The literary label of crossover fiction to contemporary children's literature is commonly associated with J K Rowling's Harry Potter phenomenon. However, arguably it was Phillip Pullman's Dark Materials trilogy that operated as a catalyst for this change in literature through challenging pre-existing norms associated solely with children's literature and former children's editor Nissen argued that Phillip Pullman's trilogy heralded the rise of quality fiction and led the way for Harry Potter (In Beckett 2008: 116). Indeed, Pullman himself asserted that I wanted to reach everyone and the best way I could do that was to write for children . And hope that they'd tell their parents which is what happened (In Beckett, 2008:118).
[...] Appurtenant to this debate is the contention as to whether the growing phenomenon of such crossover fiction is anti-educational as a result of the instruction through delight paradigm. The focus of this paper is to critically evaluate this debate with contextual reference to Pullman's “Northern Lights”, which is the first book in the Dark Materials Trilogy. It is submitted at the outset that arguably part of the contention over Northern Lights as a children's book is academic as Pullman himself reiterates that the Dark Materials trilogy was never intended as a children's book (In Beckett, 2008:118). [...]
[...] To this end, Northern Lights clearly provides an allegory to the contemporary global framework, which further reiterates the impact of the book in changing the way literature relates to children within the contemporary socio-political framework. Additionally, on this basis Northern Lights is poignant in arguably highlighting the fallacy of idealistic paradigms of childhood. For example, McGillis highlights the allegory to the current political framework in international relations that “there is even a singular pioneering American balloonist who hires himself out as a troubleshooter and Pullman thereby creates a mini-cosmos in the hunt for lost children who are separated from their daemons, who are a reflection of themselves” (2003: 55). [...]
[...] Young People, the Global Media and the Construction of Consumer Meanings. In Youth and Global Media, Ralph, S. Luton: University of Luton Press. Ashkanasy, N. (2000). Handbook of organisational culture and climate. Sage. Barr, T. (2000), Newmedia.com.au: The Changing Face of Australia's Media and Communications, Australia: Allen & Unwin Barabasi, A. (2003). Linked: How everything is Connected to Everything Else and What it Means. Beckett, S. (2008). Crossover Fiction: Global and Historical Perspectives. Taylor & Francis. Bennett, A. & Harris, K. [...]
[...] Nevertheless, the pleasure derived from text has led to some purists denouncing the use of the instruction through delight method in literature on grounds of being anti-educational. Hodges et al observe that Newberry proposition of children's books offering “instruction through delight” (p.146), which in turn is supported by Townsend (Hodges et al, 2000). Alternatively, Briggs et al, highlight that the underlying controversy of crossover fiction is whether or not the specific text advances history of children's literature (Briggs et al, 2008:7). [...]
[...] On the other hand, it is evident that key texts in nineteenth century literature such as Dickens' “Great Expectations” (1860) and “Oliver Twist” (1838) along with Charles Kingsley's “Water Babies” (1864) all used satire, irony and inversion of the classic storytelling tradition to highlight the bleak reality for many children. Therefore this clearly challenges stereotypical presumptions regarding childhood. It further highlights the point that with Northern Lights the central difference is that the popularity of the books with children highlights the changes in youth culture in the postmodern era and increased child autonomy and understanding as opposed to the literary phenomenon itself redefining childhood. [...]
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