ENG 335:  Children's Literature
Fall, 1998


Write an essay on any one of the following topics. Please notice that you are free to choose between two options. Once again, be sure to consult your seminar instructor.

LENGTH: 8-10 pages; DUE: F, Jan 8 (in your instructor's box in 22 McCosh)


There are different kinds of possibilities here, but each creative effort will need to be accompanied by a mini-essay of 2-3 pages in which you comment on your intentions and speculate on their success. You'll be judged by your skill in adopting the style, mode, and thematic concerns of the author you've chosen to impersonate and by your ability to comment on your aims and execution.

(1) Create an additional "Just So Story" of the "How the Something Got Its Something" variety, complete with one ornamented capital letter, two captioned drawings, and concluding verses. "Place" your "addition" within Kipling's sequence by telling us which of his tales ought to come before and after, and why.

(2) Create an fifteenth "Surprise" adventure for The Magical Monarch of Mo. Again, be sure to mimic the graphic format (title page with drawing; smaller drawings along the margins; a concluding drawing after the last paragraph) and to tell us where you want to locate your story within Baum's sequence.

(3) Have Eustace Bright retell still another Greek myth. Provide the usual frame with a defined physical setting (the season might be summer) pertinent to the story and with a dialogue between Eustace, Primrose, and some other youngsters. (Do not choose this topic if you already wrote on A Wonderbook on your first essay!)

(4) Add a new episode to either Alice in Wonderland or Through the Looking-Glass, or, if you prefer come up with different endings for any of the longer narratives: a chapter on an aging Wilbur's interactions with Joy, Aranea, and Nelly, and their own offspring, or a chapter on the further adventures of Templeton. Drawings
preferred but optional.


(1) The Suppressed Wasp.- Carroll decided to omit the episode of "The Wasp in a Wig," reprinted in your Norton Critical edition on pp. 211-214. How would the episode's retention have affected what lies ahead (Alice's crowning and the banquet) and what came before (her encounters with a series of male creatures, from the Gnat (the Wasp's fellow-insect) to the White Knight? Would any patterns have been substantially altered? Your answers should be grounded in a close analysis of the entire episode.

(2) T-Quests.- Compare and contrast the quests of Tim-Tom and Truella in The Magical Monarch of Mo by considering the objectives, hindrances, and tests involved. Does the quester's gender make any real difference, do you think? Does the very idea of having a quest seem odd in a static world like Mo?

(3) Monsters.- The slaying of the Jabberwocky and the slaying of the Purple Dragon seem to carry inferences that Carroll and Baum tease us into trying to decode. The Looking-Glass Alice (who is herself later called a "monster" by the Unicorn) must face the poem "Jabberwocky" just as the "beamish boy" within the poem itself (whom Tenniel draws as a rather feminized boy) faces the creature he beheads. The Monarch of Mo, on the other hand, is himself beheaded by the Purple Dragon in the first "Surprise" and has a rough time trying to overcome this opponent in the last "Surprise." If Alice and the Monarch of Mo resemble the child readers for whom Carroll and Baum invent their fantasy-worlds what role do these monsters play? If you wish, you can replace either monster-maker with Sendak and the "Wild Things" that roar their terrible roar.

(4) Violence.- Relate "Baa, Baa Black Sheep" to "The Elephant's Child." In what ways does the just-so story extend the "adult" story of a beaten child? Punch/Elephant Child could also be paired in the next question.

(5) Authority.- Write an essay on contrasting relations to adult authority (or authority figures) by considering
any ONE of the following pairs of children: the Wonderland Alice vs. the Looking-Glass Alice; "The Story of the Alphabet" Taffy vs. "The Tabu Tale" Taffy; either Alice vs. either Taffy; Wilbur vs. Taffy or Alice; Wilbur vs. the dog Jenny in Sendak's Higglety, Pigglety, Pop!; Max of Wild Things vs. David of Fly By Night.

(6) Poetry.- Kipling and Carroll write framing poems in which they look at the transcience of childhood to signify their relation to a special child. What differences do you see between Carroll's two poems (on pp. 3
and 103 of the Norton edition) and Kipling's two poems about Taffy and Tegumai (pp. 106 and 122 of the Penguin edition)? Or, if you prefer, write an essay in which you discuss how the poems Jarrell uses in The Bat
Poet perform a very different function from those he includes in Fly By Night.

(7) The Maternal Axis Once Again.- Consider how Kipling's attitude towards matriarchs might differ from his view of little girls by looking at the characterizations of Teshumai (Taffy's "mummy"), of the cave-woman in "The Cat That Walked Alone," and of Queen Balkis and Solomon's other wives in "The Butterfly Who Stamped His Foot." Or, if you prefer, relate the characterization of the mother in "Baa, Baa Black Sheep" to any of these figures. You might also turn to a different set of texts by considering the whole spectrum of maternity in Charlotte's Web or by probing into the way that David's ties to the maternal dominate his dreams (and Sendak's drawings) in Fly By Night.

(8) A Room of Your Own.- If none of these possibilities are appealing, you always have the option of devising a topic of your own. Remember, however, that you'll need your seminar instructor's approval.