LIT 4334: The Golden Age of Children's Literature

Winnie-the-Pooh and Disney’s Influence

A.A. Milne’s Winnie-the-Pooh has definitely been largely incorporated into popular culture. From television shows, films, video games, plays, and of course, the Disney adaption, millions of people around the world love Winnie and his friends of Hundred Acre Wood. Milne’s story has been translated into many languages. In fact, the Latin translation, Winnie ille Pu, became the only Latin book to have ever been placed on the New York Times Best Seller List. The work remains a very important piece of children’s literature, and Pooh really is an iconic, fictional character loved by both little kids and adults internationally.

What undoubtedly plays a huge role in the popularity and success of Winnie-the-Pooh today is Walt Disney’s adaptation to the book. Disney gained rights to Milne’s story in 1961. Disney originally produced a series of cartoon based from the Milne’s Pooh chronicles. Disney used illustrations from Stephen Slesinger, and these animations are now characterized as the “Classic Pooh.” In addition to these cartoons, Disney released multiple films and introduced the new character of Gopher. Disney has also produced multiple animated series and even aired a TV puppet show. Another movie, Winnie the Pooh, was released as recently as 2011. There are as many as eight films based on Milne’s book, and stars in five television series. Clearly, this story and Disney’s adaptations have remained a very prominent part of today’s popular culture.

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In my opinion, my most significant encounters of Winnie-the-Pooh come from Disneyworld itself. As a young girl, I remember visiting Magic Kingdom and just adoring this loveable bear. Apparently I am not alone as Pooh is the second most requested Disney character next to Mickey Mouse. He has his own park ride dedicated to him in Magic Kingdom. In 2006, Pooh even received his own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. It very evident that Disney’s adaption of Milne’s original story has greatly influenced the presence and love of Winnie-the-Pooh in today’s society. Here is the link to the Disney website devoted to Pooh.

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Final Paper: Children’s Books for Adults?

For my final paper, I plan on examining how children’s literature is often written for two audiences: children and adults. In stories such as Alice in Wonderland, “Little Red Riding Hood,” and Pinocchio.

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ImageLewis Carroll’s Alice novels can definitely be enjoyed by both little kids and adults alike. The whimsical nature of the text and the fancy of Wonderland appeal to children – it is a brand new world filled with magic, imagination, and adventures. Little kids can relate to Alice as she explores the wonders and awes of the new world. At the same time, the novels, especially Alice through the Looking Glass, are written in a manner that is filled with logic, politics, and even drug references. In this sense, adults can appreciate the subtle humor and adult themes. This website explores the theme of logic in the story.

In addition to Alice in Wonderland, fairy tales also have two audiences. Most notably, the story of “Little Red Riding Hood” contains adult imagery and themes that are most definitely not appropriate for little children. Many versions of the story involve the notions of a girl losing her virginity and the idea of male predators. However, little children will most likely not pick up on these mature themes and only take away the simple moral of the story – don’t talk to strangers.

Pinocchio also contains both adult and children’s themes. Little boys and girls are enthralled by the many adventures of the poor puppet who never seems to have success. They both pity and root for Pinocchio at the same time. Collodi also incorporates a political agenda throughout the novel. As we discussed in class, Collodi strived to unite Italy as a nation. Through Pinocchio, he advertises the importance of public education, family, and a career. Adults reading the story to their children will pick up on these references and hopefully adopt new attitudes. Image

Overall, children’s literature authors often incorporate adult ideas in order to appeal to both children and adults alike. In doing so, adults find entertainment and pleasure when reading this stories to their kids or if they are feeling a sense of nostalgia to their own childhood. I hope to further explore these adult references for each piece of literature and possibly get personal feedback from adults as to why children’s books still appeal to them.  

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There’s No Place Like Home

“No matter how dreary and gray our homes are, we people of flesh and blood would rather live there than in any other country, be it ever so beautiful. There is no place like home.”

This quote from L. Frank Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz reveals on of the major ideals of his novel: the importance of home and family. Although Dorothy’s home setting is gray and dull, what matters most is being in a place of love, warmth, and family. Many people would not like to call Kansas their home. It is a place filled with cyclones, cracked land, and colorless skies. Yet at the same time, it is also an area filled with love, caring, and happiness.

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When Dorothy is transported to the land of Oz, she is immediately amazed by the bright colors, beautiful flowers, and friendly little people. She meets new comrades along the way who provide for and protect her from the various dangers. Although Dorothy makes loyal friends and enjoys the beauty of Oz, she still dearly longs to return home to her family. The beauties and wonders of Oz are not as important to Dorothy as is being back with Aunt Em even though Kansas is gray and colorless.

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Through Dorothy’s desire to return home, Baum teaches readers a very significant lesson – simply being with family and loved ones is more important than materialistic ideas, such as beauty and splendor. Children learn that being in an environment of kindness and concern is what matters most in life. In addition, Baum also incorporates the dangers of a strange land to teach children that what may seem like a better life in a new world may in fact present more dangers and harm. I definitely that Baum’s theme of the importance of home permeates among children. The movie version successfully incorporates this theme. As a young girl, I remember dressing as Dorothy on Halloween and reenacting the clicking of the ruby slippers scene. The phrase, “There’s no place like home,” as stuck with me ever since and I still recognize the significance of my being with my family.

Here is a video of the scene from the movie.

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Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland: A Classic

Lewis Carroll’s, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, is most definitely a classic novel of children’s literature. Some may even argue that it is the epitome of the Golden Age. Not only did it receive huge popularity shortly after its publication over 100 years ago, the book has remained successful and continues to be read by children of today. So the question that arises is – why. Why has Alice experienced so much fame and recognition?

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For one, this novel is so different than the other books that we have read. Carroll’s style of nonsense is very innovative and ingenious. He combines reality, fantasy, and nonsense in a manner that brings the reader into a whole new world. Wonderland, although extremely bizarre and random, somehow makes sense. There are rules and explanations to all the weirdness which readers are amused and entertained by.

Another factor that has made Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland a classic is the fact that it is adored by both children and adults alike. The style and tone of the text is very reminiscent of a child’s imagination. For children, they are mesmerized and enthralled by the mysteries of Wonderland and the magical creatures. As a little girl, I was personally captivated by the Cheshire cat. In fact, I distinctly remember playing Alice with my stuffed animal cat, Fluffy. This personal memory takes me to my next point that adults love the novel, too. For grown-ups, rereading Alice brings back sentimental memories and feeling of nostalgia. They are transported back to their childhoods and to a world full of creativity, dreams, and imagination. As a results of this popularity by both children and adults, Alice has continued to survive through many generations of readers and remain a classic.

Another reason why Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland is classified as a classic is the unique manner in which Carroll plays with the text along with the illustrations. Never before, have we seen the actual physical words of a novel intertwine with pictures or incorporate playful pieces. For example, the poem of the mouse’s tail is actually written in a spiral pattern, like that of a tail. I have to admit, I actually had fun turning my book around and around in order to read the poem. There are also multiple pages with lines of asterisks, almost resembling twinkling stars. These examples are fun, playful ways in which Carroll captivates his audience.

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In conclusion, Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland remains a sentimental piece of children’s literature. As a classic, it has remained successful among multiple generations and is adored by both children and adults. Moreover, Carroll introduced readers with a brand new style of writing that had never before existed. He created Wonderland – a land of nonsense, dreams, imagination, and nostalgia.

Just an indication of how popular Alice remains today – here is a blog that is completely devoted to the novel.

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Alice in Wonderland Bibliography

“7 Things to Do.” Winnipeg Free Press. 16 Jan 2011: 65534. Winnipeg Free Press Co. 07 Feb 2013.

“Alice’s Fantastic Wanderings Make Delicious Theater Fare: [FINAL Edition].” The Washington Post [Washington, D.C.] 23 Nov. 2006, sec. 4: n. pag. The Washington Post Company. Web. 7 Feb. 2013.

Carpenter, Humphrey (1985). Secret Gardens: The Golden Age of Children’s Literature. Houghton Mifflin.

Carroll, Lewis (1939) The Complete Works of Lewis Carroll. With an Introduction by Alexander Woollcott and the Illustrations by John Tenniel. London: The Nonesuch Library.

Clark, Anne (1981) The Real Alice. London: Michael Joseph.

Landman, James. “Using Literature to Teach the Rule of Law.” Social Education 72.4 (2008): 165+. Academic OneFile. Web. 7 Feb. 2013.

Leach, Karoline. “Lewis Carroll: A Myth in the Making.” Victorian Web. 08 February 2013. <htt

p://www.victorianweb.org/authors/carroll/dreamchild/dreamchild1.html>.

“Lewis Carroll: Reality and Myth.” Carroll Myth. 07 February 2013. < http://www.carrollmyth.c om/index.html>.

Malkki, Aila. “Translating Emotions Across Time: Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.” The Electronic Journal of the Department of English at the University of Helsinki 5 (2009): n. pag. Print.

Pudney, John (1976) Lewis Carroll and His World. London: Thames and Hudson

Wullschläger, Jackie. "Inventing Wonderland : The Lives and Fantasies of Lewis Carroll, Edward Lear, J.M. Barrie, Kenneth Grahame, and A.A. Milne." (1995): Web.

 

 

 

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Pinocchio: Collodi’s Guide to a Unified Italy

The author of The Adventures of Pinocchio, Carlo Collodi, was an Italian soldier who fought in the War for Unification for 1870. After Italy was established as a singular political nation, Collodi strived to connect the people culturally, too. The Adventures of Pinocchio provides examples of how Collodi instructs his readers on how to unify the country. Some key aspects of bringing together a people are education and hard work. Each of these ideas plays a central role in the novel and provides a background on how Collodi wants to consolidate the Italian people.

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The importance of education is present throughout Pinocchio. At the time when the book was written, only privileged Italian children attended schooling. However, when the War was ended, public education was established. Collodi fought for this right and believed that education for all was necessary to unify the nation. In the novel, the importance of going to school is very prevalent. Pinocchio, like many children, does not want to study; he would rather eat and play all day. Each of Pinocchio’s parental figures, the cricket, Geppetto, and the fairy, stress the need for children to receive an education. Finally, after many trials and tribulations, Pinocchio learns to read and write on his own and eventually becomes a good little boy. In my opinion, the continuous appearance of education is Collodi’s way of guiding Italy towards unification.

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Another idea that is discussed throughout the book is the notion of hard work and success. The fairy warns Pinocchio, “Remember that every man, rich or poor, must find something to do in this world; everybody must work. Woe to those who lead idle lives! Idleness is a dreadful disease.” (p. 148) If a nation is to be successful, its citizens must be willing to work hard and make a living. Collodi understands that Italy cannot prosper unless people earn money and bolster the economy. Throughout the course of the story, Pinocchio repeatedly refuses to do work. In each instance, he remains hungry and weak. After finally seeing the light, Pinocchio devotes his life to physical labor in order to provide the basic needs to Geppetto and himself. As a result of his hard work, he is greatly rewarded. Like public education, Collodi uses the notion of hard work to show the Italian people how to become a successful nation.

This site also discusses the importance of education to Collodi and its presence in his novel.

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Little Red Riding Hood: Choosing the Right Path

After reading the stories regarding “Little Red Riding Hood,” I was really surprised about the underlying themes of sexuality and morality that I had completely overlooked when I was younger.  I simply remembered the story in terms of the lesson: don’t talk to strangers. However, now, I see much more complex and deeper aspects – specifically, the recurring image of choosing the right path.

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I was extremely taken aback by “The Story of Grandmother.” I had never read this version of “Little Red Riding Hood,” and I seriously question if this particular story should be read to children. After eating the meat of her dead grandmother, Red Riding Hood removes all her clothing and actually climbs naked into bed with the wolf. Clearly, there is the implicit notion of sex and the danger of men. Although Perrault’s version of “Little Red Riding Hood” does not involve the removal of clothing, the little girl does indeed climb into bed with the wolf and ends up being devoured by the beast. Again, the wolf entices (more like seduces) the young girl into bed with him.

In both of these tales, I found it interesting that they included the notion of “paths.” The wolf asks Red Riding Hood which path she will be taking to go to her Granny’s house. She divulges her route and the wolf arrives at the home before her. In my opinion, these repeated ideas of “paths” symbolizes morality and choosing the correct way of life. Unfortunately, Little Red Riding Hood strays from the path of righteousness, loses her innocence, and gets punished by the wolf. This notion of being a good, virtuous girl is also found in Grimm’s version. Red Riding Hood does not follow her mother’s rules and wanders off the path. She is again consumed by the wolf and regrets not listening to her mother.

Generally, I was taught the moral of “Little Red Riding Hood” was do not talk to strangers. Now, I see that there are much more complex implications: the dangers of men, loss of innocence, immorality and sexuality, importance of obeying one’s parents, and choosing the righteous path. This article also explores some more complex meanings in “Little Red Riding Hood.” What I once thought was a cut and dry, simple tale is actually a very significant story with very intricate meanings.

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Introduction

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Hello, I’m Sarah! I am an English major/Spanish minor and will be attending law school in the fall. My ultimate career goal is to become a child advocate, specializing in literacy and education. I’m originally  from Louisiana but I currently live in Bradenton, a small town just south of Tampa. I’m the oldest of five children and my younger sister, Hannah, is a sophomore here. I’m a huge TV fan and recently became obsessed with The Walking Dead. I also love SEC football, country music, and coffee. 

I am taking this course because I love children’s books. I took LIT 4331 over the summer and found that course extremely interesting. I really think it’s remarkable that these books which seem to have such simple plots and characters actually have deep moral meanings and raise complex issues. I am most looking forward to reading Winnie the Pooh and Alice in Wonderland. I am somewhat worried about the annotated bibliography. It’s been a couple years since I’ve written one, so I’ll need to refresh my memory. 

When I think of “children’s literature,” the images that come to my mind are picture books: Dr. Seuss, Brown Bear, Brown Bear, and The Rainbow Fish. My favorite text is Love You Forever by Robert Munsch. It tells the story of a young boy and his mother taking care of him. In the end, the roles are reversed and the son is now caring for his elderly mom. I can’t read the book without crying! I think the “Golden Age” means the epitome and rise of children’s literature. It brings up feelings of success and perfection. Some questions I have regarding this period of time is what makes certain books categorized as a product of the “Golden Age”: specific themes, the author’s status in society, etc.

 

 

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