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Suitable For Children?
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At The Lady Killers blog, Jane Finnis wonders whether her books about Aurelia Marcella, set in first-century Roman Britain, would be suitable for a youngster and decides they would be.

Why do I think my stories would be all right for a mature 12-year-old? Because they are moral, in that justice is done and evil is punished; and there are some young characters in them, with whom perhaps a young reader can identify. The only slight doubt in my mind is that among the first-century blood and gore my heroine encounters, and which I know most kids would lap up, there's a human sacrifice at a Druid ceremony. Might this scare some sensitive young souls?

I'm not sure what is suitable for kids and what isn't. The real world tends to expose its dark underside to us earlier and more emphatically than books do anyway. I suppose I would not like youngsters to be reading books that depict immoral behavior as commendable or normal. I am not thinking of sexual immorality but rather things like the almost salacious depiction of violence that has become so trendy.

But people will never agree on what books are "adult."

When I was in gradeschool I was barred from the science fiction room of the local library, because those books were considered adult. The Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew (neither of which I had any use for) were kept downstairs with Winnie the Pooh (which I despised). For some reason the Andre Norton, Lester DelRey and Robert Heinlein juveniles sat cover to cover with the adult novels of Ray Bradbury, Arthur Clarke, Robert Sheckley, Theodore Sturgeon and the rest. Perhaps the intellectual content, the questioning of the status quo, the imagining of alternate realities, rendered them all unfit for children of the fifties.

Or maybe one of the librarians had dipped into the DelRey adventure in which a character drowns in the incoming tide after getting his leg stuck in a giant clam, although not before attempting to hack through his ankle with a knife.

That never happened to anybody in Winnie the Pooh. I could only wish....

My parents talked the library into bending its regulations and I spent the next decade or so gorging on sf and fantasy. I didn't suffer any harmful effects from my early exposure, unless you count a nagging, inconvenient conviction that, despite what most people think, the world doesn't have to the way it is but is just one, lousy, possibility which could be supplanted by something better if only enough of us believed that.

Well, I do tread carefully on beaches.

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