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Indicative Discussion of Selected Greek Children's Literature Criticism

Here are short descriptions or translated "blurbs" of the content of various published books and articles by Children's Literature authors and critics in Greece. They are not complete descriptions, yet they give a small taste of what the current trends in Greek children's criticism are like.

Further to the one-day conference organised by Papadopoulos Publishers in Athens on the 14th of October, 2000, the papers presented during the conference have been published in a volume entitled "Xanadiavazontas Tous Ellinikous Klassikous: Anagnoseis -- Diaskeves -- Didaktikes Protaseis" ("Re-reading the Greek Classics: Interpretations -- Adaptations -- Proposals for Instruction"). The papers in this volume address, in a serious and systematic manner, the multifaceted and controversial issue with regard to adaptations of Modern Greek literature for children.

All the parameters which determine the aesthetic quality, readiblity as well as general functionality of these works with relation to today's child-reader.

Although these papers have been presented in conjunction with a particular series of such adaptations published by Papadopoulos Publishers, these papers can be used independently thus explaining and portraying how the act of reading such adaptations can act positively in the the "moulding" and "education" of a child by presenting the young reader with values, ideas and images, or rather with the seed which may bloom much later, prepelled by readings of maturity.

The papers within the volume include:

a) Adaptations of Literary Works for Children -- by Theodosis Pylarinos
b) Looking Back with Child-like Eyes -- by Kostas Poulos
c) Illustrating Greek Classical Literature -- by Nikolas Andrikopoulos
d) The First Voyage of Our Lives: A Child's First Contact with the Classics -- by Vangelis Iliopoulos & Poly Vassilaki
e) While Narrating....We Adapt... -- by Giorgios Gantantis

Yet another interesting book related to Children's Literature Research in Greece is:

Greek Children's Literature: Past, Present and Future edited by Sophia Hatzidimitriou. Athens: Ellinika Grammata Publications,1999.

As the blurb on the back of the book indicates....Greek children's literature recently celebrated 150 years presence in Greece's literary world.  It made its existence known along with the birth of the independent Greek state, developed during the end of the last century and matured during the first post-war years.  The era after the change of polity, however,  is that which has been universally recognized as the stage where children's literature truly flourished.  This was not only apparent in its production but also in the consumer element and the acceptance of the literary book for children and young adults.  These elements were those which embedded this literature within the conscience of the reading public and thus simultaneously  laid the foundations for a promising  future.

The varying studies contained within this volume attempt to portray this panorama of Greek children's literature as a creative and theoretical activity.  This collection of papers was presented at the 7th Seminar organized by the Circle of the Children's book in Athens (26-28 May, 1997) under the general title of Greek Children's/Adolescent Literature: Past, Present and Future. 

The papers collected within the volume are the following:

Part 1: The Past of Children's Literature

Angelopoulou, V. "Greek literature for children during the 19th Century".

Papakostas, Y. "The authors Ekaterina Laskaridou and Arsinoe Papadopoulou and educative literature".

Timotheou, F. "The beginnings of Cypriot children's literature".

Mirasgesi, M. D. "Forms of older poetry for children.  Stelios Sperantzas, Michael Stasinopoulos, Vasilis      Rotas:  Glances into the thematology of their poetry".

Hatzidimitriou-Paraschou, S. "Attitudes and opinions of authors of the recent past". 

Part 2:  The Present of Children's Literature

Kallergis, H. "Historical fiction and contemporary adolescent literature".

Malafantis, K. D. "Children's literature and contemporary reality -- predicaments of contemporary authors".

Katsonis, K. "Recent developments in Cypriot children's literature".

Papadatos, Y. "Sociological and Pedagogic markings in contemporary fiction for children and adolescents".

Vasilarakis, I.N. "Strands of domestic past within the present of written narrative for children and adolescents".

Part 3: The Future of Children's Literature

Anagnostopoulos, V.D. "Findings and proposals for the teaching of children's literature in higher education".

Patsiou, V. "Children's and adolescent literature in the century to come: investigation and expectations".

Katsiki-Givalou, A. "Children's literature in postgraduate programs of Greek universities".

Meraklis, M. G. "Criticism of children's literature -- requirements of the future". 

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Another book of children's literature criticism which I highly recommend is that edited by I.N. Vasilarakis "Current Views and Perspectives of Young adult and Children's Literature". It was published in Athens (September, 1998) by τυπωθήτο (Tipothito)Press. The 19 articles included are those which were presented at the Panhellenic Symposium in Alexandroupolis in May (1996) organised by the Department of Primary Education at the Democritus University of Thrace.

These articles have been written by some of the most prominent Greek Literature and Children's Literature Critics/Professors. They include texts such as the following:

1. "Social prototypes and values of children's literature in the transitional society of our day" by Vasilis Filias
2. "Modernism and tradition in children's literature" by M. G. Meraklis
3. "A child in primary school writes to his teachers" by Antonis Samarakis
4. "The children's literature author sitting before an empty, white sheet of paper" by Loti Petrovits-Androutsopoulou
5. "Children's Literature: autonomous literature or a publishing trick?" by Manos Kontoleon
6. "Pink Hippos and invisible soapsuds: the illustration of the children's book taken from the view point of the author" by Eugene Trivizas
7. "Foreign children's literature translated into Greek: linguistic and stylistic commentary" by Triantafillia Sarafidou
8. "Paraliterature and the children's book: convergences and divergences" by Zoe K. Bella
9. "Alice in Multimediaworld: A different approach to literature" by Angeliki A. Giannakopoulou
10. "George Sari and her realistic transgression" by Giannis Papakostas
11. "Eugene Trivizas's One Thousand and One Cats: the literary introduction to a comic cheese-tragedy" by Telemachos Moudatsakis
12. "One Upon a time, Rodari and I..." by Nikos Giannopoulos

The book is not only is interesting due to the fact that it portrays the polyvalent aspects of Greek children's literature but also because it clearly shows that Greece is finally getting to grips with the reality of the existance, importance, and complexity of children's literature and is now finally giving it the spotlight and the attention it truly deserves.

Another very interesting "foreign" volume of theoretical and critical papers relating to international children's literature (and including Greece):

Webb, Jean (ed.) Text, Culture and National Identity in Children's Literature. Helsinki: NORDINFO Publication 44, 2000.

This collection of papers is a valuable contribution to the fields of Children's Literature and Cultural Studies. Written by both leading academics, and Ph.D. Students, the work here is at the cutting edge of contemporary research in the area. There is also an inclusion which makes explicit the research methodology underpinning such work.

The focus is on both textual analysis and cultural studies, moving beyond the stage of documenting historical development, into analytical discussion of the interrelationship between texts for children and the construction of national identity. Contributors have written on Children's Literature from Australia, the Czech Republic, Denmark, England, Greece, Ireland, Iceland, Finland, South Africa, Sweden, and the USA, including here authors with a German-American background.

The volume can be ordered directly from the Nordinfo web-site:

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Following is a brief presentation of publications written by some of the most prominent academics and children's literature researchers.

· Herakles E. Kallergis (University of Patras)

Kallergis, I.E. (1995) Approaches to Children's Literature. Kastaniotis Publishers, Athens.

The fundamental issues concerning the theory and practice of children's literature are explicitly and methodically discussed in this book. In the 15 different studies of this book, children's literature is subsumed into the surrounding social and literary environment and is discussed in and around the context of its manifold relationships with other cultural mediums of expression. Its nature and role as an ethical and aesthetic educator of the young are examined, whilst the language, themes and ideologies are scrutinized within the bounds of an international and Greek reality. The relationship between Greek and its respective European children's literature is discussed, in addition to the latest forms/types and orientations that children's literature has taken to in the last twenty years. The level and standard of reading and studying of children's literature in Greece is also probed, whilst achievements in the field of theoretical (philosophical and educational) approaches to the children's book are surveyed and used to portray the frameworks in which the academic study of this whole field of study can henceforth take place. Finally, problems of teaching and research in the field are examined thoroughly. This book does not regard children's literature as an isolated and marginal phenomenon, but rather as a vigorous and dynamic presence, which is directly linked to the future of Greek culture.

There is a favorable critique of this book in the Greek journal of children's literature: Review of Children's Literature, Vol. 11 (1996), pp. 161-163.

· Meni Kanatsouli (University of Thessaloniki)

Kanatsouli, M. (1996) Female Characters in Children's Literature: Aspects and Opinions. Patakis Publishers, Athens.

The study of the "Female Character in Children's Literature" comes to fill a void in the Greek bibliography respective to themes of children's literature.

In the last few years, foreign theoretical approaches persist in connecting the study of literature, and the study of children's literature, with "gender". These contemporary theoretical indagations and ponderations are analytically presented in this present study, whilst continuously examining their adaptation on works of Greek children's literature, novels and fables. The reader of this book, via well-known literary texts which are pointed out to him/her, can easily acquaint him/herself with the theory and practice of this new dimension in the criticism of children's literature.

Kanatsouli, M. (1997) Introduction to the Theory and Criticism of Children's Literature. University Studio Press, Thessaloniki.

In brief, the aim of this book is to describe in summary the main issues raised by the critical theory of children's literature. The first and foremost point of discussion is of problems brought about by the prerequisite that the recipient of this literary medium is the child. Therefore these problems are directly inter-linked with the questions: "what is a child", "what are its characteristics and how it be differentiated from the other stages of human development" and "which are its reading preferences, and if we can really know them". In addition, an introduction into the literary form of children's literature via its historical development is attempted.

What has mainly interested the author of this book is to portray, in as faithful a manner as possible, the progress that has occurred on an international scale in the last few years within the study of children's literature. Emphasis is also made on the fact that a critical style of referring to children's literature has slowly but steadily taken shape. This critical style, and many styles and theories like it are primarily based upon the usage and assimilation of the varieties of approaches proposed by classic and contemporary Literary Theory.

The book is divided into the following chapters and sections:

*What is children's literature?
*About the theory and criticism of children's literature;
*The child - reader and critic of literature;
*The elements/axes/strategies on which the reading of a children's literary item is based;
*How children's literature is to be studied;
*A time map of children's literature;

The book goes on to describe the various genres and types of children's literature, i.e. the novel, short story, myth, children's theatre, magazines, comics, translations, and so on.

· Martha Karpozilou (University of Ioannina)

Karpozilou, M.(1997) The Child in the Land of Books: A Contribution to the Study of Children's Books. Kastaniotis Publishers, Athens.

This is an indepth study into the children's book both on a theoretical and practical level. Theories by international literary critics have been used in combination with their limited Greek counterparts and applied to Greek children's books. The latter are thus analysed and discussed using contemporary theoretical stand-points.

The study approaches three issues: "The Child and the Book", "Reading and Development", and "Children's Books (Pedagogic and Literary)". The first section on "The Child and the Book" has been placed at the forefront of the book in order for the two following parts to be more effectively discussed and so that they may conclude and round up the even more important issue from which the title of this book has been taken. Taking into consideration the nonexistance of Greek studies on the pedagogic book and the sparing presence of studies relating to the analysis of its literary counterpart, the main bulk of the book is dedicated to these two genres.

The richness of foreign bibliography relating to the above issues, is now bolstered by yet another remarkable work which arises from a member of the young dynamic generation of Greek researchers working on the children's book. The author's stand-point, her methods of approaching these varying issues, her intimate knowledge of the subject at hand and her strong awareness of international theory, practice and trends which are all included within the text, render this book a useful tool to all those who are involved with children's literature (researchers, teachers, students, etc.)

· Anda Katsiki-Givalou (University of Athens)

Katsiki-Givalou, A. (ed.)(1994/1995) Children's Literature: Theory and Practice. Volumes 1 and 2. Kastaniotis Publishers, Athens.

This book is a significant contribution to the study and promotion of children's literature. Scientists, university professors teaching children's literature in Departments of Primary and Secondary School Education, professors of Departments of Philosophy, award-winning researchers of children's literature, new students and authors set down their questions, their opinions, the results of their studies in subjects of the history and ideology of children's literature, as well as in basic theoretical problems, such as: censorship, humour, the relationship between illustration and text, state policies and the children's book, etc. Furthermore, a series of studies focuses on various works of children's literature authors or literary works which may be used as children's texts. Finally, there are various studies which focus on children's libraries and the use of audiovisual elements in literature.

In the second volume, there are general studies and research articles about the Instruction and Language of Children's Literature. Current issues are also focused on, such as: racism, psychoanalytic interpretation, adaptations, the recipients of promoted children's books, para-literature, scholarly newspapers, Anthologies of Secondary Schools, Victor Hugo's contribution to children's literature. Finally, there are other studies which touch upon the child as creator of texts, as well as the experience, creation and ideology of children's literature.

Most of the above studies refer to the place and importance of children's literature in primary as well as higher education.

This book is not only aimed at students of Departments of Education, but also to educators in primary education, in addition to those who are interested in and love children's literature.

Katsiki-Givalou, A. (1997) The Magnificent Journey: Studies in Children's Literature. Patakis Publishers, Athens.

These last few years, there has been a marked flourish in the publishing of children's literature, and, the ever-growing interest of researchers and students of this literary kind urgently demand for books which theoretically and practically approach issues in this sensitive field.

It is in this very direction that the studies in this book aspire towards as they refer to historical, theoretical and didactic issues, as well as to texts and authors who have left their mark within children's literature.

The book is divided into three parts:
a) Issues in Children's Literature, i.e. a historical retrogradation of children's literature; the convergence of literature and children's literature; and, the literary child and adolescent and the children of the 20th Century.
b) Literature for children and education
c) Greek literary figures for children, i.e. Alki Zei, Alexander Pallis, and Georges Sari.

· Manos Kontoleon (Author and Researcher of Children's Books)

Kontoleon, M. (1988) Thoughts about Children's Literature. Patakis Publishers, Athens.

In this book, Manos Kontoleon, who has attained much significant experience both as an author and as a critic of children's literature, sets out his questions pertaining to the theoretical and practical issues of the children's book in such a way that he may communicate with the questions and thoughts of educators, authors, students and parents all at the same time. He discusses: approaches to reading, the thematology of contmeporary Greek literature for children and young-adults, literature and politicisation, Aesop's fables, the Greek fable today and yesterday, and other important and interesting issues.

· Loti Petrovits-Androutsopoulou (Author and Researcher of Children's Books)

The above author's Greek language web-site may be found at the following address:

At this address there is a full bibliograpy of her adult and children's novels, short stories and fairy-tales, translations, as well as studies and articles written for various national and international journals. It is worth taking a look. This page may also be found in translation via a link in the "Hellenic Bookspace" (link found below).

Petrovits-Androutsopoulou, L. (1987) Talking about Children's Books. Kastaniotis Publishers, Athens.

*What is the role of the children's book today?
*What are the problems and responsibilities that children's literature authors are faced with in regard to their young readers and society in general?
*How does society (as a whole) confront and look at Children's Literature?
*What, in the field of children's books and children's television programs, happens in other countries and what view points and opinions are brought forward at IBBY conferences?

The answers of the above questions are the main themes which are closely regarded in this book. And, it is due to this particular content that this book is a valuable acquirement for every parent, teacher, educator, author, librarian and any other person who ponders about and questions the extracurricular reading material that our children nourish themselves with.

Petrovits-Androutsopoulou, L. (1990) Children's Literature in our Time. Kastaniotis Publishers, Athens.

After "Talking about Children's Books", the well-known author of children's books, Loti Petrovits-Androutsopoulou gives us her second book filled with thoughts, opinions and information surrounding Children's Literature. In this book, the reader shall find:

*A brief presentation of the position that children's literature holds in the international community;
*impressions gained from three international conferences;
*thoughts about the criticism of Children's Literature in Greece;
*information about the way in which Children's Literature is thought about by its own creators;
*opinions about the consequences of new mass medias on reading and their effect on Children's Literature;
*a few words about extracurricular books for children with special needs;
and much more which will absolutely interest all those interested in books and in children, in Children's Literature and in its study.

With the elegance of style and the liveliness of a "storyteller", the author who is so loved by our children, gives us a book for adults which is easy to read, which questions and informs without tiring; and which is a book which, although focusing on serious issues, does not lack laughter and human warmth.

Petrovits-Androutsopoulou, L. (1995) "As with the swallows" : Children's Literature without Illusions. Patakis Publishers, Athens.

What is the role of children's literature within today's turbulent and contradictory world? Does it retain the ability to contribute to the spiritual growth of children? And, to what extent can it influence the child population, when there are thousands of young victims of theatres of war, hunger and hardships, and when millions of them remain illiterate - especially in third world countries -, and live unprotected in the streets, are forced to do inhuman heavy duty labor or eventually turn to prostitution?

In this book, Loti Petrovits-Androutsopoulou records (realistically and "without illusion") her opinions about the value of children's literature today and conveys impressions from two international conferences, where speculation about the contemporary role of children's literary books was intense. In addition, the author examines issues that concern the story, prose for children and adolescents, realism in children's books, the relationship between children's literature and ecology, children's magazines, etc.

· Alexandra Zervou (University of the Aegean, Rhodes)

Zervou, A. (1993) Censorship and Opposition in the Texts of our Childhood Years: Robinson, Alice and The Tale Without a Name -- An Adult Reading. Odysseas Publishers, Athens.

Zervou, A. (1997) In Wonderland: The children's book as a meeting point for children and adults. Patakis Publishers, Athens.

This study by Alexandra Zervou suggests an original schema of research (the game of rules and rule-breaking) which she applies to a variation of completely differing texts, and which have, as their only linking distinguishing feature, the fact that they have been written by adults for children.

The Game of rules and rule-breaking encapsulates the characteristic equivocal stance of the children's author, who superficially disciplines him/herself with odious rules, but simultaneously and silently breaks them.

It is within this schema that texts, written from time to time for girls (and particularly the Girls' Anthologies, as well as the 1965 journal called «Shaping of the Young» [«Διάπλασης των Παίδων»] are examined. An attempt to create an overall visual review of the children's book, by using subjects and themes as a large web in which infinite threads weave together between the world of children and that of adults.

In general, Alexandra Zervou suggests an all-embracing visual and multi-layered approach to the children's book as the only literary work which has the particularity of recommending a meeting point for children and adults.

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