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Dreams and Wishes: Essays on Writing for Children

4.14  ·  Rating details ·  57 ratings  ·  9 reviews
Susan Cooper's sequence of fantasy novels has become a modern classic, internationally established on school and college reading lists and in the hearts of thousands of children. Writers of fantasy, says Cooper, deal in "myth, legend, folktale, the mystery of dream and the greater mystery of Time. With all that haunting our minds, it isn't surprising that we write stories ...more
Hardcover, 198 pages
Published May 1st 1996 by Margaret K. McElderry Books
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Deborah O'Carroll
I don’t read a lot of nonfiction but I was excited to read these nonfiction essays by Susan Cooper about writing. While some of them may be on writing “for” children, this collection wasn’t really… It was a bit of a mixed bag for me. I didn’t like/agree with everything, but she did have a lot of good things to say about fantasy and such, so that was fun! Definitely glad I read it.
A beautiful collection of essays from one of my favorite writers. Its subtitle is "Essays on writing for children," but really, it is so much more than that. It is writing in general, it is life, it is imagination and dreaming and what we do with the gifts we've been given. A truly inspirational collection, one which I am thankful to have in my personal library. ...more
May 27, 2012 rated it it was amazing
The Alphabet Peddlar should be read, not only by writers (it's intended target), but also by every lover of both fantasy and young person's literature. ...more
Ilse O'Brien
Feb 16, 2021 rated it really liked it
A collection of talks Susan Cooper presented over the years, it's mainly about what books and stories are and what they can be for children. I love the opening anecdote where she recounts getting "the call" from the Newbery Committee that she had won the honor award for The Dark is Rising. She had never heard of the Newbery Award before. Some of the essays overlap in content and theme, but there are some gems of wisdom and insight from a talented writer. One of the best nuggets is in her essay " ...more
Desmond Brown
May 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book. Most of the essays included here are from talks given to the faithful, those who love and value children's literature. It is not a book about how to write for children, although there are many recommendations for how to think about that task. It is a book about why to write for children, and about how essential reading is to forming an imagination. She discusses myth and fantasy, and there is a lot of splendid autobiography and humor. This book deserves to be much better known ...more
Jan 10, 2012 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: lit profs or fantasy writers
It is strange that so many places, including my system has this book in the juvenile section. It is mostly speeches Susan Cooper gave over the years to ADULTS on writing for kids. This is a book most definitely meant for adults not kids! Fundamentally she talked about the good fantasy writing does to encourage imagination among kids. She recommended other authors, probably Alan Garner the most. I had one of his books as a kid and loved it but I don't think I've read anything else by him. Since t ...more
Christian McKay
Nov 26, 2008 rated it liked it
I think these are the most helpful books on writing. The ones that discuss the art; not what you should do, not what will make you successful, just the beauty of the process. I've seen it handled with more grace in Bird by Bird and A Sense of Wonder, but this was good enough. The only real fault with it is Cooper tends to discuss the secrets behind her world-making. Not only is it incredibly boring, but it's also underwhelming, like the first time you see how a magic trick is performed. If anyth ...more
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Recommends it for: all writers, fans of her fiction
Her Newbery Medal acceptance speech, talks at Simmons College, lectures at Harvard...all marvelous.
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Susan Cooper's latest book is the YA novel "Ghost Hawk" (2013)

Susan Cooper was born in 1935, and grew up in England's Buckinghamshire, an area that was green countryside then but has since become part of Greater London. As a child, she loved to read, as did her younger brother, who also became a writer. After attending Oxford, where she became the first woman to ever edit that university's newspap

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Happy Women's History Month! One of the undisputedly good things about modern scholarship is that women’s history is finally getting its due....
73 likes · 11 comments
“When we are children, we have a tranquil acceptance of mystery which is driven out of us later on, by curiosity and education and experience. But it is possible to find one's way back. With affection and respect, I disagree totally with Penelope Lively's conviction about the 'absolute impossibility of recovering a child's vision.' There _are_ ways, imperfect, partial, fleeting, of looking again at a mystery through the eyes we used to have. Children are not different animals. They are us, not yet wearing our heavy jacket of time.” 11 likes
“The child I was is the only child I really know.' That's it. I can still feel what it was like to be that child of the 1940s from inside; I am still the same mixture of insecurity and determination, shyness and arrogance, curiosity and fear. I have the same talent she had; the same imagination. I write for her, for that child, and so it is true when I say I write for myself.” 4 likes
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