chapter  6
13 Pages

Fictionalizing Families: Amanda Piesse

ByAMANDA PIESSE

Ann Alston (2008, 66-67) has recently argued that family in English children’s literature emerges as a means of social control, an emblem of social conformity. Her 2008 study, The Family in English Children’s Literature, observes that children’s literature is often ‘painfully slow to respond to change’ (44). She further contends that although

there have been changes in the portrayal of the family in children’s fi ction over the last two centuries . . . there have been fewer changes than might be imagined. . . . [F]amilies . . . are a means of controlling individuals, and children’s literature complements this as it functions as a means of disseminating the ideology of the family. (66-67)

Nancy Watson’s The Politics and Poetics of Irish Children’s Literature (2009), on the other hand, contends that in modern Irish writing for children ‘the subject position of the child reader and the ability of the writer allow . . . us to see our unquestioned cultural assumptions through new eyes’ (ix). She also suggests that the children’s writers she considers ‘showed a concern for contemporary problems and offered a critique of society’ (ix).1