A wide-ranging and lively exploration of the questions raised by the classics of children's fiction, in the texts themselves and in their cultural reception.
Trade Information: LGENPOD
Available as: Paperback, ePub, Kindle, PDF
Specifications: 234x156mm, 154pp, b&w illustrations
Published: November 2013
Specifications: b&w illustrations
Published: December 2013
Specifications: 153pp, b&w illustrations
Published: December 2013
How did Long John Silver Lose His Leg? is a wonderfully diverting tour through some of the best-loved classics of children's literature, addressing many of the unanswered questions that inspire intense speculation when the books are laid down.
Could Bobbie's train really have stopped in time (The Railway Children)? Did Beatrix Potter have the 'flu in 1909, and did this lead to a certain darkness in her work (The Tale of Mr Tod)? Would the 'rugby football' played by Tom Brown be recognised by sportsmen today (Tom Brown's Schooldays)? Having established the cultural importance of children's books in the modern age, the authors also consider the more serious issues posed by the genre. Why are we so defensive of the idyllic worlds presented in children's books? Why have some of our best-loved authors been outed as neglectful parents to their own children? Should we ever separate the book from its creator and appreciate the works of writers convicted of crimes against children?
A treat for any enthusiast of children's literature, this entertaining book provides rich detail, witty explication, and serious food for thought.
Dennis Butts has taught Children's Literature at Reading University and is a former Chairman of The Children's Books History Society. He is co-editor of From the Dairyman's Daughter to Worrals of the WAAF (The Lutterworth Press, 2006).
Peter Hunt is Professor Emeritus at the School of English, Cardiff University, Visiting Professor at Newcastle University, and Visiting Professor at the Università Ca' Foscari, Venice. In 2003 he was awarded the Brothers Grimm Award for services to children's literature, and in 1998 the Distinguished Scholarship Award, International Association for the Fantastic in Arts.
This is a book that wears its learning lightly but offers much in the way of cultural insight and some serious reflections on the condition and future of the children's book in a digital age. Prof Kimberley Reynolds, School of English Literature, Language and Linguistics, Newcastle University
The book takes a look at unanswered mysteries in the nation's favourite children's books, posing questions like whether Bobbie's train in The Railway Children could really have stopped in time? Caroline Cook, in Reading Post, 1 January 2014
Their knowledge is encyclopaedic, this volume being a testament to their learning and achievements. ... throughout the collection Butts and Hunt employ approaches to reading which set the texts within social and historical contexts and thereby bring greater understanding. Their approach ensures that whilst 'righting' some misconceptions which might arise through the reading of children's literature they have only increased the enjoyment for both the scholar and the casual reader. This collection is a must read! Prof Jean Webb, Director of the International Forum for Research in Children's Literature, University of Worcester
... this collection of short, entertaining and informative essays makes this a light easy read for anyone with an interest in social history and children's literature. It considers questions that, as a child, I would never have thought to ask, but the fun of having so many of these quirks of literature that we grew up with identified makes this book so entertaining. Nigel Gossop, The Westerman Yarns, 26 January 2014
The authors have put together a series of short articles on various famous and one-time famous 'children's writers' including Stevenson, Kipling, Lewis Carroll, Beatrix Potter et al. ... an interesting, if short, read. The Haggard Journal, No 112, March 2014
... a fascinating book for older children and adults ... full of interesting facts and details about your favourite books. Frances Burke-Gaffney, in Children's Web Magazine
It engages in just the kind of sleuthing in which many of us learned amateurs delight. Avrum Lank, in Mixed Moss: The Journal of the Arthur Ransome Society, 2014
... definitely entertaining. Caldecott Newsletter, Spring 2014
... the longer I dwelt over each chapter the more I became fascinated and appreciative. For those interested in 'Mysteries of Children's Literature' this slim paperback will give them the most enjoyable time. Judy Taylor, in The Beatrix Potter Society Journal, Vol 132, April 2014
Hunt and Butts are not just throwing us tit-bits of trivia with this set of studies; they are leading to some key, and very modern, issues about the place (and importance) of children's literature in our broader society ... This is a fascinating book, whether simply as something to dip into for some thoughts about a favorite story, or as a broader consideration of where children's literature has been and could be going. Butts and Hunt write clearly, thoughtfully and with a subtle undertone of challenge. David Beagley, in The Looking Glass: New Perspectives on Children's Literature, Vol 17, No 2
Hunt suggests either that the sacrifice of Bobbie's character to the dramatic moment is justified – and/or that the emotional dynamics of the best seller mean that we willingly suspend our disbelief. Nesbit on one side, and her readers on the other, collude in the illusion of a neat and satisfying world. Well, of course, The answer to these suggestions is 'yes' and 'yes'. John Entwisle, in The Edith Nesbit Society Newsletter, No 75
Avoiding any of those over-ingenious reinterpretations common among Sherlock Holmes fans, Butts and Hunt concentrate instead on odd facts and unusual queries ... We need more books about children's literature written with the same sense of informed delight about a genre that can be, and often is, both memorable and endearing ... Nicholas Tucker, in The Tablet, 26 April 2014
Entertaining ... A really fascinating book ... Samantha Ellis, in The Times Literary Supplement, No 5810, August 2014
Drawing on their encyclopedic knowledge of children's literature, the authors provide readers with the inside story on many classic works. Mark I. West, in Children's Literature Association Quarterly