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This collection of essays probes the ways in which classic children's literature tends to undermine, rather than support, respectable adult values
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While not a comprehensive history of the unorthodox in children's books, the 16 essays collected here (some from the New York Review of Books and Children's Literature ) do offer witty and illuminating insights into the classics they explore. Chapters on folktales, Greenaway, Nesbit, Barrie, and Milne are especially rich. Lurie may win new readers for Shardik , T.H. White, and William Mayne. Essays on Mrs. Clifford's and F.M. Ford's little-known stories unconvincingly stretch the "subversive" to include these writers' very private, and even unbalanced, use of unconventional material, while Chapters 3 and 4, on adult books, have crept in on a subversive mission of their own. Although the theme announced in the subtitle is not so strong a unifying thread as one might wish, the book is worth having for its careful, reasonably feminist, and often fascinating readings of some enduring texts.
- Patricia Dooley, Univ. of Washington Lib. Sch., Seattle
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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