Once Upon a Time in a Different World: Issues and Ideas in African American Children’s Literature, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Once Upon a Time in a Different World

Issues and Ideas in African American Children’s Literature, 1st Edition

By Neal A. Lester


304 pages

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Once Upon a Time in a Different World, a unique addition to the celebrated Children’s Literature and Culture series, seeks to move discussions and treatments of ideas in African America Children’s literature from the margins to the forefront of literary discourse. Looking at a variety of topics, including the moralities of heterosexism, the veneration of literacy, and the "politics of hair," Neal A. Lester provides a scholarly and accessible compilation of essays that will serve as an invaluable resource for parents, students, and educators.

The much-needed reexamination of African American children’s texts follows an engaging call-and-response format, allowing for a lively and illuminating discussion between its primary author and a diverse group of contributors; including educators, scholars, students, parents, and critics. In addition to these distinct dialogues, the book features an enlightening generational conversation between Lester and his teenage daughter as they review the same novels. With critical assessments of Toni and Slade Morrison’s The Big Box and The Book of Mean People, bell hooks’ Happy to Be Nappy, and Anne Schraff’s Until We Meet Again, among many other works, these provocative and fresh essays yield a wealth of perspectives on the intersections of identity formations in childhood and adulthood.

Table of Contents

Series Editor's Foreword, Jack Zipes. Foreword, C.W. Sullivan III. Acknowledgments. Introduction: Moistening the Desert Landscapes. Part 1: A "Call-and-Response" Conversation 1. (Un)Happily Ever After: Fairy Tale Morals, Moralities, and Heterosexism in Children's Texts. Response: Stacy Augustine. 2. "Life for Me Ain't Been No Crystal Stair": Readin', Writin', and Parental (Il)literacy in African American Children's Books. Response: Olga Idriss Davis. 3. "Sticks and Stones May Break My Bones": Airbrushing and the Ugliest of Ugly in African American Children's Picture Books. Response: Joseph L. Graves, Jr. 4. Nappy Edges and Goldy Locks: African American Daughters and the Politics of Hair. Response: Vincenza Mangiolino. 5. Roots That Go Beyond Big Hair and a Bad Hair Day: Nappy Hair Pieces. Response: C. A. Hammons. 6. Don't Condemn White Teacher Over Nappy Hair (An Editorial) . Response: Kim-Curry Evans. 7. Angels of Color: Divinely Inspired or Socially Constructed? Response: ben clark. 8. "Do You See What I See? Do You Hear What I Hear?": Becoming Better Adults through Toni Morrison's The Big Box and The Book of Mean People. Response: Nathan Stamey Winesett. Part 2. Dialoguing Reviews 9. Reviews of Anne Schraff's Lost and Found 10. Reviews of Anne Schraff's A Matter of Trust 11. Reviews of Anne Schraff's Until We Meet Again 12. Review of Eliza A. Comodromo's Teacher's Guide to the Bluford Series 13. Review of Walter Dean Myer's The Beast 14. Review of Angela Johnson's The First Part Last 15. Review of Kelly McWilliams's Doormat 16. Response to "Dialoguing Reviews": Parent's, It's 10:00--Do You Know What Your Children Are Reading, James Blasingame, Jr. Part 3. Extending Discourses 17. Unlocking the Beauty of Hair: A Review of Joyce Carol Thomas's Crowning Glory 18. Nappy Happy: A Review of bell hooks's Happy to Be Nappy 19. "Shake it to the One You Love the Best": A Review of Juba This & Juba That 20. Response to "Extending Discourses," Elizabeth McNeil Notes About the Contributors Works Cited Index

About the Author

Neal A. Lester is Professor and Chair of the Department of English at Arizona State University; he specializes in African American literary and cultural studies. He is the author of Ntozake Shange: A Critical Study of the Plays (1995) and Understanding Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God: A Student Casebook to Issues, Sources, and Historical Documents (1999), and he has published on and taught courses in African American children's literature, African American drama, African American folklore, African American images in American cinema, and black/white interracial intimacies in American culture.

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 / American / African American
LITERARY CRITICISM / Children's Literature