Fantasy and the Real World in British Children’s Literature: The Power of Story, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Fantasy and the Real World in British Children’s Literature

The Power of Story, 1st Edition

By Caroline Webb


176 pages

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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.

Table of Contents

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

About the Author

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.

About the Series

Children's Literature and Culture

Founding Editor and Series Editor 1994-2011: Jack Zipes

Series Editor, 2011-2018: Philip Nel


Founded by Jack Zipes in 1994, Children's Literature and Culture is the longest-running series devoted to the study of children’s literature and culture from a national and international perspective. Dedicated to promoting original research in children’s literature and children’s culture, in 2011 the series expanded its focus to include childhood studies, and it seeks to explore the legal, historical, and philosophical conditions of different childhoods. An advocate for scholarship from around the globe, the series recognizes innovation and encourages interdisciplinarity. Children's Literature and Culture offers cutting-edge, upper-level scholarly studies and edited collections considering topics such as gender, race, picturebooks, childhood, nation, religion, technology, and many others. Titles are characterized by dynamic interventions into established subjects and innovative studies on emerging topics.

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