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A collaborative blog by Locus editors, contributors, and other invited guests. The opinions expressed here are solely those of the authors, and do not reflect the editorial position of Locus Magazine or Locus Online.

 




 


Editor

Alvaro Zinos-Amaro

Contributors

Alan Beatts
Terry Bisson
Marie Brennan
Karen Burnham
Siobhan Carroll
John Clute
F. Brett Cox
Ellen Datlow
Paul Di Filippo
Michael Dirda
Gardner Dozois
Andy Duncan
Stefan Dziemianowicz
Brian Evenson
Jeffrey Ford
Karen Joy Fowler
Kathleen Ann Goonan
Theodora Goss
Elizabeth Hand
Cecelia Holland
Rich Horton
Guy Gavriel Kay
James Patrick Kelly
Mark R. Kelly
Ellen Klages
Russell Letson
Karen Lord
Brit Mandelo
Adrienne Martini
Tim Pratt
Cat Rambo
Paul Graham Raven
Graham Sleight
Maureen Kincaid Speller
Peter Straub
Rachel Swirsky
Paul Witcover
Gary K. Wolfe
E. Lily Yu

Blaine Hoak–SF and Fantasy for Kids 10 and Under

Blaine Hoak is the daughter of Deanna Hoak, World Fantasy Award-nominated copy editor.

When my mom told me that Locus might like to have an article from me about science fiction and fantasy for kids ten and under, I was incredibly excited. After all, I’ve grown up in a household filled with SF/F books, and even the earliest board books I remember could be considered fantasy, because they were about a dog who was smart enough to take the little girl he was babysitting on grand adventures and always have her cleaned up by the time her parents got home. (These were the Carl board books by Alexandra Day.)

When I started thinking about it, I realized that most books for little kids could be considered fantasy: Everywhere you turn when you’re little, there are books about superheroes, monsters, animals that act like people and/or do impossible things, and even some specifically about magic. (Another book my parents read to me was Strega Nona’s Magic Lessons, by Tomie de Paola, about a girl who is taken for granted and worked too hard by her lazy dad and who then leaves to become a magic user’s apprentice instead.) Most fairy tales and myths are fantasy, and my parents read or told me the classics (Hans Christian Andersen, Greek myths) many times.

Sometimes there’s a question about whether a book is fantasy or science fiction. The Magic Tree House books (which I always loved) have a teleporting, time-traveling treehouse, so even though they’re really teaching about history, they could be counted as science fiction. There are also plenty of kids’ books based on movies or cartoon shows, like Transformers and Star Wars, but you have to look a lot harder to find anything besides those and a few classics like The Little Prince or A Wrinkle in Time.

I was very excited, then, to find out about the Golden Duck Award, which is presented every year for excellence in children’s science fiction. I took the list of this year’s winners and finalists to my local Barnes & Noble and looked up every book, hoping to read them, but the bookstore only had two: The Adventures of Ook and Gluk (which my little brother laughed at harder than any book he’s ever read, even if the intentional misspellings bugged me), and Ivy and Bean: What’s the Big Idea. Ivy and Bean was fiction, and it was about a science fair, but it was not what I think of as science fiction because nothing happened based on the science that couldn’t happen now. I did find a fun pop-up book called Alienology, by Dugald A. Steer, and it was filled with mythical but entertaining information about aliens.

I know of other fantasy for younger kids: the Shel Silverstein poetry books, The Magic Thief by Sarah Prineas, Rick Riordan’s wildly popular Percy Jackson series. We need more science fiction for younger children, though. There isn’t enough available.

Comments

Comment from Kathy Anderson
Time September 27, 2011 at 3:35 pm

Wonderful article! Blaine has a talent for writing! It’s in the genes!

Comment from Billy Smith
Time October 3, 2011 at 7:59 pm

Great article– well written, articulate and informative!

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