Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Enchanted Hunters, by Maria Tatar

On first glance, Enchanted Hunters appears to be a blunt instrument of adult rationality operating on the magic and mystery of Oz. This academic history of children’s literature is a cultural and literary study where Dr. Seuss mixes with Hegel and J. M. Barrie with Walter Benjamin. But like children’s books themselves, Enchanted Hunters succeeds by appealing to curiosity and imagination, and by asking questions.

What do children experience while reading? How do stories work in shaping and developing children’s emotional and intellectual development? Tatar goes to the source to investigate, using examples from “Alice in Wonderland” to Harry Potter to elucidate the power of reading in childhood. Enchanted Hunters reveals that children’s literature is as complex, affecting and important, if not more so, than other genres of literature.
Tatar’s research is meticulous and her analysis insightful, and if her conclusions lead to more questions, it’s only fitting for a book that reignites our sense of wonder and the excitement of reading. Storytelling burns bright in Enchanted Hunters, a book for grown-ups that carries the torch lit by the beauty, horror, adventure, and possibility found in the books we read as children, and that we read to our children today.
This review originally appeared in the June, 2009 issue of The Sacramento Book Review.

No comments:

Post a Comment