Episode 11: Mothers in Children’s Literature

In Lauren’s words, ‘mothers are the scariest thing in children’s literature’. Find out why in this episode! You can download it HERE (28 min), subscribe to us on iTunes, or play it in the sidebar of the website.

In this episode you’ll hear about:

  • Different traditions of motherhood in children’s literature: from the saintly mother to the evil mother.
  • The absent mother, or rather, the presence of the absence of the mother.
  • Motherly sacrifices, literal and figurative.
  • Dysfunctional, bipolar, depressed, teenage mothers… and how they still love their children in spite of all.

Comment on this post, send us an email at kidyounotpodcast@gmail.com and share the podcast if you liked it. And if you have any suggestions for topics, or any questions, get in touch – we’re on Twitter too.

And yes, this is the 11th episode, coming after the 12th episode. This is because we’re highly postmodern (and a bit confused)
Here are some of the books we’re discussing in this episode – a full list can be found on our Books page.

Some Scary Stories for Halloween

Uncle Montague’s Tales of Terror

As a self-confessed lover of many of the ‘pleb’ genres (hello Andrew Mitchell) I adore ghost stories. One of the most well-thumbed books on my shelf as a child was the Usborne Book of Ghost Stories, and since then I have sought out the humble ghost story wherever possible. It may also be worthwhile to point out that only short stories will do for me (apparently I have always liked my frights bite-sized). I’m talking MR James, WF Harvey and virtually every Victorian writer worth their salt. Even Roald Dahl has a couple of ghost stories in his canon! Supernatural tales that leave the reader haunted by the text for days afterwards. Particularly at night once you are in bed…

You might not think that children’s books contain many good quality, genuinely creepy tales – but like many other assumptions about children’s literature this one is wrong! Neil Gaiman’s Coraline would be an obvious example of a sinister book, but what about my favourite short story genre? What would I recommend as a great read for this Halloween?

If you want to be incredibly freaked out then I suggest you buy Chris Priestley’s Uncle Montague’s Tales of Terror. Although ‘aimed at children’ and written by a modern author (pre-1940s ghost stories are generally so much better than more recent ones!) the stories are just as sinister as any aimed at an adult audience. They centre around Edgar, a boy listening to his uncle’s strange tales behind several artefacts in his rather peculiar house.

The stories Uncle Montague tells to the goody-goody Edgar range from the slightly hair-raising to the full on I’m-so-creeped-out-I’m-not-really-sure-if-I-want-to-turn-the-lights-out-yet variety. There are many scenes that I am sure that parents of the overprotective variety would disapprove of, from the reanimated mutilated corpse of a cliff fall victim to a sinister elm tree reminiscent of MR James’ ash tree.

But it is the macabre Offerings that haunts me late at night and makes my skin prickle. I won’t spoil the story for you here, as part of the fun is the skilful build up of suspense and the gaps left for the reader to fill. Oddly, this was not my favourite when I initially read the stories, but it is the one that stayed on my mind. Perhaps the scariest stories are the ones that let the reader’s imagination supply the terror?

These stories will scare you as much as any good adult ghost story and are thus perfect for Halloween. Maybe good fodder for Neil Gaiman’s All Hallow’s Read initiative?

Just don’t, whatever you do, read them on your own…


What do you like to read at Halloween? Have you got any more scary recommendations?


Episode 12: Multiculturalism in Children’s Literature, with Sita Brahmachari

What does representing other cultures in children’s literature entail? After a (long) summer break (sorry!), we are back to discuss this important question, and not on our own! Our special co-host for this anniversary episode of Kid You Not is…

Sita Brahmachari. Yes, the amazing children’s author of Artichoke Hearts and Jasmine Skies, that we keep telling you about. We met her. For real. And recorded an episode with her (and her puppy Ringo, if you’re wondering what that noise in the background is).

You can download the episode by clicking HERE (29 min), subscribe to us on iTunes, or play it in the sidebar.

And listen to Sita tell us more about what she thinks of the complex question of multiculturalism in children’s books. In particular:

  • When dealing with mixed heritage and the encounters of different cultures, is it better to normalise or to problematise?
  • Can you write about a culture you don’t know?
  • How do young readers react to stories that stage the clashes and/or fusion of different cultural backgrounds?

Any comments, questions, requests? As always, post them here or email us at kidyounotpodcast@gmail.com ! You can also follow us on twitter @kidyounotpod.

And here are the (brilliantly designed) covers of Sita’s books, which you should read if you haven’t already. We might be a little bit obsessed with them; just a little.


Lauren & Clementine x

P.S. In case you’re wondering, Episode 11 is coming… next time. Yeah. Don’t ask.

Episode 10: Sex in Teenage Literature

Everything you always wanted to know about sex in teenage literature, but were too afraid to ask your local librarian…

In Episode 10 of Kid You Not, which is available to download

1. HERE     

(29 minutes), or on iTunes, or in the sidebar of the website, we discuss the omnipresence of sex in teenage literature past and present, and its dark ideological undertones…

In this episode you’ll hear about

  • the shift from didacticism to eroticism in the representation of sex
  • chastity, virginity, NSBF, and other sexy instances of no-sex
  • pregnancy, suicide, and other merry consequences of sex in (most) teenage literature
  • why adult writers are so ambivalent about teenagers doing it, not doing it, losing it, keeping it and thinking about it.

And here are some of the books we’ll be discussing…

As always, email us if you have any questions at kidyounotpodcast@gmail.com, and follow us on Twitter @kidyounotpod!

We hope you enjoy the episode. See you next time for a special interview!

Lauren & Clem x

Episode 9: Ideology in Children’s Literature

But surely only bad quality children’s literature is ideological? In this episode, we debunk the usual myths about ‘ideology’ being a really awful propagandist thing that brainwashes our children. Ideology is everywhere – and it might not be the most obviously ideological children’s books that are the most ‘dangerous’…

You can download this episode by clicking HERE, or subscribe to us on iTunes to get all the episodes automatically downloaded to your mp3 player, or you can play the episode in the sidebar!

In this episode you’ll hear about…

  • What ‘ideology’ means, and why you’re in it with the rest of us.
  • The difference between passive and active ideology, and why the former isn’t at all the most benign.
  • Princesses that don’t want to get married, and why the promotion of gay parenting in children’s books still needs nuclear monogamous family values.

Email us at kidyounotpodcast@gmail.com if you have any comments or questions! In the meantime, here are some of the books we’ll be discussing…


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Episode 8: Non-Fiction for Children

Apparently it’s not fiction, but then what is it? And why is it such a marginalised, and yet such a lucrative, domain in children’s publishing? In Episode 8 of Kid You Not, we discuss non-fiction for children. And as always, you can download it

1. HERE      
(27 min), subscribe to us on iTunes, or play it in the sidebar!

In this episode you’ll hear about:

  • Two non-fiction editors’ opinions about what it is and what it isn’t and why it’s great, thanks to Lauren’s interviews of Caroline Royd, of Walker Books, and Rachel Cook, of Franklin Watts.
  • Clementine’s problems with the assumption that non-fiction teaches children about ‘facts’.
  • Fluffy animals, egyptology, horrible histories and dinosaurs.
  • How Michael Rosen would like to rename non-fiction, and why The Sad Book is, in fact, non-fiction.

Hope you enjoy the episode! and please forgive us for the slight technical problems with sound that we had on this one.

Email us at kidyounotpodcast@gmail.com if you have any questions or suggestions!

And here are some of the books or authors we’ll be talking about:

Episode 7: Humour in Children’s Books

Funny books for kids abound. But can children really understand humour? And what’s the hidden side of all these jokes and puns?

In Episode 7 of Kid You Not, which you can download HERE (31 min) or play in the sidebar, or listen to on iTunes if you subscribe HERE, you’ll hear about:

  • Full-frontal snogging, being wimpy, and why we like hearing about our flaws.
  • Adults who think children don’t get jokes. We dun like them.
  • Slapstick, parody, irony, puns, and all the nuances of what we call ‘humour’.
  • Translating humour: is it even possible? And a debate on cultural imperialism, no less.
  • People who despise funny books, and people who study Pippi Longstocking.

And here are some of the books we’ll be discussing..


Email us at kidyounotpodcast@gmail.com !

Episode 6: Religion in Children’s Literature

What is the place of religion, God, and faith in children’s books? From the origins of children’s literature to modern-day agnosticism, we discuss this controversial theme in our episode which you can download

1. HERE     
, or play in the sidebar (32 min).

And if you want the next and past episodes of Kid You Not on your mp3 player just like that, subscribe to us on iTunes!

In this episode you’ll hear about:

  • Scandalous and sulphurous blasphemy (or not) in Meg Rosoff’s There Is No Dog
  • Religion at the roots of children’s books, and its current unfashionability
  • Why religious values still permeate non-religious children’s books
  • The modern splitting of the religious life

and much more!

Please post all your comments here or email us at kidyounotpodcast@gmail.com!

And here are some of the books we’ll be discussing…


Episode 5: Why do people read paranormal romance?

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er1-150×150.jpg” alt=”” width=”150″ height=”150″ />Paranormal or ‘dark’ romance is the literary phenomenon of the past few years in YA. But what is it that makes these books so compelling, particularly to teenagers? In this episode we discuss the main features of these books, and analyse what the fans say about them.

Download the episode by clicking

1. HERE     
, or subscribe on iTunes, or play it in the sidebar!

In this episode you’ll hear about:

  • Lauren’s secret obsession with paranormal romance and Twilight in particular, and Clementine’s attempt at analysing it psychologically.
  • Mary Sues and handsome dangerous supernatural creatures.
  • Teenage fans who are much more critical and sophisticated than you may think.
  • Why we tend to skip the end of Jane Eyre.
  • The war between sexuality and chastity.

We hope you enjoy it! If you do, please spread the word…

As always, if you have any comments or questions, leave them on this post or email us at kidyounotpodcast@gmail.com

And here are some of the books we’ll be discussing…