I recently visited a school library where the new Teacher-Librarian had thoroughly culled the collection and this made the library so appealing with plenty of space on the shelves. This year we are due to stock take (inventory) our fiction including novels and picture books and as always I do need to do some culling. While it is easy to cull some older worn out books and popular books that were never great stories and that are no longer popular, I always struggle with one group of books when I cull. I find it hard to toss out books that I have loved. I guess if the copy is worn out or the cover is uninviting or the print is too small then the book needs to go.
This leaves me with obscure little books like The Glass Tower. Here we have an older book (published in 1991). It is in very good condition and I think the cover is still quite appealing. The print size could be bigger but it is not too small. I loved this book when I first read it ten years ago so today I re-read it and it has stood the test of time. There is only one outdated reference to video cassettes but it is so incidental I don't think a modern child would even notice it.
The setting for this story is a post apocalyptic Earth in the year 2300. Humans have fled our planet and set up space colonies but now the time has come when Earth is seen as safe and so small groups of space dwellers have returned. Meanwhile on Earth the survivors (ancestors of those left behind) have carved out their own simple society based on trade, crafts and a simple leadership hierarchy. As is often the way in books of this kind, over time the leadership has become corrupt – I am thinking of Toby Alone for example.
Rowan, a boy from Earth, meets up with two of the space dweller children and embarks on a race across the land. Rowan needs help for his mother who is gravely ill, and Astra and Drew need to find their family. The journey is filled with hazards, natural and man made, but the children never loose sight of their goal, the Glass Tower. This is a mysterious building that somehow survived the cataclysm that befell Earth. The glass tower is the scene of the Summer solstice and hence a gathering place for many of the Earth dwellers. It is the perfect place for the people of the two worlds to meet and hopefully move forward in friendship.
The Glass Tower by Margaret Beames is an action packed adventure of friendship and survival. This book would be an excellent way to introduce a young reader to Science Fiction. Of course this is another title that is out of print as are so many of the books in my blog but take a look in your library – you might be lucky! Finally I like to think the glass tower itself might have originally been a lighthouse and lighthouses are among my favourite things. The idea of a lighthouse as a place to show the way to safety is an appropriate metaphor for this book.