Saturday, 14 December 2013

ABC blog: V

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V is for ventriloquism. I am amazed at myself that I have never used the concept in my studies! It should be the most fundamental notion in children's literature research: adult author pretending that somebody else is speaking. That we hear an authentic voice – another V – of a child.

The way I have put it sounds horrible, an unpardonable exercise of power, and, sadly, this is often the case. However, if we look at it positively, a children's author can give a voice to someone who is otherwise silenced, as children frequently are: seen, but not heard. A first-person child narrator is not always the best solution: the child may not have the vocabulary and the cognitive capacity to account for their experience. Ventriloquism may then work to express the child experience through the prism of an adult. Hard, next to impossible, but this is what the best children's writers do.

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