Snow Angels and Monarch Butterflies: Margaret Laurence’s Children’s Fiction


  • Nora Foster Stovel University of Winnipeg


In lieu of an abstract, here an excerpt from this article: Margaret Laurence is so famous for her Manawaka cycle of adult fiction—The Stone Angel (1964), A Jest of God (1966), The Fire-Dwellers (1969), A Bird in the House (1970), and The Diviners (1974)—that most people who read her work are not aware that she also published four books for children: Jason’s Quest in 1970, Six Darn Cows and The Olden Days Coat in 1979, and The Christmas Birthday Story in 1980. Strangely, her four children’s books have been virtually ignored by critics—strangely because her adult fiction is so much studied. Janet Lunn begins her 2001 essay, “To Find Refreshment in Writing Children’s Books: A Note on Margaret Laurence’s Writing for Children,” with this condemnation: “Margaret Laurence wrote four books for children. The only thing that is interesting about them is that she wrote them at all. They might be called a footnote to her adult fiction and criticism, but they are not really even that. They are irrelevant, not only to Laurence’s larger body of work, but to the larger body of literature for children in Canada” (145). I disagree with Lunn’s opinion: not only is Laurence’s children’s fiction relevant to her adult fiction, as I hope to demonstrate here, but it also makes a significant contribution to Canadian children’s literature.