The Little Bookroom
Front cover of 1977 Puffin edition
(original cover art)
|Genre||Children's short stories, original fairy tales|
|Media type||Print (hardcover, paperback)|
|Pages||302 pp (first edition)|
The Little Bookroom is a collection of twenty-seven stories for children by Eleanor Farjeon, published by Oxford University Press in 1955 with illustrations by Edward Ardizzone. They were selected by the author to represent the best of her work over a thirty-year period from the 1910s or 1920s. Most were in the fairy tale style.
Next year Farjeon won the inaugural Hans Christian Andersen International Medal, recognising her career contribution to children's literature as a writer. She also won the annual Carnegie Medal, recognising The Little Bookroom as the year's best children's book by a British subject.
Oxford published a U.S. edition in 1956 with a long title, as catalogued by the national library: The Little Bookroom: Eleanor Farjeon's short stories for children, chosen by herself.
One room in the house of her childhood was called "the little bookroom", Farjeon explains in the Author's Note. Although there were many books all over the house, this dusty room was like an untended garden, full to the ceiling of stray, left-over books, opening "magic casements" on to other times and places for the young Eleanor, filling her mind with a silver-cobwebby mixture of fact, fancy and romance which influenced all her later writing. "Seven maids with seven brooms, sweeping for half-a-hundred years, have never managed to clear my mind of its dust of vanished temples and flowers and kings, the curls of ladies, the sighing of poets, the laughter of lads and girls."
The four longest of 27 stories (‡) constitute one-third of the collection by length.
The black-and-white illustrations by Edward Ardizzone have been described as evoking "the magical atmosphere of the stories". Although the librarians judged no 1955 book suitable for the newly established Kate Greenaway Medal for children's book illustration, a year later Ardizzone won the first-awarded Greenaway Medal for Tim All Alone (1956) which he also wrote.
Literary significance and reception
In England the best work of the years after the First World War was mainly in poetry, or fantasy, or poetic fantasy; in particular there was a spate of original stories in the folk-tale manner. Eleanor Farjeon was above all a poet, but from the 1920s onward she effectively used poetic language and fancy in creating literary but homely fairy tales for children, as did her fellow poet, Walter de la Mare. The "literary fairy tale" recreates traditional fairy tales and folktales in several respects, such as clear distinctions between good and evil, and their inevitable reward and punishment. Writing in this genre, Farjeon was one of the foremost 20th century followers of Hans Christian Andersen, which makes it fitting that she was the first recipient of the Hans Christian Andersen Award in 1956. Although the award recognises an author's or illustrator's whole body of work, the publication of The Little Bookroom provided an impetus for the award. Similarly, the 1955 Carnegie Medal was considered a recognition of Eleanor Farjeon's contribution to children's literature as a whole, echoing the 1947 award to Walter de la Mare for Collected Stories for Children.
Puffin Books (1977) retained the original cover and interior illustrations by Edward Ardizzone (see image).
- The Little Bookroom (New Ed., 2004) publication contents at the Internet Speculative Fiction Database. Retrieved 2012-09-17.
- "The little bookroom" (first edition). Library of Congress Catalog Record (LCC).
"The little bookroom" (1956 U.S. edition). LCC record. Retrieved 2012-09-17.
- (Carnegie Winner 1955). Living Archive: Celebrating the Carnegie and Greenaway Winners. CILIP. Retrieved 2012-07-23.
- "Winners 1956–2010". Hans Christian Andersen Awards. International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY). Retrieved 2012-09-17.
- Farjeon, "Author's Note", The Little Bookroom.
- "Table of contents for The little bookroom" (2003 edition, provided by the publisher). LCC. Retrieved 2012-09-17.
- The Little Bookroom at Google Books
- Greenaway Medal: Full List of Winners", CILIP. Retrieved 2012-07-23.
- Marcus Crouch, Treasure Seekers and Borrowers, The Library Association, 1962, p. 46.
- John Rowe Townsend, Written for Children: An Outline of English-Language Children's Literature, Third revised edition, Penguin 1987, p. 144.
- "The Fairy Tale". Critical Essays. The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan. Cliffs Notes. Retrieved 2012-11-18.
- Keith Barker, In the Realms of Gold: The Story of the Carnegie Medal, Julia MacRae Books, 1986.
- The Little Bookroom in libraries (WorldCat catalog) —immediately, a 1955(?) US edition
- Eleanor Farjeon at the Internet Speculative Fiction Database
|Carnegie Medal recipient
The Last Battle