GROWING UP IN MEDIEVAL LONDON

THE EXPERIENCE OF CHILDHOOD IN HISTORY

In a densely informative, fluid, and often charming study, Hanawalt (History/University of Minnesota) dashes the widely accepted notions that medieval society lacked the concepts of childhood and adolescence as we understand them, and that it disallowed the cultural space for the expression of these states of development. Received wisdom has long dictated that in the brutal world of the ``Dark Ages,'' high rates of infant and child mortality hardened hearts to the young, and that society thrust adulthood upon children as soon as they were large enough to complete a day's hard labor. Turning to the rich court documentation available in London (coroners' rolls; wills and bequests; records of orphans; business disputes, etc.) and relying on a technique that includes ``fictional'' portraits and scenarios to illustrate her more conventional expository narrative, Hanawalt paints a convincing picture of a 14th- and 15th-century London in which parents cherished their children no less than we do. In the author's London, people felt responsible for the welfare of neighborhood children, often risking their lives in their defense; upwardly mobile parents took immense pride in a well-schooled son; and those charged with the care of orphans were monitored to ensure that designated funds were not misspent. These were harsh times, of course, and both children and parents died with alarming frequency (though Hanawalt points out that the resulting prevalence of single-parent households and of stepfamilies formed through remarriage makes medieval society, in some ways, more like our own than not), but the author conclusively demonstrates that then, as now, kids were allowed to be kids. Exemplary scholarship that blends traditional, painstaking research with contemporary approaches and understandings. (Ten halftones)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1993

ISBN: 0-19-508405-5

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 1993

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NUTCRACKER

This is not the Nutcracker sweet, as passed on by Tchaikovsky and Marius Petipa. No, this is the original Hoffmann tale of 1816, in which the froth of Christmas revelry occasionally parts to let the dark underside of childhood fantasies and fears peek through. The boundaries between dream and reality fade, just as Godfather Drosselmeier, the Nutcracker's creator, is seen as alternately sinister and jolly. And Italian artist Roberto Innocenti gives an errily realistic air to Marie's dreams, in richly detailed illustrations touched by a mysterious light. A beautiful version of this classic tale, which will captivate adults and children alike. (Nutcracker; $35.00; Oct. 28, 1996; 136 pp.; 0-15-100227-4)

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 1996

ISBN: 0-15-100227-4

Page Count: 136

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1996

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IN MY PLACE

From the national correspondent for PBS's MacNeil-Lehrer Newshour: a moving memoir of her youth in the Deep South and her role in desegregating the Univ. of Georgia. The eldest daughter of an army chaplain, Hunter-Gault was born in what she calls the ``first of many places that I would call `my place' ''—the small village of Due West, tucked away in a remote little corner of South Carolina. While her father served in Korea, Hunter-Gault and her mother moved first to Covington, Georgia, and then to Atlanta. In ``L.A.'' (lovely Atlanta), surrounded by her loving family and a close-knit black community, the author enjoyed a happy childhood participating in activities at church and at school, where her intellectual and leadership abilities soon were noticed by both faculty and peers. In high school, Hunter-Gault found herself studying the ``comic-strip character Brenda Starr as I might have studied a journalism textbook, had there been one.'' Determined to be a journalist, she applied to several colleges—all outside of Georgia, for ``to discourage the possibility that a black student would even think of applying to one of those white schools, the state provided money for black students'' to study out of state. Accepted at Michigan's Wayne State, the author was encouraged by local civil-rights leaders to apply, along with another classmate, to the Univ. of Georgia as well. Her application became a test of changing racial attitudes, as well as of the growing strength of the civil-rights movement in the South, and Gault became a national figure as she braved an onslaught of hostilities and harassment to become the first black woman to attend the university. A remarkably generous, fair-minded account of overcoming some of the biggest, and most intractable, obstacles ever deployed by southern racists. (Photographs—not seen.)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-374-17563-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1992

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