The Hans Christian Andersen Award
2002 - Aidan Chambers
Born: 27 December 1934, County Durham, United Kingdom
Author's quote: "However much you love somebody, you should always keep a part of yourself to yourself. Never give it all. You can never be yourself otherwise. "
Field: Children's Literature
Prize share: 1/1
Books Written By Aidan Chambers
About Aidan Chambers
Aidan Chambers (born 27 December 1934) is a British author of children's and young-adult novels. He won both the British Carnegie Medal and the American Printz Award for Postcards from No Man's Land (1999). For his "lasting contribution to children's literature" he won the biennial, international Hans Christian Andersen Award in 2002.
Born near Chester-le-Street, County Durham in 1934, Chambers was an only child, and a poor scholar; considered "slow" by his teachers, he did not learn to read fluently until the age of nine. After two years in the Royal Navy as part of his National Service, Chambers trained as a teacher and taught for three years at Westcliff High School in Southend on Sea before joining an Anglican monastery in Stroud, Gloucestershire in 1960. His young-adult novel Now I Know (1987) is based partly on his experiences as a monk.
His first plays, including Johnny Salter (1966), The Car and The Chicken Run (1968), were published while he was a teacher at Archway School in Stroud.
Chambers left the monastery in 1967 and a year later became a freelance writer. His works include the "Dance sequence" of six novels (1978 to 2005): Breaktime, Dance on My Grave, Now I Know, The Toll Bridge, Postcards from No Man's Land and This is All: The Pillow Book of Cordelia Kenn. He and his wife, Nancy, founded Thimble Press and the magazine Signal to promote literature for children and young adults. They were awarded the Eleanor Farjeon Award for outstanding services to children's books in 1982. From 2003 to 2006 he was President of the School Library Association.
Dance on My Grave - Aidan Chambers
I first came across this novel in my eighth grade year at school. It had been the first homosexual novel that I'd ever read, and I found it both surprising and satisfying; it was a coming-of-age story about a pair of young men who happened to meet by chance of fate during the summer vacation and ended up spending several weeks together.
Hal seems much more committed to the relationship than Barry, who acts as though his time with Hal is merely an exciting fling. And one morning, Barry, filled with exhilaration, makes Hal promise that if one of them dies, the other must dance on his grave. For Barry to ask such a daring thing of Hal only serves to further arouse Hal's interest and he becomes more obsessively committed than ever, for he had always hoped to find the ideal, "bosom" friend, and he feels that Barry must certainly be "the one".
Dance on My Grave was like nothing I had ever read before, and admittedly, the novel seems targeted more towards a British audience and someone unfamiliar with British terms may have to reread certain parts several times to fully understand the book. But I have remained forever attatched to this book, for it evoked such emotions in me as I had never felt before. You can't help but feel sympathy for Hal, who, for his whole life, has been searching for the perfect friend and lover but could never find anyone that fit his ideals... until he met Barry.
The lesson of the desperate, clinging obsession that comes with true and unconditional love in this story seems to be like the young adult equivallent to Joseph Olshan's Nightswimmer. I highly recommend this book.
Dance on My Grave - Aidan Chambers
This is one of the best books I have read in quite a while. I recommend it to my friends without reservation.