The Morals of Monster Stories

Essays on Children’s Picture Book Messages


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About the Book

The simplicity of children’s picture books—stories told with illustrations and a few well chosen words or none at all—makes them powerful tools for teaching morals and personal integrity. Children follow the story and see the characters’ behaviors on the page and interpret them in the context of their own lives. But unlike many picture books, most children’s lives don’t feature monsters.
This collection of new essays explores the societally sanctioned behaviors imparted to children through the use of monsters and supernatural characters. Topics include monsters as instructors, the normalization of strangers or the “other,” fostering gender norms, and therapeutic monsters, among others.

About the Author(s)

Leslie Ormandy teaches “vampires in literature,” technical writing, and basic composition courses at a rural Oregon community college and frequently presents papers in the Vampires in Literature section at the Popular Culture Conference. She lives in Gladstone, Oregon.

Bibliographic Details

Edited by Leslie Ormandy
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 256
Bibliographic Info: notes, bibliographies, index
Copyright Date: 2017
pISBN: 978-1-4766-6484-2
eISBN: 978-1-4766-2769-4
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments v

Preface 1

Introduction 3

Part 1: Monstrous Instructors

My Monster ABCs: What Can A(bominable Snowmen)

to Z(ombies) Teach Our Kids? (Carla Kungl) 15

Green Legs and Hands: The Lorax as a Medievalist Morality Tale

(Corwin R. Baden) 32

Monsters in the Closet: Narrative Therapy and Fairy Tales

(Lisa LeBlanc and Carla B. Morrissey) 50

Part 2: Normalization of the “Other” “Let the wild rumpus start!” Adventures in Acceptance and Understanding—Picture Books and the Other (Kelly F. Franklin) 64

“You can’t get rid of the Babadook”: The Supertextual

Supernatural (Lloyd Isaac Vayo) 78

Monsters Like Us (Gerald Raymond Gordon) 93

Part 3: Fostering Heteronormativity, Agency and Racial Superiority

The Scars of Dracula: Dracula and the Undead Meaning in Children’s Early Readers (Simon Bacon) 110

Misogyny, Monsters and Malice: Dismantling Troy Cummings’

The Notebook of Doom Series (Holly A. Wheeler) 126

Part 4: Evolving Monsters Ogress, Fairy, Sorceress, Witch: Supernatural Surrogates and the Monstrous Mother in Variants of “Rapunzel” (Melissa Mullins) 142

Swimming with Serpents: Dismantling Boundaries in Sea

Monsters Picture Books (Rebecca A. Brown) 158

Part 5: Monstrous Monsters The House That Drac Built: ­Faith-Based Qualms About Halloween Picture Books (Corwin R. Baden) 175

Wicked “Others”: Christian Conservatism and the Rejection of the Supernatural (Brenda S. Gardenour Walter) 195

Part 6: Moral Agencies The Fantastic in the Everyday: Growing Up with The Mysteries of Harris Burdick (Mariaelena DiBenigno) 209

Crossing the Threshold: Ghosts and Haunted Houses as Moral

Messengers (Brenda S. Gardenour Walter) 226

About the Contributors 241

Index 243

Book Reviews & Awards

“Monsters in picture books may at first not seem like a topic worthy of academic study. But this collection suggests otherwise. Ormandy presents a variety of analytical essays that apply literary theories from structuralism to feminism to postcolonialism as they discuss how monster stories help expose and educate children to the values of society…. a valuable resource…recommended.”—Choice; “very highly recommended”—Midwest Book Review; “the 14 essays presented here illustrate how children’s picture books about supernatural monsters model moral behaviors to children. English and other scholars from the US , Japan, and Europe describe how supernatural characters teach children lessons about multiculturalism, environmentalism, and behavioral issues”—ProtoView.