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Literature > Children's Literature

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Fairy Tales Transformed? Cover

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Fairy Tales Transformed?

Twenty-First-Century Adaptations and the Politics of Wonder

Cristina Bacchilega

Fairy-tale adaptations are ubiquitous in modern popular culture, but readers and scholars alike may take for granted the many voices and traditions folded into today's tales. In Fairy Tales Transformed?: Twenty-First-Century Adaptations and the Politics of Wonder, accomplished fairy-tale scholar Cristina Bacchilega traces what she terms a "fairy-tale web" of multivocal influences in modern adaptations, asking how tales have been changed by and for the early twenty-first century. Dealing mainly with literary and cinematic adaptations for adults and young adults, Bacchilega investigates the linked and yet divergent social projects these fairy tales imagine, their participation and competition in multiple genre and media systems, and their relation to a politics of wonder that contests a naturalized hierarchy of Euro-American literary fairy tale over folktale and other wonder genres. Bacchilega begins by assessing changes in contemporary understandings and adaptations of the Euro-American fairy tale since the 1970s, and introduces the fairy-tale web as a network of reading and writing practices with a long history shaped by forces of gender politics, capitalism, and colonialism. In the chapters that follow, Bacchilega considers a range of texts, from high profile films like Disney's Enchanted, Guillermo del Toro's Pan's Labyrinth, and Catherine Breillat's Bluebeard to literary adaptations like Nalo Hopkinson's Skin Folk, Emma Donoghue's Kissing the Witch, and Bill Willingham's popular comics series, Fables. She looks at the fairy-tale web from a number of approaches, including adaptation as "activist response" in Chapter 1, as remediation within convergence culture in Chapter 2, and a space of genre mixing in Chapter 3. Chapter 4 connects adaptation with issues of translation and stereotyping to discuss mainstream North American adaptations of The Arabian Nights as "media text" in post-9/11 globalized culture. Bacchilega's epilogue invites scholars to intensify their attention to multimedia fairy-tale traditions and the relationship of folk and fairy tales with other cultures' wonder genres. Scholars of fairy-tale studies will enjoy Bacchilega's significant new study of contemporary adaptations.

Freud in Oz Cover

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Freud in Oz

At the Intersections of Psychoanalysis and Children’s Literature

Kenneth B. Kidd

Children’s literature has spent decades on the psychiatrist’s couch, submitting to psychoanalysis by scores of scholars and popular writers alike. Freud in Oz turns the tables, suggesting that psychoanalysts owe a significant and largely unacknowledged debt to books ostensibly written for children. In fact, Kenneth B. Kidd argues, children’s literature and psychoanalysis have influenced and interacted with each other since Freud published his first case studies.

In Freud in Oz, Kidd shows how psychoanalysis developed in part through its engagement with children’s literature, which it used to articulate and dramatize its themes and methods, turning first to folklore and fairy tales, then to materials from psychoanalysis of children, and thence to children’s literary texts, especially such classic fantasies as Peter Pan and Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. He traces how children’s literature, and critical response to it, aided the popularization of psychoanalytic theory. With increasing acceptance of psychoanalysis came two new genres of children’s literature—known today as picture books and young adult novels—that were frequently fashioned as psychological in their forms and functions.

Freud in Oz offers a history of reigning theories in the study of children’s literature and psychoanalysis, providing fresh insights on a diversity of topics, including the view that Maurice Sendak and Bruno Bettelheim can be thought of as rivals, that Sendak’s makeover of monstrosity helped lead to the likes of the Muppets, and that “Poohology” is its own kind of literary criticism—serving up Winnie the Pooh as the poster bear for theorists of widely varying stripes.

From Birdwomen to Skygirls Cover

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From Birdwomen to Skygirls

American Girls' Aviation Stories

Fred Erisman

Close on the heels of the American public’s early enthusiasm over the airplane came aviation stories for the young. From 1910 until the early 1960s they exalted flight and painted the airplane as the most modern and adventuresome of machines. Most of the books were directed at boys; however, a substantial number sought a girls’ audience. Erisman’s account of the several aviation series and other aviation books for girls fills a gap in the history and criticism of American popular culture. It examines the stories of girls who took to the sky, of the sources where authors found their inspiration, and of the evolution of aviation as an enterprise open to all. From the heady days of early aviation through the glory days of commercial air travel, girls’ aviation books trace American women’s participation in the field. They also reflect changes in women’s roles and status in American society as the sex sought greater equality with men. As aviation technology improves, the birdwomen of the pre-World War I era, capable and independent-minded, give way to individualistic 1930s adventurers patterned on Amelia Earhart, Jacqueline Cochran, and other feminine notables of the air. Their stories lead directly into the coming of commercial air travel. Career stories paint the increasingly glamorous world of the 1940s and 1950s airline stewardess, the unspoken assumptions lying behind that profession, and the inexorable effects of technological and economic change. By recovering these largely forgotten books and the social debates surrounding women’s flying, Erisman makes a substantial contribution to aviation history, women’s history, and the study of juvenile literature. This first comprehensive study of a long-overlooked topic recalls aviation experiences long past and poses provocative questions about Americans’ attitude toward women and how those attitudes were conveyed to the young. Close on the heels of the American public’s early enthusiasm over the airplane came aviation stories for the young. From 1910 until the early 1960s they exalted flight and painted the airplane as the most modern and adventuresome of machines. Most of the books were directed at boys; however, a substantial number sought a girls’ audience. Erisman’s account of the several aviation series and other aviation books for girls fills a gap in the history and criticism of American popular culture. It examines the stories of girls who took to the sky, of the sources where authors found their inspiration, and of the evolution of aviation as an enterprise open to all. From the heady days of early aviation through the glory days of commercial air travel, girls’ aviation books trace American women’s participation in the field. They also reflect changes in women’s roles and status in American society as the sex sought greater equality with men. As aviation technology improves, the birdwomen of the pre-World War I era, capable and independent-minded, give way to individualistic 1930s adventurers patterned on Amelia Earhart, Jacqueline Cochran, and other feminine notables of the air. Their stories lead directly into the coming of commercial air travel. Career stories paint the increasingly glamorous world of the 1940s and 1950s airline stewardess, the unspoken assumptions lying behind that profession, and the inexorable effects of technological and economic change. By recovering these largely forgotten books and the social debates surrounding women’s flying, Erisman makes a substantial contribution to aviation history, women’s history, and the study of juvenile literature. This first comprehensive study of a long-overlooked topic recalls aviation experiences long past and poses provocative questions about Americans’ attitude toward women and how those attitudes were conveyed to the young.

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Gateway to the Modern

Resituating J. M. Barrie

Edited by Valentina Bold and Andrew Nash

J. M. Barrie (1860–1937) is today known almost exclusively for one work: Peter Pan. Yet he was the most successful British playwright of the early twentieth century, and his novels were once thought equal to those of George Meredith and Thomas Hardy. Although in recent years there has been a revival of interest in Barrie’s writing, many critics still fail to include him in surveys of fin de siècle literature or drama. Perhaps Barrie’s remarkable variety of output has prevented him from being taken to the centre of critical discussions in any one area of literary criticism or history. Is Barrie predominantly a novelist or a playwright? Is he Victorian, Decadent, Edwardian or Modernist? Gateway to the Modern is the very first collection of essays on Barrie which attempts to do justice to the extraordinary range of his literary achievement. What emerges is a significant writer, fully immersed in the literary and intellectual culture of his day.

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Grimms' Tales around the Globe

The Dynamics of Their International Reception

Edited by Vanessa Joosen and Gillian Lathey

Grimms’ fairy tales are among the best-known stories in the world, but the way they have been introduced into and interpreted by cultures across the globe has varied enormously. In Grimms’ Tales around the Globe, editors Vanessa Joosen and Gillian Lathey bring together scholars from Asia, Europe, and North and Latin America to investigate the international reception of the Grimms’ tales. The essays in this volume offer insights into the social and literary role of the tales in a number of countries and languages, finding aspects that are internationally constant as well as locally particular. In the first section, Cultural Resistance and Assimilation, contributors consider the global history of the reception of the Grimms’ tales in a range of cultures. In these eight chapters, scholars explore how cunning translators and daring publishers around the world reshaped and rewrote the tales, incorporating them into existing fairy-tale traditions, inspiring new writings, and often introducing new uncertainties of meaning into the already ambiguous stories. Contributors in the second part, Reframings, Paratexts, and Multimedia Translations, shed light on how the Grimms’ tales were affected by intermedial adaptation when traveling abroad. These six chapters focus on illustrations, manga, and film and television adaptations. In all, contributors take a wide view of the tales’ history in a range of locales—including Poland, China, Croatia, India, Japan, and France. Grimms’ Tales around the Globe shows that the tales, with their paradox between the universal and the local and their long and world-spanning translation history, form a unique and exciting corpus for the study of reception. Fairy-tale and folklore scholars as well as readers interested in literary history and translation will appreciate this enlightening volume.

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Hakon of Rogen's Saga

Erik Christian Haugaard

An American Library Association Notable Book and his first book for children, Erik Christian Haugaard’s Hakon of Rogen’s Saga is a remarkable novel that perfectly catches the mood of a harsh but heroic people. Set at the end of the Viking period, it tells of a young boy, Hakon, from the island of Rogen who, after his chieftain father is murdered, undertakes to reclaim his birthright from his treacherous uncle. The illustrations by renowned artists Leo and Diane Dillon make this captivating story come alive.

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Happy Times in Norway

Sigrid Undset


Happy Times in Norway is a moving and delicately humorous picture of Undset’s own blissful home life before her nation fell to the Nazi occupation. Captured here is the excitement of a Norwegian Christmas, the Seventeenth of May, and summer in the idyllic mountains, as well as the chaotic adventure of raising two energetic boys. With vivid detail and illuminating descriptions of the landscape, Happy Times in Norway is infused with the wish that those cherished days could come again.

Igniting Wonder Cover

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Igniting Wonder

Plays for Preschoolers

Children’s Theatre Company

Young children love to explore their world through drama—characters, dialogue, story arcs, and props are all standard elements of a child’s play. It is no surprise then that professional theatre has long been regarded as a way to support children’s social-emotional, cognitive, and creative development. Increasingly, there is an international interest in theatre for very young audiences, and the Wall Street Journal reported on a “baby boom” in American theatre, with a marked upswing in the number of stage plays being written and produced for toddlers and preschoolers.

Fueled by ongoing research into developmental psychology and theatre arts, the Children’s Theatre Company (CTC) of Minneapolis presents in this book four of its newly commissioned plays for preschoolers. CTC is widely recognized as the leading theatre for young people and families in North America; it received the 2003 Tony award for regional theatre, and Time magazine rated it the number one children’s theatre in the United States. These four plays encompass a broad range of styles and subjects: Bert and Ernie, Goodnight! is a musical about Bert and Ernie’s unlikely but true friendship, written by Barry Kornhauser and based on the original songs and scripts from Sesame Street. The Biggest Little House in the Forest is a toy-theatre play about a group of diverse animals trying to share a very tiny home, adapted by Rosanna Staffa from the book by Djemma Bider. The Cat’s Journey is a dazzling shadow-puppet play with a little girl who rides on a friendly cat, written by Fabrizio Montecchi. And Victoria Stewart’s Mercy Watson to the Rescue!, adapted from the Kate DiCamillo Mercy Watson series, is a comic romp featuring the inadvertent heroics of everyone’s favorite porcine wonder.

While these plays are as different as they could be, they all help young children to develop a moral compass and critical-thinking skills—while also showing them the power of the theatre to amaze, delight, and inspire.

Imaginary Citizens Cover

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Imaginary Citizens

Child Readers and the Limits of American Independence, 1640–1868

Courtney Weikle-Mills

From the colonial period to the end of the Civil War, children’s books taught young Americans how to be good citizens and gave them the freedom, autonomy, and possibility to imagine themselves as such, despite the actual limitations of the law concerning child citizenship. Imaginary Citizens argues that the origin and evolution of the concept of citizenship in the United States centrally involved struggles over the meaning and boundaries of childhood. Children were thought of as more than witnesses to American history and governance—they were representatives of “the people” in general. Early on, the parent-child relationship was used as an analogy for the relationship between England and America, and later, the president was equated to a father and the people to his children. There was a backlash, however. In order to contest the patriarchal idea that all individuals owed childlike submission to their rulers, Americans looked to new theories of human development that limited political responsibility to those with a mature ability to reason. Yet Americans also based their concept of citizenship on the idea that all people are free and accountable at every age. Courtney Weikle-Mills discusses such characters as Goody Two-Shoes, Ichabod Crane, and Tom Sawyer in terms of how they reflect these conflicting ideals.

Into the Wilderness Cover

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Into the Wilderness

The Lewis and Clark Expedition

James J. Holmberg

"When Thomas Jefferson sent a team of explorers to discover a way to the Pacific Ocean two hundred years ago, the western border of the United States was the Mississippi River. It was Jefferson's dream to uncover the mysteries of the distant lands beyond. In 1803, the president sent a team of thirty men, lead by Meriwether Lewis and William Clark, up the Missouri River, across the Rocky Mountains, down the Columbia River to the Pacific, and back home again. During this monumental, two-and-a-half-year expedition, Lewis and Clark gathered samples of plants, animals, and Indian crafts. Into the Wilderness describes the difficult yet successful journey that made these men the celebrated heroes they are today. James J. Holmberg, curator of special collections at the Filson Historical Society, is the author of Dear Brother: Letters of William Clark to Jonathan Clark.

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