Children’s Fiction

Click on any of the titles below to reach a downloadable PDF of the piece of writing.

The Art of the Children’s Novel (a discussion of Frank Kermode’s Forms of Attention in relation to the Children’s Literature Association Touchstones project)

Beyond Explanation, and Beyond Inexplicability, in [Eleanor Cameron’s] Beyond Silence

Balancing Acts: Noteworthy American Fiction (Written in 1989, this essay tries to predict which of the then currently discussed novels for children by American writers might be remembered as “touchstones” in later years)

Cultural Arrogance and Realism in Judy Blume’s Superfudge

The Depths of All She Is: Eleanor Cameron

Doing Violence to Conventions: The Work of Ilse-Margret Vogel: a survey of the children’s books of Ilse-Margret Vogel, a writer whose work deserves to be better known

Good, Evil, Knowledge, Power: A Conversation between Carol Matas and Perry Nodelman (in which I interview my fiction-writing collaborator Carol Matas about questions of evil and power in the children’s novels she writes on her own.)

E.L. Konigsburg (a literary biography of this writer, from American Writers for Children since 1960: Fiction)

A Hundred Years of Treasure; or, Grime Does Not Pay (about Stevenson’s Treasure Island)

Jacob Two-Two and the Satisfactions of Paranoia (a discussion of Mordecai Richler’s novel)

The Limits of Structures: a Shorter Version of a Comparison of Toni Morrison’s Song of Solomon and Virginia Hamilton’s M.C. Higgins, the Great (despite the title, this is the only version)

Louise Fitzhugh (a literary biography of this writer, from American Writers for Children since 1960: Fiction)

A Monochromatic Mosaic: Class, Race And Culture In Double-Focalized Canadian Novels For Young People. Continuing on from “Of Solitudes and Borders,” also available here, a discussion of the ideological implications of novels for young people with alternating narratives, here specifically focussed on the Canadian context.

Of Solitudes And Borders: Double-Focalized Canadian Books For Children:Early musings on the ideas about novels for young people with alternating narratives–the focus of my book Twice Upon a Time 

Ordinary Monstrosity: the World of R.L. Stine’s Goosebumps

Out There in Children’s Science Fiction: Forward into the Past

Progressive Utopia: Or, How to Grow Up Without Growing Up (An overview of the similarities in five novels for girls: Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables, Wiggins’ Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm, Porter’s Pollyanna, Spyri’s Heidi, and Burnett’s The Secret Garden)

Pyle’s Sweet, Thin, Clear Tune: The Garden and the Moon

Reinventing the Past: Gender in Ursula K. Le Guin’s Tehanu and the Earthsea ” Trilogy”

Rereading Anne of Green Gables in Anne of Ingleside:  Montgomery’s Variations

Robert Cormier does a number: A reader-response analysis of Robert Cormier’s Young Adult novel I Am the Cheese

Robert Cormier’s The Chocolate War: Paranoia and Paradox

A Second Look: Scott O’Dell’s Sing Down the Moon (When I wrote this in 1984, I thought of myself as a humane and tolerant person expressing humane, tolerant views. I’m uploading it three decades later because I find much of what I say here embarrassing–and because what embarrasses me is my utterly unconscious assumption of white male privilege. I praise O’Dell’s choice of not providing his young Navaho narrator with a name for much of the book–a choice I now see as a commentary on the deprivation of her personhood that in fact confirms and reinforces that deprivation. I also praised O’Dell’s depiction of the Navajo stoicism and refusal to express anger at what is happening to them–another confirmation of a hoary stereotype. Worst of all, I simply took it as an absolute truth that no one who was Navajo or even remotely like a Navajo would ever be part of the audience of the book. I have uploaded the article here not only because I feel guilty about what I once took for granted, and because I hope I have learned enough and grown enough to be less guilty now than I was in 1984.

Text as Teacher: the Beginning of Charlotte’s Web

Through a Glass Intimately: The Distant Closeness of Paula Fox’s One-Eyed Cat

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