Cover of Beyond Window-Dressing

Sybertooth, 2007. Cover by Sybertooth/Artemisia.

In the late twentieth century, Canadian children's fantasy had a poor reputation internationally.

Was this reputation deserved, and if so, has the quality of children's fantasy and the climate for its publication improved since that time? After a survey of twentieth-century Canadian children's fantasy, Beyond Window-Dressing examines these questions through an extensive cross-section of Canadian children's fantasy published between 2000 and 2004.

From Palmer Cox and Catherine Anthony Clark to Judd Palmer and Alison Baird, and writers of international reputation such as Dave Duncan, O.R. Melling, Kenneth Oppel and Charles de Lint, Beyond Window-Dressing weighs Canadian fantasy against the best of the UK and US. It provides not only a window onto Canadian developments in the genre during the opening years of the twenty-first century, but insists that fantasy must be judged by standards as rigorous as those applied to any other genre of literature.

• Received the 2004 Frances E. Russell Award from IBBY Canada (International Board on Books for Young People; now called the Frances E. Russell Grant)


"I applaud the honesty and forthrightness of her analyses. Far too often, reviews of children's books provide little more than vague plot summaries with very little, if any, questioning of the aesthetic or literary value of a text. Not so with Johansen's analyses. She has her opinions and she quite adroitly defends them. She establishes clear criteria for what she considers a valid and valuable fantasy, and judges each text accordingly. And, I must admit, I found her criticism of even some of Canada's literary icons both refreshing and, more significantly, quite convincing." ~ J. Kieran Kealy, Canadian Literature March 2009

"Beyond Window-Dressing should be of particular interest to public and school librarians, and academic librarians in institutions offering courses in children's literature. It should serve as an inspirational tool for seeking out, selecting, and retaining exemplary fantasy literature in our library collections." ~ MaryLynn Gagne, Canadian Library Association's journal Feliciter