My last blog, on the occasion of Edgar Allan Poe’s birthday, suggested some book ideas based on Poe’s writing that might entice young adult readers.
In this blog, I wish to suggest a fantasy writer who has written a lot for the young adult market: Ray Bradbury. Coincidentally, Bradbury looked up to Poe and considered him one of his favourite authors. In fact, Bradbury even paid homage to Poe in his short story, “Usher II,” in which people are dispatched at an eerie mansion in ways that resemble the deaths in many Poe stories.
There are many books that appealed to me as I read my way through my pre-teen and teen years. I remember that in grade seven, I went to our classroom library, looking for something to read, and randomly picked out The Martian Chronicles by Bradbury. As so many boys my age did, I chose the book because the title suggested the spectacular, things not of this world.
It was the beginning of my love for Bradbury. Not only was the novel “out of this world,” it was incredibly strong in characterization, the most important aspect of a book for me, and so I empathized with both the earthlings and the Martians.
Bradbury’s writing is simple for young readers and his themes are not too difficult to grasp. They include such occurrences as love and betrayal and they often focus on young boys who go from innocence to experience due to the effects of the world in which they live. A good example of this is the situation of the two young protagonists in Something Wicked This Way Comes. The two boys have their bonds strengthened and are forced to grow up quickly when they must confront Mr. Dark, an evil magician from a travelling carnival.
Bradbury’s writing has influenced me in the way that Poe’s influenced Bradbury. The story in SWTWC was in my mind as I penned my own children’s fantasy novel, More Precious Than Rubies: The Return of the Norse Gods. In my book, a whole classroom of students is threatened by an evil entity in their school.
I recommend Bradbury for all young adult readers, but especially for those reluctant male readers who need a little more encouragement.