Could a description of recent children's literature as work that contains many opposing voices that undermine and transgress authority fit Junk and The Other Side of Truth?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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I think that anytime we are discussing an entire genre of literature, it might be a challenge to try to ascribe sweeping statements to it. However, in the case of Junk  and The Other Side of Truth, there is a strong tendency to see voices that undermine and transgress authority.  Both works feature authority that has led children astray.  In Naidoo's construction, Sade and Femi are victimized by corruption in the government.  This is seen in the execution of their mother and in the targeting of their father.  When Sade and Femi arrive in London, they see a world where authority has already been undermined and transgressed.  Violence against shop keepers, dereliction of duty to fellow human beings, as well as the inability to tell the truth for fear of being discovered are the realities that confront both children.  In this condition, there is already a transgression of authority.  It is almost by default that the children participate in this world.  At the same time, both children are abandoned.  Naidoo develops a world where people question where authority is.  One wonders who will take care of Sade and Femi in this new world.  When children confront a reality where guidance is absent and the structures that should safeguard childhood are absent, a transgression and undermining of authority has already taken place.  This is where the narratives of children contain opposing voices, the other side of truth as it were.  It is the logical consequence of an absence of structure to care for the needs of children.

This same type of abandonment is evident in Junk.  Tar leaves home because he is abused.  He leaves home because his domestic world is one where there is an abandonment of responsibility.  His mother is an alcoholic who depends on him to conceal her condition.  His father beats him.  In the end, this reality is one where a structure that is meant to care for his needs is absent.  Authority has transgressed against its responsibility towards a child.  Accordingly, Tar's running away, taking up the anarchist cause, and drug addiction reflect the logical reality of authority failing to take up its ethical and moral commitment to the needs of children.  Much of what Tar does in terms of transgressing and undermining authority is the direct result of his own childhood being violated and disrespected.  In this light, the work speaks to how children end up transgressing when their own rights to a childhood have been transgressed.  In this light, the statement about recent children's literature can apply to works by Naidoo and Burgess.

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