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Children's Lit DissertationRecommendations gratefully received


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#1 rebekah

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Posted 15 May 2004 - 08:53 AM

Hi, I'm doing my MA dissertation in Children's Literature on fantasy writings. In particular I'm looking at books which feature other world or alternate realities. I have the most obvious 'classics' down (Alice in Wonderland/Peter Pan/Wizard of Oz) and some more from my readings as a child (Tom's Midnight Garden/Moondial/ Wizard of Earthsea)

Basically I was wondering of anyone had any recommendations of any fantasy books which they loved/hated because I keep going to the library and bookshops but there is such a huge choice of fantasy that narrowing the selection is taking a long time : )

Thanks for your help! xx

#2 dido

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Posted 15 May 2004 - 10:26 AM

(I used to work at a children's bookstore, this is my list of favorites)

McKinley, R. Hero and the Crown; Blue Sword

Jones, Diana W. Dark Lord of Derkholm (the alternate world from another point of view... very funny); Howl's Moving Castle; nearly all her books feature alternate worlds of some kind or another, the Chrestomanci books develop the thought behind her scheme in the most detail

Philip Pullman of course.

Aiken, Joan The Wolves of Wiloughbey Chase books (especially the Dido :lol: Twite ones) feature a bizarre alternate history--King Richard the IVth-- which is NEVER explained at all)

Zilpha Keatley Snyder wrote a wonderful book called the Changeling about an imaginary world (which stays imaginary) and then took the idea, tree people, and wrote a trilogy around it.

ANYthing by Edith Nesbit practically (though I suppose the Story of the Amulet is most relevant).

I would think the Secret Garden model could provide some interesting comparisions, and in that vein there's Ruth Sawyer's Roller Skates and Janet Talor Lisle's Afternoon of the Elves, Snyder's The Egypt Game, the Velvet Room and A Fabulous Creature.

p.s. I'm sure more will come to mind in time (if this is actually worse than the bookstore let me know).

Edited by dido, 15 May 2004 - 10:29 AM.


#3 Leigh Witchel

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Posted 15 May 2004 - 10:40 AM

From my childhood - the Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster

all the Madeleine L'Engle books, especially "A Wrinkle in Time"

and I read this later, but also the Neverending Story.

#4 Tancos

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Posted 15 May 2004 - 10:54 AM

A lot of Diana Wynne Jones -- The Chronicles of Chrestomanci (Charmed Life, The Lives of Christopher Chant, The Magicians of Caprona and Witch Week) Howl's Moving Castle and Castle in the Air; for older kids, The Dalemark Quartet, Dark Lord of Derkholm, The Homeward Bounders, The Merlin Conspiracy and probably several others that I've forgotten or haven't read.

Michael Ende, The Neverending Story (much better than the movie)

John Bellairs, The Face in the Frost

Lloyd Alexanders's Taran books: The Book of Three, The Black Cauldron, The Castle of Llyr, Taran Wanderer, The High King

And many others I'll think of later.

Some mention should also be made of Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy: The Golden Compass, The Subtle Knife and The Amber Spyglass, but I hesitate to recommend them, well-written though they are, because of Pullman's hatred of Christianity.

#5 BW

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Posted 15 May 2004 - 11:49 AM

Loved Phillip Pullman's trilogy and his latest "Lyra's Oxford"...although I am not sure that I'd say they were written for children unless they are quite mature - they're really more "young adult" to adult.

Also there is Dune by Frank Herbert... and one of my first favorites was E. R. Eddison who wrote The Worm Ouroboros and Mistress of Mistresses. :lol: Again, not for young children - more for the young adult/adult reader. Of course, many would say the same for Alice in Wonderland, really.

The Once in Future King by T. H. White is another great book that I read, I believe, in 8th grade.

#6 aspirant

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Posted 15 May 2004 - 12:30 PM

For two less "fun, laughs, good times" selections that are great, somber reads:

The Girl Who Owned a City (O.T. Nelson),

Bridge to Terabithia (Katherine Patterson),

#7 Nanatchka

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Posted 15 May 2004 - 12:32 PM

In addition to The Once and Future King (which is also read well beyond the 8th grade), there is a wonderful book by T H White called Mistress Masham's Repose. It is a continuation, of sorts, of Gulliver's Travels, involving a colony of Lilliputians living inside a Greek-style temple on a repose (a little island) on a great British estate. (This actually is my favorite book ever.) You might also look into the Redwall series, beloved of one of my children, and of course Tolkien. Not to mention Harry Potter. Not that magic and alternate universes are the same thing, but the Potter books, I am told, by same son, are both.

#8 BW

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Posted 15 May 2004 - 02:59 PM

Thank you Nanatchka - for that T. H. White book! I've never heard of it, though I did read his Merlin. And, agreed about the reading ages for his books, too.

I'm with your son in re The Harry Potter books - which I've enjoyed as well.:lol:

#9 GWTW

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Posted 15 May 2004 - 05:15 PM

'The Winter of Enchantment' by Victoria Walker is not as well known as some of the books already mentioned, but it is a beautiful and delicate tale of a young boy (English, of course, in the late 19th century, of course) becoming a hero by default. I love this book.

#10 Marga

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Posted 15 May 2004 - 06:29 PM

A HANDFUL OF TIME by Canadian author Kit Pearson -- an absolutely wonderful fantasy for young girls (and their mothers! -- I loved it too). Everyone can relate to it. This award-winning book falls into your category of "alternate reality".

#11 Mel Johnson

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Posted 15 May 2004 - 07:48 PM

Frances Hodgson Burnett wrote things besides Little Lord Fauntleroy and The Secret Garden. Mrs. Burnett wrote many stories and books which are admirable in their own ways. Many are fantasy.

#12 rebekah

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Posted 16 May 2004 - 12:47 AM

Thank you for all your recommendations! I'm heading into town to take up residence in the library!

#13 JaneD

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Posted 16 May 2004 - 12:50 AM

Philip Pullman is certainly, to my mind, teenage rather than children's literature.


The Doomspell Trilogy by Cliff McNish. A little like Pullman, only much less gory (although still sufficiently scary)

The Narnia series by C S Lewis. Classics. Dated in places, but I suppose that tells you of the time they were written as well as the fantasy kingdom of Narnia.

The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery. One of the most beautifully desolate books I have ever read (re-read, read in French, ...)

#14 pleiades

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Posted 16 May 2004 - 04:10 PM

As one who's always loved children's literature, particularly fantasy, may I add. . .

Edward Eager (Half Magic, Magic by the Lake, Knight's Castle, etc.) -- he was inspired by E. Nesbit

The Wizard of Oz and sequels (so obvious that we tend to forget them)

Ursula LeGuin's books, many for children

The Borrowers (Mary Norton)

The Gnomobile (Upton Sinclair, made into a movie years ago by Disney)

All four Mary Poppins books

The Rose and the Ring by Thackeray (that Thackeray!)

Plus there are all sorts of new series out, the names of which escape me, but which my almost 11year old son absolutely loves


Those are the ones which come to mind at the moment

#15 Guest_Angel2Be_*

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Posted 16 May 2004 - 04:30 PM

A Wind in the Willows

Some I know my little brother enjoys:
Redwall
A Series of Unfortunate Events
And, um... Harry Potter :shhh:

PS: I love Le Petit Prince!


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