New Oxford Companion to Children's Literature

New Oxford Companion to Children's Literature

Oxford University Press (OUP) will next year publish a new edition of the Oxford Companion to Children's Literature, more than 30 years after the book first appeared in print.
 
The new edition, scheduled for release as a £30 hardback in March 2015, was edited by author and journalist Daniel Hahn and covers all the major developments in children’s publishing since 1983.
 
Hahn said he approached OUP about updating the old companion because “after three decades it was clearly missing a lot of what was exciting in children’s literature nowadays”.
 
He added 900 new entries, bringing the total to 3,640, and shortened older content to make way for the new. He cut about 70 complete entries that were mostly about the literary output of different countries, such as Brazil, Czechoslovakia (which is now the Czech Republic) and Holland (the Netherlands), and added authors such as Philip Pullman, David Almond, Julia Donaldson, Jacqueline Wilson, Dick King Smith and Neil Gaiman. One of the longest entries is about J K Rowling’s Harry Potter series, running to 1,600 words.
 
“The new material is incredibly varied, mostly it’s covering things over the last 30 years but also filling in a few gaps from the first edition,” he said. “The English-speaking world beyond the UK is better represented as a whole, as are foreign-language writers.”
 
YA fiction is much more prominent than in the first edition. “There were no more than a handful of YA writers in the old edition, for instance, and there are dozens and dozens now. The crossover book is discussed as a phenomenon in itself, and lots of books that typically carry that label are included in their own right.”
 
There are also sections on manga, fan fiction and non-print publishing.
 
When considering what should go into the book, Hahn considered both quality and significance, saying: “Some books I may not think are especially good but are clearly important if only because they sold a zillion copies and made everyone else suddenly want to write about vampires.”
 
He added: “It’s also about balance – trying to represent work in a range of countries and for a range of ages, by a variety of writers and illustrators in a range of genres and styles. Ultimately it’s only a snapshot but it’s important that it represents a recognisable picture.”