Book review: Erin Manning’s _The Telmaj_

 Oh, I forgot!  My 13-year-old daughter wrote a book review of Erin Manning’s new YA book,  The Telmaj.
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EM:  I’ve targeted the intermediate children’s fiction market, which encompasses readers ages 8-12, approximately. I think this market is under-served, especially when readers that age are looking for imaginative fiction like sci-fi.

Unfortunately, a lot of the attention is paid to the YA market of slightly older readers–but many kids in the 8-12 age range just aren’t ready for the sheer amount of graphic sex and violence on the YA shelf. I want to reach kids who’ve already read the Narnia series, perhaps, and want exciting stories, but who aren’t interested in the love life of sparkly vampires or teen zombies.

LarryD:  Yes, I noticed the lack of vampires, werewolves and pouty teen angst.

Later in the interview, Erin says:

 I initially thought about getting The Telmaj published by a Catholic fiction publisher because even though the book is not overtly Catholic I wanted to tell a story full of good and evil, right and wrong, and the kinds of virtues and values that seem to be sadly lacking in many children’s books these days. But the publisher I sent it to, while thinking it was very publishable, explained that she couldn’t publish anything but overtly Catholic fiction–that is, fiction that would show Catholic characters going to Catholic schools and Mass on Sunday, that sort of thing.

While I understood that, I think we’re reaching a point where even trying to tell a story in which characters struggle to do the right thing and have no trouble identifying certain evils really is writing Catholic fiction of a type. So many books, even for children, rely on a kind of “situational ethics” where whatever the characters we like do is good, and whatever the characters we don’t like are doing must be bad (unless they, too, are just the victims in all this). Sort of like how we view political parties these days.

I’m old-fashioned enough to think that for children, the reinforcement of the ideas of good and evil is a good thing to do–not in a cartoonishly simple way, but in a way that helps them ponder these kinds of questions.

 Hear, hear!  And here is my daughter’s short (and kind of adorable) review of the book:
 The Telmaj is, quite bluntly and frankly, a really good book. It was a little hard to get into, but once it got going I was captivated. It’s about a person named Smijj. (Another thing I really like about the book, is that I can actually pronounce the names of the people in the story. That does not happen a lot when I read Sci-Fi.) Anyway, Smijj is living on a planet no one really seems to care about. He is alone, jobless, and struggling to make an honest living, when opportunity arises. A space ship crew hires him to unload their cargo, and he is soon a part of their crew, and on his way to finding out who he is and why he has the ability to wish himself away to anywhere he wants. I recommend it to anyone who likes Science Fiction and Fantasy, or has an interest in space ships.
Erin expects the sequel to be out in May, and two more installments are in the works.
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  • richard

    Good review and command of words.

  • Marianne Bacon

    Very nice book review, and I appreciate your tips on youth books, Simcha. 

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  • http://redcardigan.blogspot.com/ Erin Manning

    Thank you so much for this, Simcha! And please thank your daughter for me as well. :)

  • http://www.indiatoappleton.blogspot.com Nancy

    I loved the conversation in this interview — and thank you, Erin Manning, for writing to fill this gap! I’ll be getting these books for my 10- and 12-year-olds. And nice reviewing skills by your young lit crit!

  • http://redcardigan.blogspot.com/ Erin Manning

    Thank you, Nancy!


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