A concise, witty, impassioned master class on the central work of story in childhood. Yolen has a remarkable eye for the tricky, interesting nuances of morality in folklore; she smoothly deploys a range of smart quotations and deftly weaves in a ton of research without ever losing her own sly voice, and the ease with which she considers these ideas and their history; and so on. My gr pal Abigail wrote a more definitive review
, and I send you to it--but I could probably name another ten or twenty things I found delightful and smart here.
I probably would complain about the frame with which she opens, ye olde rallying cry about the death of story and the loss of certain folkloric knowledges amid the pablum of pop culture today. It's too reductive a sermon, too familiar a rant -- and while I would agree in some respects I'd fight loudly against the argument on a number of fronts. Even disagreeing, I wish it was more intensive and extensive an argument she made, on this and all of her claims; these essays are so readable and sharp that we readers long for a lot more study, more dense history, more fine close readings -- a heftier, maybe even more encyclopedic volume. Even the cliche about the death of story would be better-served by more time and more space, and this slim book could stand some fattening up.
But whine whine. It's damn good. Thanks to Abigail for drawing my attention to it--it's an invaluable source for the many students who come to me fascinated by fantasy and/or children's lit....