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Children's Lit Dissertation

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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

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(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
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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.

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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.

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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.

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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:

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'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.

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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".

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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, ...)

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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

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Guest Angel2Be

A Wind in the Willows

Some I know my little brother enjoys:


A Series of Unfortunate Events

And, um... Harry Potter :shhh:

PS: I love Le Petit Prince!

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Just finished Children's Lit. last year. Some of the fantasy books were Diana Wynne Jones Howls Moving Castle, Terry Pratchett's disc world novels and Sky Legs (not entirely fantasy and can't quite remember author)

Check to see if you have "The Lion and the Unicorn" journal at your university, also books or articles written by Robyn McCallum, Rosemary Jackson, Jack Zipes, and John Stephens may be useful.

Also Tvetzan Todorov [the marvellous, the fantastic, the uncanny], Joseph Campbell [hero, monomyth, separation- initiation-return paradigm], Rosemary Jackson[ fantasy = literature of desire] and Jacques Lacan [the mirror phase] may be concepts to consider.

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Thanks for reminding me of The Rose and the Ring. I loved that when I was around 11.

There was one other book which I was trying to remember when I posted before, but could not recall either the title or the author. I've got it now.

Shadowmancer by G P Taylor - created quite a hit in when it came out England last summer, and was another one that got children wanting to read. I would say around 9-14, but a good read as an adult, and there are promises of more from the same author. Another story of children against evil, with some mysticism thrown in for good measure.

A footnote: The blurb states that the author "Lives in an abandoned cemetary" - yes, he's a vicar and hisvicarage is next to the church.

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Guest dancing frog

Pratchett's Discworld series isn't really a young children's book. I think it is more in the teenage genre. My older brother and I love them, although my younger brother hasn't read them yet.

The books in the "Unfortunate Events" series isn't really a fantasy series. They take place in the present day, even if they are, for the most part, set in England. These books are great reading though.

I would check out the Artemis Fowl series. These books are fantasy and I know my younger brother (12 years old) likes them a lot. They are also set in England, but involve fairies.


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dancing frog you are right when you say that Pratchett's Disc World novels are not for young children they are written for the teenage audience however rebekah did not mention a particular age group so I included those books in my recommendation.

rebecka another book within the fantasy genre that children (primary school age)love is "The Day my Bum went Psycho" by Andy Griffiths and I remembered that Irini Savvides wrote Sky Legs.

Some other researchers to keep in mind are Maria Nikolejeva, C.W.Hunt III, and Katheryn Hume ("Fantasy and Mimesis"). Also, the popularity of Harry Potter has led to quite a few journal articles which you could check.

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Hi Dancing frog-I agree that the Discworld novels aren't for children but luckily Terry Prachett has more recently written fantasy books for children-Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents, The Wee Free Men and just out, A Hatful of Sky. The last two are Discworld books for kids, which is great because it means I can include them in my dissertation! I've just finished The Wee Free Men and if you like Discworld books then you'll love it! A Hatful of Sky is the sequel to it. Enjoy! And thanks for the recommendation too xx

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Guest dancing frog


I didn't know about Pratchett's childrens' books. I'll have to check them out. I'm always on the lookout for new books to discover.

Thanks for letting me know and I'm glad I could help.


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