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Part 1, Project 1 – Exercise: Trends and developments

Older books seemed to be more obvious in their male or female target audiences, often with a give-away title; “Tom’s Midnight Garden”, “Just William”, “Adventures of Pinocchio”, “Charlie and The Chocolate Factory” – all aimed at boys. Books for girls were just as obvious from their titles; “ Alice in Wonderland”, “Little Women”, “What Katy Did”, “Heidi”. It feels like authors were deliberately writing for a specific audience.

The trend has changed, though. Authors occupy a more competitive market nowadays and in order to maintain publishing deals, they need to demonstrate an ability to engage with as broad an audience as possible; writing stories that appeal to both male and female readers helps.

A couple of early stories that would have attracted both sexes, “Railway Children” and “Five On Treasure Island”, had more than one lead character. Contemporary examples would be the Harry Potter and Artemis Fowl series.

The setting of childrens books varies. Some are set in a real world environment that children could really imagine themselves being a part of (“Treasure Island”, “Jungle Book”, “Little Women”). Other stories transport us to an imaginery world where anything seems possible (“The Hobbit”, “Alice in Wonderland”).

There are some books that combine real world with fantasy, juxtaposing that which can be imagined with that which is extraordinary. C.S.Lewis introduces us to the magical world of Narnia at the back of a wardrobe within an English house. Pullman combines life in Oxford with fantastical worlds complete with magical people, quirky languages and animal companions.

Aside from fiction, the need to fictionalise areas of education in order to compliment schools curriculums and engage students to broaden their reading has become important. The “Horrible Histories” series, first published in 1993, helped find a niche and get children to look at history lessons in an original, engaging way.

Difficult subjects such as war and conflict have also been tackled by authors in order to both educate and entertain. Sebastian Faulk’s “Bird Song” tells the experiences of a man’s life before and during World War I. Michael Morpurgo has written various titles that aim to educate through powerful fiction drama. TES says Morpurgo “has the knack of taking one small fact and weaving around it a vibrant tale that brings a slice of history to life”.

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Part 1, Project 1 – Exercise: Getting up to date

Authors and books that I added to the timeline that were written prior to 1950:

Gulliver’s Travels – Jonathan Swift (1726)
Frankenstein – Mary Shelley (1818)
Oliver Twist – Charles Dickens (1838)
A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens (1843)
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer – Mark Twain (1876)
Black Beauty – Anna Sewell (1877)
Dracula – Bram Stoker (1897)
The Secret Garden – Frances Hodgson Burnett (1911)
Just William – Richmal Compton (1922)
The Midnight Folk – John Masefield (1927)
Mary Poppins – EL Travers (1934)
The Box of Delights – John Masefield (1935)
The Magic Faraway Tree – Enid Blyton (1943)
Animal Farm – George Orwell (1945)
Diary of a Young Girl – Anne Frank (1947)

I continued the timeline past 1950 and was surprised at how many books I wanted to include:

Charlotte’s Web – EB White & Garth Wiliams (1952)
Lord of the Flies – William Golding (1954)
Miffy – Dick Bruna (1955)
The Cat in the Hat – Dr Seuss (1957)
Tom’s Midnight Garden – Philippa Pearce (1958)
A Bear Called Paddington – Michael Bond (1958)
James & The Giant Peach – Roald Dahl (1961)
Charlie & The Chocolate Factory – Roald Dahl (1964)
The Very Hungry Caterpillar – Eric Carle (1969)
Mog the Forgetful Cat – Judith Ferr (1970)
Mr. Men – Roger Hargreaves (1971)
Watership Down – Richard Adams (1972)
Meg & Mog – Helen Nicholl & Jan Pienkowski (1975)
Dogger – Shirley Hughes (1977)
The Snowman – Raymond Briggs (1978)
Where’s Spot? – Eric Hill (1980)
The B.F.G – Roald Dahl (1982)
The Color Purple – Alice Walker (1982)
Bird Song – Sebastian Faulks (1993)
Horrid Henry – Franscesca Simon & Tony Ross (1994)
A Child called It – Dave Pelzer (1995)
Northern Lights – Philip Pullman (1995)
Harry Potter & The Philosopher’s Stone – JK Rowling (1997)
The Subtle Knife – Philip Pullman (1997)
Harry Potter & The Chamber of Secrets – JK Rowling (1998)
About A Boy – Nick Hornby (1998)
Chocolat – Joanne Harris (1999)
Harry Potter & The Prisoner of Azkaban – JK Rowling (1999)
The Amber Spyglass – Philip Pullman (2000)
Harry Potter & The Goblet of Fire – JK Rowling (2000)
Clockwork Orange – Anthony Burgess (2000)
Room on A Broom – Julia Donaldson & Axel Scheffler (2001)
Artemis Fowl – Eoin Colfer (2001)
Artemis Fowl; The Arctic Incident – Eoin Colfer (2002)
Private Peaceful – Michael Morpurgo (2003)
Artemis Fowl; The Eternity Code (2003)
Harry Potter & The Order of the Phoenix – JK Rowling (2003)
Harry Potter & The Half-Blood Prince – JK Rowling (2005)
Artemis Fowl; The Opal Deception – Eoin Colfer (2005)
Hugo Pepper – Paul Stewart & Chris Riddell (2006)
Artemis Fowl; The Lost Colony – Eoin Colfer (2006)
Before I Die – Jenny Downham (2007)
Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows – JK Rowling (2007)
Artemis Fowl; The Time Paradox – Eoin Colfer (2008)
The Knife of Never Letting Go – Patrick Ness (2008)
Billionaire Boy – David Walliams (2010)
Artemis Fowl; The Atlantis Complex – Eoin Colfer (2010)
The Wimpy Kid Do-it-Yourself Book – Jeff Kinney (2011)
Artemis Fowl; The Last Guardian – Eoin Colfer (2012)
City of Shadows – Alex Scarrow (2012)
The Fault In Our Stars – John Green (2013)
Beautiful Creatures – K. Garcia & M.Stohl (2013)