An introduction to children’s literature might be written in many different ways. The particular approach I have adopted here derives from my experiences teaching in the School of English at Newcastle University. I am very grateful therefore to all the students who have taken my ‘Beyond Wonderland’ undergraduate module since it first began. Their responses to the course, and their comments about how difficult it can be for those new to the subject to find their bearings, have shaped my thinking about what a new introduction might try to do. But I am equally grateful to the community of postgraduate students in the Children’s Literature Unit at Newcastle. Their suggestions and criticisms, given as a group and individually, in person and by correspondence, have helped this book very much, and I have greatly enjoyed the challenge of responding to their forthright assessments. More than this, their own master’s and doctoral projects have prompted me to think in different ways about children’s literature. Above all, the enthusiasm and commitment of all the students in the Children’s Literature Unit has been an inspiration.
My colleague Professor Kim Reynolds has read some sections of this book and, as ever, her advice has been constructive, astute and erudite. Dr Jenny Litster has taken the time to talk with me about my plans, and has generously shared her bright ideas and detailed knowledge. The anonymous reviewers of the proposal made many useful comments. All of the errors that remain are entirely my own.