Don't Tell the Grown-Ups: The Subversive Power of Children's Literature

Don't Tell the Grown-Ups: The Subversive Power of Children's Literature

by Alison Lurie
     
 

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In sixteen spirited essays, Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Alison Lurie, who is also one of our wittiest and most astute cultural commentators, explores the world of children's literature—from Lewis Carroll to Dr. Seuss, Mark Twain to Beatrix Potter—and shows that the best-loved children's books tend to challenge rather than uphold respectable adult

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Overview

In sixteen spirited essays, Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Alison Lurie, who is also one of our wittiest and most astute cultural commentators, explores the world of children's literature—from Lewis Carroll to Dr. Seuss, Mark Twain to Beatrix Potter—and shows that the best-loved children's books tend to challenge rather than uphold respectable adult values.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
These essays cite the popularity of certain authors, including Edith Nesbit and Kate Greenaway, as proof that children prefer books that feature disobedient characters and challenge conventional adult points of view. ``As important for the critical standards she sets as for those she lauds in children's books, this book by Lurie eyes with exemplary independence a genre too often sentimentalized,'' said PW. (June)
The New York Times
Ms. Lurie writes with relish about the wicked, often subterranean honesty of folk tales....She takes the model of classic fairy tales and, good literary scholar that she is, quite convincingly applies it to such books as F. Scott Fitzgerald's Tender Is the Night, to Jane Austen, John Updike, and Jean Stafford....The best sections of Don't Tell the Grown-Ups are the chapters about the pantheon of authors of the great Victorian and Edwardian children's books....Ms. Lurie's's examples are always illuminating.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780316246255
Publisher:
Hachette Book Group
Publication date:
08/26/2004
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
252
Sales rank:
828,276
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.57(d)

Read an Excerpt

From Don't Tell the Grown-Ups by Alison Lurie: Should books for children be morally improving?

Consider, for example, a classic work beloved by generations of young readers, Mark Twain's Tom Sawyer:

Tom lies, steals, swears, smokes tobacco, plays hooky, and wins a Sunday school prize by fraud. He sneaks out of his house at night and runs away for days, driving his aunt Polly almost to despair. He ends up with a small fortune in gold, the admiration of the whole town, and the love of Becky Thatcher -- while his goody-goody brother Sid is last seen being literally kicked and cuffed out the door.

What People are saying about this

Rosellen Brown
[A] thoroughly absorbing collection . . .by an unillusioned and cheerfully clearheaded guide. -- The New York Times Book Review

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