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Critical Readings in Children and Adolescent’s Literature

Critical Readings in Children and Adolescent’s Literature
The author and his book, in the middle of the authors’ pictures, (From wright ) Sherif Saleh, Lina Huyan Al-Hassan, Parwin Habib and Ashraf Aboul-Yazid, with their publications in children’s literature, which were discussed by Dr. Ibrahim Al-Kufahi, studying

Dr. Ibrahim Al-Kufahi, Professor of literary criticism at the University of Jordan, has authored the book ‘Critical Readings in Children and Adolescent’s Literature’

Book Review

Dar Al-Badil House for Publishing and Distribution recently issued the book “Critical Readings in Children and Adolescent’s Literature,” by the professor of literary criticism at the University of Jordan, Dr. Ibrahim Al-Kufahi, in which he presented twenty-seven literary works, ranging from stories, novels, and poetry collections, by Jordanian and Arab writers, following the approach of presenting content and biography, the writer, his or her literary techniques, and the critical vision of these techniques.

In the introduction to the first edition of the book, the author talked about his connection with children’s and youth literature dating back to the mid-nineties of the twentieth century, when he met the writer (Muhammad Jamal Amr), one of the most prominent innovators and those working in the field of children’s literature and culture in Jordan and the Arab world. He says: “It was for this well-known writer has the greatest credit for his dedication to this literature and his care for it, and it is sufficient for me to point here to what I have benefited from my knowledge of books on his creative experience in particular, and following his efforts in this field, and his constant activity in its various arenas, as well as from my constant visits to his home at that time, (in the Sports City area) in Amman, where it was the meeting place for many of the writers of this art and those involved in its industry, including poets, storytellers, novelists, visual artists, journalists, and publishers; Jordanian and non-Jordanian, as he had strong ties with quite a few Arab writers, and I truly benefited from their conversations about their experiences,  literature, their critical dialogues, and their artistic views, especially since before all of that I had no apparent interest in children’s literature, whether on the creative or critical level, despite its importance in raising generations, the renaissance of societies, and shaping the future of the nation.”

The most prominent thing that the author noticed in that research journey was the extraordinary interest of students in studying this university course and not any other

Dr. Ibrahim Al-Kufahi adds: “My relationship with this literature directed at the childhood stage developed, when I was assigned, in the Department of Arabic Language and Literature at the University of Jordan, to teach the course Children’s Literature: Its Language and Methods,” and without a doubt, this allowed me to be informed in a way of expansion and specialization in the most important aspects of this literature, and to follow the large amount of creative texts and critical studies published here and there… in addition to the books and magazines published, whether on the paper or electronic level.”

Perhaps the most prominent thing that the author noticed in that research journey was the extraordinary interest of students in studying this university course and not any other, despite the competition from many of its courses that they could study because it was an optional course in their general plan to obtain a (Bachelor’s) degree in Arabic Language and Literature, and from what he found out He attempts to explain this phenomenon by elaborating on the feeling among male and female students of the importance of studying this course in particular, especially after asking their peers who have studied it previously about what they benefit from in their lives and future, whether they are fathers and mothers, or teachers and educators.

Dr. Ibrahim Al-Kufahi writes: “From what I heard from most of the students who studied this course, the most important thing they benefited from was that they became proficient in criticizing literary works directed at children at different age levels, in an objective, scientific manner, as they now had the ability to identify the elements of their quality, or its poor quality in terms of content and art within the framework of the theory of children’s literature as crystallized in modern studies, which later qualifies them to select appropriate literary texts for their children at home or for their children in educational institutions, because the texts that are published and presented to this age group are not equal in their suitability and validity. It is known that this group has its own specificity in the literary works presented to it, given its different needs and levels of development, in addition to the acute sensitivity it enjoys in the issue of its acceptance or rejection of what is placed before it to read.

It is observed these days here that there are those publishing literary works for children that are not suitable for them at all

The Jordanian newspaper Al-Rai published a presentation written by its editor, Ibrahim Al-Sawa’ir, which began with the author’s introduction to the book:

Dr. Al-Kufahi said that no one disagrees that literary creativity, in its many forms, is one of the most dangerous means of raising children and preparing generations, which leads to its great effectiveness in forming their personalities, directing their behavior, and enlightening their paths of life, which always requires more attention, follow-up, and continuous evaluation of what to neglect. This literature in particular has harmful repercussions, not only on the child, but also on the entire nation. What is regrettable, for example, is what has become…

It is observed these days here that there are those publishing literary works for children that are not suitable for them at all, if we look at the two well-known foundations of this literature, which are the educational foundation and the stylistic foundation.

Al-Kufahi continued his introduction of the book, which is two hundred and eighty-four pages of average size, by saying that there is no doubt that writing for children is more difficult than writing for adults, contrary to what many people imagine who began to enter the field of this literature, while they lacked the necessary preparation and equipment, which is what explains it. We have seen many bad things in the markets that harm the child’s taste, language, mind, and behavior. In this context, it must be pointed out the shortcomings of the criticism movement that is supposed to keep pace with literary works in this field, such that they are received in light of the critical standards specific to this literature, and these works are judged as good or bad, far from false compliments and deceptive praise. It is not useful to remain… Criticism revolves around theorizing of children’s literature without focusing this attention on the creative achievement, and trying to judge it, by explaining what it has and what it is.

Hence comes this work, which falls within the framework of Dr. Al-Kufahi’s critical follow-up of some of the literary works of fiction, stories, and poetry directed at the children and young readers, which are published here and there in a number of Arab countries, where these works are being enlightened from both sides: the content and the artistic; this is in order to achieve two fundamental goals of great importance: raising the level of literary creation and composition presented to this category of recipients, then enabling educators, including parents, male and female teachers, to select creative works appropriate to the different stages of childhood.

The selected works were characterized by their diversity in purpose, content, style, and artistic techniques, as well as the objectivity of the Al-Kufahi critic in exposing errors, linguistic weakness, or informational insufficiency in the work.

In his critical reading, Dr. Al-Kufahi did not stop only at aesthetics, astonishment, suspense, and other artistic conditions that are embodied in these works, but rather he revealed many errors in this or that work, such as criticizing profanity and common language that is not consistent with our culture and the culture of children. Pointing out the presence of a contradiction that spoils the child’s linguistic taste or a discrepancy in the fluidity of the poetic language, or a failure to find the appropriate rhythm and the occurrence of apparent musical imbalances, and pointing to cognitive errors in dates and cognitive and informational work related to it.

Covers of books discussed

In the novel “I am Salma” by the Syrian writer Lina Huyan Al-Hassan, we read the importance of the novel in motivating and encouraging young people to develop their creative talents and challenge the obstacles that stand in the way of achieving their future dreams, through the character of Salma, who seeks to become the author of a fairy tale, as the work came in the form of a biography. Subjective, let us read a tribute to the level of artistic maturity and the ability to imagine, cast, plot, and identify with the events of the narrative text and its characters.

On the symbolic level, the story depicts human suffering on the path to success, as Dr. Al-Kufahi refers to the writer’s imagination energy and the metaphorical, similar, and descriptive images.

As for the novel “The Sun Will Rise, Even After a While,” by Jordanian writer Taghreed Arif Al-Najjar, it is inspired by the events of the recent war on Syria, and falls within the framework of the author’s care to provide examples of the smart, courageous girl.

The narration came in an interesting way, and the story developed according to the developing course of events, noting the ease, flow, and smoothness of the language and its suitability for the age group, the use of colloquial language in circulation and the use of words common to young people, the fluctuation between the narration style and the dialogue style and the use of paper and electronic message technology and the cinematic cutting style.

In the story “The Lost Duck and the Hungry Wolves” by the Lebanese writer Wafaa Al-Husseini, we are raising children’s awareness of the dangers of staying away from home without asking permission from their families or accompanying an adult. The story was noted in the style of assonance, the aesthetics of the work, and the use of short sentences appropriate to the child’s ability to comprehend and understand, and the use of dialogue between animal characters.

In the story “The Emerald Garden” by the Moroccan writer Raja Mallah, the work seeks to document the children’s relationship with their parents, their grandparents, and their places of upbringing. It also highlights the style of biographical narration in the first person, and the work is enriched with positive behavioral values and patterns, affirming the value of life and cognitive curiosity, in sound and sober language.

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The narration takes place in the first person so that the child identifies with the characters. The dream technique was also employed, the use of metaphorical images and similes, and the expansion of the child’s imagination and the ability of the text to draw with words, through artistic images and the use of some amazing exotic scenes.

In the novel “The Pear of Milan” by the Lebanese author and translator Fatima Sharaf al-Din, the work aims to warn young girls of the danger of developing anorexia nervosa, or anorexia nervosa, resulting from excessive diet, and to treat this through the story, as the novel is interesting and full of exciting details and psychological and external conflicts.

The written work was in a smooth language inlaid in its eloquent fabric with quite a few words and structures derived from the dictionary of the Arab youth daily trader. The style of dialogue, both internal and external, was used, and the technique of dreams and nightmares, paper and electronic messages was used, and the notebook on the mobile phone was used.

In the novel “Digital Bridge” by the Egyptian writer Michel Hanna, as a novel that mixes reality and science fiction; highlighting the beauty of digital knowledge from the novel’s stories and warns young people against the consequences of falling victim to hackers or the harmful uses of digital technology, and a call not to abandon real friends in favor of virtual friends.

The novel is derived from the dictionary of the digital youth world and the exciting story is based on technological challenges, conflict between characters, adventures, and amazing miraculous events. The writer employed the questioning method, the dream technique, and the recipient’s dialogue method, and the energy of imagination was activated.

In the novel “The Ogre and the Blackberry Tree” by the Emirati writer Nusayba Hussein Al-Azibi, the work deals with the problem of young people who develop a strong tendency towards evil, aggression and hatred towards others, due to the painful social conditions they have experienced, and aims to make the young recipient aware of his important role in changing his peers who seem tey have an evil tendency.

The novel has tremendous suspenseful energy, and contains messages and linguistic and artistic methods that have played a role to attract the emerging reader. The novel has a diversity of main characters between humans and plants, a mixture of realistic and miraculous events, a diagnosis of the plant world, the use of internal and external dialogue, the dream technique, and the use of artistic images, multiple methods, launching the emerging recipient’s imagination and stimulating his senses and perceptions.

In the novel “My Cat Writes a Book” by the Egyptian poet and novelist Ashraf Aboul-Yazid, we find a mixture of reality and science fiction, and the result of the work is in understanding and communication between humans and pets.

The novel is full of excitement and suspense, and is classified among science fiction novels that believe in the possibility of science and its ability to solve many of the dilemmas that humans face. The title seemed strange. The characters were chosen from the worlds of humans and pets. The text also included exciting events and adventures.

The writer used the questioning method to identify the problem. The narration was also enriched with some short poetic tales, and the writer also used the art of letters.

The Egyptian storyteller and novelist Abdel Hakim Mahmoud’s novel “Amira’s Tales” narrates success and distinction and educates young people about their clear vision of their dreams and future aspirations.

The narration in this novel was told in the “I” conscience and in an easy language that suited the cognitive and perceptual levels of its age group. The novel was also divided into short chapters, with a dialogue of both internal and external types. The writer used the mnemonic technique, the debate method was employed, and it stimulated the child’s imagination.

In the story “Ghaftan” by Emirati writer Nadia Al-Najjar, the benefits of trees for humans, birds, animals, and insects were introduced, as well as loyalty to the homeland.

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The story was characterized by suspense, soundness and control of the language, and the humanization of trees, birds, and animals. The method of dialogue was also used and the story of voices was employed.

In the story “How the Owl Lost its Beak” by the Saudi poet and journalist Ali Al-Sabaan, we read the consequences of haste in confronting matters and making decisions, as an entertaining and attractive story with a sober language that bestows human qualities on birds.

In the work, it alternates between narration and dialogue, stimulating the child’s imagination, and employing to tell the story of bird sounds.

As for the story “The Story of a Paper” by the Syrian writer and director Ubadah Takla, it aims to encourage children to enter school and practice paper and electronic writing activities. The narration was in the third person on the basis of a tight plot suitable for the child, and the work was characterized by the vitality of the text.

In the collection “The Sun Laughs,” the Syrian poet and writer Bayan Al-Safadi succeeded in introducing the collection’s contents, such as the plane, the paper, the wall, the ladder, the beach, the spike, and the stone.

The collection aims to establish the child’s future life on the basis of an effective positive balance.

In the story “A Warm Colorful Journey” by the Syrian writer Doha Jawad, we face the goal of making the book endearing to the child, with the story’s tight plot, sequence of events, suspense for the child, and the appeal of the title. Human and animal characters, and the real and imaginary worlds, are also mixed together.

As for the novel “Smoothie the Adventurer” by the Omani poet and novelist Badriya Al-Badri, it presented the disease “Arlen Syndrome” or Dark Sensitivity Syndrome, to show how dangerous it is psychologically, socially and educationally, as a hereditary genetic disease.

The novel came in the form of memories flowing to the conscience of the first person, and within a tight plot and an alternation between the two styles; narration and dialogue, and an interest in sharpening the reader’s imagination.

In the novel “The Puzzle of the Glass Ball” by the Syrian writer Maria Dadoush, the problem of children’s addiction to electronic games, and the resulting isolation and self-absorption, was addressed, as the writer focused on the exciting narrative, activating the child’s mind and sharpening his thinking energy, and using appropriate artistic images, the style of internal and external dialogue, as well as the style of rhetoric, and the use of words from the child’s dictionary.

As for the novel “My Name is All the Names of Trees,” by Emirati writer Nadia Al Kalbani, it aims to stimulate the human feeling and aesthetic sense of Arab youth to integrate them socially, as a fun and exciting story that includes the energy of imagination and poetic and lyrical texts, and in which artistic images are used. Employing some popular songs, message methods, deletion, repetition, and dividing paragraphs.

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In the novel “What We Do Not See” by Bahraini writer Shaima Al Watani, we are faced with the goal of removing young people from their electronic worlds, preparing them to enter the field of work, and entering the battlefield of public life, where linguistic and stylistic means were employed, and the narration was in the first person, and the reader was provoked by the title and the use of the interpenetration method. The storyteller, the style of internal and external dialogue, are employing the questioning technique and charging the work with the energy of imagination.

As for the story “You Are Not Alone” by the Syrian storyteller Rami Tawil, the writer presents the problem of the only child of his parents, and what he may suffer in his social environment, and in the work he uses the technique of questioning, diagnostic images, and internal and external dialogue.

In the story “My Grandpa and WhatsApp” by Bahraini writer and media personality Barween Habib (Parween Habib), the goal was to direct new generations of children to a healthy and balanced relationship with the mobile phone. The story is interesting, and the style of dialogue was used in it.

In the novel “Einstein-  Secrets of Piece 99” by the Egyptian writer Sherif Saleh, the goal was to present a condensed biography of the scientist Einstein and his human ideas, in marriage, religion, and others, as well as his physical ideas, and his most important modern ideas.

The novel was loaded with lessons, and scientific and educational sayings, as a work classified as a science fiction novel. The method of narrative interweaving, electronic messages, and press and television news was employed, and the end of the work was an open ending.

The story “My Father’s Mantle” by the Kuwaiti author Bassem Al-Wazzan came to enhance the human side of the child, as the events of the story are sequenced in an interesting manner, with sober language. The style of memories was also employed, relying on the style of pictorial irony, and the use of the style of dialogue, both external and internal, as well as the use of childhood games.

Finally, the story “I’m Looking for Something” by the Lebanese writer Sahar Naja Mahfouz, which sharpens the child’s taste and refines his movements in his daily life inside the home, by directing him to some good etiquette and fine behavioral patterns.

The narrative text was fun and exciting, and the end of the text was open, and the text was stimulating for the child’s senses.





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