Homecoming by Cynthia Voigt - another 'story of homeless children' classic, this time American.
After the four Tillerman children are abandoned by their mother in a car park, thirteen year old Dicey, the eldest, must find a way to keep her family together as they travel across America in search of an aunt they have never met.
It's a well-written book, with sympathetic, high interest characters and plot. There'll be a lot of lesson plans out there on this book, making it 'perfect' to give to Lucy to read this term for English. Yet I find myself ambivalent about doing that, about spoiling with duty a book that could be read with 'mere' pleasure.
I know that analysis can sometimes add to pleasure. I know that the skill of deep reading, once mastered, gives pleasure. But I don't want Lucy to lose any books in the learning.
I don't feel nearly so ambivalent about the books I set for book club. It seems a more natural process - to read, to think and then discuss - than using a text to 'explore' a particular technique or theme.
Reading about A Small Free Kiss in the Dark, it was suggested in a set of teacher's notes that the book is good material for "discussions and explorations of homelessness". I'm sure it is, but reducing a novel to its themes and motifs seems to deny it something more substantial, the wildness and joyousness that a created thing has by virtue of its creation, something that can't be taught or discussed but is a private experience between the reader and her book.