Monday, December 15, 2008

Economic disasters

Between 1929 and 1939, United States suffered one of the most critical economic period along his history. In those days, Great Depression obligated to many people to emigrate to other areas into United States. Countryside and cities were hardly knocked by this situation, a sad situation. It was the largest and most important economic depression in modern history all around the world.
Sometimes, when I think about the actual economic crisis, I obviously think about that past period of United Stated history too. We hope another Great Drepression doesn’t repeat now….
There are a lot of examples of good books that are based in facts of Great Depression, like The grapes of wrath (John Steinbeck) or Jack London’s creations. There are a lot of children’s books with these characteristics too; one of these books is The gardener, where Sarah Stewart and David Small tell us the story about Lydia Grace, a girl who leaves her home and parents, and goes to the big city with her aunt Jim. There she helps her aunt Jim with his bakery while she plants seeds and bulbs that her grandmother sends her… Read it if you want to know the pretty end. A book very appropriated in these days.
This title obtains a place in Caldecott Honour Books in 1998.

Monday, December 1, 2008


We can do comparisons among some Children’s Literature books and we will find certain shared characteristics.
It’s surprising that the best Children’s Literature creations have been written in English. It could sound very strange too, but some Children’s Literature masterpieces were written in the reign of Queen Victoria –Victorian era (second half of 19th century)– , one of the most prolific time period in this kind of Literature.
Writers like James M. Barrie, Oscar Wilde, Charles Dickens or Robert Louis Stevenson, whose began to write for adults (we can never see Great Expectations or De profundis like Children’s Literature examples…), have been exalted like excellent Children’s Literature creators for ages because traditionally they have been read for children. Titles like Peter Pan & Wendy, Alice in Wonderland, A Christmas Tale or Treasure Island, have fed a lot of children imaginations in the world.
We can add one more detail: it’s a coincidence that their authors were British.
All these things and coincidences have promoted that many Literature investigators and linguists centre his studies in these books or authors.
One of these cases is Alison Lurey’ studies that have been published in some books like Don’t tell the grown-ups: Subversive Children’s Literature. If you are interested in, simply read it.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Roald Dahl: Master and Commander.

When I watched the film called Matilda, I thought: What kind of marvellous mind has been able to invent this modern fable… Today, I know the answer, Roald Dahl.
Matilda, the modern Cinderella, combine a lot of characteristics in its argument that make it a big Children’s Literature’s example. Matilda hasn’t parents, an orphan girl (like Oliver Twist, Harry Potter, Peter Pan or another Roald Dahl’s book’s main character of The Witches-), she has strange magical powers (like Harry Potter too) and the novel action succeed at school (school is the best and the worst place for children’s adventures, two faces of the same coin). The last thing: Matilda loves books.
Few years later, I know the answer to that question: the Matilda’s creator is Roald Dahl. In this point, it has come the moment to speak about Roald Dahl, probably, the most important 20th century’s Children’s Literature’s author.
Roald Dahl was born in 1916 -Llandaf (Wales)- and died on 1990. His life was full of happy and sad events (like he was pilot in II World War and his daughter Olivia died when she was a child). A lot of his books have been traduced to many languages -like French, German, Spanish, Japanese or Chinese- and have been adapted to cinema. Among his creations can cite The Witches, Dirty Beasts or his brilliant traditional fairy tales’ adaptation, Revolting rhymes, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, George’s Marvellous Medicine or James and the Giant Peach.

More information

Monday, November 10, 2008


My passion for books began very early. When I was a child, my father and I get used to visiting the library. I remember that we read a lot. I loved comic, illustrated books…, some adventure novels, like Treasure Island or Gulliver’s Travels… I really had fun. Since those years, I like libraries. Libraries are beautiful places where words live.
Now I used to go there too, and I read and read too.
In my memories, there are a lot of books that have changed me. My mind has grown up with some stories. One of them is Frederick. Frederick was created by Leo Lionni, one of the most known illustrators and authors of Children’s Literature. Among his works we can quote Little blue and little yellow or Swimmy.
Frederick tells the life of a mice family. While four of these mice work hardly collecting food to eat during the winter, the fifth mouse, doesn’t. This mouse, Frederick, is a special mouse. He collects the sun’s heat, the flowers’ colours and the words carried by the wind. Simply, read it.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Contrary thoughts

We find a lot of conflicting thoughts in fairy tales or Children’s Literature. In these kinds of stories have been combined pairs of thoughts or feelings, like realism/idealism, sadness/happiness, serious/cheerful, incorrect politically/correct politically, etc. Like the whole life… The life is plenty of conflicting situations that involved us in many dilemmas: when you are going to get married, when you want to have a child, when you obtain a new job, when somebody dies… Everybody doubts, it’s a life’s law.
If there is somebody who doubts about all, this is Charlie Brown. This character, created by Charles M. Schulz , represents the eternal child. He’s honest, lovely, fearful, ... He’s human too… Charlie Brown is so close…!
Charles M. Schulz created Peanuts in 1950, from then to the present day, after his decease too, Peanuts: Lucy, Sally, Linus, Marcie, Patty and the rest of Charlie Brown’s family have had a lot of followers around the world.
At the end, say that I don’t know if Charlie Brown’s hesitation is a good solution to world’s problems and I don’t know if Obama could be good solutions to this too… We’ll hope it…

Friday, October 31, 2008

Stories and animals

Animals are one of the typical themes treated by Children’s Literature. If we choose any ten Children’s Literature books, we can see that four of them are related to animals. Authors use stories about insects, fishes, elephants, monkeys, giraffes and the rest of animals, to approach to “little” public. I think that most of us, when we were children, sometimes have felt the need of ride a horse, walk beside a camel or play with mice. These kinds of feelings are used for authors and illustrators to bring nearer children to literature and books.
One of these illustrators is Eric Carle. With his collages (his colourist and living illustrations are good samples of this kind of illustration techniques), Carle introduce to us into animal’s world with a bit of humour and simple concepts. I already remember the first time I tell one of his tales to a children group. It was Mister Seahorse, a sea story that tells the life of Mr Seahorse and his eggs. Twenty-three pairs of stunned eyes were looking, twenty-three open ears were listening and twenty-three mouths were opened… It was incredible! All of them were expecting, waiting for the end, smiling.There are two other Eric Carle’s books that have the same effects: The mixed-up chameleon and The very quiet cricket… It could be a good idea to read them, couldn’t it?

Wednesday, October 29, 2008


Many changes are now happening: political changes, economical changes, social changes, etc. There isn’t an only crisis, perhaps there are a lot of them. Whole the World is changing, and I think that we need these changes too. It could be a good solution for this sad situation: people without job, hungry children, natural disasters... Everything cracks. Only if we are conscious about this, it will be much easy to find a solution.
And if we are talking about changes, there’s no author who knows so much of this theme than Anthony Browne.
This illustrator, one of the best illustrators at the moment, has made a revolution with his images full of references to other situations that don’t belong to the Children’s Literature’s World. It’s curious, but Browne gets to introduce figures or elements that change the meaning of his works. From his beginning like illustrator, with titles like A walk in the park, to works like I like books, Piggybook, Gorilla (in my opinion, his best work, where his passion for the apes appears), Willy the Wimp (a big lesson for shy children and without self-respect) or Changes (a story that tell us about jealousy), Anthony Browne handle his pictures to tell us other stories inside the main story, or to emphasize it, for example in Piggybook we can see how the pictures on wallpaper change during the action: first, are tulips and after they seems pig faces. For more details, you only can do a thing: read it.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Sendak: Images and Wishes

There is something special in the Maurice Sendak’s illustrations. There are full of expressive marks, full of strange ink-lines, mysterious sketches... Sendak is one of the most important illustrators/authors of Children’s Literature. His books have a lot of acceptance among “little” readers. Why? I suppose its success dues to dreams and nightmares world, confronted feelings and dark desires. Children need run away of reality and find another world, that place where the wild things live…
Since he published his masterpiece Where the wild things are, his fame has no limits… He was born in 1926 into a Polish Jewish family that arrived to USA before the World War I. When he was young started to paint. He went to art school at the Art Students' League to continue his education. After some minor works, in 1963, he finally published Where the wild things are. It’s been a best-seller since its publication, has been traduced in many languages and, even, has inspired a theatre play. Sendak is one of the Children’s Literature’s living-legend, who not only has wrote and painted his own works; he has collaborated with other authors too, for example Else Holmelund Minarik (Little Bear) or Isaac Bashevis Singer. Among Maurice Sendak’s titles, we could mention The nutcracker (his version of E.T.A. Hoffmann’s tale), In the night kitchen (one of the few illustrated books censured in USA), The Sign On Rosie's Door or Higglety Pigglety Pop!

Monday, October 27, 2008

A new experience begins...

There are a lot of crazy ideas, and this is one of them… Today I begin this venture that I don’t know if it already reaches good satisfactory outcome… I don’t think if I will be able to response every week, each day, to the work that involves keep this website update too, and I don't know if I will be able to satisfy people who visit this site either.
I have wanted to devote this space to one of my passions: Children’s Literature, specifically to illustrated books.
This is a place where the respect, the freedom to express an opinion and the documentary quality are the pillars of communication among the persons whose visit it.
Thanks all the people who visit this website and contribute with their ideas to make bigger and bigger the Children’s Literature’s World.
The experience begins…
Illustration: Loreng Long. 2004. When I heard the learn'd astronomer (a Walt Whitman's poem).