In the first draft of the story I have the little hero, Josh, announce to his grandmother that he has decided to become a Viking. He is changing his name to Knut, a good stout Viking name, and he no longer wants to attend Sunday School, because he has decided, instead, to become a follower of the Norse Gods; Odin, Thor, Loki, Sigurd and the rest.
Cate Sutherland, our editor, didn’t have any trouble with the concept of pagan gods appearing in a children’s book, however, she was concerned that modern kids don’t attend Sunday school like they used to when we were growing up, when just about every kid in Australia trotted off on Sunday mornings with coins for the collection and a collection of religious stamps. Firstly, she didn’t want a book set in modern times to sound old fashioned ( like the writer), and neither did she want any young readers asking, ‘What’s Sunday School?’
It is a small dilemma. Do we leave the reference out because kids haven’t heard of it, or include it because children should know and this is a way for them to learn about such things?
In the end, well, as far as we are along at present, I went with Cate’s advice (I nearly always do, seeing as she has edited a host of award- winning titles and obviously knows what she’s talking about), however, we are willing to consider others people’s opinions, before dismissing them out of hand as ludicrous. Is the award-winning Cate Sutherland right, yet again?