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4.0 out of 5 stars Boys and Girl Forever, 15 July 2003
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This review is from: Boys And Girls Forever: Reflections on Children's Classics (Hardcover)
Alison Lurie supports the statement that, the authors who write most successfully for children write not as an adult talking to a juvenile audience, but as the child in themselves. Surely this is the secret behind the internationally stardom achieved by Hans C. Andersen, Louisa M. Alcott, L. Frank Baum, J.K. Rowling and many others discussed in this book. Lurie explores some significant aspects of the lives of the writers whose books are still popular today, but also of others, such as Walter de la Mare and John Masefield now considered old-fashioned by many contemporary critics.
In each short chapter dedicated to a writer, Lurie gives fascinating aspects of their life and, in some instances, she makes a connection with their literary work. We learn about L. Frank Baum’s emancipated female’s characters in his Wizard of Oz books, inspired by Matilda Gage, his mother in law who was an active member of the feminist movement and who encouraged Baum to send his first manuscript to the publishers.
Other chapter explores the Moomintroll books by Finish author Tove Jansson where Lurie makes and interesting comparison to the Milne’s Winnie the Pooh stories; The are also whole chapters dedicated to the Dr Seuss’ books; Harry Potter; Salman Rushdie’s Haroun and the Sea of Stories. Other sections deal particularly with fairy tales, children’s games, poetry and illustrations in children’s books. Disappointedly enough this last section is mainly devoted to illustrators of fairy tales and predominantly on Maurice Sendak and does not give a balanced perspective of the work of many artist, such as, Tenniel, Shepard, Garth Willimans, Gorey and many others who would have deserved, at least, an acknowledgement. This chapter would have also benefited by the inclusion of black and white or colour illustrations. On the other hand, we should realise that these articles are ‘reflections on children’s classic’ and don’t intend to be a comprehensive study on the subject.
This is a work of scholarly study on a subject that has been written abundantly in the past. Lurie needs to be praised for bringing into life unknown aspects of these authors and to give update information in line with the most recent biographical and critical studies carried out on the subject. The author makes reference to American and English edition of the books and there are many other international classics that have not being covered here, nevertheless the selection is significant and it offers an interesting insight into the books studied and the lives of the writes mentioned. There is a comprehensive bibliography of primary and of secondary sources of books and journals that the author has consulted in writing this book.
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