CM . . .
. Volume XII Number 2 . . . . September 16, 2005
Each section begins with an historical overview of the culture, both political and sociological of the time, and its influence on children and the publishing of materials for children. This synopsis, summarized in the last paragraph of each overview, gives the reader a consistent context for the materials published during the era under discussion. These eras include “The Victorians,” “Before the War,” The Wars and Between, 1914-1950,” “The Fifties,” and subsequent decades until “Into the Twenty-First Century.” There are also discussions dedicated to “Old Tales Retold,” “J.R.R. Tolkien,” and “Eternal Heroes—King Arthur and Robin Hood.”
Within these broad divisions, Johansen discusses 95 authors, the majority being from Great Britain. Articles on O.R. Melling, Charles de Lint, Dave Duncan and Kenneth Oppel are the only entries about Canadian writers of fantasy. While there are several nods to popular culture, there is only one entry for an author of comic books, Mangaka Rumiko Takahashi, creator of Ranma ½ and Inu-Yasha. In the discussion on Neil Gaiman and Coraline, the author briefly mentions his comic book series The Sandman but rightly points out that it is for mature readers and not children.
Several of these discussions are fleshed out discussions previously published in Resource Links during 2003. (The articles are also available in an e-book, Highlights in the History of Children’s Fantasy.)
The entries on the authors and their books are not insular; there are cross-references and points of discussion relating influences and similarities among them. The discussions on the individual titles contain “spoilers” but offer enough information about the books that the reader feels fairly confident about its subject matter, reader appeal and literary value. The author does not apologize for her subjective tone and opinions. In an engaging and highly readable style, Johansen’s enthusiasm and knowledge for her subject captivates her reader.
Quests and Kingdoms is an informed and informative work highly recommended for reader’s advisory, teachers of language arts and fantasy collections.
Gail de Vos teaches at the School of Library and Information Studies for the University of Alberta and is the author of seven books on storytelling and folklore, and fantasy.
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Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.