Elsie Dinsmore, the first book in a late 19th century children’s series, is unique because it had not been adapted, just reprinted, until 1999. It is also unique in the setting, the mythic Southern plantation life of the 1850s. The 1999 edition ameliorated what is now recognized as racist language based on the images of the minstrelsy tradition, though consonant with the views of the time period. However, the deep structure of the story—its dependence on the plantation myth, its belief in the basic inferiority of African Americans, and its acceptance of slavery as compatible with Christianity—is not changed. The new edition is a comment on the publishing industry’s disregard of racial history and the importance of context for understanding literature.
This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Subscribe to journal
Immediate online access to all issues from 2019. Subscription will auto renew annually.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
John Abbott (1859) Stories of Rainbow and Lucky Harper & Brothers New York
Louisa May Alcott (1865) Little Women Lippincott New York
Michael Apple (1988) Teachers and Texts: A Political Economy of Class and Gender Relations in Education Routledge New York
Helen Bannerman (1899) The Story of Little Black Sambo Lippincott Philadelphia
Helen Bannerman Christopher Bing (2003) The Story of Little Black Sambo Handprint Books New York
Helen Bannerman Fred Marcellini (1996) The Story of Little Babaji HarperCollins New York
John Baugh (1983/2004) “Black street speech: Its history, structure, and survival” R.L. Jackson (Eds) African American Communication & Identities EditionNumberII Thousand Oaks Sage 89–101
Bogle Donald (1993/2004) “Black beginnings: From Uncle Tom’s Cabin to The Birth of a Nation” R.L. Jackson (Eds) African American Communication & Identities EditionNumberII Thousand Oaks Sage 281–290
Mingshui Cai Rudine Sims-Bishop (1994) “Multicultural literature for children: Towards a clarification of the concept” H.Dyson Anne Genishi Celia (Eds) The Need for Story: Cultural Diversity in Classroom and Community NCTE Urbana, IL 57–71
Christian, Nicole M., “Some things are too tainted to get second chances”, Detroit Free Press, Jan. 29, 2004.
Cullen, Dan, “National figures show independents hold market share in a flat market”, retrieved from http://news.bookweb.org/news/1410.html, May 01, 2003.
Davis, Rachel, “Booksellers profit as religious authors go mainstream”, The Florida Times-Union, July 26, 2001.
J.L. Dillard (Eds) (1975) Perspectives on Black English Mouton & Co., 1975; Berlin: Walter De Gruyter, Inc. The Hague, The Netherlands
Martha Finley (1868) Elsie Dinsmore Dodd, Mead, and Co. New York
Martha Finley (1868/1997) Elsie Dinsmore Holly Hall Elkton, MD
Goncalves, Wade Knox, “Little Black Sambo and the legacy of image in African American literature for children”, paper presented at the The Annual Conference and Exhibit of The Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, Baltimore, MD, 1994.
Gray, Beverly J., “The Friends of Freedom Society Ohio Underground Railroad Association”, retrieved from http://www.ohioundergroundrailroad.org/south.htm, March 23, 2004.
Daniel D. Hade (2002) ArticleTitle“Storyselling: Are publishers changing the way children read?” The Horn Book Magazine 5 IssueIDLXXVIII 509–517
Joel Chandler Harris (1881) Uncle Remus: His Songs and His Sayings, the Folklore of the Old Plantation D. Appleton and Company New York
Joel Chandler Harris (1903) Told by Uncle Remus: New Stories of the Old Plantation. Grosset & Dunlap New York
Violet J. Harris (1993) “African-American children’s literature: The first one hundred years” T. Perry J. Fraser (Eds) Freedom’s Plow: Teaching in the Multicultural Classroom Routledge New York 167–181
Hochwald, Lambeth, “Little book, big controversy”, Publishers Weekly, July 29, 1996, 32.
Peter Hollindale (1992) “Ideology and the children’s book” Peter Hunt (Eds) Literature for Children: Contemporary Criticism Routledge London
Johnson, Deirdre, “19th century girls series”, retrieved from http://www.readseries.com, January 10, 2004.
Kress, Michael, “Slicing the market pie”, Publishers Weekly, March 27, 2000, 16.
Julius Lester (1987) The Tales of Uncle Remus: The Adventures of Brer Rabbit Dial Books New York
Julius Lester (1988) ArticleTitle“The storyteller’s voice: Reflections on the rewriting of Uncle Remus” The New Advocate 1.3 143–147
Julius Lester (1996) Sam and theTigers: A New Telling of Little Black Sambo Illustrated by Jerry Pinkney Dial Books for Young Readers New York
Lewis, Clyde Staples, On three ways of writing for children,in Only Connect: Readings on Children‘s Literature, 2nd edn. Sheila Egoff et al., eds., pp. 207-220. New York: Oxford University Press, 1952/1980; In Of This and Other Worlds, Walter Hooper, ed.. London: Collins, 1982.
Eric Lott Theft Love (1995) Blackface Minstrelsy and the American Working Class Oxford University Press New York
MacCann, Donnarae. The White Supremacy Myth in Juvenile Books about Blacks, 1830–1900. Unpublished PhD Dissertation, The University of Iowa, 1988.
Margaret Mackey (1988) ArticleTitle “Little women go to market: Shifting texts and changing readers” Children’s Literature in Education 29. 3 153–173
Micki McElya (2003) Monumental Citizenship: Reading the Mammy Memorial: Controversy of the Early Twentieth Century New York University New York
InstitutionalAuthorNameMission City Press (1999) Elsie’s Endless Wait (Vol 1) Mission City Press Franklin, TN
Maria Nikolajeva (1996) Children’s Literature Comes of Age: Toward a New Aesthetic Garland Publishing, Inc. New York
Perry Nodelman (1996) The Pleasures of Children’s Literature Longman’s Publishing New York
Repplier, Agnes, “Little pharisees in fiction”, Scribner’s Magazine, Dec., 1896.
Richardson, Gary, ed. Zonderkidz, personal communication, 2001.
David Roediger (1991/1999) The Wages of Whiteness: Race and Making of the American Working Class, revised edn Verso New York
J.K. Rowling (1998) Harry Potter Scholastic New York
Segel, Elizabeth, “As the twig is bent”: Gender and childhood: Essays on readers, texts, and contexts, in Gender and Reading, E. A. Flynn and P. P. Schweikart, eds., pp. 165--186. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1986.
Sekeres, Diane Carver, The profit motive and the prophet‘s message: multiculturalism in Christian children‘s literature. Unpublished PhD Dissertation, The University of Georgia, 2003.
STATS. Christian Publishing Trends Report - 2002.
John Stephens Robyn McCallum (Eds) (1988) Retelling Stories Framing Culture: Traditional Story and Metanarratives in Children’s Literature Garland Publishing, Inc New York
Robert Louis Stevenson (1883) Treasure Island Cassell & Co New York
Harriet Beecher Stowe (1852) Uncle Tom’s Cabin; or Life Among the Lowly John P. Jewett & Co Boston
Harriet Beecher Stowe (1853) A Key to Uncle Tom’s Cabin; Presenting the Original Facts and Documents upon which the Story is Founded together with Corroborative Statements Verifying the Truth of the Work John P. Jewett & Co Boston
Joel Taxel (2002) ArticleTitleChildren’s literature at the turn of the century: Toward a political economy of the publishing industry Research in the Teaching of English 37.2 146–198
Mildred Taylor (1977) ArticleTitle“Newbery award acceptance” The Horn Book Magazine 53 401–409
Patricia A. Turner (1994) Ceramic Uncles & Celluloid Mammies: Black Images and Their Influence on Culture Anchor Books New York
Mark Twain (1876) The Adventures of Tom Sawyer American Publishing Co Hartford, CT
Mark Twain D.S. Laiken (2002) The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (Great Illustrated Classics) Abdo & Daughters Edina, MN
Willis, Christian, “Song of the South”, retrieved from http://www.songofthesouth.net/home.html, February 22, 2004.
Wilson, Florence, “Faces we seldom see: The author of the Elsie books”, Ladies’ Home Journal, April, 1893, n.p.
Johann David Wyss (1832) The Swiss Family Robinson, or, Adventures of a Father and Mother and Four Sons on a Desert Island J. & J. Harper New York
About this article
Cite this article
Sekeres, D.C. Renewed but not Redeemed: Revising Elsie Dinsmore. Child Lit Educ 36, 15–39 (2005). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10583-004-2187-9
- 19th century children’s literature
- racism in children’s literature
- adaptations of children’s literature