"Patterns of sublimation begin in childhood. So does binary and hierarchical thinking. The child must be trained to see in oppositions and on a scale of order. So the story of nation and people, race and culture begins as the bedtime story." (The author) How else, asks Rashna Singh, do we explain the uncanny physical resemblance between Osama bin Laden and the evil Jaffar (of Disney's motion picture Aladdin)? Singh provides a most persuasive argument for why these sentiments are both insidious and compelling, and how they resonate to this day. While she includes such classic examples as The Secret Garden, Robinson Crusoe, and the Babar series, it is her inclusion of genuinely neglected fictions that lends her analyses a special richness. In an engaging narrative style, Singh demonstrates how constructions of character evolve into cultural imprints which encourage their young readers to choose the "goodly" side, with little thought of "badly" repercussions.
...examines how, in nineteenth- and twentieth-century British and North American children's literature, 'Character...must be consciously promoted, and while character needs careful nurturance, its origins are predetermined by race' (41). This inquiry into the relations between youth, character, race, and empire has been underway for some time--for instance, in the works, cited by Singh, of Michael Rosenthal and Robert H. MacDonald--yet it is still a ripe field for study.--Children's Literature Association Quarterly