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Done badly, a child narrator can be cloyingly cutesy and pretty annoying. Done well, a child’s perspective offers an honest and searingly uncomplicated view of an adult world, with lots of potential for delicious ironies produced in the gap between the reader’s understanding and the child’s.
· A child’s murder in suburban Washington is set against the unfolding Watergate scandal in A Crime in the Neighbourhood by Suzanne Berne, told through the eyes of a 10-year-old girl.
· Jean Louise Finch, aged six, tells the story of her heroic father’s stand against racial injustice in To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee.
· A child yet to be born describes the adult dramas playing out in the world he’s yet to see in Nutshell, Ian McEwan’s rewriting of William Shakespeare’s complex family drama Hamlet.
· A road trip with her father begins as an exciting adventure only to become something more scary for seven-year-old Dolly in All the Lost Things by Michelle Sacks.
· Thirteen-year-old Jason lives in the small Worcestershire village of Black Swan Green, in the semi-autobiographical novel by David Mitchell which follows him for thirteen eventful months.
· Lewis Little, aged 13, spends a summer in Paris with his mother, where he discovers the adult perils of love and passion in The Way I Found Her by Rose Tremain.
· The life of a teenage vagabond provides the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn in the classic novel by Mark Twain, in which Huck, lawless and vulgar, nevertheless displays a morality superior to those upright citizens around him.
· Astrid is put into foster care in White Oleander by Janet Finch, enduring a series of poor mothers while she longs for her own.
· When he is nine, Oskar finds a mysterious key belonging to his father a year after he died in the 9/11 terror attacks, in Jonathan Safran Foer’s novel Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, and his search for answers begins.
· A small boy describes the only Room he’s ever known, in the book by Emma Donoghue, without recognising that it is a prison and a torture chamber for his mother.
· Esch is 14 and pregnant, motherless, mothering her three brothers, and waiting for Hurricane Katrina to hit her rural home in coastal Mississippi, in Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward.