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Literature > Children's Literature

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Threads from the Web of Life Cover

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Threads from the Web of Life

Stories in Natural History

Stephen Daubert

In sixteen stories Steve Daubert pulls the reader into the mystery and immediacy of ecological processes spanning a range from microscopic to tectonic, from microscopic to cosmic forces. Each tale brings the reader into the moment to witness an episode of survival in the wild first-hand. The material is presented on a level of intimacy and detail not usually encountered in other styles of natural history writing. These creative non-fiction stories provide not just a bird’s eye view (though that’s true for the owls, warblers, condors, and hummingbirds in the book), but a wasp’s eye view, a mouse’s, a sea turtle’s, a squid’s. Sometimes the focus is as small as the detritus on the forest floor, or a single beat of the wing of a gull. Other stories range across evolutionary time. From whales and dinosaurs to creatures invisible to the naked eye, author and illustrator bring to life the dynamic interplay of living, evolving creatures and the natural forces that have shaped their worlds. The book includes chapter notes that document the scientific basis for each story and describe the controversies still surrounding some of them – a splendid resource for families to read and share.

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Time of Beauty, Time of Fear

The Romantic Legacy in the Literature of Childhood

James Holt McGavran, Jr.

 

It is now two and a half centuries since Jean-Jacques Rousseau first wrote so evocatively of natural man in Social Contract and of experiential education in Emile. His emphasis on the early years as a crucial part of life drove the Romantic reconceptualization of childhood—the idea that children have a special knowledge of nature, politics, and spirituality to teach their elders as well as the other way around. William Wordsworth’s assertion in the “Intimations Ode” that children’s souls come “trailing clouds of glory” from God has continued to haunt Western literature and culture in spite of attacks from writers and critics from then until now, including Mary Wollstonecraft, Robert Thomas Malthus, T. S. Eliot, Judy Blume, Jerome McGann, and Jacqueline Rose.
 
Displaying careful scholarship, sophisticated use of contemporary literary theory, and close readings of texts while recovering and analyzing materials from more than two centuries of British and other Anglophone cultural history, this collection of new essays traces the evolution of the Romantic child. The contributors play off one another, both within the three traditional historical periods—Romantic, Victorian, and modern/postmodern—and across intellectual and disciplinary categories.
 
Time of Beauty, Time of Fear offers a stunning array of essays. In some, the authors focus on canonical texts by such writers as Wordsworth, Maria Edgeworth, Charlotte Smith, and Mrs. Molesworth. Other authors consider the Victorian concerns with missionary literature for children and with the boyish pastime of collecting bird’s nests, folk voices of the 1960s, homeschooling, the Teletubbies television program, and Alan Moore’s Promethea series of graphic novels. Measured in terms of both range and quality, this volume is destined to become essential reading for scholars from numerous disciplines.
 
Contributors
Jennifer Smith Daniel
Elizabeth A. Dolan
Richard Flynn
Elizabeth Gargano
Mary Ellis Gibson
Dorothy H. McGavran
Roderick McGillis
Claudia Mills
Jochen Petzold
Malini Roy
Andrew J. Smyth
Jan Susina

 

To Keep the South Manitou Light Cover

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To Keep the South Manitou Light

Anna Egan Smucker

Set on South Manitou Island in Lake Michigan during the fall of 1871, To Keep the South Manitou Light tells the fictional tale of a twelve-year-old girl named Jessie, whose family has been taking care of the lighthouse on the island for generations. Jessie’s mother has kept the light by herself since Jessie’s grandfather died of a heart attack ten days before the story begins. Afraid her family will lose the lighthouse, Jessie decides not to mail her mother’s letter informing the Lighthouse Service of her grandfather’s death and instead puts it in one of her mother’s canning jars and tosses it into the lake. Later, as a fierce November ice storm hits the island, the repercussions of this action will not only teach Jessie about honor and responsibility but will also give her hard-earned insight into what it means to be brave. Written for children between the ages of 8 and 12, To Keep the South Manitou Light provides regional history along with everyday lessons, all while engrossing young readers in an exciting story.

Twain, Alcott, and the Birth of the Adolescent Reform Novel Cover

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Twain, Alcott, and the Birth of the Adolescent Reform Novel

Trites argues that Twain and Alcott wrote on similar topics because they were so deeply affected by the Civil War, by cataclysmic emotional and financial losses in their families, by their cultural immersion in the tenets of Protestant philosophy, and by sexual tensions that may have stimulated their interest in writing for adolescents, Trites demonstrates how the authors participated in a cultural dynamic that marked the changing nature of adolescence in America, provoking a literary sentiment that continues to inform young adult literature. Both intuited that the transitory nature of adolescence makes it ripe for expression about human potential for change and reform.

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Two, Two Lily-White Boys

Geoffrey Clark

Two, Two, Lily-White Boys follows the fortunes of two 14-year-old Scouts from Ermine Falls—Larry Carstairs, the narrator, and Andy Dellums, Larry's schoolmate and friend—over the course of six days at Camp Greavy, a Boy Scout camp not far from Traverse City, Michigan. The story’s catalyst and Andy’s tormentor is Russell “Curly” Norrys, a worldly, charismatic 17-year-old, a homophobe who suspects that Andy is a homosexual. Mercurial, protean, possibly sociopathic, Curly engineers conflicts that accelerate as the days wear on, eventually culminating in tragedy. Passive-aggressive Larry, moved to action at last, must choose between self-preservation and justice.

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Unsettling Narratives

Postcolonial Readings of Children’s Literature

Children’s books seek to assist children to understand themselves and their world. Unsettling Narratives: Postcolonial Readings of Children’s Literature demonstrates how settler-society texts position child readers as citizens of postcolonial nations, how they represent the colonial past to modern readers, what they propose about race relations, and how they conceptualize systems of power and government.

Clare Bradford focuses on texts produced since 1980 in Canada, the United States, Australia, and New Zealand and includes picture books, novels, and films by Indigenous and non-Indigenous publishers and producers. From extensive readings, the author focuses on key works to produce a thorough analysis rather than a survey. Unsettling Narratives opens up an area of scholarship and discussion—the use of postcolonial theories—relatively new to the field of children’s literature and demonstrates that many texts recycle the colonial discourses naturalized within mainstream cultures.

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Waking Sleeping Beauty

Feminist Voices in Children's Novels

Roberta S. Trites

The Sleeping Beauty in Roberta Seelinger Trites' intriguing text is no silent snoozer passively waiting for Prince Charming to energize her life. Instead she wakes up all by herself and sets out to redefine the meaning of “happily ever after.” Trites investigates the many ways that Sleeping Beauty's newfound voice has joined other strong female voices in feminist children's novels to generate equal potentials for all children.

Waking Sleeping Beauty explores issues of voice in a wide range of children's novels, including books by Virginia Hamilton, Patricia MacLachlan, and Cynthia Voight as well as many multicultural and international books. Far from being a limiting genre that praises females at the expense of males, the feminist children's novel seeks to communicate an inclusive vision of politics, gender, age, race, and class. By revising former stereotypes of children's literature and replacing them with more complete images of females in children's books, Trites encourages those involved with children's literature—teachers, students, writers, publishers, critics, librarian, booksellers, and parents—to be aware of the myriad possibilities of feminist expression.

Roberta Trites focuses on the positive aspects of feminism: on the ways females interact through family and community relationships, on the ways females have revised patriarchal images, and on the ways female writers use fictional constructs to transmit their ideologies to readers. She thus provides a framework that allows everyone who enters a classroom with a children's book in hand to recognize and communicate—with an optimistic, reality-based sense of “happily ever after”—the politics and the potential of that book.

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Windows and Words

A Look at Canadian Children's Literature in English

Edited by Aïda Hudson and Susan-Ann Cooper

This collection of essays confirms and celebrates the artistry of Canadian children's literature. Contributors include Janet Lunn and Tim Wynne-Jones.

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The Wizard of Oz and Who He Was

Martin Gardner

When Russel B. Nye and Martin Gardner teamed up to bring out a new edition of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, theirs was the first critical analysis of L. Frank Baum American classic. The book opens with an essay by Nye, entitled "An Appreciation," which is an overview of Baum's creative and imaginative genius. Nye explores the reasons why earlier critics virtually ignored the Oz stories. Gardner, in his essay, "The Royal Historian of Oz," presents a brief biographical sketch, revealing little-known facts about this prolific writer. The volume also contains the complete, original text of the Wonderful Wizard of Oz, along with many original illustrations by artist W. W. Denslow. 
 

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