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1998 Fantasy Books

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  • David Lenander
    Responding to the message from Eleanor Farrell ... Lynne Reid Banks has written a number of children s books, including a number of
    Message 1 of 9 , Dec 11, 1998
      Responding to the message
      from Eleanor Farrell <emfarrell@...>
      > David, your comments are intriguing, how about more info here for those of
      > us who don't know who "Banks" is or know anything about her books?

      Lynne Reid Banks has written a number of children's books, including a number of
      fantasies. Far and away her most popular and commercially successful is the
      series beginning with *The Indian in the Cupboard*. The sequels include:
      *Return of the Indian* *Secret of the Indian* and *Mystery of the Cupboard* and
      the new *Key to the Indian*. She's been criticized as misusing the Native
      American material that she employed as background for the character Little Bear.
      I think that the first book was written rather thoughtlessly regarding this, so
      Little Bear speaks in a sort of "Movie Injun" broken English, but clearly she's
      been trying to improve things, since. The new book is apparently focusing much
      more directly on Little Bear, so my guess is that she's trying to "make up" for
      the first book. Rather as P.L. Travers rewrote portions of one of the Mary
      Poppins books to address a supposedly racist portrayal of an African family.
      Indian in the Cupboard was made into a major film a couple of years ago, though
      I seem to recall that it incorporated elements from the second book, too. Aside
      from the criticism that the books include insensitive portrayals of Native
      American Indians, the books are in many respects very well written, and have
      been much praised and become quite popular. Lois Kuznets discussed at least the
      first in her MSA-award book *When Toys Come Alive*.

      To be honest, I've not read the first book (But I saw the MOVIE!), but I have
      read the three sequels and have been very impressed with the increasingly
      interesting things that Banks has done in these books, especially with
      *Mystery*, where she develops the rudimentary idea of the magical key and
      cupboard in logical but previously unexpected ways, and experiments with Telling
      the Grown-ups the Truth about the magic, which seems odd in the 4th book of a
      series that hadn't previously done this. On the other hand, I think that I
      found *Mystery* easier to like partly because she was avoiding the "Little Bear"
      material, which has always made me uneasy.

      Incidentally, we do not have a dearth of books to consider on the children's
      side. Laura forwarded a list of--I don't know, more than 100, I think-- in the
      Once UPon a Time that came yesterday. Well known authors with new books include
      Banks, T.A. Barron, Nina Bawden, Francesca Lia Block, Bruce Coville, Jane Louise
      Curry (anyone heard from her in a while?), Roald Dahl, Kara Dalkey, Pamela Dean
      (Juniper, etc. as a Y.A.?), Cynthia DeFelice, Peter Dickinson (!), Martin
      Gardner, Alan Garner (!!), Brian Jacques, Diana Wynne Jones, Ellen Kindt
      McKenzie, Robin McKinley, Gregory Maguire, Margaret Mahy (!), Donna Jo Napoli,
      Phyllis Reynolds Naylor, Gary Paulsen, Tamora Pierce, Daniel Pinkwater (!),
      Philip Pullman, Cynthia Rylant, Jon Scieszka, William Sleator, Sherwood Smith,
      Nancy Springer, J.R.R. Tolkien (!), Vivian Vande Velde, Jane Yolen and Paul
      Zindell. These are just the ones that ring a bell with me. A book getting a
      LOT of attention will be J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone*,
      and I've seen very positive comments about Michael Cadnum's *In a Dark Wood*,
      though Ellie doesn't seem to have thought too much of it, in the latest
      MYTHPRINT. 3 I've read from Laura's list: Elizabeth Cody Kimmel's *In the
      Stone Circle* (historical time travel/ghosts in Wales), Ellen Kindt McKenzie's
      *Golden Band of Eddris* and Eva Ibbotson's *Secret of Platform 13* probably
      won't make my final ballot, though I guess I can't rule out the McKenzie at this
      point. Laura hasn't read all of these, either. But she does focus on the
      Dalkey, Jones, Virginia Layefsky, Napoli, Rowling and Springer books as
      especially worth looking at. And her review of Rylant's book in the same issue
      made me wonder why she'd left it off this short list, it sounds very

      Laura's also promised us a second list of more picture books. I hope to post
      her list on the Once UPon a TIme web-site, but I'm not sure how soon.

      David Lenander, Library Manager I
      Bio-Medical Library Access Services work: (612)626-3375
      Circulation, Core Collections & Reserve Desks home: (651)292-8887
      Diehl Hall/505 Essex SE fax: (612)626-2454
      University of Minnesota
      Minneapolis, Minnesota 55455

      e-mail: d-lena@...
      web-page: http://www.tc.umn.edu/nlhome/m391/d-lena/BirdnBab.html
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