This week, we got to read another interesting book: Philip Pullman's The Golden Compass (Also known as Northern Lights). I suppose most people would look at the story being told and argue about the religious implications, but personally, it might be better to look at the format. After a quick excerpt from John Milton's Paradise Lost (an adult poem, but we'll get to that in a moment), Pullman writes:
"The Golden Compass forms the first part of a story in three volumes. The first volume is set in a universe like ours, but different in many ways. The second volume is set in the universe we know. The third volume will move between universes."
This admittedly makes me wonder if this is a children's novel. I suppose higher age children (middle schoolers) would be able to follow this format after being warned of it ahead of time, but would they really gather the nuances? I know adults who have issues following this type of format. While I admit that I don't have any trouble, especially with this easy read, I am trained to read. Literally. It's what I've been learning the past few years and I always step back after reading something and go, "Could I read this without my years of schooling?" (Though occasionally it's, "Why can't I read this after all my years of schooling?!"). This is a critical question to ask ourselves, especially those who want to teach eventually.
Do we really think middle schoolers will understand this book? It even starts with an very adult people by Milton. Granted it is only a short excerpt, but those who have read Paradise Lost know that this poem can be challenging language wise as well as in nuance and themes. This excerpt could be a foreshadowing of the difficult read ahead (as well as for the book's actually contextual importance, of course). Can we really expect younger adults to get the experience of a book with complex formats? Or appreciate them?
I really want to say "yes", since I know I used to be able too. However, I always wonder if that is par for the course. Especially after interacting with some of the younger generations lately. It seems almost half and half.