Sticks and Stones: The Troublesome Success of Children's Literature from Slovenly Peter to Harry Potter

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Children's literature? Have children really ever had a literature of their own? Jack Zipes -- translator of the Grimm tales, teacher, storyteller, and scholar -- has never flinched from the hard questions about kids and books. In Sticks and Stones he raises the stakes for everyone who cares about children's literature and culture. From the grisly nineteenth-century moralism of Slovenly Peter (whose fingers get cut off) to the wildly successful Harry Potter books, children's literature is in many ways the "grown-ups' version" -- a story about childhood that adults tell to kids. And that, argues Jack Zipes, can be a problem: even the experts don't really know what children make of what we give them. Sticks and Stones is a forthright and engaging book by someone who cares deeply about what and how children read.
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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Zipes (German, Univ. of Minnesota; Don't Bet on the Prince) contends here that American children are being "homogenized" by the big business of children's literature. In a series of essays, most originally delivered as lectures or papers between 1997 and 1999, he asserts that "the more we invest in children, the more we destroy their future." This destruction is caused by groups such as Disney and the large, successful publishers that, he feels, dictate taste and consumption solely to beef up profit margins. Consequently, children are not encouraged either to use their own imaginations or to develop critical taste independent of media hype. Zipes ends with an essay on Harry Potter, written exclusively for this book, which pans J.K. Rowling's books as not only insignificant literature but downright harmful. While not every reader will agree entirely with Zipes's thesis, professionals need to be aware of his point of view.--Katherine Koenig, Ellis Sch., Pittsburgh Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
School Library Journal
Is the success of children's literature troublesome? Is it phenomenal? How do we judge the value of children's literature within the current culture that fosters the commercialization of childhood itself? In a series of essays mostly based on speeches given at various conferences, a scholar and social critic examines these and other provocative questions. Describing his passionate essays as "active talk," Zipes is nevertheless sometimes dense and arcane especially when he ventures into the political arena. He is most interesting when he writes directly about children's literature-the fairy tales retold by Wanda G g, the checkered history of the Grimm tales and their retellers, the history of storytelling and the appeal of Struwwelpeter. The phenomenon of Harry Potter is the subject of his final essay, and as he moves from literary to social critic, he finds Harry "part of the eternal return to the same-and, at the same time, part of the success and process by which we homogenize our children." Though the book is sometimes tedious, Zipes is always thought-provoking in his arguments.-Barbara Scotto, Michael Driscoll School, Brookline, MA Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Zipes (German, U. of Minnesota) has a special interest in fairy tales, and warns that popular literature for children during the 19th and 20th centuries are not all sugar and spice. He says they are primarily stories about childhood that adults tell children, and even experts do not know what children make of them; and systematically reflect the current values and norms of society, which instead of empowering children, curtail their freedom, and indoctrinate and homogenize them. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780415928113
  • Publisher: Taylor & Francis
  • Publication date: 11/28/2000
  • Pages: 240
  • Age range: 18 years
  • Product dimensions: 6.18 (w) x 9.46 (h) x 0.85 (d)

Meet the Author

Jack Zipes is Professor of German at the University of Minnesota. Among his many publications are Don't Bet on the Prince (Routledge), Complete Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm (Bantam), and most recently the Oxford Companion to the Fairy Tale.

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Table of Contents

Preface ix
1 The Cultural Homogenization of American Children 1
2 Do You Know What We Are Doing to Your Books? 24
3 Why Children's Literature Does Not Exist 39
4 The Value of Evaluating the Value of Children's Literature 61
5 Wanda Gag's Americanization of the Grimms' Fairy Tales 81
6 The Contamination of the Fairy Tale 99
7 The Wisdom and Folly of Storytelling 126
8 The Perverse Delight of Shockheaded Peter 147
9 The Phenomenon of Harry Potter, or Why All the Talk? 170
Bibliography 191
Index 205
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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 27, 2014


    Judging by other reviews this book sucks so yea guess how many stars i put —>

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 19, 2014



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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 29, 2013

    Awful!!!! Waste of money!!!!

    I hated this, it was a cimplete wadte of money!!!!

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