The Role Of Adaptation In Childrens Literature Since 1990 English Literature Essay

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Childrens books are highly profitable. The leading publishing houses appeal to mass markets by publishing books that in the main placate young readers - require little effort to read - and promote a danger-free zone. It could be argued here that some children's books are in danger of jeopardising our children, hiding them from the reality of the real world. However, not all is lost as new authors are coming to the fore, promoting different endings to their books. Jacqueline Wilson in her book Lola Rose ends, [...] 'we're going to live happily ever after, [...] fingers crossed,' (Wilson, 2003). This warns the reader to be prepared for an uncertain world.

Multimedia allows for the exploration of literature. For example, audio books are obtainable via online downloads to PC's and mobile phones. Books can now be printed off the Web. Lovers of technology use Digital books. Because of these transformations of literature, some believe the internet to be ringing the death toll for books. Although digital formats have changed reading habits, they will never replace paper books because we pleasure our senses when reading them: There is the delight of a heavily embossed book cover - begging fingers to be, trailed across the raised artwork. The beauty of an illustration - whatever the degree of modern technology it cannot beat the naked eye for true colour and clarification. Most importantly, there is the thrill and promise of the unknown story. These legacies need preserving for future generations.

Multimedia is the transmission of media communications - text, graphics, and sound, etc. This section will concentrate on multimodality, [...] 'the range and combinations of modes used in any act of expression all contribute to an 'orchestration' of meaning,' (Kress, G. et al., 2001). The concept of multimodality is barely ten years old (Fizek, 2007, (a)), however, it has rapidly become accepted practice. In the 21st century, the traditional paper narrative has experienced a metamorphosis to digitally afforded multimodality. Sonia Fizek asks [...] 'is it old-fashioned textuality or cyberliterature [...] both literary worlds form a socio-cultural continuum, and it is impossible to draw a dividing line between the two,' (Fizek, 2007, (b)). Furthermore, Rosie Flewitt states, [...] 'an on-screen story exploits multiple modes,' (Flewitt, 2009, p.357).

Multimodal examples: A CD-ROMs, characters are multimodal. The characters voice is heard bringing the mode of voice into play, and its multimodes of quality, rhythm, tenor, or pitch. Alongside affording readers the option of determining their own, route within a CD. With a textbook, a child can only follow a prearranged sequence until the books end. However, by using technology a child can use a computer to access programmes such as online books. They achieve this by using multiple actional modes via a choice of options to access information. They can then interact with text, illustrations, or other digital formats such as music, games, etc.

According to Kerry Mallan, [...] 'most things that are produced for children or young adults have been produced by adult audiences,' (EA300, DVD2). Authors and educator's sometimes have marred perceptions of what a children's book should be like. Moreover, they are in danger of forcing their own opinions and hang-ups as to what a certain gender should or should not read. Indeed, fiction over the past one hundred years has been directed specifically at gender groups. That is up until the 21st century when publisher's and author's begun to acknowledge for the first time a morphing of roles in children's literature, and children of both sexes became recognised as a single entity by some book publishers.

Film is considered the media of the future; its ultimate goal is one of entertainment. For others in the industry it is the adaptations of acclaimed literary works from the past, believing the best stories are to be found in novels. Literary filmmakers are akin to those of past literati who chose to 'Instruct and Delight.' This form of film media is rarely done in a didactic way, unlike their book predecessors. Film adaptations are produced as freethinking works of art. Although there exists a social class distinction by some, who believe that film media will always be inferior to the written text.

According to Philip Pullman, [...] 'there are some themes, some subjects, too large for adult fiction; they can only be dealt with adequately in a children's book,' (Pullman, 1996). As far back as 1865, the periodical The London Review praised Lewis Carroll's book Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, (1865). [...] 'A delightful book for children - or, for the matter of that, for grown-up people,' (Cripps, 1983); making the book a crossover piece of literature. The book is unique within the canon of children's literature by introducing liberation too their reading, and by becoming one of the first to address children rather than adults. The book is focalised through its protagonist Alice, who engages the audience as if peers.

After publication of this book, it was no longer considered necessary for books to be didactic or to be controlled by an adult narrator. Alice in Wonderland as it is now known has had numerous adaptations over the years: Poems, songs, cinema, television, comics, theatre, musical plays, pantomimes, opera, school productions, musical, and ballet, (Wikipedia, 2007, (a)). As the forerunner of great children's literature, it is hard to imagine there would be much to criticise about the book. However, in 1931, it was banned in Hunan, China [...] 'Animals should not use human language' according to the government of the day, (Wikipedia, 2007, (b)).

The book has been translated into over twenty different languages and has had seventeen film adaptations. In 1998, a first edition publication of Alice was sold at auction for $1.54 million to an American buyer. This sale made the book the most expensive children's book of the nineteenth-century (Wikipedia, 2007, (c)). Lewis Carroll's narrative of Alice in Wonderland differs to the 2010 Disney movie. In this 3D adaptation, Alice is on a quest, whereas in the book Alice is trying to reach the garden. In the book, the garden has a magical quality - in the film, it has a somewhat scarier role. Additionally, in the film, Disney changes the order of events, and Alice appears to mature through her experiences. However, in the book Lewis Carroll deliberately kept Alice as a child.

The most popular crossover book series of all time is J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter septology, published 1997 - 2007. Rowling's books are radical, set in traditional surroundings. Harry Potter has become known for the metonymy 'the boy, who lived,' with the phrase setting the scene for his adventures. The first book in the septology was circular; however, this has changed in Rowling's other books with the coda ending uncertainly. When talking about adaptations this Bildungsroman series cannot be ignored - being the most successful book series ever. According to Suman Gupta the Harry Potter septology has been translated into more than sixty languages, been produced as audio books, adapted into films, [...] computer games, picture books, postcards, posters, playing cards, cups, t-shirts, etc, (Gupta, 2009, p.339). Additionally, a theme park is expected to open in Orlando, June 2010.

The film Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (2001), like most films exercises 'artistic licence.' Here are some inconsistencies from the book: The 'Boa Constrictor' becomes a ‘Burmese Python’. 'Norbet' is taken away, yet in the book Harry and Hermione take him to Charlie Weasley's friends. 'Firenze' is a Palomino with blonde hair in the book, but dark in the film, (Wikipedia, 2010, (a)). The final book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows sold eleven million units in the first twenty-four hours of its release in London, (New York Times, 2007). The commercial success has been overwhelming. It is believed to have earned Rowling $1 billion. In 2007, a limited edition of Harry Potter's 'The Tales of Beedle the Bard' was sold for $3.9 million, eclipsing Alice in Wonderland, (Wikipedia, 2010, (b)). These figures demonstrate the powerful impact that multimedia and adaptations have on today's society.

It is worth reflecting on how children's literature has changed over the years. The 'First Golden Age' of children's literature covered 1865 to the beginning of the First World War. In the gender-divided era of the nineteenth century, novels for girls in the main consisted of 'waif' like characters such as in Mary Louisa Charlesworth's Ministering Children, (1867). For boys in this period it was 'Empire-building' books as in R.M. Ballantyne's The Coral Island (1857). The patterns of these books and others of their ilk were of an adult voice addressing the child in a somewhat condescending manner as if they were inferior. Throughout these books, the themes of morality and religion were extremely strong, although they invariably had a happy or satisfactory conclusion.

Female protagonists portrayed as feisty characters first came about in the early 1900s in novels like Eleanor Porter's Pollyanna, (1913), and Joanna Spyri's Heidi's Early Experiences, (trans. 1909). Between the two world wars, children's literature suffered the 'doldrums.' Books became subjugated by 'reward,' books in the form of anthologies or annuals. There was optimism for the future though, in the form of Arthur Ransome's Swallows and Amazons, (1930). With its circular plot and shape, it holds true to the purest form of 'single address' narrative in children's literature. Additionally, there was J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit, (1937), exemplifying an Arcadian England with its subtitle, There and Back Again whilst underscoring the books closed-circle shape.

The 'Second Golden Age' was during the mid 1950s to 1970s. After the Second World War, books were dominated by 'dream worlds,' were fantasy allowed for a much-needed escapism. Furthermore, the vast majority of these books had a feel good factor in reader reassurance. This period also saw the first inclusions of children's book departments covering all age groups. Peter Hunt says of the time, [...] 'it is acknowledged, perhaps for the first time that the new world belongs to children's reading more than to children's writers,' (Hunt, 2009, p.80).

The 'Third Golden Age' could be considered the present 21st Century. Books of recent times endeavour to be 'circular' in shape, where the start and finishing themes are the home and/or security. Father figures are no longer considered God like, or the mainstay of the family unit. Now, they are shown to have flaws as in Melvin Burgess's Junk, (1966). Indeed, the protagonist 'Tar' in Junk is forced to leave home due to the violent relationship between his alcoholic parents.

In conclusion, books require a sustained linear concentration, and not all children are willing to spend an hour or so just reading. At this moment in time, there is a chasm between narrative text, video games, and multimedia in general. Narrative text appears to be losing the battle, - or is it? Any school library, bookshop, or by searching for books on the internet, will testify to the fact that there are billions of books to be had. So who is to blame for this inconsistency? Why we are; we have also fallen under the spell of technology. Therefore, it is incumbent on us to buy more books for our children, and interact with them through books. Finally, instructing through delight is an eighteen-century notion still practiced today. However, today we are witness to a blurring of the edges of this mode of writing. In the Harry Potter series, there is the eternal battle of good against evil. Harry is ideologically motivated against injustice, to achieve his goals he is observed bending the rules, and this is seen by some in conflict with the original theory. The strong moral overtone of the series teaches children that doing the right thing is not that easy but is achievable. Therefore, ‘instructing them through delight’...