Best 1969 YA & YYA Lit (7)
January 24, 2019
One in a series of 10 posts identifying Josh Glenn’s favorite 1969 YA & YYA adventure novels. Happy 50th anniversary!
Mary Q. Steele’s sci-fi adventure Journey Outside.
Following in the tradition of sci-fi versions of Plato’s allegory of the cave — which begins, I think, with Gabriel De Tarde’s Underground Man (1884), and which was first introduced to younger readers, I think, by Suzanne Martel’s Quatre Montréalais en l’an 3000 (1963) — children’s author and naturalist Mary Q. Steele’s strange novella begins underground. Dilar is an adolescent boy whose tribe, the Raft People, float endlessly along a dark, enclosed river in search of a legendary world where fantasies like “green” and “day” are real. Suspecting, correctly, that they’ve just been traveling in circles, perhaps for generations, Dilar jumps ship — and discovers the outside world! He experiences unknown phenomena like sunlight, grass, and peaches for the first time… and is adopted by a community who, although living above-ground, also (it turns out) live lives that are meaningless. Dilar embarks on a journey to find his people and liberate them — but, again and again, he finds himself instead entangled in misguided ways of living. I suspect that Steele’s various communities — the People Against the Tigers, the cactus-sucking Not people, the man who spends his days cooking pancakes for animals — are intended as critiques of Sixties-era communes. It’s tough to tell — an odd tale!
Fun facts: Nominated for the Newbery Medal in 1970, which was awarded to William H. Armstrong’s Sounder.
BEST SIXTIES YA & YYA: [Best YA & YYA Lit 1963] | Best YA & YYA Lit 1964 | Best YA & YYA Lit 1965 | Best YA & YYA Lit 1966 | Best YA & YYA Lit 1967 | Best YA & YYA Lit 1968 | Best YA & YYA Lit 1969 | Best YA & YYA Lit 1970 | Best YA & YYA Lit 1971 | Best YA & YYA Lit 1972 | Best YA & YYA Lit 1973. ALSO: Best YA Sci-Fi.
JOSH GLENN’S *BEST ADVENTURES* LISTS: BEST 250 ADVENTURES OF THE 20TH CENTURY | 100 BEST OUGHTS ADVENTURES | 100 BEST RADIUM AGE (PROTO-)SCI-FI ADVENTURES | 100 BEST TEENS ADVENTURES | 100 BEST TWENTIES ADVENTURES | 100 BEST THIRTIES ADVENTURES | 75 BEST GOLDEN AGE SCI-FI ADVENTURES | 100 BEST FORTIES ADVENTURES | 100 BEST FIFTIES ADVENTURES | 100 BEST SIXTIES ADVENTURES | 75 BEST NEW WAVE SCI FI ADVENTURES | 100 BEST SEVENTIES ADVENTURES | 100 BEST EIGHTIES ADVENTURES | 75 BEST DIAMOND AGE SCI-FI ADVENTURES | 100 BEST NINETIES ADVENTURES (in progress) | 1994 | 1995 | 1996 | 1997 | 1998 | 1999 | 2000 | 2001 | 2002 | 2003 | NOTES ON 21st-CENTURY ADVENTURES.