This collection explores the significance of New York City in children’s literature, stressing literary, political, and societal influences on writing for young people from the twentieth century to the present day. Contextualized in light of contemporary critical and cultural theory, the chapters examine the varying ways in which children’s literature has engaged with New York City as a city space, both in terms of (urban) realism and as an ‘idea’, such as the fantasy of the city as a place of opportunity, or other associations. The collection visits not only dominant themes, motifs, and tropes, but also the different narrative methods employed to tell readers about the history, function, physical structure, and conceptualization of New York City, acknowledging the shared or symbiotic relationship between literature and the city: just as literature can give imaginative ‘reality’ to the city, the city has the potential to shape the literary text. This book critically engages with most of the major forms and genres for children/young adults that dialogue with New York City, and considers such authors as Margaret Wise Brown, Felice Holman, E. L. Konigsburg, Maurice Sendak, J. D. Salinger, John Donovan, Shaun Tan, Elizabeth Enright, and Patti Smith.
Table of Contents
Introduction Pádraic Whyte and Keith O’Sullivan 1. Bank Street and Beyond: New York City in the Here and Now Books of Lucy Sprague Mitchell and Margaret Wise Brown Joseph Stanton 2. ‘Form Follows Function’: Elizabeth Enright’s Melendy Quartet (1941–1951) Julie Anne Stevens 3. Striated Space and Smooth Space: A Deleuzoguttarian Reading of Nick McDonell’s Twelve Keith O’Sullivan 4. Navigating Adolescence through the Streets of New York: I’ll Get There. It Better Be Worth the Trip Pádraic Whyte 5. ‘Cities Will Sing’: Natural New York Jenny Bavidge 6. A City Cold and Wild: Nature and Social Justice in Slake’s Limbo and Ten Mile River Suzanne Marie Hopcroft 7. ‘New York Is a Great Place’: Urban Mobility in Twentieth-Century Children’s Literature Sonya Sawyer Fritz 8. Catalysing Urban Interaction: Individual and Crowded Identities in New York City Jane Suzanne Carroll 9. Self in the City: Young Adult Fiction about New York City after 9/11 Jo Lampert 10. I Am an Island: Caribbean Immigrants to New York City in Children’s Literature Karen Sands-O’Connor 11. The View from the Top of the Bus: Curious George in Émigré New York Katie Trumpener 12. New York City: A Dystopian Utopia in Visual Narratives Valerie Coghlan 13. A Right to Music: New York and Mid-Century Liberal Imagination in The Cricket in Times Square Helen Conrad O’Briain 14. Just Kids: Portrait of the Artist as a Young Androgyne in New York Roni Natov
Pádraic Whyte is Assistant Professor of English and co-director of the Masters Programme in Children’s Literature at the School of English, Trinity College Dublin. He is author of Irish Childhoods: Children’s Fiction and Irish History (2011). In 2012, he delivered the Betsy Beinecke Shirley Lecture on American Children’s Literature at Yale University.
Keith O’Sullivan lectures in English at the Church of Ireland College of Education, Dublin. He recently co-edited Irish Children’s Literature and Culture: New Perspectives on Contemporary Writing (Routledge, 2011). In 2012, he was the recipient of a David Almond Fellowship for Research in Children’s Literature at Newcastle University and Seven Stories.
"In this book, urban studies and children's literature studies seem to have truly found each other. It is an inspiring volume of essays that provides conceptual frameworks for taking this research further and applying it to other cities as well" - Vanessa Joosen, Tilburg University/University of Antwerp, Bookbird, Vol, 53, No.1, 2015