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Stories with elements that violate the natural, physical laws

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1 Stories with elements that violate the natural, physical laws
Fantasy Stories with elements that violate the natural, physical laws of our known world. Traditional fantasy Oral tradition (myths, legends, folk stories, tall tales, etc.) Modern fantasy Written. Stories where we know the author (literary fairy tales, fantasy novels, fantasy picture books, etc.)

2 The rules Fantastic elements cannot be employed casually
Authors not only create a new set of physical laws but they must then conform unerringly to them. Once committed to his imaginary kingdom, the writer is not a monarch but a subject. Characters must appear plausible in their own setting, and the writer must go along with the inner logic. Happenings should have logical implications. Details should be tested for consistency. Shall animals speak? If so, do all animals speak? If not, then which, and how? Is it essential to the story, or lamely cute? Are there enchantments? How powerful? If an enchanter can perform such-and-such, can he not also do so-and-so? (Lloyd Alexander)

3 Not just make believe Critics hold this genre to the same basic critical standards as they do other genres. For instance, modern fantasy must have strong, believable characters and should examine issues of the human condition, the universal truths found in all well-written books.

4 Fantasy isn’t nonsense
Unconventional Fantasy It contradicts rules of logic. It doesn’t make logical sense. It can make fun of conventional behavior. It can help readers understand the difference between what is sensible and not sensible in the real world. It is unusual. Not normal. This may be odd or strange, but it may still be reasonable. When literature breaks conventions, it helps us to rethink what we thought was normal. Not possible in the world as we know it. But it follows rules within the limits of the fantasy world the author has created. Fantasies provide metaphors through which we can examine aspects of life from a different perspective.

5 Some categories Talking Animals: The fact that animals can talk is the main difference from reality. Toys and objects that come alive Tiny humans: people are small. Things happen in miniature. Imaginary worlds: Sometimes people cross between worlds and sometimes the whole story is in an imaginary world. Magical powers: People (or one person) can do magic Supernatural tales: sometimes spooky Time-warp fantasies: Time travel or somehow crossing time High fantasy: Clear battle between good and evil

6 Six Fantasy Motifs Even though all modern fantasy stories contain some sort of magical element, some stories have a higher fantasy quotient than others. If a story contains all six, it is either a classic fairy tale or an example of modern high fantasy. However, if a story contains only the motif of magic, a necessary ingredient, it is still classified as fantasy literature. Magic Other worlds Good verses evil Heroism Special characters Fantastic objects

7 1. Magic. Magic is fantasy literature's most basic element
1. Magic. Magic is fantasy literature's most basic element. In fact, each of the other five motifs is tinged by magic to some degree. Magic is often a part of the setting, explaining otherwise inexplicable events. In Charlotte’s Web, magic is the only one of the six motifs to appear in the book (the ability of the animals to think and speak like humans). 2. Other worlds (secondary worlds). In much of fantasy, a special geography or universe is established, a place wherein magic may freely operate. Sometimes, the whole story is in the secondary world, and sometimes characters move in and out of it. 3. Good versus evil. The ancient, archetypal theme of good versus evil is the basis for much fantasy. Fantasies can show how good and evil works out in individuals. It’s usually easy to tell who is good and who is bad.

8 4. Heroism. The hero's quest is an age-old pattern that is the backbone of many of today's fantasy stories. This "hero's round" is a circular journey, ending where it began. It’s most common structure contains six elements. 5. Special character types. These often come from our legendary/folk literature past: fairies, pixies, giants, wicked witches, ogres, vampires, wizards, dwarves, elves, and so on. Or new characters, like playing card people and grinning cats. 6. Fantastic objects. Characters often employ magical props in accomplishing their heroic or evil deeds: magic cloaks, swords, staffs, cauldrons, mirrors, etc.

9 Hero Quest Pattern Joseph Campbell, Hero with a Thousand Faces (The Monomyth) Special birth (Danger, orphan, royalty, thought dead) leaves home and lives with others A traumatic event leads to adventure. A herald calls hero to adventure Cross from security into danger. Faces many trials. Proves self again and again. Faces self. The hero has a unique weapon. It only works for him helped by supernatural forces. Protective figure. Mentor. Death & resurrection. The Journey into hell, Unhealable Wound, scar, Atones for sins of the father Hero matures becoming a “whole person.” Return home, but both home may be changed


11 The Value of Fantasy No genre better fosters creativity than fantasy. Allows for the imagination to create and extend metaphors in a safe (fantasy) place. Children who have rich fantasy lives are less likely to be violent than children with low fantasy lives (Biblow 1973). Children with rich fantasy lives responded to violent films with much less aggressiveness than children with low fantasy lives. More likely to be verbally, than physically aggressive. More structured and creative responses. All the advances in science would not be possible without the capacity to imagine. Fantasy leads to the ability to imagine possibilities and to organize and structure reality.

12 Fantasy as Metaphor Some people dismiss all fantasy as meaningless. It is simply too fanciful for those who want reading for young people to be grounded firmly in reality. Yet these adults miss the point that good fantasy actually tells the truth about life. It clarifies the human condition and captures the essence of our deepest emotions, dreams, hopes, and fears. If fantasy does not do these things, it fails. Fantasy casts light on the realities of life much as a metaphor illustrates truth in general communication. In its broad definition, metaphor is figurative language and strengthens writing in at least three ways:

13 Fantasy as Metaphor cont.
Metaphor speeds understanding. Metaphor creates interest. Metaphor adds emotional appeal. Yet metaphor is more than the sum of these parts. It simply involves the reader more with the story or message, allowing for quicker learning, more precise understanding, and longer retention because of the image. Fantasy, which is a large, worked-out metaphor, illuminates the truths about life in the same way. Children can read directly about friendship, sacrifice, selfishness, the fear of death, and death itself, but the insight is somehow more meaningful when shown metaphorically through the lives of Wilbur the pig, Templeton the rat, and Charlotte the spider in Charlotte’s Web.

14 Condescension and Didacticism
And the case of Rainbow Fish

15 Condescend = to look down on Didactic = oriented toward teaching
Two important terms Condescend = to look down on (n: condescension) Didactic = oriented toward teaching (n: didacticism)

16 Condescension Adult authors often condescend to child readers (they look down on their readers) Implies that the writer/narrator knows better than the reader. The story implies that that to read correctly, readers will accept all words unquestioningly from the writer/narrator. Treats readers as inferior. The voice of the narrator may sound like a teacher, or parent talking to someone much younger who has trouble understanding.

17 Didacticism What is children’s literature for? Being didactic
To delight? To be enjoyed? OR To instruct? To teach? To help people learn? Being didactic When the main point is to teach a lesson rather than to tell a story. Writers focus on making their views work out more than making the story consistent and developed.

18 Rainbow Fish Think about the narrative tone.
Is it didactic? Is it condescending? What do you think came first in the author’s mind? Tell a good and interesting story. Tell a story to teach a lesson.



21 What do you think? What is the story about? Is the tone condescending?
Is the purpose of the story to teach a lesson? (Is it didactic?) What else is the story about?

22 Implied message(s) What do you think about the little fish that asked for a scale? Is that appropriate? Should that little fish have told everyone what Rainbow Fish refused his request? What did Rainbow Fish have to do to make friends? How did giving away the scales affect Rainbow Fish’s identity? What does this story imply about individual differences?

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