Fantasy and the Real World in British Children’s Literature
The Power of Story
Routledge – 2014
This study examines the children’s books of three extraordinary British writers—J.K. Rowling, Diana Wynne Jones, and Terry Pratchett—and investigates their sophisticated use of narrative strategies not only to engage children in reading, but to educate them into becoming mature readers and indeed individuals. The book demonstrates how in quite different ways these writers establish reader expectations by drawing on conventions in existing genres only to subvert those expectations. Their strategies lead young readers to evaluate for themselves both the power of story to shape our understanding of the world and to develop a sense of identity and agency. Rowling, Jones, and Pratchett provide their readers with fantasies that are pleasurable and imaginative, but far from encouraging escape from reality, they convey important lessons about the complexities and challenges of the real world—and how these may be faced and solved. All three writers deploy the tropes and imaginative possibilities of fantasy to disturb, challenge, and enlarge the world of their readers.
Introduction 1. Harry Potter and Tiffany Aching 2. The Case of Heroic Fantasy 3. Ontologies of the Wainscot 4. Representing the Witch 5. Resisting "Destinarianism" Conclusion
Caroline Webb is Senior Lecturer in English at the University of Newcastle, Australia. She has published articles on a range of works by modernist and postmodernist authors and by writers of children’s fantasy. She is currently serving as Secretary of the Australasian Children's Literature Association for Research.