Preface The Illustrated Book Introduction Folk Literature and Myth Fantasy Realism Poetry Historical Fiction Biography Informational Books Index
CHARLOTTE F. OTTEN is Professor of English at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan. She is the author of A Lycanthropy Reader: Werewolves in Western Culture and Environ'd with Eternity and has contributed articles to Shakespeare Quarterly, Milton Studies, Notes & Queries, and ELR.GARY D. SCHMIDT is Associate Professor of English at Calvin College. He wrote The Art of Robert McCloskey and Classic Models of Rhetoric. His articles have been published in Journal of the Rocky Mountain Medieval and Renaissance Association, Mediavalia, Medieval Connections, and the Children's Literature Association Quarterly.
?As Otten and Schmidt note in their preface, voice is a broad metaphor. Thus, the 41 essays in this collection provide varied approaches, examining point of view, focus, selection of details, tone, and even illustrations as part of the narrative identity. Eight genres, including picture books, fantasy, realism, and biography, receive separate study in generally brief articles by writers and more substantial analyses by critics. Too often the writers' voices are weak prefatory testimonies about their narrative habits. Some critical pieces are also weak: one, on books for children in the middle years, does not mention a single text; another concentrates on Canadian prairie fiction written for adults. Balancing such lapses are especially perceptive pieces, such as a study of William Mayne's Drift and an examination of narrative bias in books on medieval history. In her contribution, Jill Paton Walsh describes contemporary criticism as an inpenetrable thicket of technical terms.' In most cases, the critics here avoid jargon. They speak clearly, offering practical criticism accessible to anyone seriously concerned about narrative technique in children's literature.?-Choice