"The descent to the underworld is one of our oldest stories. It recurs in the most influential texts of early European literature - the Odyssey , the Aeneid , the Inferno - and no less so in the classics of children's literature. Vaclavik shows that retellings for young readers certainly shift emphases, working the legend through transformations of all kinds, but also that much of the traditional katabasis story remains firmly in place. The critical study of children's literature remains a relatively new field, in which such fundamental presences have gone largely unnoticed. As Vaclavik demonstrates, many novels which remain lively and resonant for adult readers richly repay critical attention. And if the incomparable explorer's tales of Jules Verne, H. Rider Haggard, Hector Malot and even Lewis Carroll have proved durable beyond all expectations, one reason may be that there is no lure like that of the underworld, and none harder to escape. Kiera Vaclavik is Lecturer in French and Comparative Literature at Queen Mary, University of London."