A bundle of rabbits flee from blood seeping through fields, a child groans for a mother brutally shot dead by hunters, a farmer raises a knife as the runt of the litter screams. Horror films? No. Childrens books? You bet. But Anne Fine, the former Childrens Laureate, has had enough and argues that 'realism has gone too far in literature for children. She has called for happier endings and looks back to the Fifties, where, 'there was always a rescue at the end of the book - while insisting that she isnt calling for a return to Blytonian ginger beer and japery. Im not advocating that we sit our youngsters down to Seven or Bret Easton Ellis - but there is value in being introduced to pain, death and the sheer unpredictability of life at an age when the brain is so adaptable. Reading about General Woundwort tearing a rabbits ears to shreds in Robert Adams Watership Down prepared me for the day I found my guinea pigs ears bleeding after turning on each other. I also learned that General Woundworts mother had been killed by a weasel - shown in graphic detail in the 1999 series in front of his own eyes - and that this suffering was a factor in his development into a psychotic murderer. But essentially these books teach that things work out in the end, especially with a bit of help from a gull or a spider. Anne Fine calls for more hope in childrens books. But alongside hope we need the salty and macabre aspects of life. And stories such as Watership Down, Bambi and Charlottes Web tend to be the ones that stay with us the longest, dont you think? - Telegraph