The Oxford Encyclopedia of Children's Literature: Four-Volume Set

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For much of its history, children's literature has been overlooked or looked down on by scholars. But in recent years children's literature has assumed greater importance, as literary critics, psychologists, anthropologists, and historians have begun to discover what children and parents have known for centuries: that this is a literature of extraordinary richness, depth, and delight.

The Encyclopedia captures and elucidates this richness in four volumes and 3,200 signed entries. It offers comprehensive coverage of children's literature, from medieval chapbooks of moral instruction for children to J. K. Rowling's immensely popular Harry Potter books. Unlike other references, the Encyclopedia not only documents but also interprets every work, major and minor, that has played a role in the history of children's literature in the world. General essays illuminate prominent trends, themes, genres, and the traditions of children's literature in many countries. In addition, the Encyclopedia provides biographies of important writers, as well as extensive coverage of illustrators with numerous examples of their work. Sociocultural developments such as the impact of toys, films, animation, the Internet, literacy, libraries and librarians, censorship, the multicultural expansion of the field, and other issues related to the appreciation and dissemination of children's literature are also addressed.

While the Encyclopedia concentrates on the tradition known best by its readership, it also covers the international development of children's literature and offers an unprecedented treatment of works from Australia, Canada, New Zealand, India, Pakistan, African countries, and other nations. Its over 800 distinguished contributors come from around the world and include such renowned scholars and writers as Gillian Avery, Peter Hunt, Klaus Doderer, Hansa Heino Ewers, Jean Perrot, Denise Escarpit, Brian Alderson, and Betsy Gould Hearne.

A-Z organization, accessible writing, plentiful illustrations, cross-references, bibliographies, a comprehensive index and a systematic outline make the Encyclopedia an invaluable and easy-to-use research reference.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"An impressive work. Zipes and company have created a comprehensive reference book that illuminates the 'diverse and complex' world of children's literature."--Horn Book Magazine

"The scope of this set is impressive and ambitious.... Librarians and users will head for the authoritative volumes ...more often than not as an excellent starting point for queries. Recommended."--Booklist, Starred Review

"Touted as the most comprehensive such encyclopedia in English ever published, and for a good reason.... Superior breadth and depth....An essential purchase."--Library Journal, Starred Review

Children's Literature - Marilyn Courtot
Though there probably is no other reference work to compare with this one, it took me a few months to think about reviewing such a comprehensive work. I went back and looked at Peter Hunt's Children's Literature: An Illustrated History and the books by Anita Silvey, Bernice Cullinan, and others. What Zipes has pulled together in these four volumes is considerable. If you like numbers, there are 3,200 signed articles, more than 400 illustrations, annotated bibliographies accompany each article, cross references abound and there is more. The introduction lets readers know what a formidable and often frustrating task it was to manage all of the contributors and all of the pieces that comprise this encyclopedia. And, I guess, that is one of the reasons that sometimes, it does not live up to its promise. The entries vary greatly in length, coverage, and style, and there is no way that every topic could ever be covered or every major author or illustrator featured. However, the longer articles are extremely well written and fascinating to read. The introduction of an international flavor makes this book broader in scope that anything that exists, but it is still mainly focused on the English-speaking world. If you want to know more and delve deeper, then the cross references and bibliographies will be invaluable. The information in these four volumes is available as part of the Oxford digital reference library, and perhaps that is the only way this information should be updated and accessed in the future. Sections can be updated and augmented, with information such as the current interest in graphic novels and stories, and reasons why this type of book is so popular at this point intime. If you did nothing more than look at the 400 illustrations and read the captions you would get an education, but these volumes offer much more. It is not a set that you just sit down and read; you can focus on sections—perhaps using them as the beginning point for an author study, to trace the roots of a genre, or perhaps in an attempt to understand the definition of fantasy that has eluded the experts. Like the Internet, following the references will broaden whatever research you are undertaking. For any serious student of children's literature, these volumes are a must.
Library Journal
Zipes (German & comparative literature, Univ. of Minnesota), a prolific scholar in children's literature, serves as editor in chief of this new scholarly encyclopedia of children's literature, touted as the most comprehensive such encyclopedia in English ever published and for a good reason. Zipes heads a team of some 800 largely American academic contributors and 30 editors whose signed articles cover children's literature from its beginnings in the medieval period through the 18th century (when it first became a distinct genre) and forward to the present day. Though it is international in scope and exhaustive in coverage, the book admittedly emphasizes materials of interest primarily to speakers of English in the United States and the United Kingdom. The set includes brief biographies as well as essays on genres, individual works, trends and themes, and traditions. Its 3000-plus articles are typically about 200-300 words long, though many are half that length while others, such as the one on Mark Twain, run well over 1000 words. Illustrations and bibliographies abound, and appendixes include a selected bibliography, a list of awards, a list of institutions that specialize in collections of children's literature, a topical outline of the entries, and a very detailed index. Bottom Line The book's superior breadth and depth distinguish it from such excellent reference books as the Oxford Companion to Children's Literature and The Continuum Encyclopedia of Children's Literature. Slated to become a part of Oxford's Digital Reference Shelf, it is an expensive set whose excellence makes it an essential purchase by any library that supports the study of children's literature. Peter Dollard, Mt. Pleasant, MI Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up-The 3200 signed articles in this set include brief discussions of the work of major writers, important trends, genres, characters, organizations, and noteworthy publications and people in the field. All of the alphabetical articles are clearly written and most include cross-references. Many of them, particularly those on genres, trends, countries, or regions, also include a bibliography. Interspersed throughout are appropriately placed black-and-white illustrations (more than 400, according to the introduction). The first volume begins with a list of all of the entries. Volume four ends with a selected bibliography, lists of many (but not all) of the major children's literature awards and the books and authors who have won them, a topical outline of the entries, a comprehensive index, and more. While thorough, the encyclopedia is by no means exhaustive. There are omissions both in the entries and within the discussions. However, there is no comparable single work that brings together all aspects of the topic, making this a valuable resource.-Linda Greengrass, Bank Street College Library, New York City Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195146561
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Publication date: 5/4/2006
  • Pages: 1952
  • Product dimensions: 11.70 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 7.40 (d)

Meet the Author

University of Minnesota
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