Hanging out in an anthology with some of Canada’s finest authors of books for young people

Dark Times, edited by Ann Walsh

The anthology Dark Times was published in 2005 by Ronsdale Press: http://ronsdalepress.com/books/dark-times/

I was working on Running Toward Home, and struggling mightily with sustaining the perspective of a teenaged boy throughout a book length story. When I saw the call for submissions for an anthology for young people dealing with loss and grief, one of my children had recently dealt with a dark and difficult experience. The writing of “Kick”, my contribution to Dark Times, was in part a way of trying to make sense of that experience, and an exercise in getting inside the skin of a fourteen-year-old boy.

Why should you read this book, and then pass it along to young people in your life?

1. We assume, I think, that books for pre-teens and teenagers need action, adventure, fantasy, to hold their attention. I know from reading to my children from the time they were old enough old to sit still for the four minutes required to read a story book, that books about real life had their own special magic. So many contemporary YA books I could name that deal with difficult subjects. Dark Times, in the words of Norma Charles, author of All the Way to Mexico, is: “A fine collection of gritty and compelling stories for young people about loss and grief that will rivet the reader, and in the end, inspire hope because of the indomitable spirit of youth.”

2. This collection was edited by the inspiring, award-winning children’s author, Ann Walsh. If you don’t know Ann’s work, you should, and when you’ve finished reading Dark Times with your child, move on Ann’s long list of books, many of them set in the north: http://annwalsh.ca/

3. The other contributors to this anthology include authors who left me feeling humble and honoured to be in their company: Ann Walsh, Sarah Ellis, Lee Maracle, Alison Lohans, Diana Aspin, Carolyn Pogue, Carrie Mac, Donna Gamache, Gina Rozon, Libby Kennedy, Patricia McCowan , Jessie May Keller. The chorus of voices, the range of subject, and the eloquence of the writing – do I need to offer more encouragement?

4. Because this book is an excellent one, parents for discussion with your own children; teachers, for discussion with your classes; youth leaders, for discussion with the young people whose company you enjoy.

5. And finally, because I’m not holding back at all in these posts on self-promotion, in a review of Dark Times, Richard van Camp, internationally renowned storyteller and author of a long list of books including The Lesser Blessed as well as several stunningly beautiful books for very young children says :“Kick” by Betty Jane Hegerat is probably one of my favourite in the collection because the story is about how a victim of bullying copes with the confusion after the school bully, Will, dies suddenly in a vehicle accident with his family. I like this story because the author nails the confusion that comes with grief and mourning so perfectly at the end.”

Who can resist tooting her horn over such an endorsement?

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