Children’s Literature – Glossary Terms

Accentual Meter
poetry with a regular pattern of the number of stressed syllables in each line/stanza.

Accentual-syllabic Meter
poetry with both a regular pattern of the number of syllables and number of stresses in each line/stanza.

Allegory
systematic representation of a particular set of beliefs by the use of another set of images/characters and/or events; the literal story or description represents an implied meaning often socio-political or religious.

Anaphora
a figure of speech where the first words in lines of poetry or clauses in a row are the same.

Ballad Stanza
a very old verse form common in children’s poetry.
-four line stanzas
-alternating iambic tetrameter and iambic trimeter
-rhymed ABAB or ABCB

Beast Fable
very short prose or verse narrative that has a non-specific species (ie horse or fly) who interact with the environment/each other/generic humans with the purpose of teaching a lesson that may/may not be clear at the end

Canon
group of literary texts that critics promote as being worth studying
– they change over time and between cultures
-children’s lit classified non-canonical
-has actually developed it’s own ghettoized canon

Catalogue
when the author lists a large number of related items

Cautionary Tale
work where a child breaks a rule and receives severe punishment for it, often death.

Chapbook
small cheap pamphlet of six to sixty-four pages
-originally sold by chapmen along with ribbons and pins
-material was usually ballads, legends, fairy tales and watered down classics

Chapter Book/Easy Reader
publishing/marketing terms for novels which have short chapters, illustrations and generally easy to understand diction
-intended audience = 6-8

Closure
the feeling of satisfaction a reader has at the end of a story
-it does not depend on the resolution

Comic Book/Graphic Novel
combination of sequential visual art and print text
-narrative form
-often controversial subject matter or approach

Conduct Book
book offering recommended behavior to a group perceived to be in need of instruction

Crossover Fantasy
-sub-genre
-primary world protagonists travel to secondary world with different natural laws
-usually returning at the end of the story
-ie Harry Potter or Narnia

Didacticism
-the practice or quality of conveying a lesson
-didactic literature focuses on teaching audience a lesson

Easter Eggs
small details built into a panel of a comic that the reader may not notice at first but often comment on the main action

Epichairekakia/Schaedenfreud
getting pleasure out of bad things happening to others
-are often emotionally distanced from the characters so we don’t feel too bad for them

Fairy Tale
-old and oral short narrative
-repetitive patterns
-magic/humor
-transformation/dismemberment
-started being collected in the 18th C
-when they started writing new ones

Fantasy
form of writing that contains characters, events, settings etc that most people in the normal world would deem impossible

Form
anything that does not have to do with style or content
-author creates it through choice of genre, internal divisions (stanzas etc), kind of narrator

Gang Book
a novel where the protagonist is a big group of children often siblings
-Nesbit popularized genre at the beginning of the 20th C

Grotesquerie
combining together elements that do not belong
-twisting/distorting things away from the norm
-combining animal and human parts together

Horror
narrative genre that depends on fear and/or nausea in the reader
-by means of subject matter, style and atmosphere

Ideology
a set of unquestioned beliefs that a society/group holds
-easier to see from the outside
-adults of ideological views of children and vice-versa

Intrusion Fantasy
sub-genre of fantasy set in the primary world
-the protagonists find something that does not match their definition of reality such as a ghost or magical creature

Irony
a double meaning system with a double audience
-there is a surface meaning and one or more implied meanings that are quite different from the surface one
-some readers are aware of them and some are not

Legend
a story about a culture’s heros supposedly based on real-life events

Metafiction
any textual evidence that makes you aware you are reading a text
-where the character speaks directly to the audience/speaks about other characters or work in the genre/

Myth
narrative that recounts a culture’s origins
-in a figurative or allegorical way

Narrative
a story
-has characters, setting, plot etc
-prose, verse etc

Narrator
the voice telling a story
-first person – character/I outside of the story
-omniscent third person – able to tell what goes on in anyone’s head
-limited third person – limited to a few characters as focus of consciousness
-second-person is rare but possible

Nonsense Verse
poetry with content that breaks rules on purpose
-frequently uses humor and words that the author makes up

Neologisms
words that the author makes up

Nursery Verse
usually a very old poem with an oral tradition that parents teach to very young children

Othering
term from post-colonial criticism
-describes an attitude towards a particular group of people
-group is significantly different from you and is clearly weak, feminized, dangerous, exotic etc

Panel
a unit of narrative in a comic or graphic novel
-usually a bordered rectangular space with an image and some speech bubbles etc

People With Fur
animal story where the characters act like human beings
-wear clothes, behave etc

Picture Book
print text where the illustrations dominate and there are very few words per page
-most are narrative fiction but can also be poetry, primers, alphabets etc
-for children between 2 and 7

Poetic Justice
a particular kind of resolution when everyone gets what they deserve

Primer
book designed to teach people to read
-especially to teach children
-developed out of book of psalms/religious tradition

Realistic Animal Story
story where animals behave in animal ways
-do not have super powers or behave like humans in any way
-can usually think coherently
-if humans appear they are usually villains
-no spoken communication between species

Resolution
the wrapping up of a plot at the end of a narrative
-tying up loose ends and revealing secrets
-does not necessarily cause closure

Satire
the ridicule of vice/folly in human behavior

Secondary World Fantasy
narrative set in a pseudo-medieval world that is not on Earth
-magic operates as a normal thing
-aka heroic fantasy/sword and sorcery books
-main character is usually young, male, orphaned or abandoned and on a quest

Stereotyping
pre-existing social assumptions about a member of a particular group

Style
aspects of a work that are neither form nor content
-through diction, sentence structure, figures of speech, punctuation etc

Timed Meter
meter that has strong beat/stressed syllable after a regular period of time
-ie skipping rhymes and rap songs

YA/ Young Adult Literature
publishing/marketing category of children’s lit that targets children 12 and older but younger than 20
-include profanity, some violence and open sexuality
-help to cope with ‘teen problem’s: sex, drugs, divorce, gang violence etc