“Do you know what’s happened to the children?”
Edward swallowed. Suddenly, he wanted to cry. “Yes. They’re…sleeping?”
He hoped and hoped and hoped and hoped, grimacing as he did. He looked around.
Makeshift beds lined the room. Small hands gripped blankets, small eyes stared at the ceiling.
“No.” The boy frowned. “They’ve died.”
“Because of Something Very Bad?”
“Yes. And I need you to be a Very Brave Bear. Can you do that?”
This story is why I read Sci-Fi, why I read the more than occasional 'meh' story, why I search through stacks of books about dragons, fairies, elves and sexy vampires at Barnes and Noble  to find the one gem from a literary tradition that is hopeful and looks at the future and is not beholden to a dead past. 
'Edward Bear and the Very Long Walk' by Ken Scholes, read by Stephen Eley. Not for young children. It's 45-minutes of recorded audio and worth every minute.
Update: Text of the story here, at RevolutionSF.
 Would it kill you guys to separate the dragons and fairies books from real literature?
 Every gosh-damned fantasy novel published since 1960 owes it's existence to a humble Oxford scholar with a nerdly passion for language. Would it kill you guys to innovate?