Thursday, October 23, 2008

Not the End of the World by Geraldine McCaughrean - review

Not the End of the World by Geraldine McCaughrean.
Geraldine McCaughrean is one prolific and well-rounded person. She writes adaptations of classical literature for children (Gilgamesh. Odyssey. Cyrano. etc.). She won the contest to write the sequel to Peter Pan. She writes reg'lar old adventure novels. And she wrote Not the End of the World, a "realistic" retelling of the story of Noah and his family, complete with onboard predation, physical and psychological brutality, manure, and moldy grain.

Yeah man, it's a wild premise. Our main narrator is Noah's daughter Timna, who gradually begins to question her father's version of what's going on and why; but most of the other humans and some of the animals on the ark weigh in with their points of view as well. I think it could be an important book for a kid who is learning to discern alternate perspectives, who is beginning to, you know, question the dominant paradigm.

Certainly I've never spent much time parsing the story of the Flood - I'm a big wintry atheist and I think it's all B.S. So Ms. McCaughrean's thoughtful and thoroughly imagined book took me somewhere I've never been.

I would press this book into the hands of every potentially open-minded kid I came across - if I weren't worried about the parents. You can call me a coward but I would really run it by the parents first. I would hate it if a hypothetical Malka and Elisheva weren't allowed back at the the library because some pink-haired propagandist librarian (that's me!) suggested a book that gave their parents hives.

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