The Shining World, published in 2003, is the sequel to my 1999 novel The Nordlings about Peggy, a teenage girl with the ability to create imaginary worlds. In this latest installment, Peggy and her Notherland companions - Gavi the philosopher-loon, Molly the pirate doll and a mysterious young man named Jackpine - set out in search of the missing sky-spirit Mi. On their journey they pass through a series of dream-worlds, where they encounter some larger-than-life figures, including the Pirate Queen Grania and the poet William Blake, and finally descend into a nether region called the FarNear, where Peggy catches a glimpse of the mythical Shining World.
Writing in Canadian Children's Literature, Professor Hilary Turner says The Shining World has an "expansive imaginative canvas" and applauds the "sophistication of its moral vision." "Like all good imaginary worlds, Notherland is both familiar and strange... The historical settings are well-researched and vivid."
Read an excerpt from the prologue to The Shining World.
Some background on the series:
The seed of The Notherland Journeys was planted nearly a decade ago when, in the course of doing research for my book Kid Culture, I came across a study of "paracosms" -- imaginary worlds created by children. I knew right away that I wanted to write a story around this idea, and that it would involve a grown-up who returns to an imaginary childhood world to save it from extinction. Kids know instinctively that it's possible to see a "universe in a grain of sand," in the words of William Blake (who makes a prominent appearance in The Shining World), and they're hungry for big stories that don't just teach lessons but allow them to taste the full range of human possibilities -- terror, danger, exhilaration, heroism.
After that initial bolt of inspiration, though, the story took its own sweet time taking shape. I did lots of daydreaming as a kid -- who doesn't? -- but I never conjured up an entire world inside my own head, and the tough part was having to create one with my adult mind. In fact, I threw out an early draft -- over a hundred pages! -- when I realized that my imaginary universe looked and felt too much like all the other neo-Arthurian, Lord of the Rings-style fantasy worlds out there. Once I stumbled upon the notion that this world would be inspired by the far north, everything flowed from there -- the landscape, the characters (a talking loon among them), and the central image of the RoryBory or Northern Lights, populated by singing spirits known as Nordlings. I also knew from the start that my central character, the "Creator" of Notherland, would be female. Peggy, the teenage Everywoman of the series, discovers in her travels through various imaginary worlds that she is truly the "hero of her own story." Even in this age of girl-power, this is something many young females still don't realize, and I believe they need more stories where they can see themselves at the centre -- taking action, being heroic.
Remember when children grew up in well-defined stages? Adults tried to keep whole areas of life hidden from them - death, bad language, and, of course, sex - and allowed them to step out into the adult world in an orderly, gradual fashion, according to a schedule determined by grown-ups. So it's no surprise many parents and experts believe that kids today are growing up too quickly, that a toxic combination of TV and films, video games and the Internet are robbing them of childhood. But much as we might like to, we can't go back to that time when grown-ups and kids knew their place.
Honey, We Lost the Kids is a report from the front lines of the revolution in modern childhood, a mind-bending, straight-talking approach to understanding the challenges of parenting and childrearing today. Chapter titles and subjects covered include: Madame de Sade's House of Disclosure, The Walled Garden of Childhood, The Great Parenting Debate, sex, violence, computers and the Internet, and raising kids in the global village.
Some sample quotes from reviews:
Culture: Children & Adults & Popular Culture
A children's novel about a fat girl who learns to value herself when she performs an act of courage and strength she didn't know she had.
Last updated September 2006.