The Observer wags the finger
Publication of Tender Morsels in this country is leading to renewed calls for a clearer system to let parents know about the nature of the books that their children are reading. Anne Fine, a former children's laureate [and of whom I am a big fan—ML], said: "If you look at online reviews, nearly all the parents think it is quite unsuitable. Many of the children loved the book but among the girls, a lot of them found it frightening or even repulsive."In which case, according to pretty much all those online reviews, they tend to use their common sense and stop reading, exactly as they should for their own comfort.
I really don't know how much more clearly I could have telegraphed to (a) young readers or (b) parents who had the nous to actually open a book, that there was potentially offensive content in this novel. As Vanessa Thorpe starts off by saying, the word 'slut' is in the first sentence of chapter 1, and the first scene is clearly a sex scene. In addition, David Fickling Books is printing a warning up front. If a reader ploughs through all that and still expects a Disney fairytale, they must be extremely dim.
It amuses me how journos try and wring every ounce of outrage out of a topic. This was never published as a 'children's' book.
Anne Fine goes on:
I have to wonder generally whether a children's publisher does not sometimes have a responsibility to stop and say that although a shocking new book will make money, and even be popular, it does not have what the Americans call 'redeeming social importance'.I think she should read the actual book (not just the online reviews), and right to the end. I reckon TM is just chock-full of redeeming social importance. It has redeeming social importance coming out its ears—particularly for frightened and repulsed girls.
David Fickling Himself leaps to my baby's defence, and Philip Pullman and Michael Rosen (of both of whom I'm also a huge fan) also weigh in. Go and have a look, and tell me what you think.