ELE 616 Research in Children’s Literature Spring 2012
. . . and mice!
January 30, 2015Fantasy 2
Defining fantasy 1 •Definition: Fantasy is about
elves and fairies
– Wouldn’t it be great if we
could say that one
definition covered it all?
But we can’t. Elves and
fairies also run amok in
children’s stories. Then
there are dragons and
wizards and a host of other
beings that could be
included in the framework
• The Complete Guide to Writing
Foreword by Darin Park
• Definition: Fantasy is
– That could very well be
true. A great number of
Tolkien’s Lord of the
Rings, could fall into the
historical category. But
there are endless
possibilities for modern
day fantasies, or fantasies
that don’t even include
an announced time
• Foreword by Darin Park
Defining fantasy 2
January 30, 2015Fantasy 4
Defining fantasy 3 • Definition: Fantasy is all magic
– Fantasy does include the use of
magic. But what about worlds
where magic doesn’t exist?
What if it’s a world like our
own without science or magic,
and people and beasts of all
sizes and characteristics inhabit
this world? Is it science fiction?
Is that the qualifying
ingredient? Magic? Even
though that would make a nice
generic definition to finally
label our elusive “fantasy”
category, unfortunately, it’s not
• Foreword by Darin Park
January 30, 2015Fantasy 5
•Fantasy - Explained
– Loosely, fantasy is an applied
mythology, a creation in the
mind of an author of worlds or
events that could not possibly
exist in the scientific realm.
There is the tendency to create
a sort of mixed breed with
stories such as “Star Wars”
where there are laser wielding
aliens and druids with some
sort of magical force. But on
the whole, science fiction and
fantasy usually has a line of
• Foreword by Darin Park
Defining fantasy 4
January 30, 2015Fantasy 6
A famous fantasy title
• Chronicles of Narnia
– In C.S. Lewis’ The
Chronicles of Narnia we
meet children from our own world who end up,
under various circumstances, in a different world:
Narnia. In Narnia they meet talking animals, fauns,
centaurs, unicorns, and other slightly mythological
creatures. And they meet Aslan - he who brought
them into that world, because of the need for them
there and then, and who provides support when
they try to help out in critical situations.
Mice in Narnia? •Reepicheep
– Reepicheep was a valiant and
chivalrous talking mouse who
lived during the reign of
Caspian X. He was the leader of
the talking mice of Narnia and
a knight of the Most Noble
Order of the Lion, loyal to
Aslan. He took part in the
Narnian Revolution and sailed
with Caspian to the End of the
World. He was about “three
feet tall and seven pounds.”
Illustration by Pauline Baynes
Read more about her here and here!
See also C. S. Lewis and his Mice by Will Vaus from the HarperCollins C. S. Lewis Blog
Another fantasy with
• Redwall series by Brian Jacques
– Welcome to the exciting, medieval
world of Redwall. Here you’ll meet
the peaceful mice, squirrels, moles and other creatures who
live in the Mossflower Wood and defend their landmark
Redwall Abbey against evil villains like Cluny the Scourge,
a wicked one-eyed rat, as well as weasels, foxes and stoats.
– The very first adventure, REDWALL was published in 1986.
Stuart Little • Part of a “battle that reshaped
– In the first half of the twentieth
century, no one wielded more power
in the field of children’s literature
than [Anne Carroll] Moore, a
librarian in a city of publishers.
– The end of Moore’s influence came
when, years later, she tried to block
the publication of a book by E. B.
A mouse award winner
The 2004 Newbery Medal winner is The
Tale of Despereaux: Being the Story of a
Mouse, a Princess, Some Soup, and a
Spool of Thread written by Kate
DiCamillo, illustrated by Timothy Basil
Ering (Candlewick Press).
Long May They Squeak: A Scurry of Mouse Books
• Famous Mice in Children’s Literature
– Ralph S. Mouse, hero of The Mouse and the Motorcycle, by Beverly
Cleary, and its two sequels.
– Lilly, who blazes her imperious, purse-toting, red-cowboy-boot-
sporting way through several of Kevin Henkes’s picture books.
– Geronimo Stilton, the plucky crime-fighting rodent who is steadily
taking over the paperback aisles at a bookstore or library near you.
– Babymouse. Or rather, Babymouse! Lover of cupcakes and books!
– And my favorite new mice on the literary scene, the simply but
elegantly named Mouse and her daughter Mouse Mouse, who brave
danger and possible censure to befriend two generations of human
girls in Mary and the Mouse, the Mouse and Mary, by Beverly
Donofrio, with meticulously period-detailed illustrations by Barbara
2011: The Year of the
Mouse in Children’s
• Every couple of years a strange phenomenon occurs within
children’s publishing; a number of books will appear on the
same subject without any identifiable trigger.
• This time it was middle grade books about mice.
• This year, through some strange coincidence, three former
Newbery Award recipients, Cynthia Voight, Lois Lowry, and
Richard Peck, recently published decidedly different books with
mice as the main characters. They are, respectively, Young
Fredle, Bless This Mouse, and Secrets at Sea. All great books and
all worth an extra look, or looks as the case may be.
2 other mouse
Click to read more about
mice, and humans, and for a
sample from the book.
The Cheshire Cheese Cat, by
Carmen Agra Deedy and
Randall Wright, takes place in
London in a pub (Ye Olde
Cheshire Cheese) frequented by
What is the point of
fantasy, though? • Escapist literature?
. . . or not?
January 30, 2015Fantasy 14
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