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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.

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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.

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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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The Irresistible Fairy Tale

The Cultural and Social History of a Genre

Jack Zipes

If there is one genre that has captured the imagination of people in all walks of life throughout the world, it is the fairy tale. Yet we still have great difficulty understanding how it originated, evolved, and spread--or why so many people cannot resist its appeal, no matter how it changes or what form it takes. In this book, renowned fairy-tale expert Jack Zipes presents a provocative new theory about why fairy tales were created and retold--and why they became such an indelible and infinitely adaptable part of cultures around the world.

Drawing on cognitive science, evolutionary theory, anthropology, psychology, literary theory, and other fields, Zipes presents a nuanced argument about how fairy tales originated in ancient oral cultures, how they evolved through the rise of literary culture and print, and how, in our own time, they continue to change through their adaptation in an ever-growing variety of media. In making his case, Zipes considers a wide range of fascinating examples, including fairy tales told, collected, and written by women in the nineteenth century; Catherine Breillat's film adaptation of Perrault's "Bluebeard"; and contemporary fairy-tale drawings, paintings, sculptures, and photographs that critique canonical print versions.

While we may never be able to fully explain fairy tales, The Irresistible Fairy Tale provides a powerful theory of how and why they evolved--and why we still use them to make meaning of our lives.

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Jakub's World

A Boy's Story of Loss and Survival in the Holocaust

A boy's world is shattered by the Holocaust. When German troops come to the small village of BeÂzŒyce, Poland, in 1939, nine-year-old Jakub Szabmacher’s world is forever changed. At first the humiliations inflicted by the Germans seem small, but the conditions worsen until eventually Jakub’s family and much of his village are murdered, and he is sent to various concentration camps in Poland and Germany, where he struggles to survive the terrible conditions of camp life. Finally liberated in 1945 from the concentration camp in Flossenbürg, Germany, Jakub is befriended by American troops and with their help brought to the United States, where he takes the name Jack Terry. Coauthor Alicia Nitecki, whose grandfather was also imprisoned at Flossenbürg, uses Terry’s personal memories to tell young Jakub’s story, as well as unpublished memoirs, private letters, and interviews with former inmates of the Flossenbürg concentration camp and the townspeople of BeÂzŒyce and Flossenbürg. Part history, part autobiography, Jakub’s World offers an anguished young boy’s perspective on the Holocaust.

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Jeunesse: Young People, Texts, Cultures

Vol. 1 (2009) through current issue

Jeunesse: Young People, Texts, Cultures is an interdisciplinary, refereed academic journal whose mandate is to publish research on, and to provide a forum for discussion about, cultural productions for, by, and about young people. Our scope is international; while we have a special interest in Canada, we welcome submissions concerning all areas and cultures. We are especially interested in the cultural functions and representations of “the child.” This can include children’s and young adult literature and media; young people’s material culture, including toys; digital culture and young people; historical and contemporary constructions, functions, and roles of “the child” and adolescents; and literature, art, and films by children and young adults. We welcome articles in both English and French.

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Key Change

New Musicals for Young Audiences

Children’s Theatre Company

Key Change: New Musicals for Young Audiences presents four groundbreaking musicals developed by Children’s Theatre Company, widely regarded as the leading theatre of its kind in North America. These works embody singular styles and sounds, yet all represent the robust spirit of unique people finding their way in the world. They are all sure to entertain, including the Broadway hit A Year with Frog and Toad.

The quirky Tale of a West Texas Marsupial Girl, by Lisa D’Amour, with music by Sxip Shirey, is set in a town unprepared to accept a girl born with a pouch. But eventually, with the help of her friend Sue, everyone comes to understand just how wonderful Marsupial Girl is. Madeline and the Gypsies—adapted by Barry Kornhauser from the popular book by Ludwig Bemelmans, with music by Michael Koerner—gives little Madeline and her friend Pepito a taste of circus life after they get lost at a carnival and Gypsies carry them away. In Buccaneers! (written by Liz Duffy Adams, with music by Ellen Maddow) a girl leads the young pirates who capture her toward a better life through her wits and tenacity. A Year with Frog and Toad chronicles the unlikely friendship of silly Toad and responsible Frog that endures all seasons. Based on the classic books by Arnold Lobel, adapted by Willie Reale, with music by Robert Reale, it made its mark on Broadway and was nominated for three Tony Awards, including Best Musical.

Each of these musicals guarantees a distinctive, delightful theatrical experience. Now teachers and children far and wide can read them in one volume and produce them in their own schools, theatres, and communities.

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Les Cadiens et leurs ancêtres acadiens

l'histoire racontée aux jeunes

Shane K. Bernard

Cajuns and Their Acadian Ancestors: A Young Reader's History traces the four-hundred-year history of this distinct American ethnic group. In its original English, the book proved a perfect package, comprehensible to junior-high and high-school students, while appealing to and informing adult readers seeking a one-volume exploration of these remarkable people and their predecessors. It is now available for the first time translated into French.

The narrative follows the Cajuns' early ancestors, the Acadians, from seventeenth-century France to Nova Scotia, where they flourished until British soldiers expelled them in a tragic event called Le Grand Dérangement (The Great Upheaval)--an episode regarded by many historians as an instance of ethnic cleansing or genocide. Up to one-half of the Acadian population died from disease, starvation, exposure, or outright violence in the expulsion. Nearly three thousand survivors journeyed through the thirteen American colonies to Spanish-controlled Louisiana. There they resettled, intermarried with members of the local population, and evolved into the Cajun people, who today number over a half-million. Since their arrival in Louisiana, the Cajuns have developed an unmistakable identity and a strong sense of ethnic pride.

In recent decades they have contributed their lively cuisine and accordion-and-fiddle dance music to American popular culture. Les Cadiens et leurs ancêtres acadiens: l'histoire racontée aux jeunes includes numerous images and over a dozen sidebars on topics ranging from Cajun music and horse racing heroes to Mardi Gras. Shane K. Bernard's welcomed and cherished history of the Cajun people is translated into French by Faustine Hillard. The book offers a long-sought immersion text, ideal for the young learner and adult alike.

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The Lion and the Unicorn

Vol. 1 (1977) through current issue

The Lion and the Unicorn, an international theme- and genre-centered journal, is committed to a serious, ongoing discussion of literature for children. The journal's coverage includes the state of the publishing industry, regional authors, comparative studies of significant books and genres, new developments in theory, the art of illustration, the mass media, and popular culture. It is especially noted for its interviews with authors, editors, and other important contributors to the field, as well as its outstanding book review section.

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Little Red Readings

Historical Materialist Perspectives on Children’s Literature

Angela E. Hubler

A significant body of scholarship examines the production of children's literature by women and minorities, as well as the representation of gender, race, and sexuality. But few scholars have previously analyzed class in children's literature. This definitive collection remedies that by defining and exemplifying historical materialist approaches to children's literature. The introduction of Little Red Readings lucidly discusses characteristics of historical materialism, the methodological approach to the study of literature and culture first outlined by Karl Marx, defining key concepts and analyzing factors that have marginalized this tradition, particularly in the United States.

The thirteen essays here analyze a wide range of texts--from children's bibles to Mary Poppins to The Hunger Games--using concepts in historical materialism from class struggle to the commodity. Essayists apply the work of Marxist theorists such as Ernst Bloch and Fredric Jameson to children's literature and film. Others examine the work of leftist writers in India, Germany, England, and the United States.

The authors argue that historical materialist methodology is critical to the study of children's literature, as children often suffer most from inequality. Some of the critics in this collection reveal the ways that literature for children often functions to naturalize capitalist economic and social relations. Other critics champion literature that reveals to readers the construction of social reality and point to texts that enable an understanding of the role ordinary people might play in creating a more just future. The collection adds substantially to our understanding of the political and class character of children's literature worldwide, and contributes to the development of a radical history of children's literature.

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