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Edited by Judith Saltman.
Boston, Massachusetts: Houghton Mifflin, 1985.
1373pp., paper, $44.95.
ISBN 0-395-35773-X. 6th ed. Distributed by Nelson Canada. CIP.

Subject Headings:
Children's literature.


Reviewed by Christine Buchanan.

Volume 13 Number 5
1985 September

Edited by Judith Saltman, who is on the faculty of the University of British Columbia, The Riverside Anthology of Children's Literature is the sixth edition of this work published by the Houghton Mifflin Company since 1935. Previous editions were titled the Anthology of Children's Literature. The work is designed principally for adults needing an overview of children's literature.

Major areas include children's poetry and rhymes, picture books, oral literature in several forms, fiction in its different categories, non-fiction, and critical readings on children's literature iself. Each section has an introduction, followed by an extensive selection of actual examples of the genre under consideration.

The majority of examples included are the mainstream of the best American and British writing for children, both past and present. There are significant examples from other cultures, especially in the folktales and myth sections. Only two Canadian folktales and two short Canadian poems are included in their entirety and two reproductions of Canadian illustrations. In the bibliography there are about seventy references to significant Canadian primary and secondary works, including such fundamental aids as Sheila Egoff's The Republic of Childhood, and Irma McDonough's Canadian Books for Young People; Livres canadiens pour la jeunesse. Thus one can conclude that the best of Canadian children's writing is noted very selectively, and the way pointed for further research, although one would need to go far beyond this book to gain an in-depth knowledge of that field. One senses that the editor writes as an American, particularly in the selection and annotation in the non-fiction section; Canadian libraries using this book will want to note this emphasis. One can of course always argue about individual selections in an anthology of this size and depth. Generally however, the commentaries and selections do provide a rich selection of the best of children's literature in many areas.

There are numerous black-and-white illustrations, often reduced in size, which of course do not do justice to their original presentation but do serve to identify and characterize the various artists for the student of children's literature. There are eight pages of coloured illustrations.

Although a child might chance on this book and enjoy browsing in it, or have a selection read to her by an adult, this is not an anthology one would deliberately select for a child, who would be far better directed to read the original versions.

An extensive (almost two hundred pages) annotated bibliography of both primary and critical works in the subject areas covered by the book will be of great value to the student. There is also a useful introductory essay to the work as a whole, as well as lists of important American, British, Australian, Canadian, and international awards in children's literature and illustration. A title, author, and illustrator index and a selective subject index are provided.

Recommended for university and community college libraries which support courses in children's literature and for professional libraries for teachers and librarians. Public libraries may find this volume too expensive to consider unless they have an adult clientele interested in children's literature from a critical point of view, or where there is limited access to a broad range of children's literature and the critical materials associated with it.

Christine Buchanan, Toronto, ON.
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