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The Cambridge Guide to Children's Books in English (Cambridge Reading) Hardcover – 27 Aug 2001

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 828 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press (27 Aug. 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521550645
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521550642
  • Product Dimensions: 17.4 x 4.4 x 24.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 703,241 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

Product Description


'… a vast and valiant undertaking … Victor Watson has assembled an enormous team of contributors, many of them academics from places as far apart as Cambridge itself and the University of Tasmania, whose task is to assess the entire range of writing for children, from Mother Goose onwards … This latest guide to a fascinating branch of literature adds up to a treasure trove of appreciation and information.' Patricial Craig, The Independent

'A detailed Guide to a fascinating but complex world of words and pictures.' Quentin Blake, Children's Laureate

'This Guide opens up to a wide audience the approachability of children's literature as a cultural sharing of one of the delights of childhood.' Margaret Meek

'The Cambridge Guide brings, at long last, to the often neglected genre of children's books, the gravitas of scholarship, but in a form that is both accessible and desirable. I have used it extensively as a reference book,m to find out more about fellow writers and illustrators and editors. But I have also dipped into it, treating it as an anthology almost, and made wonderfully unexpected discoveries. I keep it on my bedside table, alongside 'the Rattle Bag'. Good company! Truly a treasure chest of children's literature, but not to be hidden away.' Michael Morpurgo

'The Guide will quickly become indispensable. What I particularly like is the considered and richly informed writing by people of real stature in their fields. There's an awareness of current issues, including commercial ones, as well as the evaluative and historical pieces.' Philip Pullman

' … the entries are all thoughtful, detailed, and illuminating. many cover the history of their subject from the earliest appearance to modern publications, giving a depth that is often lacking in other reference works [ …] Highly recommended for all libraries.' Library Journal

'The result is a publication which is likely to become (and remain for some time) a standard reference text. Its cost will be more than justified by the regular use which, in many different ways and settings, will be made of it.' Times Educational Supplement

'Fully comprehensive, this is a most welcome dip-in resource which makes engrossing reading. A must for all those involved with children's literature.' Junior Education

'It is gratifying to be able to signal the success of such an ambitious and monumental undertaking of this Cambridge Guide … one must only marvel at the achievement of Victor Watson and the team behind this most important publication.' Magpies

'This isn't just a guide but a real page turner - vivid, funny, devoted and warm. If you take it into your hands you can write of the rest of your working day. It is a truly addictive production.' Books in Ireland

'I have no hesitation in recommending this. It's tremendous value.' Signal

'I can only reinforce my recommendation of this excellent reference guide by endorsing the publisher's view: 'a book to enjoy and relish.' International Schools Magazine

'I can only reinforce my recommendation of this excellent guide by endorsing the publisher's view: 'a book to enjoy and relish'. International Schools Magazine

'A treasure trove of information on all aspects of children's books. In fact it is by no means easy to tear oneself away from it to begin writing a review. As a resource for information on almost every aspect of children's books past and present it is a remarkable compilation. It is unsurpassed.' English Studies

Book Description

An alphabetised reference work providing a critical and appreciative overview of children's books written in English across the world, from King Alfred to J. K. Rowling. It has entries on authors and titles as well as entries on major topics.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 19 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 9 Oct. 2001
Format: Hardcover
Vastly superior to the frustrating, error-ridden maunderings of the Carpenters (Humphrey and spouse Mari Pritchard) for Oxford, this is erudite, reliable, bang up to date, and often witty and elegantly written. There are a few omissions - school stories are not treated in enough depth, for instance, though the articles on individual authors are often excellent. But in general school and public librarians should heed Watson and his fine team, and stop selling off the reading heritage of today's children at 10p per volume.
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17 of 21 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 18 Nov. 2001
Format: Hardcover
This is a guide to use side by side with Oxford. It won't supersede the Oxford Guide, faulty though that is, because the Cambridge Guide sadly is also a definite curate's egg, so approach with caution! On the plus side, there are some splendid articles bringing children's literature up to date, and giving a much wider perspective than the Oxford Companion offers. The coverage is international and often makes good connections between authors, periods and genres. The pieces on neglected children's literature, literary journals, intertextuality, historical fiction etc are good, but sadly the proof reading throughout is poor, and unfortunately the small careless errors of fact throughout the volume are so numerous that you'd be ill advised to use this book as a reliable research guide without cross checking with another source. Some contributors have simply not done their homework and whilst proofreading errors are forgiveable, failures to check well known facts and easily available bibliographies are not. Lorna Hill's Wells books don't end with Rosanna, the Girl's Own Paper certainly didn't combine with Woman's Magazine in the 1920s, and the girls of Malory Towers certainly did grow older through the series although the contributor of the article on Trease doesn't seem to know this! And so on, and so on, too numerous to mention here. The 20th century receives welcome but perhaps disproportionate coverage, and as a result the 19th century is correspondingly poorly served, which is disappointing - one had hoped for new perspectives on older material as well as coverage of newer work. Having said that, it is clearly going to be a standard work and is certainly a feast to dip into. It's extremely entertaining and accessible, but don't regard it as factually reliable, because it isn't. Oh yes, and spot the editor's literary spoof entry - Anthony Crabtree my foot!!
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By T. Bently VINE VOICE on 29 Aug. 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a chunky, clearly-presented encyclopedic guide to juvenile fiction. There are illustrations and photos and the lay-out is straight-forward and modern.

As with any such tome, the reader will find their own miffs as to inclusions and exclusions. Some of the subject headings baffled me (why Children's literature within children's literature rather than Intertextuality?), especially as there seemed to be a sparcity of cross references. And whereas I enjoyed the entries on my own favourite authors (Antonia Forest and Jan Mark take a bow) I found some exclusions mystifying. Rene Goscinny sold millions of Asterix and Nicholas books round the world but he gets no biographical entry here. Also, writers/books who bore me to tears (Alan Garner and I Am David) get more than their fair share of applause, although that is just my personal preference.

The relentless PC tone can grate too. I cringe at Anne of Green Gables and Little Women being discussed under the Gay and Lesbian Fiction heading, but perhaps I am out of date. Typos are less excusable: Philip Pullman did not write a book called Northern Light and James Herriot didn't set his work in Darroby.

Overall this is a wonderful tome to browse through but I would advise would-be Amazon purchasers to borrow a copy from their local library before deciding whether to part with their hard-earned money.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Love this. Good insight into authors and their works
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 3 reviews
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
An odd and quirky assortment of entries 25 April 2004
By A Customer - Published on
Format: Hardcover
I found this compendium of review and comment to be highly inconsistent in quality and analysis from entry to entry. Although I was glad to see that Annie Fellows Johnston's Little Colonel series was included, the series is not given its due as a contributing element to literary works for girls at the turn of the 1900s. Aileen Fisher and Kitty Barne also receive less coverage and analysis than they deserve. Ironically, there is a long section under "n" devoted to "neglected works"! This is a higgledy-piggledy catchall section in a book that should devote more attention to many of the writers listed in that entry. A huge amount of ink is devoted to a long and rambling section called "publishers and publishing"; another long segment is called "information books." Obviously no encyclopedia of children's literature can include everyone's favorite author or aspect of the field. This book, however, needs tightening and recasting in the next go-round.
10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Useful, Engaging, periodically irritating 5 Mar. 2002
By Kim Velk - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I bought this book just before Christmas hoping to learn a little about a English illustrator and children's book writer called Gladys Peto, whose work I collect in a small way. She escaped Mr. Watson's detection or didn't make the cut. I next checked on another personal favorite, illustrator Margaret Evans Price. Again, among the missing. I turned to the article on Laura Ingalls Wilder's "Little House Books", and was put off by the spelenetic tone and politically correct pretensions I found there, e.g.: "These are mostly moral tales for children but they also establish a clear picture of male dominance." The cold hand (heart?) of academe governs this book. (It must be hard to be the children's lit. guy at the Faculty Club where Stephen Hawking and his ilk have lunch...)
That said, I have enjoyed reading this book and learned much that I did not know. My little collecting activities have been better informed and I have made frequent use of the book as a reference tool. It has helped and will help me make informed choices of good books for my two small children, which was the other thing I was hoping for when I laid out my...
1 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Not that accessible 3 Aug. 2003
By A Customer - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book has a lot of information but not in a very accessible format. It is not easy to read or use.
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