Why Authors Opt to Challenge Cultural Preoccupations

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In Hunt’s argument, he refers to ‘preoccupations of a culture’ by which he means adults and not children as it is they who write, publish and purchase children’s books. This essay discusses Hunt’s statement with reference to Mortal Engines, The Other Side of Truth and Junk. It looks at what assumptions these books challenge and how the authors use their craft to persuade the reader to reassess their assumptions and ideology changing their idioms in the process. What the books reflect about the current theories surrounding the concepts of childhood and a discourse about the reasons why authors opt to challenge cultural preoccupations. Hunt evidences his statement with Treasure Island showing that the conservative plot reflects conventional 19th century idealism but that in reality it is about corruption and ambiguity. These same elements are evident in Mortal Engines: with corrupt adults of Chrome and Valentine, reversing the typical heroic role to a female contrasted with a comic and ineffectual male protagonist along with the critical stance of colonisation in the modern format of urban sprawl. Reeves parodies Stevenson’s (2008) Long John Silver in Chrysler Peavey (Dawson, 2009) the posh pirate that pleads with Tom to ‘turn us into a gentleman’ (Reeve, 2009, p135). His homage to Stevenson (2008) culminates with a battle of historians dressed as brigands against the engineers but then he inverts the just cause to the brigands. This inversion highlights Reeve’s main challenge to the beliefs and ideas surrounding science and in particular technology (Dawson, 2009). He does this through intertextuality, pastiche and parody creating animalised cities, which in true Darwin tradition evolve through selective consumption (Sambell, 2009... ... middle of paper ... ...(2009) Mortal Engines, Southam, Scholastic Children’s Books Sambell, K. (2009) ‘Carnivalising the future: Mortal Engines’, in Montgomery H and Watson N (eds), Children’s Literature Classic Text and Contemporary Trends, Basingstoke, Palgrave Macmillan in association with Open University, pp.374-387. Stephens, J.(2009) ‘And it’s so real, versions of reality in Melvin Burgess’s Junk’ in Montgomery H and Watson N (eds), Children’s Literature Classic Text and Contemporary Trends, Basingstoke, Palgrave Macmillan in association with Open University, pp.320-329. Stevenson, R. (2008) Treasure Island, New York (USA), Oxford Press The Open University (2009) E300 Children’s Literature, ‘DVD 1: Children’s Literature’, Milton Keynes, The Open University The Open University (2009) E300 Children’s Literature, ‘DVD 2: Children’s Literature’, Milton Keynes, The Open University

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