SCBWI's Blueboard - A Message & Chat Board

What about Gerald Durrell?

Discussion started on

Member
Poster Plus
  • *
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI Region britishisles
I thought of his books the other day and I realised that I've never heard anyone comment on them here on the boards. Did they not make it big in the US?

They're so utterly wonderful I felt the sudden urge to find out whether anyone else has ready any of them and whether children today have access to them. For any child (or adult) who loves animals or adventure, they'd be a sure-fire hit, I think.
#1 - January 04, 2012, 07:12 PM

Emeritus
Poster Plus
  • *
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI PAL
  • SCBWI Region newengland
Love them, Franzilla...especially for all the sly digs he gets in on Lawrence, and for their delightful but thoroughly dotty mother.  My son (now 20) read and enjoyed them in middle school.
#2 - January 04, 2012, 07:18 PM
The Leland Sisters series: Courtship and Curses, Bewitching Season, Betraying Season (Holt BYR/Macmillan)
www.marissadoyle.com
www.nineteenteen.com

mariannabaer

Guest
OH OH OH!!!!!! There is no overstating how much I love Gerald Durrell!!! I think I've read MY FAMILY AND OTHER ANIMALS over 25 times -- probably once a year since I was a teenager. My whole family loves it, and I've given it to a lot of other people who've become fans, too.

I think he has sort of a cult following here in the US. You can still find MY FAMILY... in bookstores, so that must mean it is still being bought.

There is no one in the world I wouldn't recommend that book to, from age 12 to 120! Thanks for bringing him up!
#3 - January 06, 2012, 06:49 AM

Member
Poster Plus
  • *
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI Region easternny
You can certainly find his books in any of the better bookstores (she says snobbily) -- particularly MY FAMILY AND OTHER ANIMALS, which still definitely sells.

However, the current editions are "grownup" editions and are generally found in the grownup section of the store - while it is sometimes assigned to private school kids in middle school or high school as summer reading, is doesn't usually get shelved into the kids section itself.
#4 - January 06, 2012, 06:54 AM
twitter: @literaticat
ask the agent: http://literaticat.tumblr.com/ask

Member
Poster Plus
  • *
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI Region britishisles
Delighted to hear he's not completely forgotten! Although I don't get why he's shelved in the adult section. Is the idea that only oldies will want to read him? Do books like Tom Sawyer also get shelved in the adult section? It's interesting and may also explain why I haven't spotted him! (I do read adult books... mostly non-fiction, though.)

I am buying copies of all his books. Somehow my childhood copies, along with pretty much every other book I owned as a kid, got passed along to other young relatives or friends.
#5 - January 06, 2012, 06:58 AM

Member
Poster Plus
  • *
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI Region florida
I love Gerald Durrell, read all his books in my teens.  I'm going to put in an order with my library asap -- thanks for the reminder!

James Herriot's Treasury For Children is a choice for younger children interested in the life of a (humorous) veterinarian.  It's a bit old fashioned (wordy and descriptive), but still funny and lovely.  My nine year old likes me to read it to him.  
#6 - January 06, 2012, 07:56 AM
« Last Edit: January 06, 2012, 06:18 PM by ButterflyGirl »
Ten Clever Ninjas (picture book, Clear Fork Publishing, 2019)
Butterfly Girl (middle grade novel, Clear Fork Publishing, 2019)

Twitter: @kidlitSarah

Member
Poster Plus
  • *
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI Region easternny
Delighted to hear he's not completely forgotten! Although I don't get why he's shelved in the adult section. Is the idea that only oldies will want to read him? Do books like Tom Sawyer also get shelved in the adult section?

I can't speak to Durrell specifically, though yes, I do think that mostly it comes down to, who is buying the book most? In this case, I think it is adults, and I think (though I am not 100%  sure) that only the adult version is in print in the US.

As to Tom Sawyer - yep, there are often children's editions and adult editions of classics like this - same text, but often different introductions, perhaps more scholarly appendixes etc in the grownup version, and more "sophisticated" less "kiddish" covers. We certainly have all Mark Twain, Daniel Defoe, Alcott, Bronte, etc, in BOTH the young version and the "adult" version.
#7 - January 06, 2012, 08:25 AM
twitter: @literaticat
ask the agent: http://literaticat.tumblr.com/ask

RJ_Anderson

Guest
Durrell is hysterical and I love his books. But like the James Herriot books (and I suspect for many of the same reasons, like the biographer and most of the main characters being adults and there being occasional instances of "crude" humour and language), they've been primarily marketed for adults in North America rather than kids.

I read THE STATIONARY ARK first as a young teen, though -- as I did ALL CREATURES GREAT AND SMALL.
#8 - January 06, 2012, 11:51 AM

Member
Poster Plus
  • *
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI Region britishisles
You're right, an adult as the main storyteller is probably partly why they're in the adult section. It's a shame, though, as I would bet a lot of children of a certain age (6-9?) would absolutely gobble up Gerald Durrell's stuff. My four-year-old listens to James Herriot's All Creatures Great and Small and enjoys that too - but I was a bit surprised because pretty much all the characters are either adult or animals. At least in Durrell's books the family members are young children.

I do think children enjoy reading books from an adult's perspective too, but maybe not as many do, or maybe they don't like it as much as when the MC is the same age or just a little older. Maybe my daughter's an oddball but she loves reading about people falling in love or getting married (The Hound from the Pound by Jessica Swaim is one of her favourite books – not a child in sight) but they're pretty thin on the ground!
#9 - January 06, 2012, 05:51 PM

Member
Poster Plus
  • *
  • SCBWI Member
  • SCBWI Region britishisles
I've just been re-reading My Family and Other Animals and just wanted to recommend it to anyone who hasn't read it recently. I am reading it so slowly because I am loving every single word on the page. Some of his descriptions are just so delicious that I want to lick the page (even when he's not describing anything edible!). But I can see, sadly, that it might be passed up by young readers or publishers-for-young-readers these days. There's no immediately obvious challenge or threat to the MC and it's not the kind of book you pick up and can't put down until you've finished it, it's more of a slow savoring experience.

But... for anyone who wants some sunshine in their winter days, get a copy!
#10 - February 18, 2012, 01:16 PM

Members:

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.