The oil on the water
I began this book by saying that if you mention the idea of writing for ‘early years’ in most social or academic circles the immediate reaction is usually that you are writing about little books for little people. But the complexities surrounding such a discourse are much thornier than this simple explanation provides.The cult and culture that surrounds and tries to define a child and childhood is a highly developed industry and a lot of the critical material targeted at the practice of adult-produced culture for children (in books, film, stage and television) overlaps with this wider picture on critical and cultural transmission and the complexities of the cultural field of production, which cannot be separated or critiqued in isolation from many of the other component parts. But I am with Maurice Sendak when he says that he perceives children to be ‘intuitively aware’ of what goes on around them.1 And if we too maintain a critically creative and creatively critical vigilance and become more aware, then child-centred culture can be a force for good. I firmly believe that and I hope you will agree I have addressed this at length. Of course the ideas I have proposed will have critics and critical responses. But that is to be hoped because closure breeds tyranny and I am leaving the door ajar. Explore at will, if you will.