Children’s literature has always been heavily influenced by the local and national climate in which it is produced, the birth of this literature having coincided in many places with the formation of the nation-state. Over the last 50 years, however, the effects of globalization have radically transformed the relationship between authors and their markets, and a new tension has arisen in children’s texts between the local and the global. Celebrating commonality across boundaries while simultaneously safeguarding the tutelage of cultural heritage can be particularly difficult, especially when (as is the case with Venice) that heritage has been singled out by UNESCO as being under threat. This essay undertakes a close reading of three 21st-century fantasies for children set in Venice: Mary Hoffman’s Stravaganza: City of Masks
, Laura Walter’s Mistica Maeva e l’anello di Venezia
, and Michelle Lovric’s The Undrowned Child
, all of which have been translated into other languages and reached audiences far beyond their places of origin. It asks what we mean when we speak about cultural heritage conservation in children’s literature today and the extent to which the preservation of Venice’s cultural heritage is being depicted in this literature as a transnational phenomenon.
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