I was saddened to read of the passing of author Brian Jacques. He is most known as the author of the Redwall series for children. My son has read and loved the entire series as well as other of Mr. Jacques writings.
One of the outstanding characteristics of his books was their moral clarity. As a volunteer reader at the Royal School for the Blind in Liverpool England, he was appalled at the books available for his reading. In a 2003 interview he recalled, “They were about dysfunctional families, teen-age pregnancies, drug addiction, alcoholism, and deep psychological problems. I hated those books and so did the children.”
He went home and began writing the first Redwall novel to read to the children. There was no moral ambiguity here.
Children understand at a very young age that some things are bad and some things are good. It’s a bad thing to hit your brother or sister over the head; it’s a good thing to share, to help your mom and dad. It used to be we learned right from wrong at home and church. But that no longer seems to be the case as much as it was when I was growing up. So I try to paint very clear moral signposts at an age when children need to hear very unambiguous messages. “This is good. That is bad. Period. End of discussion.”
Was he ever tempted to “make the vermin the good guys?”
No. Not ever! NEVER!! I often tell my readers that in my books, my baddies are bad and my goodies are good. I won’t have sympathetic baddies and schizophrenic goodies in my books . . . A true evil hero in one of my books? Not while I draw breath!
Thank you, Mr. Jacques for providing entertaining stories with a clear sense of right and wrong. The creatures of Redwall and their fight for good will continue to be enjoyed by millions. You and your moral objectivity will be greatly missed.
Here is the 2003 interview with Mr. Jacques in its entirety.