Oxford Companion to Children’s Literature

Oxford CompanionThe Oxford Companion to Children’s Literature, 2nd Edition, edited by Daniel Hahn. Published by Oxford University Press in 2015. 704 pages.

This classic work was originally published in 1984 and was created by the husband and wife team of Humphrey Carpenter and Mari Prichard. Almost all the children’s books they discussed in the first edition remain in this edition, although they have been shortened somewhat to make room for 900 new entries for the period from 1984 to 2014. And haven’t the past 30 years been an amazing Golden Age of children’s books to choose from!

Although with books of this type one is always tempted to quibble – why include this book, why was this book left out – the 3500 entries in the Companion do a pretty good job of giving us a good sense of the vast scope of children’s literature and of the quirky details of many of our most important children’s books.

Because the publisher and editor are British the entries are tilted a bit more toward British literature and perhaps don’t cover American literature quite as thoroughly as American librarians might wish. But this is still great browsing and an essential reference book for anyone involved in reading, writing, publishing or studying children’s literature.