Saturday morning interview with Kate de Goldi on Ursula Dubosarsky’s ‘The Golden Day”. Radio New Zealand. Abridged and edited transcription.
Now the latest by Ursula Dubosarsky. I cannot recommend this more highly. It’s called The Golden Day and is set in two periods 1967 and 1975. We know that this was a time of great social and cultural change. We were on the eve of the summer of love and, as Ursula says in the afterword of her book, it was a time when some people grasped the emerging values with great enthusiasm and some people held fast against them. So the forces of conservatism and radicalism are about to clash, quite violently.
Miss Renshaw is one of those disturbing teachers, who comes into the classroom and tips upside down the children’s view of the world. Miss Renshaw has been slowly doing that with this little group of eleven 9 year olds. They are like a collective. One time Dubosarsky describes them walking along the road like segments of a caterpillar and another time like a chain of paper dolls. Their personalities are just starting to emerge.
One strong personality is Cubby who is the readers’ lens on the strange happenings that occurred on the day that Miss Renshaw takes them out into the public gardens, “to think about death”. The other strong personality is Icara and, as the story goes on, you realise why the name is so loaded. It is loaded on behalf of all the girls in the class, because what they do is fly near the sun on this day in a metaphoric way and confront things that puzzle them for the rest of their lives.
She is the most daring author with perhaps one of the most perfect ears I have ever read in children’s literature. So much happens between the lines, because she’s so concise and her work is so freighted. It is just so dense with possibility. You come away from the book wanting to read it again and thinking, I must give this to someone so we can talk about what really happened. ..