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The Hidden Adult

Defining Children's Literature

Perry Nodelman

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What exactly is a children’s book? How is children’s literature defined as a genre? A leading scholar presents close readings of six classic stories to answer these questions and offer a clear definition of children’s writing as a distinct literary form.

Perry Nodelman begins by considering the plots, themes, and structures of six works: "The Purple Jar," Alice in Wonderland, Dr. Doolittle, Henry Huggins, The Snowy Day, and Plain City—all written for young people of varying ages in different times and places—to identify shared characteristics. He points out markers in each work that allow the…

What exactly is a children’s book? How is children’s literature defined as a genre? A leading scholar presents close readings of six classic stories to answer these questions and offer a clear definition of children’s writing as a distinct literary form.

Perry Nodelman begins by considering the plots, themes, and structures of six works: "The Purple Jar," Alice in Wonderland, Dr. Doolittle, Henry Huggins, The Snowy Day, and Plain City—all written for young people of varying ages in different times and places—to identify shared characteristics. He points out markers in each work that allow the adult reader to understand it as a children’s story, shedding light on ingrained adult assumptions and revealing the ways in which adult knowledge and experience remain hidden in apparently simple and innocent texts.

Nodelman then engages a wide range of views of children's literature from authors, literary critics, cultural theorists, and specialists in education and information sciences. Through this informed dialogue, Nodelman develops a comprehensive theory of children's literature, exploring its commonalities and shared themes.

The Hidden Adult is a focused and sophisticated analysis of children’s literature and a major contribution to the theory and criticism of the genre.

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The Hidden Adult

Perry Nodelman

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Reviews

A 'must' for any collection catering to librarians or any studying children's literature, especially at the college level.

Without question essential reading for professionals of all stripes engaged in the study of children's literature.

Drawing on his deep understanding of literary scholarship, postmodern theory, and children's literature for this learned work, Nodelman builds extensive arguments informed by philosophy, psychology, and culture studies as well as literary criticism. Highly recommended.

The capstone of a long and distinguished career, by an author who relishes the complexity and ambiguity he finds inherent in books intended for children.

The Hidden Adult is ground breaking; it will inform the study of children's literature for a long time to come.

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About

Book Details

Publication Date
Status
Available
Trim Size
6.125
x
9.25
Pages
408
ISBN
9780801889806
Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
1. Six Texts
Different Texts, Same Genre
Language: The Text and Its Shadows
Focalization: Who Sees and What They Know
Desire Confronts Knowledge
Home and Away: Essential Doubleness
Variation
S

Acknowledgments
1. Six Texts
Different Texts, Same Genre
Language: The Text and Its Shadows
Focalization: Who Sees and What They Know
Desire Confronts Knowledge
Home and Away: Essential Doubleness
Variation
Summary
2. Exploring Assumptions
Reading as an Adult
Making Choices: Exploring Representativeness
Assumptions about Genre
Genre and Field
Genre and Genres
3. Children's Literature as a Genre
Defining Children's Literature
No Genre
Different but Not Distinct
Literature and Children
For the Good of Children
Literature for Boys and Literature for Girls
Middle-Class Subjectivity
Doubleness
Specific Markers
About Children
The Eyes of Children
Simplicity and Sublimation
The Hidden Adult
Narrator and Narratee
Showing, Not Telling
Happy Endings
Achieving Utopia
Binaries
Repetition
Variation
A Comprehensive Statement?
The Genre in the Field
Sameness and Difference
The Sameness of Children's Literature
Different Children's Literatures: The Effects of Personality and History
Different Children's Literatures: The Effects of Nationality
4. The Genre in the Field
Distinctive Texts in the Genre
Conclusion: Children's Literature as Nonadult?
Notes
Bibliography
Index

Author Bio
Perry Nodelman
Featured Contributor

Perry Nodelman

Perry Nodelman is professor emeritus of English at the University of Winnipeg and author of The Pleasure of Children’s Literature and Words About Pictures: The Narrative Art of Children’s Picture Books. Professor Nodelman is also an accomplished author of children’s books such as Behaving Bradley.
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