Literature is one of the most amazing forms of art in the world. Words of different writers, their ideas, and unbelievable imagination – all this make each piece of literature unique and captivating. Nowadays, in the world of literature, there are no limitations, inequality, and other problematic issues. Everyone has the right to enjoy a story and learn something new. However, if a person is at the age of 7 or 12, the works by Dickens, London, or Ngai will be a bit complicated to comprehend.
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This is why literature may simply divided into adult and children’s one. “One of the delights of children’s literature is that it does not fit easily into any cultural or academic category.” (Hunt, 2001, p.1) Children literature deserves lots of attention; it provides the reader with an opportunity to investigate the worlds of different people, analyze oneself, and comprehend each piece of information because of such features as a friendly and simple language, captivating illustrations, and the length.
There are three brightest examples of children’s literature to discuss: Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson, Wilfred Gordon McDonald Partridge by Mem Fox, and Memorial by Gary Crew and Shaun Tan.
Bridge to Terabithia is one the best works written by Paterson. It is a story about a young boy, Jesse Aarons, his neighbour, Leslie Burke, and their imaginary world called Terabithia. Jesse has no friends and tries to find a kind of support from Leslie’s side. Leslie is fond of captivating stories and likes to create unbelievable things. The desire to invent something together leads to the creation of Terabithia. This is a wonderful world without enemies and quarrels.
Leslie, as a queen, and Jesse, as a king, decide to visit this country together only. However, one day, Leslie makes a decision to go there without Jesse (he has a meeting with a teacher he falls in love), and accidently, she falls into a creek and dies. Jesse cannot but blame himself. He has no right to leave Leslie alone, and now, she is gone, and he has to continue living, living in Terabithia without her. “How could they dare? Leslie belonged to him. More to him than anyone in the world.” (Paterson, 2004, p. 145)
This story is about friendship, love, trust, and fantasy. Our life is so unpredictable, people do not know for sure when it is their time to leave this world. This is what the author wants to tell the reader. Even if people have own worlds and share them with the others, nothing can save from the destiny, good or bad.
In 1989, Mem Fox presented Wilfred Gordon McDonald Partridge, another interesting work for and about children. This is a story about a boy with such a complicated name – Wilfred Gordon McDonald Partridge. One of the peculiar features of this character is his burning desire to know more and ask questions.
“There was once a small boy called Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge and what’s more he wasn’t very old, either. His house was next door to an old people’s home and he knew all the people who lived there.” (Fox, 1989) Lots of them have some health troubles, the others just have no place to go. Wilfred befriends with one old lady, Miss Nancy, in order to help her brainstorm some memories. His actions are so naive and kind. His desire to help elder people is the best lesson the reader should learn.
The peculiar feature of this very book is that it can be interesting either adults or children. There are several types of children literature: books written by children, books for children, and children books for both parents and children. This story may be interesting to parents because it describes how children may be helpful. This book also presents several methods, which may help to train child’s memory and even improve it.
Gary Crew and Shaun Tan present another amazing children story – Memorial. In spite of the fact that it is a short picture book, it calls lots of emotions and feelings. Illustrations created by Tan are really powerful and splendid. The attention to each detail, correct shapes, and sense of light – this all is about one little book, the book that will be interesting both for grown ups and children.
This story is devoted to soldiers and their families, who struggled for our future generation and happier life. Memorials, built in soldiers’ honour, remind people about the courage and fame that play a crucial role in this life.
With the help of such book, children get a wonderful opportunity to learn more about people’s duties and even comprehend deeper the sense of life. Illustrative examples and a simple language make this book clear for children. The structure of Memorial reminds a kind of box full of memories. In such case, this book serves as an artifact and comprises both functions as an educative device and a kind of entertainment.
There are so many worlds, people can share with each other. It may be an imagery country without evil (Bridge to Terabithia), a real world, where children and elder people live together (Wilfred Gordon McDonald Partridge), and a world of history, which is necessary to respect (Memorial).
It does not matter what kind of world you prefer, the major point is that they all are available within children’s literature pieces of art. “The status of children’s literature as the focus of serious study is relatively recent. Indeed the definition of what constitutes a children’s literature has been a subject of debate.” (Hawkis-Dady, 1996, p. 138) However, it is not quite reasonable to start arguing about the role of children’s literature and its position in the world of literature in general.
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Children’s literature helps to investigate and analyze the inner world of any person from two possible perspectives: adult and child. It is important to have an opportunity to analyze and study life from early years. For lots of children, it is not that easy to comprehend the essence of all books, so they get a chance to learn the world of literature by means of children literature. It is a good beginning of something really important and crucial in this life.
Crew, G. & Tan S. (2004). Memorial. Simply Read Books.
Fox, M. (1989). Wilfred Gordon McDonald Partridge. Kane/Miller Publishers, Incorporated.
Hawkins-Dady, M. (1996). Reader’s Guide to Literature in English. Taylor & Francis.
Hunt, P. (2001). Children’s Literature. Wiley-Blackwell.
Paterson, K. (2004). Bridge to Terabithia. HarperTeen.