Northern Lights and Swallows and Amazons Essay

Northern Lights and Swallows and Amazons Essay

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Rudd’s (2009) essay evaluates Enid Blyton’s work offering a different perspective to account for the appeal and popularity of the author. This essay looks at the aspects raised by Rudd. How Blyton, Pullman and Ransom illustrate the different aspects of a good or a bad book. The way critics confer prestige on a book or author and the arising criticism. How the agenda of the committees affects the selection of prize-winners. Finally, looking at the factors involved in success.
The set books used in his essay are Pullman (1995) Northern Lights and Ransom (2001) Swallows and Amazons.
Critics view the books by Pullman and Ransom as examples of literary excellence. In order to evaluate this opinion it is necessary to discuss what aspects critics consider contribute to a good book and how these books illustrate them. The American Library Associate (ALA) uses the term ‘edubrow’ (Kidd, (2009) p158) to mean the middle ground of literature with an educational emphasis. This emphasis is at the centre of the criteria for a good book by increasing the experiences of the reader through varied language, dynamic themes, rounded characterisation with comprehensive plots. The critics favour works that involve the reader in a non-passive manner to gain insights into universal aspects of human existence like love, identity, revenge, sexuality and betrayal.
Pullman has written a basic adventure story laced with multiple themes, metaphors and ideas. He uses intertextuality to enrich his text and enhance his ideas and arguments (Squires, 2009). His novel is mainly a critique of the theology surrounding the Judaeo-Christian myth of the Fall where the gaining of experience replaces the loss of innocence. He compares this idea with the journey of his m...


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...as created controversy where his books are studied and dissected by academics. He is outspoken and interacts with critics about the themes in his book, which are the antithesis of C.S Lewis Narnia series. Controversy and debate are forms of creating interest in a book that send sales soaring. Everyone wants to read the book that is creating such a furore.
In conclusion, critical evaluation of what makes a book good or bad depends on the selection criteria and agenda of those making the evaluation. The prizes have been criticised through the years and the selection committees have risen to this by changing the selection process, even if this change has been slow. Children’s Literature is in flux due to the ever-changing ideas and perceptions of childhood. Children’s books seen as prestigious today may become, like Blyton, unpalatable to the critics of tomorrow.

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