I'm doing a Special Option in Children's Literature at uni next term, and this is on the reading list. And HOLY CRAP I'm so excited after reading this. Occasionally I stumble across something that reminds me why I love doing English, and this book is one of those somethings.
Not necessarily because of the argument, which is a bit confused, I think. Rudd seems to disagree with pretty much every children's lit critic ever, without actually putting forth a coherent argument of his own. Poor form, Rudd. And the last couple of chapters are very theory-based, which never appeals to me (I'm more of a close-reading person).
No, I enjoyed reading this because it gave me an excuse, a kind of foothold, from which to think about the books I love viscerally, because they are stories of rebellion or hope or fantasy, on the same kind of footing as books that the academic establishment says that I may love because they are clever or formally tricksy or Deep and Meaningful and Plotless. Why are the POV characters in The Lord of the Rings hobbits? Is it significant that the Pevensie children can't go back to Narnia when they're grown up? Who the hell are the Wild Things?
I could think about this all day. And the best thing is, I'd actually be doing work.