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Irony in Children's Lit

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I've been thinking a lot lately about irony in stories and how it relates to children's lit today. There are a lot of classic examples of irony, like Shakespeare's plays and Huck Finn, but I was trying to think of more recent uses of irony in literature, particularly for kids and teens.

So I'm throwing this out to my fellow blueboarders to see what kinds of examples of irony you can think of in recent kidlit. I was thinking most specifically along the lines of dramatic irony, but I wouldn't mind hearing example of other types of irony.

Thanks!  :hangloose
#1 - July 25, 2011, 01:24 PM
Katie L. Carroll

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SERIES OF UNFORTUNATE EVENTS is basically entirely predicated on "getting" dramatic irony.

A teacher told me once that about age 9 is when kids start to get it. Which is why a kid over 9 years old tends to think of the books as cool or possibly funny - a kid under 9 may think of them as actually scary.
#2 - July 25, 2011, 03:31 PM
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You can see a good bit of what I'd called "visual irony" in picture books--where the text says one thing and the illustrations show something that contradicts the text. I know there are more recent examples, but my favorite is from 20 years ago or so--Slobcat by Paul Geraghty, about a cat whose actions undermine his family's belief that he is a lazy cat...
#3 - July 25, 2011, 07:50 PM
Harold Underdown

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I also had a picture book first come to mind - a series of them, actually, the LARUE books by Mark Teague. LaRue's very fanciful, desperate, theatrical descriptions of his circumstances are completely at odds with the events depicted in the illustrations.
#4 - July 25, 2011, 08:01 PM

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Thanks for the great examples! I hadn't thought of Series of Unfortunate Events in that way, but now that you mention it, it seems pretty obvious. And I'll definitely have to check out the PB examples (I love Mark Teague).

Anyone else have any suggestions?
#5 - July 26, 2011, 07:00 AM
Katie L. Carroll

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Depends on what sort of irony you're talking about (and I have to admit, irony confuses me), but I'd say that M.T. Anderson's FEED has brilliant examples of dramatic irony, like in the chapter where the characters think they're putting one past the company that's trying to get them to repeat its logo (or something like that) and then, without any recognition of what they're doing, they all get thirsty for the drink and go buy it. They never get that the corporation has won, but the reader understands it.
#6 - July 26, 2011, 04:03 PM

I thought Hunger Games had dramatic irony, the audience knows Peeta is really in love with Katniss, Katniss thinks he's playing to the audience.
#7 - July 26, 2011, 05:07 PM
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(and I have to admit, irony confuses me)

Me too!

I definitely think the examples from Feed and The Hunger Games are good. Thanks, rab and bethany.
#8 - July 27, 2011, 07:07 AM
Katie L. Carroll

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Some other picture books featuring irony:

In John Scieszka’s THE FROG PRINCE, CONTINUED, the couple do not live happily ever after; the Prince is miserable, misses the pond, and decides to find a witch to turn him back into a frog.

In FREDERICK, by Leo Lionni, while the other mice gather food for the winter, Frederick daydreams the summer away. But when winter comes, it’s Frederick the poet-mouse who warms his friends and cheers them with his words.

In THE THREE LITTLE WOLVES AND THE BIG BAD PIG, by Trivizas & Oxenbury, the three little wolves build progressively more fortress-like dwellings until—on a whim—they weave a house out of flowers. The fragrance so intoxicates and tames the pig that they all live happily ever after.

In my own picture book, OTTO GROWS DOWN, Otto makes a birthday wish that his baby sister was never born. In doing so he reverses time, grows down, and nearly annihilates himself.
#9 - July 27, 2011, 11:24 AM
DUCKWORTH, THE DIFFICULT CHILD (Atheneum, 2019)
INCOGNOLIO (Janx Press, 2017)
CRASHING EDEN  (Solstice, 2012)
OTTO GROWS DOWN (Sterling, 2009)

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I'm currently reading ENDER'S GAME by Orson Scott Card, and I think it has some good examples, because the reader is privy to Ender's thoughts and the conversations of the people who are manipulating him.
#10 - July 29, 2011, 09:54 AM

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