So, let's talk about Jack Zipes, and this book. I believe this is an excellent introduction to the field of Children's Literature and the dialogue surrounding Children's Literature. Zipes is amazing with research and he quickly summarizes the fields hottest topics while constantly name dropping. This is invaluable for anyone one starting out in this field because not only do you get a decent general summary of the study, you get Zipes' own views, AND Zipes provides you with the names of virtually all the major players in the field of Children's Lit, the names of their works, and he generally provides a brief glimpse of what to expect from the books. Seriously, INVALUABLE.
At this point, I've read almost everything Zipes has ever written and I can tell you this (providing one with additional readings and research tools) is one of the things he does best. So, if you want to start in Children's Lit, I think you could do much worse than starting here. Now, onto Zipes. Zipes has consistently been criticized as a literary snob. Well, Jack Zipes is, hands down, the WORLD'S foremost fairy tale scholar, his educational background is impeccable, and his research (the depth) is top-notch. I find that most scholars are literary snobs, but really, isn't what the academy trains us to be? And if someone of Zipes' caliber can't be a literary snob, who can? Additionally, the questions he is raising in this book: questions about consumerism and Children's Lit, the problems inherent in defining or categorizing Children's Lit, and Children's Lit and popular culture are all important and necessary questions.
Remember, the field and study of Children's Lit is still relatively new. We are still trying to understand it and, in fact, the academy hasn't even recognized it as a legitimate area of study. So, when Zipes suggests that Children's Lit has more to do with adults than children (which is one of his contentions) it is something to consider for a variety of reasons. That being said, Zipes relies predominately on a historical lens and a Marxist lens for his research and if that's not your thing, you're not going to agree with him...ever. Two other nuisances in Zipes' work are that he does tend to get fairly repetitive and the more he writes, the more I notice he contradicts himself. Not a lot you can do about the repetitiveness...skim if it gets to be intolerable...it doesn't mean he has nothing of value to say. Regarding the contradictions, I love them because they help me when I don't agree with him (and I don't always agree with him). Beyond that however, whatever, okay, the more you write...and he's written a lot, the higher the chance you will contradict yourself. It happens. People grow, their opinions change. I wouldn't ever say to just overlook it. Definitely take note, but his contradictions don't necessarily negate his entire argument or entire body of work.