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Children's Fantasy Literature


  • Page extent: 282 pages
  • Size: 228 x 152 mm
  • Weight: 0.4 kg


 (ISBN-13: 9781107610293)

Fantasy has been an important and much-loved part of children's literature for hundreds of years, yet relatively little has been written about it. Children's Fantasy Literature traces the development of the tradition of the children's fantastic - fictions specifically written for children and fictions appropriated by them - from the sixteenth to the twenty-first century, examining the work of Lewis Carroll, L. Frank Baum, C. S. Lewis, Roald Dahl, J. K. Rowling and others from across the English-speaking world. The volume considers changing views on both the nature of the child and on the appropriateness of fantasy for the child reader, the role of children's fantasy literature in helping to develop the imagination, and its complex interactions with issues of class, politics and gender. The text analyses hundreds of works of fiction, placing each in its appropriate context within the tradition of fantasy literature.

• A comprehensive examination of children's fantasy from its origins in the sixteenth century to the present day • Deals with a very wide range of texts, evaluating them critically and placing them within a worldwide context • Discusses the work of key writers including Hans Christian Andersen, Lewis Carroll, Frank Baum, J. M. Barrie, A. A. Milne, J. R. R. Tolkien, C. S. Lewis and J. K. Rowling


Introduction; 1. How fantasy became children's literature; 2. Fairies, ghouls and goblins: the realms of Victorian fancy; 3. The American search for an American childhood; 4. British and Empire fantasy between the wars; 5. The changing landscape of post-war fantasy; 6. Folklore, fantasy and indigenous fantasy; 7. Middle-earth, medievalism and mythopoeic fantasy; 8. Harry Potter and children's fantasy since the 1990s; 9. Romancing the teen; Further reading.


'Levy and Mendlesohn give a convincing explanation for a distinctively post-Second World War literature where children are unprotected, where they have agency and responsibility, where they face true and terrible evil. As time goes on, the stakes continue to rise. Compare Nesbit's world to Narnia - do our young protagonists have a small, limited quest to complete, or do we expect them to save the world?' Daniel Hahn, The Spectator

'Children's Fantasy Literature: An Introduction is an immense work in scope and scholarship. As befits its authors, Michael Levy and Farah Mendlesohn - two prominent figures in the world of children's literature criticism - this latest work is a far-reaching feat that grasps the tenuous strings of the inception of both fantasy and children's literature and weaves them from the sixteenth through the twenty-first centuries into a tremendous narrative tapestry.' Joli Barham McClelland, Children's Literature Association Quarterly

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