Global Perspectives on Death in Children’s Literature: 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Global Perspectives on Death in Children’s Literature

1st Edition

Edited by Lesley D. Clement, Leyli Jamali


300 pages | 19 B/W Illus.

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This volume visits death in children’s literature from around the world, making a substantial contribution to the dialogue between the expanding fields of Childhood Studies, Children’s Literature, and Death Studies. Considering both textual and pictorial representations of death, contributors focus on the topic of death in children’s literature as a physical reality, a philosophical concept, a psychologically challenging adjustment, and/or a social construct. Essays covering literature from the US, Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala, Canada, the UK, Sweden, Germany, Poland, Bulgaria, Brazil, Czechoslovakia, the Soviet Union, India, and Iran display a diverse range of theoretical and cultural perspectives. Carefully organized sections interrogate how classic texts have been adapted for the twenty-first century, how death has been politicized, ritualized, or metaphorized, and visual strategies for representing death, and how death has been represented within the context of play. Asking how different cultures present the concept of death to children, this volume is the first to bring together a global range of perspective on death in children’s literature and will be a valuable contribution to an array of disciplines.


"I strongly recommend Global Perspectives on Death in Children’s Literature, particularly for its discussions of a range of political meanings of death in children’s and young adult literature. The collection shows that the subjects of death and childhood are not as incompatible as they are often perceived to be. On the contrary, it reveals how far the transition from childhood to adolescence is influenced by reflections on life and death and by real experiences of death and dying. The cultural variety and politically enlightening discussions of the subject make Global Perspectives on Death in Children’s Literature important to scholars and students working in the field of children’s literature studies." - Ada Bieber, University of Sydney, Australia

Table of Contents

Introduction: Flying Kites and Other Life-Death Matters Lesley D. Clement Part 1: Adapting Death for Changing Contexts 1.Thus did hearth-companions grieve their lord’s fall: Death, Mourning, and the Children’s Beowulf Daniel Pinti 2. Loyalty, Honor, and Death in Rick Riordan’s Olympus Series Ginger Stelle 3. A Deathly Underworld: Bulgarian Literature for Children of the Early Twentieth Century Margarita Georgieva Part 2: Ritualizing Death and Life after Death 4. Holy Death: Constructions of Martyrdom in Persian Children’s Literature on the Eight-Year War between Iraq and Iran Hossein Sheykh Rezaee 5. Deadly Celebrations: Realistic Fiction Picture Books and el Día de los Muertos Denise Dávila 6. The Soul in Contemporary YA Literature Sonja Loidl Part 3: Politicizing Death 7. From Ultimate Punishment to Heroic Sacrifice, and After: Representations of Death in Bengali Children’s Literature from the Colonial Era Urvi Mukhopadhyay 8. A New Normal: Death and Dying in a Soviet Children’s Magazine, 1941-1945 Julie deGraffenried 9. Contemporary Coming of Age(ncy) Narratives of Political Violence and Death in El Salvador and Guatemala: "So that future generations may be aware" Susana S. Martínez Part 4: Picturing Death 10. The Last Resort: Death and Liminality in Children’s Picture Books on Emily Dickinson Lesley D. Clement 11. Old Age and Death in Northern European Picture Books: Achieving Empathy through Textual and Filmic Images of Sweden’s Kan du Vissla Johanna Penni Cotton 12. Visual Narratives of Death and Memory: The Holocaust in Two Contemporary European Picture Books Magdalena Sikorska and Katarzyna Smyczyńska Part 5: Metaphorizing Death 13. Death, Politics, and Production of Childhoods through Children’s Literature Marek Tesar 14. Michael Ende’s Philosophy of Death, Life, and Time Maria Luisa Alonso 15. From the Ecological to the Digital: Salman Rushdie’s Many Lives of Storytelling Frans Weiser Part 6: Playing with Death 16. Mocking Death in Brazilian Children’s Folk Literature Rosana Kohl Bines 17. Battling School: Death as Education in Ender’s Game Susan Shau Ming Tan 18. Machinic Liaisons: Death’s Dance with Children in Markus Zusak’s The Book Thief Markus P.J. Bohlmann

About the Editors

Lesley D. Clement is currently at Lakehead-Orillia (Ontario, Canada). She is the author of Learning to Look: A Visual Response to Mavis Gallant's Fiction (2000). Her most recent research explores visual literacy, the visual imagination, empathy, and death in children's literature. Forthcoming is L.M. Montgomery’s Rainbow Valleys: The Ontario Years, 1911-1942 (2015).

Leyli Jamali is an Assistant Professor in the Department of English Literature and Translation Studies at Islamic Azad University in Tabriz, Iran. She is an editorial board member of Plath Profiles and IJALEL. She has published Daniel Defoe Revisited in Light of Lacan and Kristeva (2012) and Isms in Literature: A Conceptual Glossary (2013).

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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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
LITERARY CRITICISM / Children's Literature
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Death & Dying