Abstract: Taking Beatrix Potter’s The Tale of Two Bad Mice as a case study, this article proposes that the “ironic play” of children’s literature calls for a reimagining of methodological debates on the agency of child readers. “Ironic play” describes the way many children’s books blend romantic imagination and realist skepticism to invite a playful mode of engagement, a mode at once both immersive and critical. By self-reflexively winking at their own fictionality, such books acknowledge the complications intrinsic to writing “for” children. Ironic play thereby challenges the notion that children’s literature tends to conceal the mediated nature of fictional representations.
“At heart, the #WeNeedDiverseBooks and #OwnVoices movements seek not to castigate and silence individuals or to censor literary history, but to redress longstanding and large-scale inequalities in a genre to which colonialist ideologies are endemic...” (Image Credit: Black Hawk Ledger, no. 5)
“Anti-racist pedagogies should not be limited to critiquing racism—as if to be a racialized subject is merely to have violence inflicted upon you—but need to help us understand how our imaginations might heal and be healed...”
“I sometimes think about ‘Why I Am Not a Painter’ when I meet with the many talented art students who visit the Writing Center...”
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“When I taught kindergarten in an urban public school in Milwaukee, my ‘writing center’ was a real plastic mailbox I purchased at the hardware store...”