Cover of Touch Magic by Jane Yolen

Touch Magic

Subtitled “Fantasy, Faerie, and Folklore in the Literature of Childhood,” this small book of essays was first my position papers for the EdD I never quite got. Originally published in hardcover by Philomel and then brought out a few years later in a trade paperback, this book of essays has become well identified with me. And the phrase, “Touch magic, pass it on” shows up in the oddest places. After five years out of print, the book in an expanded and revised edition has been reissued by the folklore publisher, August House. The new section is called “Touchstones” and has six new essays: “Fabling to the Near Night,” “Killing the Other,” “Throwing Shadows,” “Literature As a Social Disease,” the eponymous “Touchstones,” “An Experiential Act,” and an updated and revised Preface.

What reviewers have said:

  • “This revision of a classic collection of historical and analytical essays explores the use of fantasy and fairytales in children’s literature. … Authorative, eloquent, and fetching, her observations focus on traditional tales that have passed down through generations and been altered in the process. … This book will be prized by teachers, authors, students, and all readers who value the use of folklore, mythology, and the familiar stories of youth. A pleasure to read; highly recommended.” — Library Journal
  • “… thought-provoking perspectives on reading and appreciating fantasy … The new selections complement the older pieces nicely, and, of course, they are filled with personal anecdote and informed by Yolen’s strong voice, extensive knowledge, and obvious love of her subject. Where the original pieces provided a raison d’etre for passing along traditional stories to children and lent insight into the genre, the new ones are rich with opinion on thorny contemporary issues–among them, the cultural stereotypes and “hidden messages” that are passed on in traditional tales. In the final selection, Yolen reiterates the importance of folklore to both children and adults, reflecting on the way we use its metaphors to connect us to our past and our future.” — Booklist.
  • “The original edition, out of print for five years, was a standard resource for the educators, storytellers, and librarians who are certain to welcome the book’s return in this refurbished form”. — Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books
  • “Yolen’s writing is lucid and compelling as she makes a strong and undeniable case for continuing to perpetuate folk tales, fairy tales and preserve our sense of story — thus keeping magic alive in the world. Thanks to August House, even more people will be touching magic and passing it on.” — Rambles
  • “As always, the wordplay, quotations, and language are remarkable … And Yolen’s ending–her definition of what story is … is a breathtaking image in itself.” — Journal of Children’s Literature