BRITISH CHILDREN'S BOOKS IN THE TWENTIETH CENTURY by Frank Eyre

BRITISH CHILDREN'S BOOKS IN THE TWENTIETH CENTURY

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KIRKUS REVIEW

In this enlarged, updated edition of the work first published for the British Council in 1952, Eyre offers an historical-descriptive and passingly critical survey of children's picture books and fiction. In addition to such familiar ""in-between"" books such as The Wind in the Willows, Winnie the Pooh, Dr. Dolittle and Mary Poppins, he considers books for older readers in the categories of school stories (a genre vindicated and transcended by Mayne's A Swarm in May), adventure novels (especially Ransome's Swallows and Amazons series), historical fiction (Trease, Sutcliff, etc.), fantasy (musing on the irony that the supposedly stolid nation of shopkeepers should so distinguish itself in this area) and the new young adult novel. Here the works of John Rowe Townsend, Alan Garner and, in a different context, Leon Garfield represent a new breed which ""has become necessary to take the place of a kind of adult novel that has disappeared."" Eyre agrees with Townsend's high assessment of Pearce's Tom's Midnight Garden, but Eyre permits Boston's Children of Green Knowe to share first place. Neither, he asserts, ""could conceivably have been written by a man."" Much the same ground is covered here as in Townsend's generally more incisive Written for Children (1965) and more intensive A Sense of Story (1971); for the interested but uninformed student Eyre provides in one volume a balanced overview appended by reports on writing for children in Australia (where he heads the Children's Book Council), New Zealand, Canada and South Africa, lists of award winners in these countries, and a classified bibliography of works on children's books.

Pub Date: March 1st, 1972
Publisher: Dutton