Oxford Companion to Children's Literature.

Printer-friendly version
Oxford Companion to Children's Literature
The Oxford Companion to Children's Literature by Humphrey Carpenter and Mari Prichard

The Oxford Companion to Children's Literature by Humphrey Carpenter and Mari Prichard. New York: Oxford University Press, (1999); paperback, 9.1 x 6.1 "; 608 pp.

Reissued with a preface by Mari Prichard. An excellent resource, especially for branches of children's literature that may not be as familiar and as a quick historical reference. The author's humourous voice comes through very clearly, unusual in such a long work. I have used the old edition for years, and just bought the new one. The classics of British and American literature are given equal treatment, but it still has more information on popular and lesser known British books and authors than on the equivalent American ones. As an example, Peter Newell is barely mentioned (I am sure they don't like his Alice, but I do!)

" The indispensable reference book for anyone concerned with children's books. Over 900 biographical entries deal with authors, illustrators, printers, publishers, educationalists, and others who have influenced the development of children's literature. The range of literature covered includes traditional narrative materials such as legends as romances; fairy tales; chapbooks; genres such as school stories, adventure stories, doll stories, and science fiction; ABC and other learning books; children's magazines, comics, and story papers; picture books; teenage novels; children's hymns; and children's stories on radio television and film. Other entries include: concise plot summaries, from familiar favourites like The Secret Garden to less well-known works such as My Friend Mr Leaky by the eminent scientist J. B. S.Haldane; characters, Andy Pandy to Tiger Tim, Captain Nemo to Shere Khan and Winnie-the-Pooh; literary and historical background, Puritans and penny dreadfuls, libraries and reviewers, racism and sexism; mythical and legendary creatures, trolls, dragons, witches, giants, dwarfs, and goblins; national surveys, including the USA, Germany, France, Italy, Denmark, Iceland, Canada, Australia, and India. Written both to entertain and instruct, The Oxford Companion to Children's Literature is a reference work no one interested in the world of children's books should be without."

Buying note: You might look around online for this one, reading descriptions and ISBN numbers carefully. I have a supposedly 1995 edition with 588 pp and the same ISBN number which is dramatically cheaper, Beatrix Potter illustration from Tailor of Gloucester on the cover. Ebay sellers seem to use the stock photo of the new American edition for any edition of this title.

Comparable for American children's literature are Anita Silvey's Children's Books and Their Creators which an older child could enjoy, also The Oxford Companion to Australian Children's Literature by Stella Lees and Pam Macintyre, (1994)  both lecturers in children's literature and bryan doyle who's whoWho's Who in Children's Literature, edited by the Canadian children's writer Brian Doyle years ago (1968) makes entertaining reading.