New Login   


Manjushree Thapa

Princess Mirror-Belle and the Magic Shoes; Princess Mirror-Belle By Julia Donaldson. Illustrated by Lydia Monks. Macmillan Children’s Books, London, 2003 and 2005, pp. 120 and 131, £2.25 each   Pop Princess By Rachel Cohn, Simon and Schuster, London, 2004, pp. 311, $5.10   10 Things to Do Before You’re 16 By Caroline Plaisted, Simon and Schuster, London, 2005, pp. 152 , $3.95   The Boys’ Club By Amanda Swift, Simon and Schuster, London, 2004, pp. 137, $3.95   All American Girl: Ready or Not By Meg Cabot, Macmillan Children’s Books, London, 2005, pp. 214, £4.50   To Catch a Prince By Gillian McKnight, Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers, New York, 2005, pp. 184, $4.25   The Key to the Golden Firebird By Maureen Johnson, Harper Trophy, New York, 2004, pp. 297, $7.99   There is a school of thinking which deems it better for children to read any kind of book—even trash—than to skip cultivating the habit of reading. At least they learn the pleasures of sitting alone with a book, inhabiting imaginary worlds. This, so the thinking goes, will develop their capacities as human beings. One can see the logic of this. Yet if one had a choice, would one not want one’s children to read good, worthy books?   Of course children must be entertained by their books. But in the confusion of their lives they also need books to guide them through the universe, to let them learn about things and explore the unknown, to confirm their own experience and to articulate, by proxy, their own thoughts and feelings. They may not know it, but they seek knowledge and understanding from authors (which may not be forthcoming from their family or peers) and they want to be suggested a few possible solutions to their day-to-day dilemmas.   Does this mean there must always be lessons embedded in children’s literature? No. It is enough for books to provide children companionship through confusing, difficult or even scary aspects of life: their feelings of loneliness, low esteem, fear and the pain of rejection or abandonment. And so, while books can take the place of big sisters/brothers or mentors, they can also simply take the place of best friends, allowing children to explore, in safety, their inner lives.   The books reviewed here all try to balance fun and education (to use the word loosely), though they more often fall on the side of fun, sometimes squeezing in a lesson or two as an afterthought. In the Princess Mirror-Belle, Julia Donaldson creates an engaging protagonist in Ellen, ...

Table of Contents >>
Please or to Read Entire Article

Free Access Online 12 Back Issues
with 1 year's subscription
Archive (1976-2011)
under construction.