All of which is a long-winded way of saying that kids are tougher than we think, and that the desire to protect kids (especially from themselves) has grown out of all proportion to the real dangers that exist. That’s a bit rich coming from someone who has adapted the last line of the Rock-a-Bye-Baby lullaby to ‘Down will come baby / Daddy break your fall,’ so thankfully John Connolly is on hand, courtesy of the Brisbane Times, to lend a bit of perspective to the debate, and particularly the part of the debate that centres on what kids should or shouldn’t be reading. In a piece titled, ‘Why It’s Good to Terrify Children’, JC ruminates thusly:
“Like a lot of boys, I was curious about the darkness, and I quite liked being scared a little, as long as I was in control of the medium.The scariest book I read as a kid was the Illustrated Bible, especially the bit where Herod slaughtered all the babies. That and the crucifixion. When you’re a kid, and you realise that this is what they do to the good guy … that’s pretty damn scary.
“I can’t ever remember closing a book because it frightened me, but there were a couple that I tended not to read when alone in the house, or when I was sitting up in bed at night. After all, I might have been adventurous when it came to my literary tastes, but I wasn’t stupid.
“Recently I have been put in the unfamiliar position of having to defend my latest book, THE GATES, from accusations that it may be a bit frightening for younger readers who don’t get out enough …
“When the Victorians bowdlerised the fables, removing much of the violence and peril, and indeed the punishments visited on the wrongdoers at the end, they took away their power and their purpose. Without terror they have no meaning.”