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Slow and Deep
on 7 January 2010
Critically acclaimed as one of the most important and best books for children of the twentieth century and winner of the Carnegie medal, this slim book carries a lot of responsibility on its shoulders. interestingly I read it as a child and didn't like it at all, I now have to read it for a course, thirty years later, and I'm still not keen. I have now studied it, and see why adults rave about it. It is quite deep, it is complex, it wrestles with issues like the generation gap, communication, growing up into a responsible, emotionally mature adult and what it means to be a child. It also looks at issues like death and the afterlife and the nature of time and our place in it as a man made construct. All very laudable and handled by Pearce bravely and quite ingeniously.
On the other hand I do not enjoy the story. I find Tom, the hero of the piece really difficult to like, the action is quite slow and you really have to work hard to keep apace with the shifts in time and Pearce's ideas. It is very old fashioned in the way that it is written and I thought it was quite slow.
My children, 10, 6 and 3 like it, as I am also reading it to them in the hope that they will throw some light on its popularity. They are enjoying it, but we have had to have a few conversations about time and ghosts, which although interesting, are making story time quite challenging.
Maybe I'm just spoiled. I read the Green Knowe books by Lucy M. Boston which I adored and read repeatedly as a child. They deal with the same kind of issues but in a much better way and always this seems like the poor relation to me.