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Studies in American Fiction239 a grasp of recent authors of children's books, among them Joan Aiken, Lloyd Alexander, Roald Dahl, Meindert Dejong, Paula Fox, Theodor Seuss Geisel, Virginia Hamilton, Nat Hentoff, Madeline L'Engle, Maurice Sendak, I. B. Singer, and E. B. White. Some"masters" have found their way into the book: A. A. Milne, Beatrix Potter, and Edward Lear. There should be more time devoted in the text to these acknowledged classics of children's literature lest we sacrifice what is important about the past to the overwhelming"needs" of the "present". I think one of the flaws of the book is that it doesn't balance established authors and works with more contemporary ones to give the reader a sense of the continuity of children's literature and the concerns of the people who review it. Children's Literature Review may be a first place to begin, but I would not suggest that anyone truly concerned with the quality of Children's books or what is written about them stop here. Something About the Author has been around for seven volumes and has become an on-going series. It collects and presents, with a photograph or an illustration, biographical information about little, middle, and well-known children's book authors and illustrators. Andy Warhol's famous remark about everbody in the global village once in his life getting his fifteen minutes of stardom must have been the guiding principle of this series for what was initially a good idea when applied to authors and illustrators of the first order is somewhat beside the point when directed toward obscure children's book writers. I am as fascinated as most by the details of the private lives of public people or the private citizens who have become public property through a vehicle such as this book—and, indeed, they have chosen to respond to Commire's questionaire. I enjoy most of what is in Something About the Author; it is important and pertinent to have information about Gordon Parks, Jules Feiffer, Ed Emberley, Carl Sandburg, Leo Lionni, or any ofthe several hundred other writers and illustrators collected in this volume. But there is also something disturbing and at times ridiculous about being able to make note of an artist's religion, politics, number of marriages, occupation of parents, spouse, children's names, places of summer residence, agent's name and address. It is at these points, when editorial judgment is not exercised, that the book becomes little more than a who's who for the trade. At its best, and, there should be much more control of this, the book provides insights into that central, biographical question of the artist: why does he create for children? Ideally, elements from SomethingAbout theAuthor and Children's Literature Review should be combined to make a volume that would blend biographical detail and personal statement with critical interpretation and judgment. Both volumes collect and make available a small part of the encyclopedic information to be found about Children's literature or those who create it. Both perform an important function by making this material available for the experienced and the beginning reader in the field. Neither, however, is selective or thorough enough: in these respects, both are the products of the problem of the present plethora of children's books. Northeastern UniversityJohn Cech Bergon, Frank. Stephen Crane's Artistry. New York and London: Columbia Univ. Press, 1975. 174 pp. Cloth: $10.00 Stephen Crane is a difficult man to know. Like the blind Indians, each of whom mistook a part of the elephant for the whole, critics have recognized various aspects of Crane's art, then claimed and explained him as a naturalist, an impressionist, an absurdist, an existentialist, and a parodist, to list only a few. The result is a body of contradictory 240Reviews criticism which, unfortunately, often fails to account for the singular power, the immense vitality of Crane's prose. An exception to this general trend is Frank Bergon's Stephen Crane'sArtistry, a brief but detailed study of Crane's style and fictional methods. Bergon's book is almost as pleasing for what it is not as for what...

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Additional Information

ISSN
2158-5806
Print ISSN
0091-8083
Pages
pp. 239-241
Launched on MUSE
2014-10-01
Open Access
No
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