Cover image for Sticks and stones : the troublesome success of children's literature from Slovenly Peter to Harry Potter
Sticks and stones : the troublesome success of children's literature from Slovenly Peter to Harry Potter
Zipes, Jack, 1937-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : b Routledge, c 2001.
Physical Description:
xiv, 213 pages : b illustrations ; c 24 cm
Preface -- ch. 1. The cultural homogenization of American children -- ch. 2. Do you know what we are doing to your books? -- ch. 3. Why children's literature does not exist -- ch. 4. The value of evaluating the value of children's literature -- ch. 5. Wanda Gág's Americanization of the Grimm's fairy tales -- ch. 6. The contamination of the fairy tale -- ch. 7. The wisdom and folly of storytelling -- ch. 8. The perverse delight of Shockheaded Peter -- ch. 9. The phenomenon of Harry Potter, or why all the talk?
Format :


Call Number
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PN1009.A1 Z57 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



First Published in 2002. Routledge is an imprint of Taylor & Francis, an informa company.

Author Notes

Jack Zipes is Professor of German at the University of Minnesota. Among his many publications are Don't Bet on the Prince (Routledge), Complete Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm (Bantam), and most recently the Oxford Companion to the Fairy Tale.

Reviews 3

Library Journal Review

Zipes (German, Univ. of Minnesota; Don't Bet on the Prince) contends here that American children are being "homogenized" by the big business of children's literature. In a series of essays, most originally delivered as lectures or papers between 1997 and 1999, he asserts that "the more we invest in children, the more we destroy their future." This destruction is caused by groups such as Disney and the large, successful publishers that, he feels, dictate taste and consumption solely to beef up profit margins. Consequently, children are not encouraged either to use their own imaginations or to develop critical taste independent of media hype. Zipes ends with an essay on Harry Potter, written exclusively for this book, which pans J.K. Rowling's books as not only insignificant literature but downright harmful. While not every reader will agree entirely with Zipes's thesis, professionals need to be aware of his point of view.DKatherine Koenig, Ellis Sch., Pittsburgh (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

School Library Journal Review

Is the success of children's literature troublesome? Is it phenomenal? How do we judge the value of children's literature within the current culture that fosters the commercialization of childhood itself? In a series of essays mostly based on speeches given at various conferences, a scholar and social critic examines these and other provocative questions. Describing his passionate essays as "active talk," Zipes is nevertheless sometimes dense and arcane especially when he ventures into the political arena. He is most interesting when he writes directly about children's literature-the fairy tales retold by Wanda G g, the checkered history of the Grimm tales and their retellers, the history of storytelling and the appeal of Struwwelpeter. The phenomenon of Harry Potter is the subject of his final essay, and as he moves from literary to social critic, he finds Harry "part of the eternal return to the same-and, at the same time, part of the success and process by which we homogenize our children." Though the book is sometimes tedious, Zipes is always thought-provoking in his arguments.-Barbara Scotto, Michael Driscoll School, Brookline, MA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

These stimulating essays emphasize the curious status of children's literature as one defined, produced, and marketed not by children but by adults; the literature's development through the 18th and 19th centuries; and the changes in the "boom years of the 1970s when children's literature became a big business," offering young people, through books and the mass media, an increasingly standardized and commercialized path toward socialization. Zipes calls on literary critics, academics, publishers, and marketers to consider the stultifying effect of this development on the young and (inevitably) the future. Two invaluable chapters treat the "contamination" (folklorists' term for "elements that may have been added to or have seeped into what appears to be a pure, homogenous narrative tradition") of Grimms's fairy tales in the 20th century, suggesting how such retellings refurbish folklore so as to "question both past and present social conditions" and show young people how they may "play creatively with the forces dictating how they are to shape their lives." A final chapter discusses the "overwhelming phenomenon" of the Harry Potter books and laments the way in which it detracts from the accomplishments of such writers as Joan Aiken, William Mayne, and Ursula LeGuin. Upper-division undergraduates through professionals. J. J. Benardete CUNY Hunter College

Table of Contents

The Cultural Homogenization of American Children
Do You Know What We Are Doing to Your Books?
Why Children's Literature Does Not Exist
The Value of Evaluating the Value of Children's Literature
Wanda Gag's Americanization of the Grimm's Fairy Tales
The Contamination of the Fairy Tale
The Wisdom and Folly of Storytelling
The Perverse Delight of Shockheaded Peter
The Phenomenon of Harry Potter, or Why All the Talk?