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Mikeharvey

The Oxford Companion to Children's Literature

I've been browsing through, and dipping into, the latest edition of THE OXFORD COMPANION TO CHILDREN'S LITERATURE (2015) edited by Daniel Hahn. The first edition of 1984 has been a constant source of information and delight to me over the last thirty years. Sitting nrext to Margery Fisher's WHO'S WHO IN CHILDREN'S BOOKS. The first edition, edited by Humphrey Carpenter, is a handsome volume, but the new one is not nearly so handsome or appealing, simply because it has no illustrations. No illustrations in a book devoted to children's books in which illustration often plays a dominant role?  The first edition was packed with them.  Their absence seems to me a serious flaw in what otherwise looks to be an admirable reference work.  No pictures by outstanding illustrators of children's books such as Arthur Rackham, Walter Crane, Edward Ardizzone, Michael Foreman, Emma Chichester Clarke, Quentin Blake or John Lawrence seems to me a serious lack.  That said, the new book is packed with interesting and informative articles, carrying over much valuable material from the earlier edition. They tell me that the past thirty years have been a new Golden Age for children's books, a period to rival the late Victorian/Edwardian period, the age of Carroll, Mrs Molesworth, George Macdonald, Kenneth Graham, J.M. Barrie, Rudyard Kipling, John Masefield, A.A. Milne and E. Nesbit.  I'm not sure about 'golden', but the new book has articles about J.K. Rowling, Phillip Pullman and Jacqueline Wilson, none of whom appear in the first edition.  And it finds space for the books of David Walliams the lasting quality of which has yet to be ascertained.  The useful list of Carnegie Medal and Kate Greenaway winners served to show me how out of touch with children's books I've become lately. I've already ordered a couple of titles.

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