Sunday, October 16, 2005

Sunday Links

Julia Ewan briefly reviews M.I. McAllister's The Mistmantle Chronicles: Urchin of the Riding Stars for the Washington Post's "Style" section today. "Just when you think a squirrel named Urchin couldn't possibly carry a story for almost 300 pages, you get drawn in by the tale of the orphan boy whose mother tried so hard to save him." According to Ewan, McAllister has created a beautiful, complex squirrel world in this first of a series. (It would be nice to know what they're up to when they are running across your roof at 3 a.m.)


The BBC reports that Philip Pullman has criticized the filming of the Narnia series. It's a very odd article and seems to be pieced together based on previous interviews, none of which are cited directly.

Pullman, at some point told the Observer, that the Narnia books are "a peevish blend of racist, misogynistic and reactionary prejudice." In addition, Pullman notes that "it's not the presence of Christian doctrine I object to so much as the absence of Christian virtue. The highest virtue - we have on the authority of the New Testament itself - is love, and yet you find not a trace of that in the books."

Not new news, but an interesting use of journalism by the BBC nonetheless.


Sheldon Cashdan reviews The Norton Anthology of Children's Literature: Traditions in English for the Los Angeles Times. Edited by Jack Zipes and others, this latest volume in the Norton series weighs in at 2, 472 pages. Aimed at the academic market, the volume is, "divided into 19 chapters, among them 'Myths,' 'Fairy Tales,' 'Science Fiction,' 'Verse' and 'Adventure Tales,' as well as a unique chapter devoted to comics." Cashdan laments the fact that many more recent titles, including the Harry Potter, Oz, Babar, and The Little Prince books, are not included while Anne Boleyn's letter to Henry the XVIII "professing her innocence on the eve of her execution" was. Cashdan notes (in a delicious, understated tone), " It's hard to view this as an example of children's literature, much less a model of persuasive letter-writing."

Cashdan concludes, however, " Such caveats aside, the anthology is worthy of praise. The introductory remarks in each section explain the background for the subgenres and offer a historical overview. It is difficult to appreciate the significance of fairy tales unless one knows that they originally were meant for adult consumption and featured scenes of rape and incest. The steps the Grimm brothers undertook in transforming these stories into "household tales" provides a context for understanding the contribution the stories make to children's literature."