Category: fantasy and childhood
A recent study on children’s reading habits noted the dominance of fantasy: “capturing 56 percent of the market share.” Other categories didn’t come close, scoring under 10% each. But what I found unfortunate (if predictable) was social-media commentary that there was a “strong correlation to children’s reading preferences for fantasy and magic . . . as a means of escape from the news headlines of today.” But there’s far more to fantasy if you look deeper. To quote Lloyd Alexander: “Fantasy is hardly an escape from reality. It is a way to understand it.”
A third ring of fantasy, distinct from the sweeping canvas of High Fantasy and the rollicking escapades of Adventure Fantasy, is the delicate canvas of the Fairy Tale. While a smaller canvas, it is no less ambitious; think of a miniature painting, which still contains an entire world within its borders. Fairy-tale fantasy serves up a cluster of psychologically rich stories. These deep tales are rife with domestic problems, dreadful challenges, and astounding transformation and redemption.
A curious coincidence? I noticed that three blockbuster works of fantasy got published, at least according to the stories told by their own publishers, when a young reader of the manuscript (or self-published book in one of the cases) happened to recommend the work to an adult parent who was influential in the literary world.
Neverland. It is the home of our eternal childhoods, with all those wonderful dreams and adventures. In J.M. Barrie’s play and novel, Peter Pan, it is plural. There…