'Life is difficult enough for Brenton. He can't get on with his parents, his younger brother is overtaking him in every way and now twelve-year-old Victoria must come and live with them too.
This turbulent, powerful novel follows Brenton as he loses himself in his beloved role playing games where the fantasy dangerously shadows real life'.
Source: author's website.
This chapter explores apocalypse in children's literature with reference to literary attitudes to children, nature and dystopia. Examinations of works by Lee Harding, Victor Kelleher, and John Marsden then focus on how these writers adapt apocalyptic themes for a juvenile audience. Their novels display tyranny, large-scale catastrophe, invasion, and children in danger, and their apocalyptic settings reveal anxieties about isolation, invasion, Indigenous land rights and colonization. (108)
'Voracious Children explores food and the way it is used to seduce, to pleasure, and coerce not only the characters within children's literature but also its readers. There are a number of gripping questions concerning the quantity and quality of the food featured in children's fiction that immediately arise: why are feasting fantasies so prevalent, especially in the British classics? What exactly is their appeal to historical and contemporary readers? What do literary food events do to readers? Is food the sex of children's literature? The subject of children eating is compelling but, why is it that stories about children being eaten are not only horrifying but also so incredibly alluring? This book reveals that food in fiction does far, far more that just create verisimilitude or merely address greedy readers' desires. The author argues that the food trope in children's literature actually teaches children how to be human through the imperative to eat "good" food in a "proper" controlled manner. Examining timely topics such as childhood obesity and anorexia, the author demonstrates how children's literature routinely attempts to regulate childhood eating practices and only award subjectivity and agency to those characters who demonstrate "normal" appetites.
'Examining a wide range of children's literature classics from Little Red Riding Hood to The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, this book is an outstanding and unique enquiry into the function of food in children's literature, and it will make a significant contribution to the fields of both children's literature and the growing interdisciplinary domain of food, culture and society.'
Source: Publisher's blurb.
Grieve examines the role of metafiction in children's literature and its reliance on reader participation and interaction, by looking at textual strategies that construct the 'game' as text or fiction. These strategies include structuring the narrative around the rules of an actual game, constructing either the physical book or the text as a game, and/or representing characters as 'players in a game' (5). The discussion is a response to critics who question the value of child-focused metafictional texts and of narrative techniques that demystify fictional illusions (such as multiple narrative endings, unreliable narrators and characters, linguistic play, and the reworking of established literary codes and conventions through parody and intertextuality).
Grieve explores a number of texts based on the 'interrogative or metafictional play' and self-reflexivity the narratives offer, which, she argues, 'makes the reader aware of the interplay between reality and illusion' (6). As well as novels from the UK and the USA, Grieves discusses a number of Australian texts: Power and Glory (Emily Rodda and Geoff Kelly), Beyond the Labyrinth (Gillian Rubinstein), Inventing Anthony West (Gary Crew), and The Water Tower (Gary Crew and Steven Woolman).
Metafiction challenges the dominant humanist literary tradition, which posits 'stable, knowable texts' (5), by 'problematizing mimetic illusion' and questioning the 'nature and existence of reality, the creation of literary universes and the nature of human artefacts' (13). This is the value of metafictive narratives for children that Grieve elucidates and ultimately supports.