Plants in Children’s and Young Adult Literature  book cover
1st Edition

Plants in Children’s and Young Adult Literature

ISBN 9781032066349
Published November 30, 2021 by Routledge
220 Pages 7 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

From the forests of the tales of the Brothers Grimm to Enid Blyton’s The Faraway Tree, from the flowers of Cicely May Barker’s fairies to the treehouse in Andy Griffith and Terry Denton’s popular 13-Storey Treehouse series, trees and other plants have been enduring features of stories for children and young adults. Plants act as gateways to other worlds, as liminal spaces, as markers of permanence and change, and as metonyms of childhood and adolescence. This anthology is the first compilation devoted entirely to analysis of the representation of plants in children’s and young adult literatures, reflecting the recent surge of interest in cultural plant studies within the environmental humanities.

Mapping out and presenting an internationally inclusive view of plant representation in texts for children and young adults, the volume includes contributions examining European, American, Australian, and Asian literatures and contributes to the research fields of ecocriticism, critical plant studies, and the study of children’s and young adult literatures.  

Table of Contents


Introduction: Plants in Children's and Young Adult Literature

Part I: Botanical Fascinations

Chapter 1 A Relational Poetics of Plant–Human Interactions: Contrasting the Picturebooks of Cicely Mary Barker and Elsa Beskow

Terri Doughty

Chapter 2 Stamens and Pistils in the Same Flower: Queer Posthuman Performativity of Plants in Finnish Fairy Tale "Pessi ja Illusia"

Katri Aholainen

Chapter 3 Aristotle on Plants: Life, Communion, and Wonder

Hallvard J. Fossheim

Part II: Plants in Folklore and Fantasy

Chapter 4 Come into the Garden, Alice: Rude Flowers, Dream-Rushes, Aphasic Woods, and Other Plants in Lewis Carroll’s Nonsense Worlds

Francesca Arnavas

Chapter 5 Fern Blossom and Lilibala: Magical Plants in Serbian Children’s Fantasy Fiction

Tijana Tropin and Ivana Mijić Nemet

Chapter 6 Vegetal Magic: Agnieszka’s Journey to the Understanding of the Vegetal Other in Naomi Novik’s Uprooted

Mónika Rusvai

Part III: Arboreal Embraces

Chapter 7 Arboreal and Maternal Desires: Trees and Mothers in recent Australian Middle-Grade Fiction

Melanie Duckworth

Chapter 8 Arboreal Entanglements: Childrenforest and Deforestation in Ecopoetry by Children

Justyna Deszcz-Tryhubczak and Charlotte van Bergen

Chapter 9 "I felt like a tree lost in a storm"—The process of Entangled Knowing, Becoming, and Doing in Beatrice Alemagna’s Picturebook Un grande giorno di niente (2016)

Nina Goga

Chapter 10 From Chamomiles to Oaks: Agency and Cultivation of Self-Awareness

Andrea Casals Hill and Alida Mayne-Nicholls

Part IV: Plant Agency and Activism

Chapter 11 Vegetal Individuals and Plant Agency in Twenty-First Century Children’s Literature

Anja Höing

Chapter 12 Vegetable Violence: The Agency, Personhood, and Rhetorical Role of Vegetables in Andy Griffiths’ and Terry Denton’s The 52-Storey Treehouse

Lykke Guanio-Uluru

Chapter 13 The Vegetal Modality of Resistance in Children’s Books by/for Indigenous Peoples in the Philippines

Jose Monfred C. Sy

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Melanie Duckworth is Associate Professor of English Literature at Østfold University College, Norway, where she teaches British, postcolonial, and children’s literature. Her research interests include Australian literature, plant studies, children’s literature, and ecocriticism, and she has published on Australian historical children’s fiction, Australian literature, ecofeminism, and contemporary poetry.

Lykke Guanio-Uluru is Professor of Literature at Western Norway University and researches literature and ethics, particularly plant studies, ecocriticism, fantasy, and game studies. She is the author of Ethics and Form in Fantasy Literature (2015) and multiple research articles, and co-editor of Ecocritical Perspectives on Children’s Texts and Cultures: Nordic Dialogues (2018).


"This ground-breaking volume makes an exceptionally compelling case for the relevance of critical plant studies to youth literature. Drawing from and extending perspectives from ancient Western and contemporary Indigenous philosophy, new materialist and posthumanist thought, and scientific discoveries of the communicative capacities of plants, the authors focus attention on the myriad ways the diverse literature of childhood, with its vivid depictions of sentient vegetal life, orients young readers toward or away from ethical human-plant relations. Engaging with global texts ranging from folklore to contemporary YA fantasies, child-authored poetry to Indigenous stories, picturebooks to middle grade fiction, this is essential reading for anyone interested in environmental humanities, ecopoetics, and children’s literature studies."

Professor Karen Coats, University of Cambridge