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Mothers in Children's and Young Adult Literature - From the Eighteenth Century to Postfeminism

Mothers in Children's and Young Adult Literature

From the Eighteenth Century to Postfeminism

Edited by Lisa Rowe Fraustino & Karen Coats
Series: Children's Literature Association Series

Paperback : 9781496818430, 240 pages, 3 b&w illustrations; 2 tables, May 2018
Hardcover : 9781496806994, 240 pages, 3 b&w illustrations; 2 tables, May 2016

From didactic nursery rhymes to Coraline and The Hunger Games, an engagement with the vital figure of the mother


Winner of the Children’s Literature Association’s 2018 Edited Book Award

Contributions by Robin Calland, Lauren Causey, Karen Coats, Sara K. Day, Lisa Rowe Fraustino, Dorina K. Lazo Gilmore, Anna Katrina Gutierrez, Adrienne Kertzer, Kouen Kim, Alexandra Kotanko, Jennifer Mitchell, Mary Jeanette Moran, Julie Pfeiffer, and Donelle Ruwe

Living or dead, present or absent, sadly dysfunctional or merrily adequate, the figure of the mother bears enormous freight across a child's emotional and intellectual life. Given the vital role literary mothers play in books for young readers, it is remarkable how little scholarly attention has been paid to the representation of mothers outside of fairy tales and beyond studies of gender stereotypes. This collection of thirteen essays begins to fill a critical gap by bringing together a range of theoretical perspectives by a rich mix of senior scholars and new voices.

Following an introduction in which the coeditors describe key trends in interdisciplinary scholarship, the book's first section focuses on the pedagogical roots of maternal influence in early children's literature. The next section explores the shifting cultural perspectives and subjectivities of the twentieth century. The third section examines the interplay of fantasy, reality, and the ethical dimensions of literary mothers. The collection ends with readings of postfeminist motherhood, from contemporary realism to dystopian fantasy.

The range of critical approaches in this volume will provide multiple inroads for scholars to investigate richer readings of mothers in children's and young adult literature.


"Illuminating and timely collection . . . scholars in the fields of children's literature and beyond should welcome this"

- Elissa Gershowitz, Horn Book Magazine

"Fraustino and Coats offer an effective thematic organizational design, presenting insightful essays on both well-known and under-theorized texts, as well as diverse and underrepresented identities, through a variety of theoretical and methodological approaches. Mothers in Children's and Young Adult Literature is an essential resource for any scholar—both inside and outside the readership of The Lion and the Unicorn—studying motherhood in texts aimed at youths."

- Katie Kapurch, The Lion and the Unicorn

"Lisa Rowe Fraustino and Karen Coats’s edited collection is an impressive and significant work that opens an entirely new avenue of discussion regarding mothers and motherhood."

- Susan Louise Stewart, Children’s Literature Quarterly, Fall 2017, Vol. 42 No. 3

"Lisa Rowe Fraustino and Karen Coats have shaped a collection of essays on literature and theory into a rich and varied examination of mothers in children's and young adult literature. The editors say they wish the book to be both historical and theoretical, and they have succeeded superbly. This book of literary history and sophisticated theory, with its clarity of thought and outstanding writing, launches the serious study of motherhood as it affects children's literature. I thank Fraustino and Coats, and envy all the young professors, teachers, and students of children's literature who will absorb it and build on it in the future."

- Lucy Rollin, Children's Literature

"Mothers in Children's and Young Adult Literature is an exciting—even brilliant—collection of diverse criticism on a surprisingly understudied topic. The thirteen astute essays chosen by Lisa Rowe Fraustino and Karen Coats use a wide array of theoretical approaches to investigate topics that range from innovation in an eighteenth-century book for toddlers to animal mothering in picture books to the postfeminism of recent young adult novels."

- Beverly Lyon Clark, author of Kiddie Lit: The Cultural Construction of Children's Literature in America