- Purchase/rental options available:
The Lion and the Unicorn 30.1 (2006) v-vi
[Access article in PDF]
We begin the new year with a promising issue of The Lion and the Unicorn that features six remarkable essays dealing with children's literature and children's culture. Although the essays are submitted independently, it is striking how many of these essays touch on similar concerns.
M. O. Grenby's article will encourage scholars to rethink what they know about the cultural history and popularity of fairy tales in Britain. He argues that the decline of fairy tales during the eighteenth century was more rhetorical, than real, and that the genre's history was much more continuous than has been previously assumed.
Vivian Wagner explores how L. Frank Baum's Oz series expresses anxieties about the new technologies of twentieth-century North America, which promise comfort, but more often than not deliver discomfort. While earlier critics have linked the Oz books with the economics of the gold and silver standard, Wagner suggests that Oz has more in common with the economic philosophy of Henry Ford and the new frontier of early twentieth-century electricity.
Similarly Nathalie op de Beeck situates William Nicholson's picture book Clever Bill not only within his innovative work in graphic design and painting, but the wider cultural forces of photography, film, and modern consumers' growing unease with marketable commodities.Citing a recent trend of "Founders Chic" in re-examining the establishment of the United States, Eric Tribunella uses this as a springboard to reconsider Esther Forbes's Johnny Tremain. Using reader-response and psychoanalytic narrative theories, Tribunella explores reasons for the repeated absence or loss of narrative closure in the Newbery-winning historical novel.
The various ways that children's authors present historical events is a key consideration of Marla Harris's examination of the representation of the Reconstruction period in Martha Finley's once popular Elsie Dinsmore [End Page v] series and Mildred Taylor's acclaimed Logan family saga. Harris traces the evolving perceptions of the Reconstruction in texts for younger readers as well as attempting to account for a contemporary repackaging of the Dinsmore series by a religious publisher to compete with the American Girl Collection.
Elizabeth Marshall explores how Susanna Kaysen's memoir Girl, Interrupted uses the figure of the wounded girl to make visual and counter assumptions that seek to define feminine adolescence as a period of traumatic passage and challenges the notion that mental illness is rooted solely in the individual. Marshall addresses why Girl, Interrupted, which was not initially published for adolescent readers, has become enormously popular with that age group.
Readers should be aware that they can read The Lion and the Unicorn in its printed version or in the online version, which is available on the web via Project Muse. One advantage of accessing L&U articles through Project Muse is that it features abstracts of the published articles, which also are searchable through key words. The editors appreciate that Johns Hopkins University Press is at the forefront of providing online editions of academic journals, including L&U.
In the last issue, we acknowledged the hard work of many L&U editors, past and present, as well as members of the editorial board in the production of The Norton Anthology of Children's Literature. In this issue we mention some of the recent publications of David Russell and Gary Schmidt, the current book review editors. In addition to their responsibilities of selecting and assigning reviewers for significant scholarly books in the fields of children's literature, both have been active in their own work. Russell's Literature for Children: A Short Introduction (Allyn & Bacon) has recently gone into its fifth edition as a textbook. Schmidt's novel Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy (Clarion) was selected as a Newbery Honor Book and Printz Honor Book in 2005.