Danijela Petković

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Manlove, and Andrew O’Malley, the first part of the paper historicizes the relatively recent cultural connection of children and fairy tales, specifically, the mobilization of fairy tales as vehicles for the lessons directed at the young. Against this background, in the second part of the paper, two contemporary children’s fantasy novels, Terry Pratchett’s The Wee Free Men (2003) and Patrick Ness’s A Monster Calls (2011), are examined. The discussion of the two novels focuses on their critical attitudes towards classic fairy tales and the lessons aimed at children, which range from the promotion of unquestioning obedience and patriarchal gender stereotypes, to the normalization of social stratification and the assumption of a happy end. Pratchett and Ness, however, do not merely expose the problematic instructions of classic fairy tales; as twenty-first century fantasy and children’s books authors, they also write new ones. A Monster Calls and The Wee Free Men thus both subvert and appropriate the didactic aspects of the genre, in order to educate their (young) readers on the crucial matters of life, death, grief, justice, and duty.


didacticism, fairy tales, Patrick Ness, Terry Pratchett, witches

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