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The whatabout game

by
July–August 2010, no. 323

The Cambridge Companion to Children's Literature edited by M.O. Grenby and Andrea Immel

Cambridge University Press, $59.95 pb, 324 pp

The whatabout game

by
July–August 2010, no. 323

Prepare to be affronted, or perhaps just a bit miffed. Although it does not confine itself to works by British writers, you will look in vain for Australian authors in the new Cambridge Companion to Children’s Literature. Among many titles from the United States, Little Women gets its due, as does Little House on the Prairie. Canada’s Anne of Green Gables is there, and so is Salman Rushdie’s Haroun and the Sea of Stories. Scan the index and you will find works of European origin, such as The Swiss Family Robinson and Johanna Spyri’s Heidi. The latter two, of course, could be given honorary citizenship because of their immense popularity in English translation.

But, for a moment, let’s play the ‘whatabout’ game. Why no mention of Seven Little Australians (1894) or The Magic Pudding (1918)? Or from the 1960s on, how is it that none of the works of Ivan Southall or Patricia Wrightson caught the Cambridge eye?  What about John Marsden, whose books reach international audiences in millions? Or Sonya Hartnett, winner of the most prestigious international prize, the Astrid Lindgren award?

The Cambridge Companion to Children's Literature

The Cambridge Companion to Children's Literature

edited by M.O. Grenby and Andrea Immel

Cambridge University Press, $59.95 pb, 324 pp

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