Faerie & Folklore in the Literature of Childhood, Touch Magic: Fantasy

Written by: Jane Yolen

Faerie & Folklore in the Literature of Childhood, Touch Magic: Fantasy Book Cover
Subtitled "Fantasy, Faerie, and Folklore in the Literature of Childhood," this small book of essays was first my position papers for the EdD I never quite got. Originally published in hardcover by Philomel and then brought out a few years later in a trade paperback, this book of essays has become well identified with me. And the phrase, "Touch magic, pass it on" shows up in the oddest places. After five years out of print, the book in an expanded and revised edition has been reissued by the folklore publisher, August House. The new section is called "Touchstones" and has six new essays: "Fabling to the Near Night," "Killing the Other," "Throwing Shadows," "Literature As a Social Disease," the eponymous "Touchstones," "An Experiential Act," and an updated and revised Preface. - Jane Yolen
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Faerie amp Folklore in the Literature of Childhood Touch Magic Fantasy Reviews

Angela Boord
I read this book in about an hour and a half, but what it had to say about the importance of unsanitized, unsentimentalized fairy tales in the lives especially of children but also of the adults those children grow into, was profound. Yolen makes the case that all those old stories with all their magic and violence are necessary to children because through them they learn about good and evil, courage, honor, justice, choice and consequence, responsibility, and what it is to be human in a way tha I read this book in about an hour and a half, but what it had to say about the importance of unsanitized, unsentimentalized fairy tales in the lives especially of children but also of the adults those children grow into, was profound. Yolen makes the case that all those old stories with all their magic and violence are necessary to children because through them they learn about good and evil, courage, honor, justice, choice and consequence, responsibility, and what it is to be human in a way that cannot be replaced. A few of her references are dated, but mostly her theories and exhortations seem to apply even more today, when the old stories are even more rarely told.
Susan
Rereading it, added a star. Half.commed myself a copy to boot. Sometimes you read something and it just doesn't connect until another, later time like an initially awkward conversation with someone who later turns into a dear friend.
Katherine
Outstanding collection of essays on fantasy, folklore, and enchantment. An absolute must-read for anyone who writes (or reads) literature for children and young adults.

Highly recommended.
The Fact of a Doorframe: Poems Selected and New, 1950-1984 :: Archy and Mehitabel :: Welcome to the Ice House :: The Barefoot Book of Ballet Stories :: Pay the Piper
Gmendra Lau
Adult fairy tales. It can be complicated if you want it to.
Angie
more scholarly xcollection of essays about the importance of fantasy and storytelling in people's lives, specifically children's lives. just beautiful. would recommend two or three readings.
Bridgett
Informative book about how fairy tales influence with plenty of examples from different types of literature.
Leigh
The best explanation of our need for folklore and mythology since Bruno Bettelheim. Better, in fact, because it's more accessible.
Heather Demetrios
Phenomenal. A must-read for fantasy writers and readers.
Anthony
A stellar interior view of the stories, humanity-made, that make humanity human. Using sharp, sweeping language as her scope, Jane Yolen exercises her expert and experiential mind to guide readers along the path, not away from but ever toward myth and folk and fairy tales, defending as if from a brutal dragon the naysayers and ne’er-do-wells whose capitalist hearts seek to melt the wall of everlasting story which preserves us from the dark. I highly recommend this alongside Le Guin’s THE LANGUAG A stellar interior view of the stories, humanity-made, that make humanity human. Using sharp, sweeping language as her scope, Jane Yolen exercises her expert and experiential mind to guide readers along the path, not away from but ever toward myth and folk and fairy tales, defending as if from a brutal dragon the naysayers and ne’er-do-wells whose capitalist hearts seek to melt the wall of everlasting story which preserves us from the dark. I highly recommend this alongside Le Guin’s THE LANGUAGE OF THE NIGHT and Lewis’ OF OTHER WORLDS as must-reads for any fantasy author who seeks to understand not merely the tools of our craft but also its import to our best, brightest benefactors—our children.

NOTE: I did knock it one star, simply because, with the exception of two of the final six essays (all of which were added to suit the new addition, published in 1999), Part Four proves more of a disappointment, in performance, in thought, and in style than the rest of the book.
JaNeal
This is a book containing several essays on the traditional literature of childhood, namely fantasy, fairy tales, and folklore. In my studies I am making an attempt to get back to the roots of storytelling for children. This book makes a fine contribution to this topic and is encouraging me to read a few more of the classics. This book is a more serious and opinionated read, but Yolen has some great ideas. It is especially useful to writers and people who are actively engaged in children's liter This is a book containing several essays on the traditional literature of childhood, namely fantasy, fairy tales, and folklore. In my studies I am making an attempt to get back to the roots of storytelling for children. This book makes a fine contribution to this topic and is encouraging me to read a few more of the classics. This book is a more serious and opinionated read, but Yolen has some great ideas. It is especially useful to writers and people who are actively engaged in children's literature. I will admit to scanning some of this book (I read it in large part to work on a paper), so would maybe give it a higher rating if I spent more time in it. It was definitely worth including on my shelf, though.
Amy
Because this book is actually a collection of essays on a theme, rather than a book bound by single cohesive argument, there is quite a bit of redundancy if read cover-to-cover. I am not sure I agree with all of the author's points or that her points argued for the value of folklore and children's fantasy any better than Bettelheim's ubiquitous tome. Worth reading for academics and English majors and a few other interested parties, most others would likely be better suited reading one of her boo Because this book is actually a collection of essays on a theme, rather than a book bound by single cohesive argument, there is quite a bit of redundancy if read cover-to-cover. I am not sure I agree with all of the author's points or that her points argued for the value of folklore and children's fantasy any better than Bettelheim's ubiquitous tome. Worth reading for academics and English majors and a few other interested parties, most others would likely be better suited reading one of her books for children - which are many and mostly wonderful.
Ellyn
I first read this book in college and it was amazing. It reaffirmed my childhood love of fantasy and faerie tales and sharpened my interest in the genre as an adult. It gives such clarity about why this literature is so enduring and important and I love revisiting this book.
Melissa
Wonderful little volume with lots of food for thought. Highly recommended for anyone who loves children's literature.
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