Addressing the Earth Crisis in Children’s Fiction

We’re really pleased to host this guest blog by author Anne Cassidy and I personally look forward to reading this. I grew up in the Broads in Norfolk, and have been aware of the risk to the area of rising sea levels since I was a child. Stories like this could help young readers deal with their concerns about the Earth Crisis and find some resolve to take action. What do you think? Read on…

Front cover of The Drowning Day

Anne writes…

I am a writer of fiction and my new book THE DROWNING DAY is a complete departure for me. I have been writing crime stories for teenagers for many years but decided I wanted to write an adventure story for younger children. At the same time the issues around climate change were becoming more and more important and young people, children in particular, were beginning to take notice.

I decided to set my story in the future after a catastrophic flood had taken place. My focus, the world I am describing, is an area of East Anglia which I have called THE WETLANDS. The year is 2052 and the survivors of two floods have settled in and around this area. The children in the story live a hand to mouth existence. A klaxon warns of a possible new flood threat so they have to make their way to the town, North-Hampton, for safety. As soon as the flood threat is over they will be ejected and forced to live on the low lands again.

When writing for children the narrative is the most important aspect. Children want to read about the main characters, Jade and Bates, and what happens to them. They want to follow their struggle, see if they achieve their goals. Children don’t want to feel that an agenda is being pushed down their throats. The story is king.

The world it’s set in can gently reflect the concerns of climate change. In this world the people who were most affected by the rising tides are the poorest. The richest live in High-Town and North-Hampton and are healthier, safer, happier. The Wetlands sees people scavenging and barely making a living. Life is hard with not quite enough food or health care. The remnants of the past-world are everywhere, road signs, dilapidated buildings, masses of plastic which floats in the seas and is impacted in the ground. Things that are precious are usually from the past and recovered from the sea; machinery, coins, bicycles, pots, pans. They find out about the time before from stories told by older characters. There are accounts of moving staircases, electric toothbrushes, aeroplanes. It’s in this ‘world building’ where the message about the dangers of climate change sits. The current post-apocalyptic society is full of rules and regulations, soldiers with guns, wardens, death penalties. People who succumb to infectious illness are expelled and live precarious lives.

But the narrative is king and Jade, Bates and Samson will have victory against their oppressors. A small victory in an ongoing war. Does it have to be like this? They ask. I want the reader to answer, No it doesn’t.

What do you think? If you have any thoughts or questions on this topic, you can comment on this post or on our Twitter profile with the hashtags #ClimateBooks and #TheDrowningDay

To learn more about the book, it is published by UCLan Publishing and you can find them on Twitter here. You can order it from Waterstones or the Bookshop.

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