A Family of Readers The Book Lover’s Guide to Children’s and Young Adult Literature

The structure of this book, viewed from the perspective of its ‘Table of Contents’ pages, may at first seem slightly intimidating, but familiarity with the layout will come with increasing and regular use. Divided into four major ‘Parts’ – ‘Reading to Them’, ‘Reading with Them’, ‘Reading on Their Own’ and ‘Leaving Them Alone’ – each ‘Part’ is then further subdivided into an ‘Overview’ and a sequence of ‘Chapters’; in turn, each ‘Chapter’ is subdivided into a sequence of relevant short essays. Thus, ‘Part’ Three – ‘Reading on Their Own’ – has ‘Chapters’ on ‘Genres’ (individual essays on fantasy, historical fiction, humour, adventure books), ‘Nonfiction’ (essays on biography, science books, poetry), ‘Girl Books and Boy Books’ (essays on each of these) and ‘Messages’ (essays on, inter alia, ‘What Makes a Good Sex Ed Book?’ and ‘What Ails Bibliotherapy?’ The range of material (and contributors) is vast, resulting in a volume which few will read from cover to cover but which many will want to dip into – and very useful it all is, not least in its copious bibliographical material. (This, unsurprisingly, is largely American, though it is very good to see Eoin Colfer’s Airman and Kate Thompson’s The New Policeman among the numerous ‘recommended’ titles.) The tone throughout will be very familiar to regular readers of The Horn Book (of which Sutton and Parravano are editors) or to anyone who ever attended a CLNE (Children’s Literature New England) conference: it is positive, engaged, at times bordering on the evangelistic and, mercifully, almost totally free from the wilder ramblings of theoretical ‘discourse’. These are people who know and love their children’s literature – and want the world to share their enthusiasm. (Just one quibble: is the cartoon which introduces ‘Part’ Four really necessary?)