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Children’s literature expert to speak at Dodd Center

- October 14, 2008


Leonard Marcus, a noted writer, historian, and critic in children’s literature, will deliver a talk titled “Wonder in the Wake of War: the Fantasy Tradition in American Children’s Literature,” on Wednesday, Oct. 22.

The talk, which will be based in part on the fantasy literature-related aspects of his latest book, Minders of Make-Believe, will take place from 4 to 5:30 p.m. in Konover Auditorium, Thomas J. Dodd Research Center. A reception and book signing will follow.

Minders of Make-Believe: Idealists, Entrepreneurs, and the Shaping of American Children’s Literature (2008) is an animated first-time history of the publishers, authors, librarians, booksellers, educators, and others whose passion for books transformed American childhood and American culture.

In his talk, Marcus also will reference his interviews with 13 modern masters of fantasy from another of his recent books, The Wand in the Word.

He explains: “So many of the fantasy writers I interviewed felt they were writing about the war they themselves had experienced, or else that they wrote fantasy because of the impact of remembered wars on their view of life. And it seems to me that it was the experience of modern warfare, which so discredited the myth of science- and industry-driven progress, that helped to consolidate the readership for writers from Tolkien and Lewis to Madeleine L’Engle.”

Marcus is the American children’s book world’s preeminent historian. His award-winning books include Dear Genius: The Letters of Ursula Nordstrom; Margaret Wise Brown: Awakened by the Moon; and A Caldecott Celebration.

His recent children’s books include Oscar: The Big Adventure of a Little Sock Monkey, co-authored and illustrated by his wife Amy Schwartz, and Pass It Down: Five Picture-Book Families Make Their Mark. He is Parenting magazine’s regular book critic and a frequent contributor to the New York Times Book Review and The Horn Book.

Free and open to the public, the talk is sponsored by the Northeast Children’s Literature Collection, the Dodd Center, and the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

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