1. As with traditional fantasy, modern fantasy is distinguished... story elements that violate the natural, physical laws of our... Chapter 10

Chapter 10
Children’s Literature Briefly
Definition of Modern Fantasy
Modern Fantasy
4th Edition
1. As with traditional fantasy, modern fantasy is distinguished from other genes by
story elements that violate the natural, physical laws of our known world- events
akin to magic. However, modern fantasy has known authors.
2. Modern fantasy stories are not merely a matter of make-believe. Modern fantasy
must have strong, believable characters; a strong credible plot; and should
examine issues of the human condition.
3. Modern fantasy must have strong, believable characters and should examine
issues of the human condition, the universal truths found in well-written books.
Categories of Modern Fantasy
Modern fantasy stories are sometimes categorized by the type of fantastic story element
Toys and objects imbued with life: Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi (1904)
Tiny humans: The Borrowers by Mary Norton (1953)
Peculiar characters and situations: Mary Poppins by P.L.Travers (1934)
Imaginary worlds: Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
Magical powers: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling (2000)
Supernatural tales:
Time-warp fantasies
High Fantasy: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
Modern fairy and folktales or literacy tales, round out this list. Fractured folk and fairy
tales, such as The True Story of the Three Little Pigs! By Jon Scieszka (1989).
Six Basic Fantasy Motifs
Even though all modern fantasy stories contain some sort of magical element, some
stories have a higher fantasy quotient than others. Madsen (1976) identified six basic
fantasy motifs; if a story contains all six, it is either a classic fairy tale or an example of
modern high fantasy. If a story contains only the motif or magic, a necessary ingredient,
it is still classified as fantasy literature.
1. Magic: magic is fantasy literature’s most basic element. Each of the other five
motifs is tinged by magic to some degree.
2. Other worlds (secondary worlds) a special geography or universe is established, a
place wherein magic may freely operate. Sometimes these worlds are, as in the
fairy tales, simply long, long ago. Authors employ two common methods of
incorporating a secondary world into their stories. The first and most common is
simply settings the entire tale in an imaginary place. Second method takes
characters from our primary world into a secondary world through some sort of
Children’s Literature Briefly
Chapter 10
Modern Fantasy
3. Good versus evil: the ancient, archetypal theme of good versus evil is what myth
is all about, and modern fantasy stories often have a strong mythological base.
4. Heroism: There are six elements to heroism drawn from Babbitt (1987) most
commonly structure the hero’s quest.
a. The hero is called to adventure by some sort of herald. (Like Alice follows
the white rabbit)
b. The hero crosses the threshold into the other world or into a place that is
no longer safe and secure. ( Like Dorothy is taken from Kansas to OZ)
c. The hero must survive various trails in the new environment.
d. The hero is assisted by a protective figure. (Gandalf in The Hobbit)
e. The hero matures, becoming a “whole person”’ (Dorothy grows up in The
Wizard of OZ.)
f. The hero returns home.
5. Special character types: Fantasies may include characters who come from either
our legendary past or an author’s vivid imagination.
6. Fantastic objects: Characters in fantasy stories often employ magical props in
accomplishing their heroic or evil deeds. (magical cloaks, swords, mirrors)
Science Fiction
1. Science fiction generally appears in chapters about modern fantasy.
2. “Science fiction differs from fantasy not in mankind’s future or about the nature
of the universe” (Engdahl 1971, p 450)
3. The magic of fantasy cannot be explained; it is just there, without source or
reason. But the magic of true science fiction is rooted more firmly in scientific
The Truth in Fantasy
Some adults dismiss all fantasy – traditional fantasy, modern fantasy, even science
fiction- as peripheral fluff. Yet, these adults miss the point that good fantasy actually
tells the truth about life. It clarifies the human condition and captures the essence of our
deepest emotions, dreams, hopes, and fears, fantasy casts light on the realities of life
much as a metaphor illustrates truth in general communication. Fantasy language in the
form of metaphor is common. In its broad definition, metaphor is figurative language
and strengthens writing in at least three ways.
1. Metaphor speeds understanding. Metaphor makes the abstract become concrete by
introducing an image, resulting in quicker comprehension of a situation.
2. Metaphor creates interest. An example in the text is “Lawmakers torpedo plan”
makes the word torpedo more deliberate and visible.
3. Metaphor adds emotional appeal
Compared with fantasy, straightforward informational writing does not create the same
emotional impact when dealing with topics like the need for death. The power of fantasy
is reflected in the fact that many of the classic children’s stories have stood the test of
Chap 10
Children’s Literature