Adult novels are about letting go. Children’s novels are about getting a grip.—Tim Wynne-Jones
An interesting thought, but isn’t the reverse just as true? Isn’t part of every adult novel about the MC struggling to get a grip? On their relationships, their job, their addiction of choice. In the same way, doesn’t the MC in a children’s novel have to let go of something in order to gain something else? Even the stubborn pigeon reluctantly lets go of his dreams of driving the bus to focus on the possibility of driving a fire truck.
Then I read Wynne-Jones’s quote again and wondered if I hadn’t missed the point. I needed to think about where the MC in each of these types of novels is on their life journey. Children are just starting out on this journey. They are learning the ropes when it comes to dealing with relationships, responsibilities, and the sometimes cold, hard realities of life. The challenge is getting a firm enough grip on those ropes to clamber up them into adulthood.
Adults, on the other hand, have (for the most part) learned those ropes. Learned them so well, in fact, that they have added walls, and facades, and a plethora of rules to keep their death grip on those ropes from slipping. Now the challenge becomes discovering how to let go of those constraints or risk hanging by those same ropes.
So, are adult novels about letting go and children’s novels about getting a grip? I’d say “yes.” What are your thoughts?