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

4.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review
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ISBN-10: 1567923186
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Editorial Reviews

From 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.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From 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 --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 247 pages
  • Publisher: David R Godine Pub (November 30, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1567923186
  • ASIN: B006CDSWY0
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 6.5 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #7,520,901 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By E. R. Bird HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on October 15, 2005
Format: Hardcover
It's deeply rewarding to read a serious book about children's literature. It sort of justifies my entire occupation (that of a children's librarian) as well as my love of kiddie lit in general. To be honest, I had not read Selma G. Lanes' previous work, "Down the Rabbit Hole", nor her definitive book on Maurice Sendak prior to reading this text. Instead, I merely plucked it from my library's shelf and found myself alternating between awe and confusion as I read this book. Lanes is one of the most accomplished voices when tracing the history of children's literature, there is no doubt. Unfortunately, her book is at times brilliant and at other points needlessly frustrating. I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it to anyone seriously interested in the realm of children's literature, but with every recommendation comes caveats in spades.

The book is a collection of essays on children's authors, illustrators, and editors from as far back as Hans Christian Anderson to today's J.K. Rowling. Almost all of these were written decades ago, but their subjects remain just as interesting to us today. Here we better understand where E.B. White was coming from and how ineffective L. Frank Baum was as a provider until he created the land of Oz. There's a particularly nice section on editor Ursula Nordstrom that will probably get you hankering to take a glance at the book, "Dear Genius" when you get a chance. Of course, because much of this book is just reworked old essays, there's quite a bit of repetition. You'll find statements and ideas repeated time and time again about certain artists (like Sendak or Steig). Also, I hope you like Maurice Sendak, cause he gets lots of space devoted to his works. A little concentration on other authors would not have been out of place.
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