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Audacious Kids

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Audacious Kids

The Classic American Children's Story
revised edition

Outstanding Book of the Year Award, Children’s Literature Association

Often called the Golden Age of Children’s Books, the years stretching from the Civil War to World War I were a remarkable epoch in juvenile literature, an era when the best authors on both sides of the Atlantic wrote some of their finest work primarily for children. In Audacious Kids, Jerry Griswold provides a groundbreaking and lucid study of twelve of these classic American children’s tales, including such time-honored stories as Little Women, Tom Sawyer, The Secret Garden, and The Wizard of Oz.

Griswold’s most remarkable insight is that, fundamentally, these twelve books all tell essentially the same story: a child is orphaned, makes a journey, is adopted and harassed by adults, and eventually triumphs over them and comes into his or her own. Griswold, a leading figure in the study of children’s literature, also reveals that these tales emphasize motifs that are distinctly American, such as positive thinking, concern with health, and the concealment of sex and violence, and he shows how these secular parables replaced religion with psychology and preached gospels of emotional self-control and optimism.

In this revised edition, which is aimed at students, scholars, and general readers, Griswold has updated the text throughout and added a new preface, introduction, and select bibliography.