The Looking Glass

The Looking Glass is a quarterly e-journal, published out of the Toronto Centre for the Study of Children’s Literature at the University of Toronto, which examines the reading material of the prepubescent set. These are not amateurs messing around with a website. These are hard-core academics laying down some rigorous writing, reviewed and referenced, complete with footnotes and bibliographies. The first paper of the current issue is a frontal attack on the dumbed-down basal readers used in many schools to teach kids to read. The author’s basic argument is that prose along the lines of “This is Snow White. She is a good girl, and she is beautiful,” is not going to do much to spark a love of reading in the brain of a beginner. This thesis is backed up with parallels to Stalinist literature drawn from Russian critic Mikhail Bakhtin’s treatise “The Problems of Dostoyevsky’s Poetics.” So there. Another column examines how effectively “The Lord of the Rings” can be translated into a Magic: The Gathering-type card game. The writing and thinking throughout this journal is of the highest quality. Also, pains have been taken to balance the serious material with some lighter stuff, including a great humour column, a gossip column (whodathunkit?), a recipe for Happy Chicken Soup With Rice (hey, why not?), and an acrostic puzzle (missing in action when I was there). The site is very slick and very attractive, using many of those classic illustrations from “Alice in Wonderland.” Bonus points for eggheads with good taste in graphics. (DW)

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