A cruel taunt among children and a nasty tool of workplace politics, being the one in the know is delicious fun in children’s books. In Wolf’s Coming we’re the only ones who DON’T know what’s going on.
Harry the Dirty Dog features a dog in the know. Rebellious but beloved, white-furred, black-spotted Harry escapes for a happy day of grime time. Alas! He reappears as a black dog with white spots. Even artful renditions of old tricks cannot persuade the family that this “new dog” is their beloved Harry.
Perhaps he’s related to the clever but ignored canine in the award-winning Sam & Dave Dig a Hole.
On a more serious note, Black Beauty is not only a literary classic, it is credited with changing the way people treat animals. “Black Beauty helped people see animals in a new way,” says Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Jane Smiley. “As soon as you say that an animal has a point of view, then it’s very difficult to just go and be cruel to that animal. … [It showed] readers that the world is full of beings who should not be treated like objects.”
Bestselling author James Scott Bell stresses the importance of choosing the right point of view for your novel. The first person is the most intimate, he tells us, while the omniscient narrator has “great perspective.” Smiley teaches us that POV can have a profound effect on readers’ behavior.
“I know something you don’t know” . . .
Do you use POV as a feature of effective storytelling, a means of encouraging empathy and compassion, or both?