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Kiddie Lit: The Cultural Construction of Children's Literature in America
The popularity of the Harry Potter books among adults and the critical acclaim these young adult fantasies have received may seem like a novel literary phenomenon. In the nineteenth century, however, readers considered both Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn as works of literature equally for children and adults; only later was the former relegated to the category of "boys' b ...more
Paperback, 280 pages
Published November 5th 2004 by Johns Hopkins University Press
(first published August 29th 2003)
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Jul 01, 2009 karen rated it it was ok
so i assume this is someones published dissertation or something. i didnt expect it to be riveting, but i did sort of expect a cohesive argument. to distill it to one thought: childrens books are not as well respected as this lady would like them to be. done. i just saved y'all a bunch of reading time. the best thing about this book were some nice quotes: from ray bradbury: "baum was, at heart, a little-old-maid librarian crammed with honey-muffins and warm tea. lewis carroll sipped his tea cold ...more
Jul 01, 2009 Greg rated it it was ok
I don't know much about kids, but I'm positive that most kids don't give a flying fuck if Harold Bloom cares about the books they are reading, or if he says that their favorite novel is not considered a classic. To be fair to Bloom, kids also don't care what Derrida, Jameson, Fyre, Edmund Wilson, Eagleton, Walter Benjamin, Henry James or any other theorist thinks about their reading tastes. If you don't believe me go up to some Twilight fan and tell them that if Derrida were still alive he would ...more
This read pretty much like a dissertation. Certainly well researched, but also quite dull, and obsessively focused on some few particular works of children's literature. Readers could probably get away with reading the last 4 pages and get the general gist of the entire book: critics don't appreciate children's literature and that's a shame. I feel I could've gotten the same point from a journal article. I wish Lyon Clark had infused more feeling or personal opinion into this. It wasn't always e ...more
A stirring, polemical defense of the study of childhood and children's literature. Her pressing need to thoroughly support herself with statistical data (library circulation numbers, book reviews, "best of" lists, etc.) makes the book authoritative and yet a bit repetitive, and sometimes I found myself wanting to refute everything she was arguing with a simple subjective retort (i.e., "Come on, though! Little Lord Fauntleroy isn't actually that good a book!"), but overall this book is fascinatin ...more
From the onset of _Kiddie Lit_, I was eager to read about Clark's take on children's literature, as well as her attempt to answer the questions she raises, including: “How have Americans responded to children’s literature during the last century and a half?” and “How have we constructed childhood?” (168). However, the bulk of her chapters are repetitive in discussing reviews, toy lines, and library circulation numbers. She picks great canonical works, including _Tom Sawyer_, _Little Women_, _Ali ...more
Clark both argues for and provides a history of critical work on children's literature by the gatekeepers of literary criticism in America, whether the journals of the nineteenth century genteel intelligentsia or those of the academy in the twentieth century. Amidst a sometimes boring wash of statistics used to chart the course of interest--from children, adults and critics--in children's literature, Clark manages to make a number of astute observations on the intersections of age with class and ...more
Jul 23, 2007 meg rated it liked it
though pretty dense in places, this book had some interesting ideas about the reception of children's literature in america from the 19th century to current day. clark discusses burnett, twain, aclott, baum, lewis, rowling, and disney and what reactions from critics over time say about the construction of american childhood. there are some very interesting ideas and tidbits here, but certainly not a quick and pithy read. not for the faint of heart.
This is one of the most thoroughly-researched histories I've ever read. Simply incredible. There is a pattern to the book, which drives its thesis; my only criticism is that Clark makes a claim in the final chapter that she never actually does in the novel.
Dr. Beverly Lyon Clark is a Professor of English at Wheaton College, in Norton, Massachusetts, with a particular interest in feminist theory and children's literature. She received her BA from Swarthmore College, and her Ph.D from Brown University.More about Beverly Lyon Clark