desert island question

Nat Case ncase at
Mon Apr 26 11:21:04 EDT 2004

Looks to me like the class structure ideas so far include getting an 
historical overview, and compare-and-contrast over time. I'd wonder 
about exploring what makes children's books appealing to children (as 
opposed to what makes them appealing to adults). Children are less 
likely (based on my own memory) to be worried about whether a book is 
"well-written" in the way adults are, and more on whether the flow of 
the story hits their particular buttons. A different kind of 
"well-written", perhaps.

So I'd look at (maybe) a few horse books: Black Beauty, Black 
Stallion (Walter Farley's Book vs the movie is also really 
interesting), Misty of Chincoteague (and there's a great passage in 
Bruce Brooks's Midnight Hour Encores where the dad takes his 
horse-infatuated daughter out to Chincoteague to see what a REAL 
horse herd is like), and look at what is (or has been appealing) to 
kids about those.

Or look at Encyclopedia Brown, Hardy Boys, Alfred Hitchcock and the 
Three investigators, and whatever kids detective fiction is flying 
off the shelves these days.

Or.... what would be a similar range in kids fantasy? I think of 
fantasy as beginning somewhat older, and it merging into something 
all its own in the younger-reader category, sort of a cross between 
fantasy and fairy tale. Maybe Narnia, a younger Margaret Mahy (maybe 
one of her picture books), a younger Roald Dahl (The Magic Finger 
creeped me out as a child, I recall), all or part of an E Nesbit 
fantasy (Five Children and It, for instance), and some Grimm or 
Perrault for pre-"children's literature" context, some Sendak (Where 
the Wild Thins Are seems pretty de rigeur, I'd think).

Nat "Buttinsky" Case

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>Hi all you erudite dwjers,
>I just found out I will be teaching a children's lit course in the 
>fall. So, as part of my prep, and a bit of fun, I thought I would 
>ask for nominations. Naturally, my course is going to have a bit of 
>a fantasy focus. My students are mostly in the early childhood ed 
>program, so the course has an emphasis on literature for younger 
>children. You are invited to nominate texts for the syllabus. 
>Picture books as well as chapter books are available options.
>My question is, what book(s) would you most like to study? Or, if 
>you like, which ones should I be teaching? The current dwj 
>frontrunner is Witch Week, because it is sooooooo cool to compare it 
>with Harry Potter.

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