I remember Peter talking about this book as he was writing it in 1976 (published 1977). He knew it was going to be an adventure (of course) and that he wanted to write about the relationship between a boy and his grandfather. He also wanted to make his central character someone with a disability (this was quite rare in those days) – and chose to see what would happen if his character was blind. He said when commenting about the book for this website that he became…:
…interested in the stylistic problem of writing a whole book without using any visual images, except when the boy himself is speaking. E.g. he can say “I’ll be seeing you,” but I can’t say “He had a bright idea.” I tried to do it so that no one would notice – the opposite, for instance, of Henry Green’s Blindness, where he uses phrases like “The purring mahogany table,” and so draws attention to the business of non-seeing. Jake’s never known anything else, and so takes it for granted.
The story itself is thrilling – and all the more so for being written at a time long before the internet and mobile phones.
These days, there is a wide range of YA fiction putting characters with disabilities centre stage. They are no longer invisbile and that is certainly to be welcomed. There are lists available online of many of the best of these novels, some narrowed down to lists of books featuring characters with specific challenges. Good Reads has several, including this list of ‘Blindness in YA‘ books.
Peter’s publishers, Open Road Media, have included Annerton Pit at Day 8 in their Early Bird Books “31 Days of Teen Reads” Challenge. The book is available as an ebook and also as a print edition from book retailers.Philippa Dickinson