionth of the strength that Jemima had in this book.

      Liked by 1 person

    4. A lot of the issues I had at school came from staff (the stories I could tell! I’ve dealt with many complete idiots that should have known better), but I totally understand the type of pupil you mean here. I once had a girl in my year talk about me behind my back and declare I was a “weirdo” because I had a brain tumour and there were many others who were awful too. I think Tamsin is brilliant at capturing what the school enviroment can really be like for a lot of people, and she did it very well in Being Miss Nobody too. And I love her depiction of teachers- she shows that they aren’t all saints like some books paint them to be. I’ve had some ridiculously awful ones (highlights include the ones who said I’d fail my Higher in their subject, my English teacher last year who was relentlessly awful, a depute head who accused me of lying about my hearing aids not working to get out of an exam in my favouriye subject and a Science teacher who accused me of faking my entire condition because I’m lazy and wanted to get out of school… and believe me I could have went on so much longer here!!!), and it’s nice to see that in books in a real way rather than them all being amazing or complete villains

      Liked by 1 person

    5. Oh Amy- I can believe it sadly from both sides of the issue. The amount of incompetent teachers I have had and worked with is immense.
      And I believe you, I believe you with the faking thing- I was hospitalised after 3 years of like clockwork passing out and vomiting at school on the second day of my period and my mum was told by my Head Of Year that she knew I was faking, I was just bunking because I didn’t like school. My mum got the consultant to write a letter and it wasn’t mentioned again but the resentment and hatred from that teacher persisted where when my English teacher apparently expressed her concerns I was being bullied in Year 11 I was called in and accused of bullying one of my bullies and forced to apologise to this girl for making another teacher think bad things about her.
      It was one of the things I was hyper conscious of as a teacher.

      Liked by 1 person

    6. I am so sorry that happened to you- it really is so horrific when people who are meant to be in your side and helping you do the exact opposite. I have real trust issues surrounding support because of my school, and I think they’re going to haunt me as I move on now.
      I have definitely had some wonderful teachers as well (particularly last year when I got to spend a lot of time at another school as my own didn’t do languages at my level, and I can’t tell you how odd it was that I felt infinitely more welcome with people I’d barely met than people I’d known 5 and a bit years…).
      The Mod Langs teachers were just incredible there and nothing was too much trouble- each and every one was so great in regards to my condition (I don’t think we even prewarned them that I was going to start using a stick when that happened in March and all of them handled it amazingly- my French teacher especially was amazing and when I had to use it in front of other pupils she made a point of saying how beautiful she thought it was, and no one said anything after that. They might not have anyway but it did mean a lot! They also went out of their way to make things work around my admittedly awful attendance and we did weekend meetings a few times and it was actually much more fun that it would be with other teachers. They even threw a leaving lunch in my honour at the end of the year, and got me the most thoughtful gifts ever- I was so much more emotional leaving them than Anyone at my own school!
      For contrast I was too scared to ever use it at my school to past treatment and suffered a few huge falls as a result)
      It’s incredible how some people think they’re more qualified than medical professionals to decide what’s true and what isn’t about your health, isn’t it?! I had a support assistant deny me medication a couple of times which was horrible and there were loads of other incidents that were really upsetting

      Liked by 1 person

    7. Oh Amy I just want to give you a massive hug. I’m so glad you saw that your school wasn’t the way things have to be and you had some wonderful teachers in the other place (that was the kind of teacher I aspired to be with my subject – but probably wasn’t quite that with my form as I always got a Y11 group who were jaded by the time they got to me so I let them chill and find themselves in the mornings – until I got promoted to do one to one and small group Mentoring in the mornings instead as part of the Raising achievement team.
      Seriously though, and you can tell me to shut up I won’t mind, if I can pass on one nugget of wisdom from someone further down the road- think about some talking therapy or a CBT workbook- it took me years to admit I need help with the consequences of bullying – it still impacts the way I think about myself – I’ve forgiven those girls but I can’t quite shake the thought patterning. If you can intervene and build on these positive things while it’s still freshish please do 💜💜💜

      Liked by 1 person

    8. I strongly suspect you’d be the exact type of teacher I loved- I had an English teacher for half of my time at school and she was just wonderful. I missed her so much last year, and meeting the people from the other school was a really wonderful experience. I don’t know if I’ve told you that I didn’t start back school till October last year due to surgery recovery? But they didn’t even know the details and made things so much easier than my new English teacher at my school. My 2nd time in after surgery (I was only allowed back in very slowly because I was a health and safety risk 🙄), I got really ill and asked to leave and she wouldn’t let me. Also made a whole bunch of other comments- she was atrocious to me and I really wasn’t a fan.
      I’ve definitely considered some form of therapy about it, and may well look into it! I told the person who should be my main point of contact re disability at uni that my school years have led to a lot of trust issues etc and he’s been pretty amazing so far (at least I think he has, my standards are super low after my school!!), so I have some hope that things will be better there at least. It’s really lovely to talk about it with people who get it, thank you for letting me clutter up your comments section with it 💜💜💜

      Liked by 1 person

    9. I so pleased that you will get the support you need at uni- where are you going?
      And it’s not clutter it’s conversation and I really want to give your teachers a piece of my mind!!! I’m so sorry you’ve had to go through all this, some people are just lacking in humanity but I’m glad that you are finding some strength now. 💜💜💜

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, I think there is so much untapped potential in parallel universe plots at Middle Grade especially., you could go literally anywhere and any genre through it

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s