Thursday, December 23, 2010

Rufus M.

I spent a most happy day today working on a scholarly paper on Rufus M., by Eleanor Estes, published in 1943; I'm submitting the paper to the annual conference of the Children's Literature Association conference, to be held this year at Hollins University in Roanoke, Virginia, this coming June. Abstracts for submitted papers are due January 15, but I have another scholarly paper due in January as well, so I wanted to get at least one of them done before Christmas. And what more fun way to spend the day before Christmas Eve?

My whole career as a children's literature scholar has been spent writing papers on books I loved as a child. There is no other unifying focus to my published children's literature papers - now numbering almost twenty - except for the common theme of writing about books I loved as a child, though I guess I also try to focus on ethical or philosophical themes in the books, where I can. I've written papers on the Betsy-Tacy books, on the Little House books, on The Secret Garden, on the Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle books, and three papers now on Eleanor Estes:

“‘Good in the way witches enjoy being good’: The Reality of Morality in Eleanor Estes’s The Witch Family,” The Lion and the Unicorn, vol. 34, no. 3 (September 2010): 320-32

From Individual to Community: The Shifting Moral Subject in The Middle Moffat and The Alley by Eleanor Estes,” Children’s Literature Association Quarterly, vol. 35, no. 1 (Spring 2010): 55-71

"Artistic and Moral Imagination in The Hundred Dresses by Eleanor Estes," Children's Literature in Education, vol. 33, no. 3 (September 2002): 167-74

If my Rufus M. paper gets published, it will make number four. From my fairly extensive search of the scholarly literature in the field, I have learned that nobody else has written more than ONE paper on Eleanor Estes. This makes me, I can say in all honesty, the most prolific and prominent Eleanor Estes scholar in the world. In the world! And Eleanor Estes is a pretty important figure of twentieth century children's literature, in my opinion, winner of the Newbery Medal for Ginger Pye and of three Newbery honors, for The Middle Moffat, Rufus M., and The Hundred Dresses. But nobody but me seems to have written much about her.

It's fun to be the foremost something in the world. And even more fun if you can be it simply by writing about something you love.


  1. I love Eleanor Estes, and her book, THE ONE HUNDRED DRESSES is on my list of favorites. I'm glad you wrote about her, and my fingers are crossed that it will be published. xx

  2. I can't wait to be in the audience for this paper!