I love the junior novels, but…

…sometimes they make me want to slam the book shut and throw it at the patriarchy.

Case in point:

“But that’s one thing I can say,” she cried. “I have never never been in love with anyone but you, Cliff. Not ever, not even a little bit.” Forgive me, George, she thought. I did love you in a way, but not like this, and I have to be able to tell him that he’s the only one I ever loved. (Mary Stolz, And Love Replied, 1958).

Mary Stolz is my absolutely favourite junior novel writer, but COME ON, MARY.

(Actually, Stolz’s letters back and forth with her friend and editor, Ursula Nordstrom, suggest that she’s actually pretty progressive, with some clear feminist tendencies. And, as sad as I am to admit it, this paragraph really does fit the somewhat manipulative nature of Betty, the protagonist of this particular novel, so it may just be an added aspect of characterization. But… it still rankles this twenty-first century reader).

/end rant.



On articulating the necessity of lying…

I love Louise Fitzhugh, but for the record, Mary Stolz also told young people that sometimes they had to lie. That was in Who Wants Music on Monday, published in 1963–a full year before Harriet the Spy.

And both were edited by Ursula Nordstrom. Hmm…

(Of course, Stolz was writing for a slightly older audience, but still!)

Documents that Matter: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “Integrated Bus Suggestions,” Dec. 19, 1956.

It’s MLK Day here in the US, so I thought I’d take a break from posting archival documents about female junior novels to highlight a very different archival document. This particular one is from the Inez Jessie Baskin Papers of the Alabama Department of Archives and History.

The people over at http://www.Slate.com have provided a helpful backstory (click the photo for a clickthrough link).

“Be loving enough to absorb evil and understanding enough to turn an enemy into a friend.”

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Shaking hands with children

Behavioural psychologist John B. Watson, the leading child expert of the 1920s, on mothers showing affection to their children:

“If the baby cries–let him cry! All babies cry…. But by all means don’t pick him up.”


“If you must…kiss them once on the forehead when they say goodnight. Shake hands with them in the morning” (qtd. in Tuttle 23).

I’m not sure how anyone else feels, but I’m pretty thankful that Dr. Spock finally appeared on the child scene in 1946.

[from Tuttle, William M. Jr. “America’s Children in an Era of War, Hot and Cold: The Holocaust, the Bomb, and Child Rearing in the 1940s.” Rethinking Cold War Culture. Eds. Peter J. Kuznik and James Gilbert. Washington: Smithsonian Institution, 2001. Print.]