chapter  12
Sugar or Spice? The Flavor of Gender Self-Identity in an Example of Brazilian Children’s Literature
Pages 10

The tradition of children’s literature of twentieth-century Brazil differs signifi - cantly from most English-language children’s literature. As Kimberly Reynolds states, and others have pointed out, “children’s literature is more concerned with shaping its readers’ attitudes than most” (ix). And indeed most children’s stories of Western cultures for centuries have sought to make use of children’s impressionability in order to instill values of societal conformity-demonstrating examples that reward compliance and punish dissidence. Brazil’s children’s literature, however, was conceived and formed in a comparatively repressive society often manipulated by dictatorial powers such that many of the most popular writers for young people have emphasized analysis of societal and governmental dictates over simple conformation. A second important difference, and arguably the source of the fi rst, is the presence of a single guiding omnipresent infl uence, that of the declared father of Brazilian children’s literature, Monteiro Lobato. Ana Maria Bohrer’s A menina açucarada (The Sugar-coated Girl) is an intriguing, fairly contemporary, and in many ways typical, example of Brazilian children’s literature. The story reveals the cultural complexities and diffi culties children face in deciding not to conform and demonstrates the far-reaching infl uence of Lobato, who began a trend in the 1920s to which there are now beginning to appear some parallels in English language children’s literature.