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