Grade 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 childrens 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
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The Oxford Encyclopedia of Children's Literature
"endeavours to account for all the most significant . . . works that have played a role in the history of children's literature in the world." That said, it does have a stated focus on the Anglo-American tradition, with the inclusion of entries on English-language authors from Australia, Canada, India, New Zealand, and African countries as well as those from other countries whose works have been translated to English. The scope of the set is impressive and ambitious, as shown by the topical outline in the last volume: it covers 39 countries and regions (for example, Arab world; China; South America
); 105 "Special Subjects and Terms" (Critical approaches to children's literature
, Mad magazine
, Publishers and publishing
); 106 genres or types of literature (Crossover books, Graphic novels, Horse and pony stories
, Television and children
); more than 150 individual titles and characters (Cinderella; Hardy Boys series; Nutcracker, The; Paul Bunyan
); and more than 2,700 entries on authors, illustrators, librarians, and other important people (Arbuthnot, May Hill; Blackman, Malorie; Hoffmann, Heinrich
; Opie, Iona
, and Peter Opie
; Peet, Bill
; Rowling, J. K.
). The chronological span encompasses medieval times through the present. A brief, readable introduction provides background for the mutable concept of "children's literature."
Editor Zipes (a highly regarded author of works on folktales and fairy tales, for whom there should have been an entry!) touts the "breadth and depth" of content, and these are indeed what set this publication apart as a must-have for any library with reference works on literature in English. Signed entries from more than 800 international scholars range in length from a paragraph or two to essays of one or more pages, with a brief bibliography (for example, Germany; Multiculturalism; Tolkien, J. R. R.). Articles are written in a clear and consistent style. Biographies highlight the subject's unique contribution or approach: Oodgeroo Noonuccal's work in the early 1970s was an impetus for "increasing production for children by Aboriginal authors and artists," Arthur C. Clarke's work balances "science and a sense of wonder," and Robert Sabuda's pop-ups have "raised the profile . . and expanded the age range" for this art form. Longer entries on countries and other topics are often nicely divided into sections on historical periods, influential factors, or types of literature, such as "The Old Stories" and "Bridges between Two Worlds" in Asian American literature. Black-and-white graphics, such as examples of illustrations or author photos, occasionally punctuate the attractive page design.
The last volume includes additional resources: a selected bibliography; lists of winners for 25 major awards from the U.S., UK, Canada, and other countries; a directory of major world collections of children's literature with contact data and Web sites; the topical outline; a directory of contributors, their affiliations, and entries; and an excellent, detailed index that seems to cover each and every person or title mentioned in the text. Some typographical errors were noted in passing, such as "Oliver B. Miller" in Watty Piper; "Eeyore's tale" in Milne, A. A.; and the mutation of the final letter diacritic to a "2" on several entries in the index (for example, Filopovic2, Zlata), though not the entry text.
The impossibility of being an all-inclusive reference is admitted in the preface and evident in the omission of entries for Olive Beaupre Miller, who started a publishing company in Chicago and produced the very successful and beloved My Book House multivolume collection of children's stories for most of the twentieth century; Meg Cabot, American author of The Princess Diaries and its follow-ups, popular in both Britain and the U.S.; and Horn Book Magazine. There is a good deal of unique biographical and topical content remaining in other Oxford reference books on children's literature, as well as in many other titles found in larger collections, among them The Cambridge Guide to Children's Books in English (2001) and Gale's Something About the Author series (with access to more than 10,000 author biobibliographies). Still, librarians and users will head for the authoritative volumes of The Oxford Encyclopedia of Children's Literature more often than not as an excellent starting point for queries. Recommended for most libraries. Deborah Rollins
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