Places of Childhood Fancy

Essays on Space and Speculation in Children’s Book Series

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About the Book

Many of us grew up exploring fascinating worlds—in books, films, and, most importantly, our imaginations—places filled with mythological characters and magical landscapes where we had stunning experiences punctuated by the harmless pleasures that any child’s mind can conjure. These worlds sometimes end up in our childhood fictions, which have in turn shaped countless imaginations and childhood adventures. The essays in this book attempt to comprehend the worlds of children’s progressive fiction—from how they are created to how they affect readers.
This book explores what happens when speculative genres (fantasy, horror, and science fiction) and imaginative spaces collide headlong with the realities and surrealities of modern childhood. It moves back and forth between Oz, Wonderland, Redwall and Fear Street, and explores series such as Nancy Drew, Inkheart, The Mortal Instruments, the Miss Peregrine series and more. Many of these works feature children who must save the day—to stop the bad guy, kill the monster, complete the quest and rescue adults—leading us to wonder if fantastic spaces in children’s progressive fiction are really helping kids prepare to save the world rather than helping them temporarily escape it.

About the Author(s)

Michael G. Cornelius is a professor of English and director of the Master’s of Humanities program at Wilson College in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania. He is an award-winning novelist and the author or editor of numerous scholarly works.

Marybeth Ragsdale-Richards teaches in the English and Women’s Studies programs at Wilson College in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania.

Bibliographic Details

Edited by Michael G. Cornelius and Marybeth Ragsdale-Richards

Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 239
Bibliographic Info: notes, bibliographies, index
Copyright Date: 2023
pISBN: 978-1-4766-8658-5
eISBN: 978-1-4766-4671-8
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments vi
Introduction: Sites of Speculation: Contestation, Imagination, and the Places of Childhood Fancy
Michael G. Cornelius 1
Alice Retaught: A Child’s Experience of ­Rule-Making and ­Rule-Following in Social Space
Dakota Root 19
On the Road to Oz: Crossing Fantasy Spaces in L. Frank Baum’s Oz Series
Steven A. Nardi 32
Topoi and Character in the Redwall Series
John R. Gilhooly 48
Mind the Verbal Cartographic Gap: Uncovering Power in the Fantasy Multiverse of Diana Wynne Jones’ Chrestomanci Series
Julia Jin Wang 64
The Map Is Not the Territory: Mapping Growth and Change in Catherynne M. Valente’s Fairyland Series
Ellis Khachidze 82
Sowing the Seeds of Fear: Architecting Fearscapes in R.L. Stine’s Fear Street Saga
Marybeth Ragsdale-Richards 100
(Un)Making Hell: Mirror Journeys in The Mortal Instruments and Dante’s Inferno
Raphaela Behounek 127
Myth, Place, and Time in Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children
Sean Ferrier-Watson 143
Space as a Journey to Survival in Ann Aguirre’s Enclave
Jessica Newman-Doubell 161
Terror Castles and Red Gate Farms: “Haunted” Childhoods and the Commodification of Space
Michael G. Cornelius 181
Understanding ­Multi-World Metafiction Through ­Place-Attachment: Base World, New World, and (In)Complete World
in the Inkheart Trilogy
Wenduo Zhang 199
Conclusion: The Limits of Fancy
Michael G. Cornelius and Marybeth Ragsdale-Richards 217
About the Contributors 227
Index 229