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Table Lands - Food in Children's Literature

Table Lands

Food in Children's Literature

By Kara K. Keeling & Scott T. Pollard
Series: Children's Literature Association Series

Hardcover : 9781496828347, 230 pages, June 2020
Paperback : 9781496828354, 230 pages, June 2020

An exploration of the symbolic role food plays in children’s literature


Food is a signifier of power for both adults and children, a sign of both inclusion and exclusion and of conformity and resistance. Many academic disciplines—from sociology to literary studies—have studied food and its function as a complex social discourse, and the wide variety of approaches to the topic provides multidisciplinary frames for understanding the construction and uses of food in all types of media, including children’s literature.

Table Lands: Food in Children’s Literature is a survey of food’s function in children’s texts, showing how the sociocultural contexts of food reveal children’s agency. Authors Kara K. Keeling and Scott T. Pollard examine texts that vary from historical to contemporary, noncanonical to classics, and Anglo-American to multicultural traditions, including a variety of genres, formats, and audiences: realism, fantasy, cookbooks, picture books, chapter books, YA novels, and film. Table Lands offers a unified approach to studying food in a wide variety of texts for children.

Spanning nearly 150 years of children’s literature, Keeling and Pollard’s analysis covers a selection of texts that show the omnipresence of food in children’s literature and culture and how they vary in representations of race, region, and class, due to the impact of these issues on food. Furthermore, they include not only classic children’s books, such as Winnie-the-Pooh, but recent award-winning multicultural novels as well as cookbooks and even one film, Pixar’s Ratatouille.


"Although Table Lands focuses on the Western canon, the authors have done their due diligence in featuring diverse work. . . . I predict Table Lands will be influential for scholars from a great many fields of study because of its interdisciplinarity content. . . . This is an enjoyable read. . . . "

- Amy Harris-Aber, Children's Literature

"Taking readers from the Lake District to Oakland to Paris to the Jim Crow South, Table Lands is an excellent contribution to the scholarship of children’s literature and food studies. "

- Sarah Minslow, Children's Literature Association Quarterly

"The names Kara Keeling and Scott Pollard are virtually synonymous with the study of food in children’s literature. . . . [Readers] will be delighted by the ample repast that they find here. "

- Catherine Keyser, Professor of English at the University of South Carolina, The Lion and the Unicorn

"Table Lands is an innovative and important text in the field of children’s literature, as well as food and cultural studies. Kara K. Keeling and Scott T. Pollard demonstrate how the subject of food can be used to expose and analyze racial problems, cultural conflict and assimilation, and constructions of gender and cultural histories among other areas. "

- Jean Webb, director of the International Forum for Research in Children's Literature and professor of international children’s literature

"Each chapter allows us, as adult readers, the chance to relive, reflect, and reconsider. Food in children’s literature is a rich resource for analysis, and Keeling and Pollard have firmly established themselves as generous, curious leaders in the field."

- Shayne Leslie Figueroa, Gastronomica

"An excellent contribution to the study of children’s literature. . . Rather than seeing food only through a literary lens, [Keeling and Pollard] account for the broad range of ways that humans eat, prepare, think about, construct, read, understand, share, and cultivate food. The most comprehensive study to date, Table Lands is a critical investigation of how important food is in our lives and how children’s literature takes up these ideas."

- Katy Lewis, IRCL