Through the Looking Glass: Further Adventures and Misadventures in the Realm of Children's Literature

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Lanes begins this articulate, thoughtful essay collection by exploring the different climate in publishing today from when she wrote her first group of essays about children's books, Down the Rabbit Hole (1971). She then embarks on a "nostalgic trip back to the last half of the last century." Her essay "On `Judging,' " about her experience judging the New York Times's 10 Best Illustrated Children's Books for 1973, will be appreciated by any critic as well as any librarian or bookseller faced with tough choices about what to make room for on the shelf. Lanes shares her criteria while dropping delectable tidbits (e.g., Sendak's The Juniper Tree was "the only unanimous choice of all three judges"). She is not afraid to knock down literary pedestals, revealing a darker side to Hans Christian Andersen through his letters to American editor Horace Scudder, and she eloquently tackles the negative side effects of overzealous political correctness (regarding The Story of Little Black Sambo and The Five Chinese Brothers, among others). All the essays in this chapter appeared previously in periodicals, but taken together they make a strong statement about how important works can be maligned when taken out of context. The closing chapter on J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter books, though complimentary, feels tacked-on, but that's a quibble about an otherwise thought-provoking, cogently organized volume. B&w illus. (Dec.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
School Library Journal
Three decades after the publication of Lanes's Down the Rabbit Hole (S & S, 1976; o.p.), this veteran observer of children's literature has issued its sequel, a patchwork of pieces ranging in length from brief reviews to longer historical and critical essays, all informed by the author's research into the history of children's literature and her wide-ranging interests. This volume covers picture books and biography, artists as varied as Beatrix Potter, Edward Gorey, Tomi Ungerer, William Steig, Margo Zemach, and, in one of the strongest essays, Maurice Sendak. Most of the pieces were originally published elsewhere, though the original date and place of publication are not always given. For example, the fascinating account of the correspondence between Hans Christian Andersen and Boston editor Horace Scudder, first published in The Horn Book in 1989, appears without acknowledgement. Most of the pieces seem to date back to the 1970s and '80s, with only a few from the '90s. Scholars of children's literature who wish to build on Lanes's work will be frustrated by this lack of contextual dating, as well as by the absence of source citations for her many intriguing and relevant quotes. Still, this collection makes enjoyable reading for anyone interested in children's literature.-Margaret A. Chang, Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, North Adams Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
With lilting voice and great enjoyment, Lanes brings readers behind the scenes where Maurice Sendak sits at home sketching, Beatrix Potter marries and leaves literature behind in favor of sheep, Hans Christian Andersen writes letters for years to a young editor he wishes to ignore. Lanes doesn't idealize childhood, but she clearly relishes her job of writing about children's books and their creators. Her enthusiasm is catching, her essays and reviews short and sweet. Several are 30 years old but still fresh. One awkward chapter about political correctness draws a misguided line between literature and propaganda rather than between complexity and over-simplicity. If Harry Potter receives more enthusiasm than the likes of Ezra Jack Keats and Ernest Shepard, Lanes makes up for it with her good humor and her placement of children's literature in the greater world of Henry James and Picasso. Art gets its full due. Lanes brings us deliciously closer to the works and process of Ursula Nordstrom (chapter title: "Some Editor"), William Steig, E.B. White, and others in personal musings full of both romance and pragmatism.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781567923186
  • Publisher: Godine, David R. Publishers, Inc.
  • Publication date: 11/28/2006
  • Pages: 247
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 0.80 (d)

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