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MERE CREATURES: A STUDY OF MODERN FANTASY TALES FOR CHILDREN.

Gose, Elliott.

Toronto. University of Toronto Press. 1988. 202pp, paper. ISBN 0-8020-5761-6 (cloth) S30.00. 0-8O20-6674-7 (paper) $13.95. CIP

Post-secondary
Reviewed by Adele Ashby

Volume 16 Number 6
1988 November


Elliott Gose tells us that he remembers with relish his childhood encounters with Kipling, but in his "enlightened adulthood." he decided that the Just So Stories "were not suited to mid-century children. . .that the tone was arch and the tales unscientific." Any good reader who has ever shared them aloud with children knows that the lack of scientific basis is as irrelevant to them as it is to folktales and that the archness is an important part of the mix of humorous elements that sends appreciative audiences into waves of giggles.

Gose explores links between folklore and modem fantasy and the appeal of their characters for children. Like his audience, Bilbo Baggins, for example, is essentially a naf who undergoes a series of adventures that lead to a sense of competence and a knowledge of the wider world without destroying his positive, childlike qualities. The promotional literature states that "Gose's study illustrates not only the timelessness of such characters in fantasy literature but also their effectiveness in communicating profound psychological insights." For those of us who work directly with children and books, the "timelessness" and "profound psychological insights" are commonplaces. Mere Creatures, therefore, is probably limited to an academic audience.


Adele Ashby, Toronto, Ont.
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