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e d, i t'.Xo n> /.

A Critical Handbook
of Children's
Literature
RebeccaJ. Lukens
"Professor Emerita, Miami University
Oxford, Ohig

Boston New York San Francisco


Mexico City Montreal Toronto
London Madrid Munich
Hong Kong Singapore Tokyo Cape Town Sydney

Paris

Contents
To the Instructor
xi
To the Student
xvii
Reading Aloud to Children xxi
chapter

Literature: What Is It?

Literature for Children 8


Summary 9
Notes 10
Recommended Books Cited in This Chapter
chapter

/ Genre in Children's Literature


Realism 14
Realistic Stories 15
Animal Realism 16
Historical Realism 16
Sports Stories 17
Formula Fiction 18
Mysteries and Thrillers 18
Romantic Stories 19
Series Books 19
Fantasy 20
Fantastic Stories 20
High Fantasy 21
Science Fiction 22
Traditional Literature 24
Fables 24
Folktales 24
Myths 26
Legends and Hero Talcs 21
Folk Epics 27
Poetry 28

13

10

Contents

Informational Books 28
Across Genre Lines 29
Classics 29
Table 2.1: Genre in Children's Literature 30
Summary 35
Notes 35
Recommended Books Cited in This Chapter
chapter

Picture Books

36

39

The Illustrative Klements of the Picture Book 41


Designing the Book 41
Picturing Figurative Language 44
Amplifying the Text 44
Changing the Story 46
The Literary Elements of the Picture Book 48
Character 49
Plot 50
Theme 54
Setting 56
Point of View 57
Style 58
Rhythm 59
Tone

60

Lasting Favorites 62
Wordless Picture Books 66
Summary 69
Notes 70
Recommended Books Cited in This Chapter
chapter

Character

71

75

Revelation of Character 76
By Actions 77
By Speech 77
By Appearance 78
By Others' Comments 78
By Author's Comments 78
Unity of Character and Action 78
Types of Characters 81
Hat Characters 82
Round Characters 83
Change in Character 84
O Special Issues of Character in Children's Literature
Traditional Literature 90
Animal Realism 91

89

Contents

Science Fiction 91
Classics 93
Summary 94
Notes 95
Recommended Books Cited in This Chapter
chapter

Plot

95

97

Types of Narrative Order 98


Chronological Order 98
Flashbacks 99
Types of Conflict 99
Person-Against-Self 100
Person-Against-Person 102
Person-Against-Society 105
Person-Against-Nature 104
Patterns of Action 106
Suspense 108
The Cliff-hanger 111
Foreshadowing 112
Sensationalism 114
The Climax 114
Denouement 116
Inevitability 11 7
Types of Plots

118

O Special Issues of Plot in Children's Literature 120


Coincidence 120
Sentimentality 121
Lack of Conflict 123
Summary 124
Notes 125
Recommended Books Cited in This Chapter 125
chapter

/ Theme

129

Theme or I nifying Truth 129


Types of Themes 130
Explicit Theme 130
Implicit Theme 151
Multiple and Secondary Themes 1 55
O Special Issues of Theme in Children's Literature
Traditional Literature 155
Didacticism 137
Nonsense 159
Mature Themes in Children's Stories I 59

155

Contents

Summary 143
Notes 145
Recommended Books Cited in This Chapter
chapter

7 / Setting

143

147

Types of Settings 148


Integral Setting 149
Backdrop Setting 150
S e t t i n g in Charlotte's

Web

151

Functions of Setting 153


Setting That Clarities Conflict 153
Setting as Antagonist 156
Setting That Illuminates Character 157
Setting and Mood 158
Setting as Symbol 159
O Special Issues of Setting in Children's Literature
Traditional Literature 161
Fantasy and Science Fiction 162
Summary 163
Notes 164
Recommended Books Cited in This Chapter
chapter

8 /

Point of View

160

164

167

Types of Point of View 168


First-Person Point of View 168
Omniscient Point of View 172
Limited Omniscient Point of View 173
Objective (Dramatic) Point of View I 75
O Special Issues of Point of View in Children's Literature
Maturity of the Reader 177
Animal Realism 178
Fantasy 180
Stories of Various Cultures 181
Summary 182
Notes 182
Recommended Books Cited in This Chapter 183
chapter

/ Style

185

Devices of Style 187


Connotation 187
Imagery 188
Figurative Language 189
Hyperbole 190
Understatement 191

176

Contents

Allusion 191
Symbol 192
Puns and Wordplay 192
Devices of Sound 195
Onomatopoeia 195
Alliteration 195
Assonance 193
Consonance 195
Rhythm 193
Special Issues of Style in Children's Literature 194
Trite Versus Fresh Style 194
Retellings and Translations 197
Stories of Other Periods and Places 199
High Fantasy 201
Summary 202
Notes 202
Recommended Books Cited in This Chapter 202
chapter

10

Tone

205

Tone in Charlotte's Web 206


Humor 208
Parody 212
Differing Tastes in Tone 213
Tone Related to the Author's Choice of Materials

214

Special Issues of Tone in Children's Literature 218


Condescension 218
Sentimentality 220
Sensationalism 222
Didacticism 225
Changing Values 224
Variety of Tone 225
Summary 228
Notes 228
Recommended Books Cited in This Chapter 229
chapter

11

From Rhyme to Poetry

Nursery Rhymes 251


Literary Elements 252
Style 252
Nonsense 255
Rhythm and Sound 256
Compactness and Surprise

Poetry 258
Prose and Poetrv

258

256

231

Contents

Verse and Poetry 240


Kinds of Poetry 242
Rhythm 243
Sound Patterns 246
Figurativeness 247
Compactness 252
Emotional Intensity 254
Negative Qualities in Poetry

256

Summary 258
Notes 258
Books Containing Poems Cited in This Chapter 259
chapter

12

Biography

261

Biography Defined 261


The Writer's Obligations 262
Biography and Fiction 264
Tone and Style 265
Concepts and Didacticism 270
Summary 273
Notes 273
Recommended Books Cited in This Chapter
chapter

13

Informational Books

273

277

Nonflction Defined 278


Wonder as Motivation 279
Informational Books 280
Organization and Scope 280
Narrative Form 283
Style 286
Illustration 289
Special Issues in Nonfiction in Children's Literature 290
Tone 290
Didacticism and Propaganda 293
Recent Publishing Trends 296
Summary 298
Notes 298
Recommended Books Cited in This Chapter
298
Appendix A: Children's Book Awards
Appendix B: Selected Children's Magazines
Appendix C: Selected Reviewing Media for Children's Books
Appendix D: Selected Websites about Children's Literature
Glossary of Literary Terms
Acknowledgments
Index

301
337
339
341
343
347
351