Cover of Quests and Kingdoms

Sybertooth, 2005. Cover by Sybertooth.

Fantasy has become an increasingly popular genre of children's literature in recent years ...

But teachers, parents, or librarians who do not read much fantasy themselves can feel a bit overwhelmed when looking for something to recommend to a young reader who has finished the latest book by Rowling or Jacques. Quests and Kingdoms provides a basis from which an adult unfamiliar with the genre of children's fantasy literature may explore it. Quests is an historical survey for the interested general reader, which will be of great practical value to library and education professionals as well. Though the aim is to give adults concerned with bringing children (or teens) and books together a familiarity with the children's fantasy genre and its history, for those who already know and love the classics of children's fantasy Quests will be an introduction to works and authors they may have missed.

Taking a chronological approach, Quests begins with the fairy-tale collections of d'Aulnoy, Perrault, and the Grimms and works its way up to the novels of J.K. Rowling and Garth Nix, covering over three centuries of fantasy read by children. The lives of 95 authors are looked at and placed in historical context, while their works are introduced through both synopses and analysis. Quests also includes chapters on Tolkien, retellings of traditional stories, and King Arthur and Robin Hood. More than 500 works are discussed, and the thorough index makes the book a practical reference resource as well as a history and an introduction to the best in the genre.

• Shortlisted for the 2006 Harvey Darton Award in the UK

• The research was undertaken while holding the Eileen Wallace Research Fellowship


"... a lively, thoughtful read, and a useful reference volume" ~ Terri Windling

"Johansen brings a scholar's erudition and a child's delight to the field of children's fantasy. Her thoughtful survey elevates fantasy from guilty pleasure to moral education, and reveals it to be not a recent marketing-driven fad, but an ancient and unbreakable strand of human creativity. If you know nothing about the genre, this book will turn you into an aficionado; if you think you've read everything, you'll find new gems here, and old ones glowing with a new light. For teachers, parents, anyone who wants to uncover the wonder of reading, Quests and Kingdoms is a pirate's treasure map." ~ Tristanne J. Connolly, St. Jerome's University

"Here is a magical thing, a reference book with a heart and soul. Brimming over with ideas, as well as facts and figures, the writing is elegant and the author's enthusiasm contagious. Here, too, a noble defence of fantasy and its literary value." ~ O.R. Melling, author of The Chronicles of Faerie