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Peter Hunt

Children's Literature:The development of criticism

Writing about children's literature can be a problem. Do you try to look at a book from the point of view of a child? Or do you ask what the book does to educate children (a rather old fashioned view perhaps). Maybe you view the book as a preparation for more advanced works. In Children's Literature:The development of criticism, Peter Hunt brings together a collection of essays which look at these, and many other questions. The book starts with early examples of such essays (starting with one from 1749), and so the reader sees how children's literature, and the criticism of it, has developed over time.

I have to say that I was looking for something a bit different. What I expected was metacriticism - say taking a children's book and evaluating what different people have said about it, in a similar way to the discussions of different interpretations of a piece of music or a play. As such I found the parts of the text which dealt with specific books to be of greatest interest and the other parts rather vague and over-generalised. Also there seemed to be too much worrying about whether the subject was seen as a 'serious' academic activity. Overall I felt the book was a bit too introspective.