DWJ tribute at IBBY conference

Charles Butler hannibal at thegates.fsbusiness.co.uk
Tue Nov 16 06:43:57 EST 2004


I don't think there was anything very original about my list, but for what
it's worth here it is:

10 Range (writing so well for so many different age groups and in so many
different genres, not to mention sheer
prolificity-without-becoming-formulaic)
9 Re-readability (not only because DWJ loads every rift with ore, but
because her sequels effectively re-write her earlier books: Millie in
Charmed Life isn't the same after one has read *LCC*, for example)
8 Magic (obviously - there are so many types and degrees of magic in DWJ
that one could do a top ten within a top ten, I should think)
7 Segues (a particular weakness of mine - I quoted as an example the way
Monigan turns into a bandaged foot in TOG - but I've always admired DWJ's
way with a segue)
6 Humour (obvious again, though hard of course to analyse)
5 Worldliness (that is to say, her abilities to make worlds that cohere -
and not just one but many)
4 3-D Characters (as with worlds, her characters are individuals and
thought-through: nine-tenths of what she knows about them never makes into
the text, but you trust her to know what each one would choose for
breakfast, what colour underpants they wear, etc. As we saw, I think, with
the quiz a few months ago.)
3 Empowerment (horrible word, I know! Sorry. I just meant that DWJ is a
writer who offers solutions, analysis, possible means of resistance or
self-exploration and assertion, not just escape).
2 Influence and inspiration to other fantasy writers (including tributes
from Neil Gaiman and Garth Nix).
1 DWJ herself (well, she is a very nice person!)

I'll be interested to see what others may come up with, or think I left off.

It was a good occasion, by the way - DWJ's editor Stella Paskins also did a
talk, and there was a video from DWJ's childhood friend and present-day lit
critic, Nicholas Tucker, and everyone there (90% of whom were academics,
though with some writers too) was enthusiastic, as well they might be. There
was also a big and beautifully-decorated cake, courtesy of HarperCollins.

Oh yes, IBBY stands for the International Board of Books for Young People -
it has branches all over the world, and is I think responsible for the Hans
Christian Andersen Award. They do this conference annually with the National
Centre for Research in Children's Literature at Roehampton, though it's the
first time I've been.

Charlie

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