Category: Children’s Literature

  • The Storybook Police Archetype

    Mary Petty (1899-1976) 1943

    Australia has a uniquely trusting relationship with its police force. We might say the image of police here in Australia is based on a storybook image, one which is cultivated in white kids from the time we start reading children’s books. The only feelings mankind has inspired in policemen are indifference and scorn. UN FLIC […]

  • Man Bites Dog Humour

    ‘Man Bites Dog’ describes inversion humour. I’ve also seen ‘hat on a dog’ describing the same category of joke, in which the audience laughs because the usual way of things is back to front. MAN BITES DOG IN JOURNALISM Journalists also use ‘Man Bites Dog’ to describe stories that are popular because they intrigue via […]

  • Jack Sprat Nursery Rhyme Analysis

    On its surface, “Jack Sprat” is a nursery rhyme about a married couple with complementary tastes in food. In the 1500s, Jack Sprat was the nick name given to small men. Today you can buy sprats in cans from the supermarket. They taste like salty sardines. ‘Sprat’ describes a variety of small forage fish. The […]

  • Magic Words and Spells

    The Magic Circle 1886 by John William Waterhouse 1849-1917

    In children’s fantasy, enchanted realism and magical realism, there is often an arc word (leitwort) which enters popular lexicon, or sticks in the mind long after the reader leaves the story. These magic words sometimes become a part of the child’s own imaginative play, an improvised version of early childhood fan fiction. Where Do Magic […]

  • The Mark Twain Wink In Children’s Stories

    Mickey Mouse Wink

    The word ‘wink’ is sometimes used in relation to children’s literature. Below I take a look at how authors ‘wink’ at their audiences, and also compare the 20th century paternal wink to a more modern version, which includes the youngest readers rather than going over their heads. You may notice that each of the examples […]

  • Unicorns in Art, Storytelling and Marketing

    If you’ve visited the girls’ section of a chain store recently you’ll have noticed that unicorns are in this season. These 2020 unicorns are a particular type of unicorn — coloured in soft pastel colours and with their eyes closed. It’s not just unicorns with their eyes closed this year — all the cute animals […]

  • Rosamund and the Purple Jar Analysis

    Rosamund and the Purple Jar exhibited 1900 Henry Tonks 1862-1937

    Rosamund and the Purple Jar is a didactic story for children, written by Maria Edgeworth, first published 1796. To remi

  • Emotions In Children’s Literature

    There are many things that date a children’s book — racism, sexism and other -isms are widely discussed and relatively easy to pick. I know that when I re-read Enid Blyton or almost anything from The First Golden Age of Children’s Literature these things stick in my craw. Other aspects are a little more subtle. […]

  • Individuality, The One True Self and Social Norms In Children’s Stories

    What is ‘the self’? In Medieval times, people believed that individuals had a predetermined life path. You could learn your destiny by connecting with God. Some modern people still think in these terms. LOOSE AND TIGHT SOCIETIES AND PEOPLE Academics who study different cultures have come up with various ways of taxonomising those cultures. Some […]