Author/s: Michael Levy and Farah Mendlesohn
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Date Published: 2016
Rating: 5 stars
*This post is sponsored by Cambridge University Press. I received this title in exchange for my honest review.
Fantasy has been an important and much-loved part of children’s literature for hundreds of years, yet relatively little has been written about it. Children’s Fantasy Literature traces the development of the tradition of the children’s fantastic – fictions specifically written for children and fictions appropriated by them – from the sixteenth to the twenty-first century, examining the work of Lewis Carroll, L. Frank Baum, C. S. Lewis, Roald Dahl, J. K. Rowling and others from across the English-speaking world. The volume considers changing views on both the nature of the child and on the appropriateness of fantasy for the child reader, the role of children’s fantasy literature in helping to develop the imagination, and its complex interactions with issues of class, politics and gender. The text analyses hundreds of works of fiction, placing each in its appropriate context within the tradition of fantasy literature.
A couple of months ago when I began researching for my thesis topic I expressed my interest in Children’s Fantasy Literature: An Introduction in one of my blog posts. A couple of days later Cambridge University Press contacted me and offered to send me a review copy. I couldn’t believe my luck because I knew that it would form the basis of my research of children’s fantasy literature. Now that my thesis is completed and handed in I can finally express just how helpful Children’s Fantasy Literature was not only to my research but to my knowledge of the history and development of Children’s Fantasy.
Michael Levy and Farah Mendlesohn are leading scholars in Children’s Literature, Fantasy and Science Fiction. In this collaboration, they explore the development of Children’s Literature from the moral tale to Young Adult Fantasy. They offer an insightful look at everything from the reworkings of fairy-tales to the influence of authors such as Tolkien and C.S. Lewis within post-colonial fantasy. They discuss folklore, Middle Earth, Harry Potter and the emergence of the Young Adult movement. If it is fantasy, they cover it. This comprehensive history of Children’s Fantasy Literature is extremely informative and insightful and helped me tremendously with my research and my thesis. It is definitely worth the read if you are hoping to form basic understanding of the genre. I only wish it was longer.