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Children's literature continues to inspire both children and adults, and more recently while doing so, has prompted questions to emerge concerning the appropriateness of particular content.

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"The history that makes us wish fairy tales did happen, that life were like a children's book and we all lived happily ever after, is not an easy history to read or write. If we persist in thinking that children need hope and happy endings... then the stories we give them about the Holocaust will be shaped by those expectations... For there are those who would tell us yet another fairy tale, one in which the mass murder of millions of people did not happen... I know that it did, and I know that we need to find ways to tell children." (Kertzer, 1999, p.253) Children's literature continues to inspire both children and adults, and more recently while doing so, has prompted questions to emerge concerning the appropriateness of particular content. When adults begin to delve beyond the pastel coloured, cheery fairy-tales and nursery rhymes into something deeper the realism they discover becomes disquieting. Should children be permitted to read and immerse themselves in illustrations of soldiers, concentration camps and bombs? Should young people be dwelling upon and receptive to concepts of war and violence through literature? The manner, which authors explore and attempt to depict these sensitive and graphic issues such as acts of violence and war, comes into question when a microscope is placed over such contemporary and historical children's literature. However, the answers seem to be unattainable or non-existent until the stories are examined closely. Analysis into junior fiction classified as 'Realism literature' reveals an array of contradicting opinions and perspectives given by academics, critics and the like. ...read more.


Crew and Tan's piece of fiction does not desensitize war in any respect but takes an in-depth look at how it makes things worth so much more and also how it increases an appreciation of life in hard circumstances. There are no clear outcomes with the conclusion of the story which is attributable to the nature of the narrative but rather a lesson is learnt once the tree, which was planted after World War I, is chopped down. A family is able to reflect on how life is about beginnings and endings, change and familiarities. War is used as a theme to establish an outcome of rousing sensitivity from the reader to life, to memories and to the nature of the real world. Interestingly, Heffernan concludes his story elusively, allowing the reader to decipher how the war may have ended, continued or simply just begun. Therefore the outcomes maybe hopeful, or despairing this is determined by the reader and how they choose to interpret the literature, leaving the door open for ideas or predictions of what lies ahead for Alija and his dog. "That's why I sit here, at the edge of the town, where the road from Liztar comes in. Every day I sit here with my dog, so that when my dad comes he'll see me and we'll be together again. Then we can find my mum and my little sister and Granny Mirsa." (Heffernan, 2001, p.33) Although many would predict the outcomes of the violence within this book are full of hopelessness and despair a child-like mentality may think differently and see the validity of hope for which the young boy continues to live for. ...read more.


Evidence suggests the value of literature is unquestionable and the power it can be used for as a tool to redirect children's perceptions about harmful acts of human nature is a resource which cannot be denied. Adams (1986) draws attention to this - fiction is able to provide further illumination, refinement and balance to the repeatedly unsophisticated connotations imparted by the media, which appears devoted to the glorification of violence. Contrasting to TV and video games, well written contemporary realistic children's literature investigates the societal and political motives and heartbreaking outcomes of violence. Violence and war are delicate yet real life issues which each individual needs to be informed about in order to understand and appreciate the world they live in. However, concerns which arise when these issues are placed within children's media, specifically literature, are valid and anticipated in a world where teachers and parents desire the best education for the future generation. Therefore there are important factors which need to come into consideration when exhibiting and exploring such literature. These factors include considering carefully the age and more importantly the maturity levels of children. War in children's literature can be justified in a context which is carefully considered as Bat-Ami so elegantly states it, "To be silent is to engender silence. To be apolitical is to give our children this inheritance-a sense of hopelessness and political powerlessness. To have our children read only what is sweet and good is more harmful that helpful. Within a loving environment children can begin to come to terms with their world-our world... It is our job to introduce the right books, and to introduce them at the right time," (Bat-Ami, 1994, p.91). ...read more.

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