State Library Victoria > La Trobe Journal

No 60 Spring 1997

Australian Children's Literature: An Overview

Aboriginal Narratives

Children's narratives in Australia might be said to have begun 40,000 years ago when oral telling of stories was an integral part of Aboriginal daily living. People who live tradition-oriented lives in Australia confirm that ancient stories are retold today with strict ownership customs ensuring their continuity and accuracy. Both adults and children were the intended audience for stories, and for these public or ‘outside’ versions of the stories, there is no distinction. Collections of traditional stories do exist in both contemporary and historically significant editions, and writers and collectors have made varying degrees of effort to reproduce accurate written translations of the oral stories. Notable examples are Mary Ann Fitzgerald's King Bungarees Phyalla: Stories, Illustrative of Manners and Customs that Prevailed among Australian Aborigines (1891), Langloh Parker's Australian Legendary Tales: Folklore of the Noongahburrahs, as Told to the Piccaninnies (1896, 1978), Daisy Bates's Tales Told to Kabbarli (collected in the 1930s and retold by Barbara Ker Wilson, 1972) and Catherine H. Berndt's Land of the Rainbow Snake (1977). The ‘inside’ stories which are not intended for children, are not at issue here as they are secret and sacred. In the ‘Western’ world of contemporary Australia, it is the advent of print which begins to enable non-Aboriginal cultures to focus on Aboriginal stories which can be said to be specifically for children.
Today, however, many Kooris (Aborigines in south-eastern Australia) object to the idea that publication of these ‘outside’ traditional stories is relevant to their life in contemporary Australia. What can traditional stories say about the life of the young Koori footballer in urban Redfern? Stories written by Kooris about contemporary Koori life are needed, and it is here that the most striking gap in Australian publishing exists. One contemporary Koori storyteller Maureen Watson reminds her listeners that Captain Cook did not ‘discover’ Australia, and it is no accident that such stories still receive a mixed reception in a land which has just begun to acknowledge that the country was not terra nullius (empty land) when the European explorers arrived, which has only recently passed an Act of Parliament granting its Aboriginal citizens land rights (1994), and which debates whether or not its constitution ought to become republican, hence formally severing its remaining links to the monarchy and to Britain. In a very real sense, the publication of children's literature in Australia is a reflection of the voices of power in the land.
Early works of children's fiction are noted for their poor treatment of Aborigines and Aboriginal themes; characters are stereotypical, non-Aboriginal viewpoints are
dominant, and the ‘strange’ and ‘exotic’ are emphasised. Mary and Elizabeth's Way of the Whirlwind (1941) was an exception, although even this book was a fantasy, meant to entertain the children who lived on the Durack's remote cattle station.
There are books about Aboriginal lifestyles today and these are published by small community printeries in any one of the fifty known Aboriginal languages which survive. Those which are published in English by the commercial publishers are usually written by non-Aboriginal writers; for example, Jeanie Adam's picture book Pigs and Honey (1989) reflects with warmth and understanding the family life of people living in Aurukun, a tradition-oriented community and her books have been endorsed by the community. Similarly, Bill Scott, befriended by the Kabi tribesmen in southern Queensland, has published his version of Murrie (Aboriginal in north-eastern Australia) stories in Boori and other titles. It is with permission of the community that the stories have emerged in published form but still he is an interpreter of a culture not his own. Australian publishers of children's books need to find and foster writers and illustrators who are themselves Aboriginal and who do not need these interim interpreters. Successful examples for older readers are Wild Cat Falling (1965/1992) by Mudrooroo (Colin Johnson) and The First Born and Other Poems by Jack Davis (1970). A very positive development is the steady output by Magabala Books, which was established in north-western Australia, exclusively to publish works by Aboriginal people. From this source has emerged titles such as Narelle McRobbie's Bip the Snapping Bungaroo (1990) and Gracie Green, Joe Tramacchi and Lucille Gill's Tjarany/Roughtail (1992). Bold illustrations, original to Aboriginal people, intensify meaning and design impact for readers, young and old. Local languages and informtion about today's customs and cultures add further insight.

The Development of Colonial Publishing

The origins of published children's literature in Australia actually lie within the efforts of the monocultured, class-bound English who were conscious of the need to bring civilisation to children of a convict colony — a colony of ‘mother England’. No evidence is to be found of stories written during the first half century of the colony's struggle for survival but in 1820 there were 6,688 children (23 per cent of the total population) who had been born in the colony (Bigge 1823: 80). Free settlers, along with those holding pardons, expirees and ‘ticket of leavers’ began to make their mark in the colony during the 1830s. Shipbuilding was established; there were the beginnings of the prosperous pastoral industry; the colony was almost self-sufficient in foodstuffs; and the transportation of convicts had ceased in New South Wales by the time the first (known) children's book emerged from the colony — A Mother's Offering to Her Children: by a Lady Long Resident in New South Wales. It was a book in question-and-answer format, written by governess Charlotte Barton
(1841). The didactic intention was uppermost, as the young reader learned about the struggles within the colony along with natural science, geology, anthropology and morality, amidst occasional adventures and shipwrecks.
There followed many titles, particularly adventure stories set in the colonies amidst pioneering struggles, hazardous explorations, encounters with ‘blacks', bushrangers and escaped convicts; although the distinction between adolescent adventures for boys and adults’ adventure stories was not always clear. Niall (1984) focuses on book characters, their values and adventures and gives a good coverage for the period. Some of the publications of this time were essentially travel documents by people who visited the colonies for a brief period: one such book was William Howitt's A Boy's Adventures in the Wilds of Australia: or Herbert's Note Book (1854) which contains descriptive details of the colonies, their flora and fauna, amid adventurous activities. The colonies were several months sailing time from Europe, but the cultural ties remained strong.
As the six colonies became more settled, democratically elected members entered parliament, and free immigration from Britain ended the transportation of England's convict waste; wealth from gold, the sale of wool and then wheat, strong trade union stands and the evolution of a Labour Party, debates between protectionists and free traders, together prompted the Federation of States. For fifty years this ‘rising spirit’ of democracy was given voice in various ways until the Commonwealth of Australia was proclaimed in 1901. The idealism of this period was strong, and the nation's writers and educators were receptive to the influence of educational philosophers of Europe — Rousseau, Pestalozzi, and Dewey — who were responsible for the development of a child-centred approach to education. Indirectly, their impact was felt on the processes of cultural reproduction in the emerging nation.
At this time, the literature for children which reflected the stable environment and which developed from strength to strength was the family story. Its antecedents were clearly established in the United States and Britain, and Australian family stories emerged in response to these literary influences and the lively competition in publishing, Australia's best and most enduring example of the family story is Ethel Turner's Seven Little Australians (1894). Fun, affection, trouble, strife and authoritarian paternalism set the tone for books about family events in the city. Turner wrote over thirty novels for children and adolescents and so earned a significant place in Australian literary history. Mary Grant Bruce and her fifteen Billabong novels (from A Litle Bush Maid (1910) to Billabong Riders (1942)) are equally important in the world of Australian children's fiction, although she writes of ‘mateship’ and life on a well established pastoral property (Alexander 1979; Niall 1979). Reading with today's values, critics (and perhaps child readers) object to the chauvinism and racism which reflected the values of their day but the books
retain their popularity and have appeared in editions which omit the offending segments of text. Debate continues, questioning the appropriateness of such editions.
As in England, so too in Australia, school stories developed during this period, exploring the interpersonal friendships between young girls: Louis Mac's Teens (1897) and its sequels were set in Sydney. The nation's writers, propelled by the spirit of optimism in the new nation, were beginning to write for their own young readers, rather than all that was good and wholesome being seen as having to come from England.
Books which broke with the didactic tradition and which sought primarily to entertain emerge as distinctive contributions to Australian children's literature. An early example is Cole's Funny Picture Book: The Funniest Picture Book in the World (1876), a collection which includes the humorous, the tragic and the guilty through many different genres — poems, stories, black and white engravings, puzzles, riddles, teasers — and which has been a family favourite for many years. (Annotations of the many collections of Australian short stories and poems — both historical and contemporary — are to be found in the research catalogue Through Australian Eyes which accompanied the 1988 European exhibition of Australian children's literature, now housed in the International Youth Library in Munich, Germany (Bunbury et al. 1988)). Outstanding among more lengthy humorous tales is a book known for its fun, its fighting, its endless supply of food, and its tricky central ‘character’ — The Magic Pudding, written and illustrated by Norman Lindsay (1918). Dorothy Wall's Australian animals characters and the koala Blinky Bill in particular, dominated the publishing scene from 1933 to 1942, and her books are still read today.

A Continent-Wide Market

The period between Federation and the great depression also saw the development of a ‘continent-wide market’ with a background of strong clashes between capital and labour, arbitration, an emerging middle class, child endowment, hopes for a new social regeneration devoid of class privilege, inequality and poverty. Pride in an egalitarian democratic society was firmly established — at least in the hearts of the people.
‘There'll be higher education for the toilin’, starvin', clown,
And the rich an' educated shall be educated down'.
Henry Lawson For 'ard (1893)
A broad cultural background has always been valued by teachers in Australia. When schooling by correspondence became possible across the vast expanses of the country (1916); and free secondary education became a reality along with technical education and kindergartens, the child and adolescent reading population grew. Literature generally reflected an egalitarian society and a positive commitment to social
regeneration. The new nation was prosperous and — as they thought — far from the troubles of war.
Australia's involvement in war (1914-18) had re-affirmed yet simultaneously strained the links with Britain. Post war, there was a call to turn to sources of inspiration other than the ‘bush’ and the ‘outback’ — particularly as the majority of Australians had become city dwellers. Commercial broadcasting, the movies and the motor car were regular parts of suburban life. Mass-produced ‘popular’ children's literature emerged — a sign that the publication of children's books had become a flourishing business.
Nevertheless, there emerged fine works in the fairy tradition, by the Rentoul sisters, Annie and Ida (the latter becoming Rentoul Outhwaite), May Gibbs and Pixie O'Harris. They focused on fairy tales and animal fantasies; gumnut babies met and played with creatures of the bush. The stories made their impact largely because of inspiration from art nouveau and the quality of reproduction. Ida Rentoul Outhwaite's Elves and Fairies (1916) was notable because the reproduction of watercolour illustrations was so lavish and because the book was completely produced in Australia. Most Australian children's books prior to this period had been published in Britain. (Muir and Holden (1985) explore the details of originals which are to be found in the Hardie Collection, Sydney. Bicentennial celebrations confirmed that May Gibbs's ‘gumnut babies’ from Snugglepot and Cuddlepie (1918) have become Australian icons — whilst the ‘banksia men’ remained in hidden adult fears remembered from childhood.
World War II was a strategic point of development in many facets of Australian life. People realised, probably for the first time, that the Commonwealth of nations could not meet Australia's needs, although Britain continued to be important for the purposes of industrialisation, as a market for primary produce and as a source of culture. Australians realised they had to become more self-reliant, yet for the sake of security, military and strategic links were developed with the United States; links were also sought with the emerging nations of Asia, Australia's northern neighbours; and the country began to play its own role in the international arena of the United Nations. These were difficult and contradictory political threads to weave. Similarly, the sense of national identity ebbed and flowed in the cross currents of a society experiencing rapid change.
Within the nation, at a level identifiably closer to the future of children's literature, there was a post-war ‘baby boom’. Librarians became the self-appointed promoters of literature for children — many gave their time voluntarily to bring children and books closer together. They were responsible for the Children's Book Council of New South Wales, which was established in 1945 and which in 1946 began the Children's Book Awards. From these modest beginnings the Australian Children's Book Council was formed in 1959. The awards (listed in Prentice & Bennet 1992)
are highly valued by authors and publishers and have done much to foster Children's literature — though not without controversy.
The world of children's literature during the post-war period, into the 1950s and beyond, was clearly focused, with the emergence of a number of women writers who not only wrote stories of family life, but who combined this with a strong sense of dawning self-awareness in childhood and adolescence and the beginnings of a questing after a sense of belonging in the land: Nan Chauncy, Mavis Thorpe Clark, Joan Phipson, Patricia Wrightson, Eleanor Spence and Hesba Brinsmead remain significant writers of the period. In writing about such works, Maurice Saxby, an early influential critic of children's literature in Australia, dismissed them as being ‘as predictable as those of the adventure stories of a hundred years earlier’. (Saxby 1969: 194) In retrospect, few would agree and such comments are now recognised as part of the cultural cringe of the times as much as an alignment against the value of subject matter chosen by women writers.
Wrightson has subsequently become Australia's best known writer for children internationally, as was confirmed by the prestigious Hans Christian Andersen award in 1986. She has been publishing books for children for more than forty years and has courageously broken new ground with her trilogy, The Song of Wirrun (1993) — comprising The Ice is Coming (1977), The Dark Bright Water (1979) and Behind The Wind (1981). Drawing her inspiration from the ‘folk-spirits of Aboriginal Dreamtime’, she has created a contemporary fantasy where ancient folk-spirits (not of the secret-sacred variety) meet and work with a young fringe-dwelling Aborigine. She does not claim ‘inside knowledge’ of Aboriginal cultures, but her work's poetic resonance appeals to her readers for its inclusion of folklore which originates from the Australian continent, rather than those far away lands of Europe. Such creative endeavours have prompted Driver (1993) to compile a register of Aboriginal folk-spirits for use by future readers and scholars. One section of Driver's work lists folk-spirits whose existence has been confirmed by Aboriginal people in touch with their ‘country and customs of origin’; the appendix, almost as large as the main work, lists folk-spirits represented in the writings of European Australia which are yet to be confirmed — or denied — by specific tribal groups.
Ivan Southall and Colin Thiele (both translated into many languages) were also writing during this period. Southall's narratives grew from the post-war excitement of flight (and space flight) in his Simon Black books to explorations of the hazards of children facing the natural disasters of the land. His exacting and introspective works such as Josh (1971) were yet to come. Thiele drew on a German background, and his engaging humour provoked by incidents as innocent as a possum in the kitchen were embedded in a rich appreciation of language. The wonder of the intense interaction between a boy and a pelican is known internationally through the book and film, Storm Boy (1974).
By 1967 Australian children's literature was able to parody the nation's eulogising of its rogues and thieves — the Wild Colonial Boy and the bushrangers — in the work of Randolph Stow's Midnite. Ironic treatment of a national hero is surely a sign of a nation self-consciously reflecting on its history and its identity. This was in fact happening in a political sense, when in 1966 Australia entered the Vietnam conflict. The students who were present at the mass demonstrations against Australia's involvement in Vietnam and who joined the activities of Amnesty International became the scholars of children's literature in the universities during the 1970s, humanitarian ideals being the thread as much as literary scholarship.
Educational authorities were obliged to respond to the post-war increase in the birth rate and the influx of migrants: more schools were built; returned servicemen entered the teaching force; studentships became available thus increasing school retention rates (to year twelve) of secondary schooling. These young people became librarians and teachers who graduated from the rapidly expanding Teachers Colleges and Colleges of Advanced Education. Tertiary courses gradually added the study of children's literature as an integral part of their training programmes. The Library Association of Australia required the study of children's literature of all its graduates. Public libraries and school libraries gradually increased with the Commonwealth government subsidising secondary school libraries (from 1968). This political support effectively increased young people's access to books. The national research project, Children's Choice (Bunbury, 1995), which explored children's reading preferences, at school and at home, reported that the most important source of books for young people's reading was not those so lovingly presented as gifts at home, but the school library. In the 1990s, when Australia consciously strives to become ‘a clever country', government sponsorship still seeks ways of increasing the youthful reading public; an example is to be found in the ‘book gigs’ at St Martin's Youth Theatre, organised by Agnes Nieuwenhuizen, where authors meet their readers after youthful actors have staged sequences from published literary works. (See Bunbury's related annotated lists of adolescent fiction (1992a, 1992b) and her interviews with writers for youth (1991)).

Contemporary Developments

It was not until the 1970s, that universities took up the serious academic study of children's literature. Many undergraduate courses evolved to meet the needs of the growing number of teachers who were graduating. Masters degrees by course-work, both on campus and in distance mode, exist in several Australian universities, and Masters by research and Doctorates occur spasmodically but in growing numbers. Research collections which feed academic endeavour are housed in the Baillieu Library (Morgan Collection), University of Melbourne, the state libraries of Victoria,
South Australia and Western Australia, and The Lu Rees Archives at the University of Canberra.
Conferences in the field of children's literature, both national and international, are now regular events, with published proceedings, providing an informed readership with critical insights into the major preoccupations in the field (Trask 1972, 1973, 1975; Robinson 1977; Saxby 1978; Lees 1980: Murphy 1980; Noel 1981; Alderman and Harman 1983; Stodart 1985; Alderman and Reeder 1987; Children’ Book Council of Australia 1992, 1994; Stone 1991, 1993; Parsons and Goodwin 1994).
Basic bibliographic data have been compiled (Muir 1970, 1976) and historical surveys are in place (Saxby 1969, 1971, 1993; Niall 1984; Lees and MacIntyre 1993; Bayfield 1994) thus the groundwork has been laid for fuller critical considerations of Australian children's literature (for example, McVitty 1981; Thompson 1987; Stephens 1992). There is, however, a marked schism between those who consider children's books within the context of awards and library promotions, and those whose task it is to place children's literature within the context of general literary studies. Children's literature needs the energies from both sources.
Unless one publishes in Meanjin or similar journals, outlets for scholarly articles in children's literature are largely confined to the journal Papers: Explorations into Children's Literature. Journals of professional interest to teachers, librarians and publishers are available in richer supply — Access (formerly Australian School Librarian), The Australian Author, Australian Book Review, Australian Journal of Reading, Curriculum Exchange, Editions, English in Australia, Idiom, Journal of the School Library Association of Queensland, Lines, The Literature Base, The Lu Rees Archives, Magpies, Orana (formerly Children's Libraries Newsletter), Reading Time (formerly New Books for Boys and Girls), Review Point, Rippa Reading, Teacher and Librarian, and Viewpoint. The wide range of journals is a reflection of the growing children's literature industry in Australia.
A boom in children's book publishing occurred again in the prosperous 1980s. Even during the international recession of the early 1990s, publishers of children's and adolescent's books were expanding — as though hope could only be sustained through youth. Yet it is through the literature for young people that many social problems were confronted so that the ‘problem novel’ has become a sustained genre in publishing: single parent families, divorce, drug addiction, teenage pregnancies, are typical themes. As in many nations of the world, post-holocaust fiction is a genre which has also emerged; Victor Kelleher's Taronga (1986) and Gillian Rubinstein's Beyond the Labyrinth (1988) are complex and compelling examples. Romance fiction sustains its popularity with its role in the lives of young women now being crtically scrutinised (Gilbert 1991). Undoubtedly, however, the authors most sought after in the 1990s are those who write humorous fiction for children and adolescents, although writers such as Paul Jennings, Robin Klein and Margaret
Clark receive little critical attention. Ironically, such writers are very serious about their humour, often seeing it as a vehicle for social comment. Klein's narratives sustain an ideology sympathetic to working-class youth; Clark's indirectly address social issues such as bulimia and significant roles for young women; Jennings's are a pure indulgence of black humour — endorsed by youth, if not by the custodians of youth.
Books which include illustrations have existed throughout Australia's publishing history, and examples of these early works are now available on microfiche (Pre-1890 Australian Children's Books (1994), available from the State Library of South Australia). Books which depend for their meaning on illustrations are a more recent development and have become a publishing phenomenon, maturing in the 1970s. This was a time when the mineral boom brought a sense of hope and great prosperity to the country. Australia saw itself as a thriving independent nation, no longer subservient to or dependent on Britain. Coinciding with the general feeling of independence, wealth and prosperity came the development of new lithographic techniques, the removal of import restrictions on books, off-shore printing, cooperation between publishing companies (both nationally and internationally), a diversifying of media and subject matter, a broadening of the audience for picture-books, and the developing influence of visual communication in television and film. High-quality books diverse in subject matter, design and medium intricately explored the subtle interaction between illustration, print and the reader. These trends have been intensified during the 1980s and 1990s as picture books have increasingly been identified as a source of aesthetic interest for child, adolescent and adult. It has, however, been a matter of contention that far too often the picture book section of the Children's Book Council of Australia Book of the Year Award has not been awarded. This has led to the Australian Book Publishers Association Book Design Awards Best-Designed Illustrated Children's Book (from 1969). There is also the Crichton Award (from 1988) for new illustrators in the field of picture books. Through the Macmillan Award (from 1990), one publisher even seeks out unpublished manuscripts for picture books. Titles which have captured the market both nationally and internationally include the alphabet puzzle book Animalia by Graeme Base (1986) and the entertaining family story Possum Magic by Mem Fox and Julie Vivas (1983), with Waltzing Matilda by Desmond Digby (1970) proving to be a significant pictorial representation of the melody. More than half the books now nominated for the book of the year award are picture books with the styles and artistic techniques becoming increasingly sophisticated. Variation in artistic technique and impact is to be found in the detailed pen and ink work of Peter Pavey, the fine cross hatchings of Ron Brooks, the droll characters of Pamela Allen, the quick impressionistic line of Bob Graham, the witty, pointed characters of Terry Denton, the very funny line drawings of Craig Smith, the delicate pastel collage of Patricia Mullins, the robust
painterly drawings of Donna Rawlins, the soft, realistic pastel detail of Jane Tanner, and many more. Robert Ingpen's classical engraving style is probably the best known since he won the coveted Hans Christian Andersen award in 1986. Muir (1977) and Holden (1988) give details of the many active illustrators in Australia.
Collections of original illustrations for children's books have become the subject for curators, exhibitions and sales. A home for Australian children's books and original illustrations was established in 1973 by Joyce and Courtney Oldmeadow at Dromkeen, a rambling old house in rural Victoria, now visited by international visitors who seek exhibitions of historical and contemporary works. Books Illustrated, housed in Melbourne, exhibits contemporary works and offers some for sale. Both places also organise workshops and meetings of authors and artists with visiting public and groups of school children.
Television came to Australia along with the Olympic Games in 1956, yet this medium did not undermine the extraordinary growth of children's literature. The 1960s saw both a qualitative and quantitative increase in the publication of Australian children's literature. Australian publishing houses opened; British publishing houses established Australian branches; printing in Hong Kong and Singapore reduced publication costs; publishers began appointing editors such as Joyce Saxby, Barbara Ker Wilson and Anne Bower Ingram, whose task it was to specialise in children's literature; and the book trade actively began to seek translation of Australian titles. Literary adaptations to film, television, video, hypertext and multimedia continue to be significant features of the 1990s, with the potential demise of the book posing a substantial threat to many in conventional book publishing. Once again, children's literature, its writers, producers, readers and promoters see the need to come to grips with technological change.
Australia was once known critically as ‘white Australia’ as the immigration schemes following the World War I and II accepted immigrants only from the Britain and Europe. The incentive was seen by politicians of the time as: ‘We must populate this country or we will never be able to hold it.’ (Greenwood 1955: 315). The core of government policy was a forced pace of development with the assistance of sponsored migration and land settlement, but at the grass roots level the workers and ordinary suburban people feared the influx of cheap labour at a time when unemployment levels were rising.
This conflict endures, but strenuous efforts are being made to redefine and celebrate national identity through the recognition of difference. Around one hundred different languages plus the Aboriginal languages are now spoken, apart from English; current ideology has moved away from assimilation and endeavours to recognise ‘difference’ within the society and its cultures, and to encourage all to sustain pride in their origins, while making their first commitment to Australia.
How the political and social can motivate the literary can be seen in the evolution of the Multicultural Children's Literature Award, funded by the Office of Multicultural Affairs within the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. In 1990 there were only five titles eligible for the award, but by 1993 this number had grown to forty-nine. Understandings of the concept of multiculturalism differ, but award-winners are those stories in which the different races and cultures merge as a natural course of events, as in Libby Gleeson's Big Dog (1991) where a Vietnamese dragon helps two Australian children overcome their fear of a savage dog. However, most of the multicultural books for youth written in Australia are written by long-resident Anglo-Celtic Australian writers, whose acute observations of cultural mores articulate and try to soften or provide alternative resolutions to the conflicts they observe, and who believe in the capacities of literature to foster respect and knowledge about other cultures. Allan Baillie and Nadia Wheatley are such writers.
The Bibliography of Australian Multicultural Writers (Gunew et al. 1992) lists 900 writers, but very few of these have published for a child audience. David Martin, born in Hungary, is one such writer whose literature for youth is listed alongside his adult publications. Published narratives, written for children by people from within the many different ethnic minority groups are still quite rare: Looking for Alibrandi (1992) by Melina Marchetta explores the subjectivity of a young Italian girl, her family and friends and lays open the conflicts between generations of immigrant Australians. Current trends suggest that such books could be the new growth area for Australian children's literature, particularly as the Access to Excellence Report calls for market research ‘with a view to develop new markets in the literary field within Australia'. (Papastergiadis, Gunew & Blonski 1993: 49)
With at least thirty publishers and more than a thousand active writers and illustrators of children's books in a population of 17.8 million, the competition for the promoters', selectors' and readers' attention is considerable — particularly in a nation where sunshine and outdoor sports dominate the way of life.


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