Random thoughts.. and a question about your child-mind

Jacob Proffitt Jacob at Proffitt.com
Mon Apr 23 20:14:10 EDT 2001

On Sat, 21 Apr 2001 11:04:56 +0100, Neil Ward wrote:

>Does anyone else here strip themselves of adulthood when reading DWJ's books?  I think I try not to question things too much or bring my adult cynicism into my reading of them, in an attempt to imagine the wonder of reading these books as a child or teen.  I am in the enviable position of not having read most of DWJ's work and, therefore, have the opportunity to read each of her books as a virgin reader.  I've been delighted every time.  I'm almost 40 (next month), but I think I have, somehow, reclaimed my youthful mind, in this process.  Once I've read the books with my child-mind, my adult-mind resurfaces and starts to analyse.  I can't stop it.

Since DWJ is such a fantastic writer and because her protagonists are
usually children, I do find myself wrapped in a child's world when I read
her books.  She does an excellent job of sucking you in and showing you the
world of the child where the hero does things a child would do for reasons a
child would have.  It is very natural.  At the same time, she very much
engages my adult sensibilities because I understand the motives, actions and
events beyond the perceptions given by the narrative character.

I think that is part of her brilliance.  The characters do things that they
would do at their age and for reasons that make sense to them.  Her worlds
also have fantastic elements that tend to reinforce the child's perceptions
as "true" (the wood really is spooky and strange, or you really *can* step
into another world by intruding into the secret garden) so it seems that her
characters experience things to reinforce their child-reasoned conclusions
(this is particularly strong in Time of the Ghost).  On the other hand, I
also like how well her worlds hold up under the assumptions of adults and
adult-reasoning (like when I read 8 Days of Luke and understand both the
main character's reactions but my recognition of the odd characters enhances
my understanding beyond the narrative).

What I mean is that it isn't all about the confirmed reality of the child
logic.  Her children remain naive and her adults are still adults and the
world still functions on sound principles (given whatever twist is thrown at
it like meddling multiverses etc.).  And that, I think, is the source of her
true magic--the way that the worlds of both children and adults can meet in
this fantastic melange that illuminates our own mundane world in interesting

At least, that's how I see it.

Jacob Proffitt
To unsubscribe, email dwj-request at suberic.net with the body "unsubscribe".
Visit the archives at http://suberic.net/dwj/list/

More information about the Dwj mailing list