Aug. 14th, 2010

I was interested to see Betsy Bird's comments on her Fuse #8 blog today about a new graphic novel called Hereville: How Mirka Got Her Sword (warning: autoplay video at source). Among other things, the novel includes lots of information about Orthodox Judaism, which caused Betsy to comment:
Think about children’s fantasy novels and religion for a moment. Religion in fantasies for kids tends to skew one of three ways. You can incorporate it and make it the entire point of the novel (Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials, the Narnia books of C.S. Lewis, or Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time series which is technically science fiction anyway). You can make up an entirely new religion of your own (as in the novels of Frances Hardinge, Tamora Pierce, Megan Whalen Turner, etc.). Or you just sorta forget about it...
And then she goes on to talk about Hereville as something different, where the religion is very much an integral part of the book's atmosphere and sensibility but it's not the whole focus of the plot, which is more of a hero's quest story.

Which had the desired effect of really making me want to read Hereville, but also made me wonder: for those of you who've read Wayfarer, do you think it falls into the first category (religion is the entire point), or the fourth (it's part of the worldbuilding, but not the main story)? Either one is fine, I'm just curious. Since it's definitely not the second or the third...

And can you think of any other books you've read where religion is handled in a way similar to Hereville, as an integral part of the MC's background and culture but not necessarily the obvious point of the story?

***

That being said, it may take me a while to respond to your (doubtless very interesting) comments on the subject of how religion does or can fit into children's books. After my two appearances in Guelph and Waterloo this weekend, I'm heading off to the Fortress of Solitude to overcome my SHERLOCK obsession work on Arrow revisions, and won't be back online until Friday.

Don't burn down the Internet while I'm away, kids!

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