Last night, Miss Wendy and I got to talking about the new video game Dante’s Inferno. (Before you freak out or get your hopes up, we do realize it’s rated M for mature and we won’t be buying it for the children’s department). In some ways, the story seems like a natural for adapting to a video game. The main character has to complete levels before progressing to the next level. He’s separated from his girlfriend and trying to reach her, as if she were Princess Toadstool. After looking at previews and reviews of the game last night, though, I’m convinced it doesn’t have much to do with religion. Or Dante’s epic poem.
I was curious how many children’s books might have connections to The Divine Comedy. I could think of one recent book right away:
Heck: Where the Bad Kids Go by Dale E. Basye.
When Heck arrived in our department on the new books cart, I happened to see it from behind first. The back cover illustration cracked me up: a sign declaring “You must be this short to enter Heck.” I decided right then I would have to take it home and read it.
The premise behind the book is that if you are young, dead, and badly behaved you end up in Heck for all eternity or until you turn eighteen. Heck contains a number of circles, thus the potential for a whole series of books. The other main nod to Dante is the presence of a kid named Virgil, who has been darned to Heck for longer than the main characters and is able to show them around.
The story is full of disgusting details, daring escape attempts, pop culture references, word play, and small demons wielding sporks. If that doesn’t sound like something you would enjoy, I do have another suggestion:
What If? by Jonathan Shipton.
I wouldn’t have thought of this book on my own, but I was able to take advantage of a feature in the new catalog. On the right-hand side of the screen, near the top, is a gray box with the words “My Discoveries.” If you click on the box and register for an account, you can tag the records of books in PrairieCat. Someone tagged the book What If? with the words “Dante” and “Divine Comedy,” so it came up when I searched the catalog. You could look at the girl in the story as a sort of Beatrice who guides the main character through the heavens.
If you would like to let other people know what you think of a book, you could also use the “My Discoveries” feature to write a review or give a rating of one to five stars. You can also use the same feature to create lists for yourself or lists to share with other people. Give it a try! -Miss Sarah