English 301:  Literature for Children and Adolescents
Guidelines for Final Exam
Fall 2013 

Dr. Tina L. Hanlon

Ferrum College
thanlon@ferrum.edu
Children's Literature Course Home Page

Format of Exam:

  1. Eight one-paragraph questions: 50 points.
  2. One essay: 20 points. You will be able to select an essay topic from several choices. Be sure the topic and examples you choose to write about during the exam do not overlap too much with your take-home essay.
  3. Take-home essay: 30 points.

Don't forget that in ANGEL, you can set the calendar to display as a list, in order to view a list of the assignments for each month or week.

Material You Should Study:
Know what the items below mean or refer to. Examples are given in parentheses to remind you how some of the selections that we studied fit some of the categories, but you should be able to name and discuss other examples we have discussed since midterm. although maybe we discussed some shortly before midterm, too. Boldface items below are ones that involve works we studied since midterm. You may have the opportunity to discuss the oral reports in section II or III.

Know titles and authors of the four novels you studied for this course.
Cautionary tale (satirized in Silverstein poem "Sarah Sylvia Cynthia Stout...")
Nursery rhyme
Lyric poems (poems that don't tell a story)
Narrative poems, including ballads ("John Henry"is an example in the anthology, and "Kemp Owyne")
Picture book
Fable
Folktale or fairy tale
Story theatre folktale adaptation ("Mutsmag," Jack tales)
Satire of traditional tales and lit. (Lewis Carroll poems, Roald Dahl's poem "Little Red Riding Hood and the Wolf" & other Part 7 selections)
Myth (“Daedalus and Icarus,” Pandora)
Pourquoi tale
Romantic influences on children’s novels (such as The Secret Garden)
New Realism in children’s fiction
(1960s on)
Animal fantasy
or folktale
Domestic fantasy
(some domestic fantasies, such as Pippi Longstocking, are also called light fantasy)
Looking glass fantasy (Harry Potter books, Wonderful Wizard of Oz excerpts--and we had excerpts from The Looking Glass earlier)
Intertextuality (The Secret Garden refers to "Mistress Mary" rhyme, Bridge to Terabithia refers to Narnia series and other stories)
Metafiction
(good example in Roald Dahl's poem "Little Red Riding Hood and the Wolf")
Culturally specific content in a book
(regional culture in Belle Prater"s Boy, rural/urban cultural and class differences in Bridge to Terabithia)
Sexism in folktales and children’s literature and modern treatment of gender roles (e.g., Bridge to Terabithia, "Little Red Riding Hood and the Wolf")

Use the Introductions and index in the anthology to brush up on definitions/characteristics of literary types and background that might be useful in writing answers (but you aren’t responsible for specific material in those chapters that we have not touched on in class discussion).

II. For the essays, be well prepared to write about the assigned novels, and know at least one example for each of the categories of oral literature we have studied since midterm. You should be able to discuss realism and types of fantasy in fiction or poetry, the influence of Romanticism on fiction or poetry (particularly through the early twentieth century), different methods of retelling/adapting/revising or satirizing stories from oral traditions, treatment of historical and social problems in children’s and young adult fiction, portrayals of friendship and adult-child relations, and the child’s or adolescent’s point of view.

In your essays, if you mention examples of works not assigned for the class, restrict your examples to those found in the anthology and those mentioned in class (including oral reports), or books you know the professor is familiar with.

You shouldn’t have to go beyond your course texts and class notes to prepare for this exam, but if you think your notes are weak or you want to strengthen your definitions and understanding of literary terms and types, you might consult a reference book such as The Oxford Companion to Children’s Literature, The Oxford Encyclopedia of Children's Literature, or Rebecca Lukens’ Critical Handbook of Children’s Literature or Critical Handbook of Literature for Young Adults (available in library resources and Hanlon’s office).

III.  Take-Home Essay:

Discuss one of the generalizations about features of children’s literature presented by Perry Nodelman in The Pleasures of Children’s Literature or one theme from Jerry Griswold's Feeling Like a Kid. These are listed on the page Characteristics of Children’s Literature as a Genre. Select one item from those lists and explain how it applies to at least three works of literature that were assigned in this course. Two of your examples must be novels you studied for this class, and one of those two could be a novel excerpt or short story from the anthology. One of your examples must come from the oral tradition (directly or through adaptation).  If you choose to use additional examples, they can be of any type, including poems and picture books.

Nodelman’s and Griswold's generalizations are quite broad so there are many ways you could focus and organize your answer. You don’t have to discuss every point mentioned in the list summarizing Nodelman’s ideas. For example, if you choose to write about repetition, you can focus on one type of repetition. Besides the types of repetition mentioned on the list, you could discuss the idea that there is much repetition from one book and author to another in children’s literature (e.g., that there are more sequels and more echoes of previous books and reworkings of the same themes and motifs in children’s literature than in adult literature—i.e., there is lots of intertextuality). You can structure your whole essay as a comparison/contrast of your examples, or use some other method to illustrate different dimensions of the topic.

If you think the author is overgeneralizing, discuss works that provide exceptions (but note that item 11 qualifies the generalization in item 9, so don’t accuse Nodelman of saying all children’s literature is didactic). You may include a sample work from the course readings that you believe should not be considered a work of children’s literature, to contrast with your examples that do fit the definition of children’s literature.

Don’t choose Nodelman's number one unless you feel quite confident about discussing style and vocabulary in children’s literature.

Do not spend hours and hours writing this essay, but obviously you can consult your books as you develop your ideas. Although you don’t want to turn this into a research paper, you should give informal acknowledgement if you use ideas you know came from particular secondary sources (e.g., you recall reading that Maurice Sendak said X about the importance of fantasy). You don’t have to use direct quotations, but if you do, use quotation marks and give page numbers from the Crosscurrents anthology or novel you are quoting. This essay is expected to be more polished in organization, completeness of ideas, clarity of wording, use of standard English, and mechanics than essays might be when they are written during the exam period. Typing is preferred.

Turn in this essay at the beginning of the exam period (or earlier if you prefer). If for some reason you choose not to write this essay before Dec. 12 at 10:30 a.m., you can use part of the exam period to write it, rather than getting a 0 on 30% of the exam grade, but you will be taking the risk that having more to write within two hours will weaken your performance on the whole exam. You will not be allowed to refer to this study guide during the exam period.

Tips on avoiding common pitfalls on tests of this type with paragraph and essay questions:

See also Pointers for Taking Essay Tests.

December 11, 2013