Bloody Murder The Homicide Tradition in Children's

  • Hardcover
  • 266 pages
  • Bloody Murder The Homicide Tradition in Children's Literature
  • Michelle Ann Abate
  • English
  • 11 June 2016
  • 9781421408408

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Bloody Murder The Homicide Tradition in Children's LiteratureThis is an absorbing book The literary analysis is embedded in an historical and social context Therefore when Abate talks about Snow White and the murderous feelings her step mother has for her she makes the point that many parents want to murder their children In the period when the story originated many women died in childbirth and their husbands remarried Step mothers did not care for the children born of first wives in the same way that they did their own She also provides the data about the number of children abused and murdered by their parents Where filicide is concerned women are likely to be the murderers The number of different ways in which the step mother attempts to murder Snow White show how deeply her urges went and how much her power rested on her being “the fairest of them all” Her dancing in red hot shoes seems proper punishment Abate then goes on to discuss the red ueen in Alice in Wonderland and her solution of off with everyone’s heads She makes the point that Carroll wrote the book when there was a great debate in Great Britain about capital punishment She also points out that all civilized countries other than the United States have abolished capital punishment just as she had shown in the previous chapter the high rate of murders in the United States That is one of the places where we are number one In her next chapter she takes on Edgar Rice Burroughs and the Tarzan stories She points out how the racist view of blacks and animals were consistent with the Progressive movement’s view of the white man’s burden where Darwinism fed into the idea that the whites were superior to blacks The violence Tarzan inflicted on animals and blacks was justified because he was a white man of aristocratic birth and they were savages missing links if you will Her next chapter on Nancy Drew locates the intuition of Nancy in the time period of the thirties when spiritualism was popular She does talk about the stories reflecting their time in the racism involved For example she highlights the pidgin English of the Indian prince who would have been taught proper English but who in the Nancy Drew story talks like an American negro There is murder in some of the stories but even where there is not Nancy is freuently endangered by the bad guys It is her intuition that saves her This adds much to the analysis of the Nancy Drew stories Abate then makes the connection between The Outsiders and the pulp fiction that emerged between the wars She provides a fascinating summary of the history of the paperback book and the population it served and the relationship between pulp fiction the interest in juvenile delinuency and the time between the wars as well as the war period She traces how the Outsiders reflects the ideas about juvenile delinuents as well as the clichés of the films of the time In her discussion of Monster in the next chapter she shows the ambiguity that Myers presents as to the extent of Steve’s guilt She also makes the point that while showing that Steve is human and not cliché of the bad kid the other characters in contrast fit the clichés This is a most subtle analysis She does recognize the post modern elements in the story both in terms of the form and of the ambiguity She uotes Jameson a good bit in this section to good effect For her final chapter she talks about an area of which I know little which is the zombie literature Here she uotes Philip Pullman who says that unlike adult literature children’s literature deals with significant moral uestions because it is trying to teach children He sees adult literature as essentially childish whereas the real problems of life are examined in children’s literature The zombie literature is much like SF in that it is asking uestions of what does it mean to be human what is the experience of life If we live where it is possible to supplement our human bodies with technology what does it mean if the undead continue to live? She goes into great detail about a book My So Called Death building on the television program of My So Called Life The protagonist in this book is a girl who has the genetic ability to keep on living after death There is an hierarchy among the undead as there is among the living This is a book that uses its research well to achieve some fascinating insights into the issues with which children’s literature and to dispel the idea that violence is kept from children in their stories This is convincing in its arguments and its examples “Off with her head” decreed the ueen of Hearts one of a multitude of murderous villains populating the pages of children’s literature explored in this volume Bloody Murder is the first full length critical study of the pervasive theme of murder in children’s literature This is probably one of the most intriguing books I've read in my field no not the library field the other one in a long time  Some of y'all may know that I'm just a real big fan of anything bloody and murderous and taboo  So it's really no surprise that I enjoyed this  Writing about books such as The Gashlycrumb Tinies Alice in Wonderland George of the Jungle and Monster Abate takes a critical lens to murder and why it's being shown in the realm of children's literature  After all isn't children's literature supposed to be on the purer side of things?  Ha  HaAs children's literature has developed so has what's been regarded as taboo and why  Take for instance George of the Jungle and Alice in Wonderland  Both take place in settings unlike our own  There the taboo is perhaps normal  Or is it?  With a monarchy and set social statuses in place is murder really the way to go?  And how is that received?  Is it for a good cause?  And slowly but surely we move to The Gashlycrumb Tinies with a lot of gruesome deaths that are illustrated  Edward Gorey has a penchant for drawing Weird things but heck this is an alphabet book  But perhaps it's funny and entertaining because it plays on taboo not in spite of it?  And then we move to contemporary works such as Walter Dean Myers' Monster where the main character stands accused as an accomplice to a murder  Did he do it?  Why?  How do we feel about him with all the complicated layers of race and class and urban life added on?   Do we feel empathy?  Is that up to us?  Overall it's just a hugely interesting read that takes care to go through a syllabus of classic books in order to track trends throughout the homicide tradition  Definitely worth a readReview cross listed here

About the Author: Michelle Ann Abate

Michelle Ann Abate is associate professor of literature for children and young adults at The Ohio State University She earned her PhD in English from the Graduate School and University Center of the City University of New York in 2004 Before joining the faculty at OSU Michelle was an associate professor of English at Hollins University where she served as editor of the journal Children's Lit