Archive for April, 2012


Adventures in Comp. Exam Prep

April 12, 2012

Why, hello there friends!

Long time, no blog. I know, I know, it’s been ages. And while I’m not one for excuses, boy do I ever have a good excuse…

For the past four months I have been preparing for my Graduate Comprehensive Exam. What’s this I speak of? Well, to complete my Graduate studies, and receive my Masters in Children’s Literature, I must either spend my final semester working on a 75 page thesis or, on May 12th, take a big hairy scary written exam (6 prompts, 3 essays, 6 hours).

What is the difference? Well, a thesis is on something very specific (Historical Fiction written for females in the 1930s, for example), whereas the test could very well be on anything so you have to study pretty much everything. A thesis is the ideal choice for one who plans to continue one’s education by pursuing their PhD (because PhD’s are all about learning everything there is to know on a very very concentrated subject). But to be frank, I’m kind of sick of school (I mean I’ve been at it for nearly twenty years now, you’d want a break too!). And I’m ready to join the work-force; hopefully, of the children’s publishing variety. Thus, I figured the test would be best for me, so I could graduate with a very expansive understanding of Children’s Literature.

Now, I’ve already briefly explained what the test entails. 6 prompts, 3 essays, 6 hours. This means that on the morning of May 12th I will walk into a computer lab and I will be handed two possible prompts. I will then select one of those prompts and write a [hopefully brilliant] essay answering said prompt in 2 hours. Then I repeat that two more times. Sounds SUPER fun, right?

But what will these possible prompts entail? Why, only the 45 stories that I have been slogging my way through for the past four months, of course! As stated, the questions could be on anything (time, sanity, insanity, individuality, masculinity, femininity, violence, romantic love, personal growth, family, power structures, etc.), but they will reference any number of titles from the list below. But, I haven’t just been reading these books, I’ve been studying the living daylights out of them: researching critical scholarly essays, author bios, historical contexts, relevant literary movements, themes, motifs, symbols, the list goes on and on…

So, I give you the 45 tales that I have grown to like, love, or throw across the room. Most are children’s titles, but we were also given a smattering of American Lit, British Lit, and Comparative Lit texts to study as well.

  • Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland | Lewis Carroll
  • The Adventures of Tom Sawyer | Mark Twain
  • The Wind in the Willows | Kenneth Grahame
  • The Wonderful Wizard of Oz | L. Frank Baum
  • Robinson Crusoe | Daniel Defoe
  • Heidi | Joanna Spyri
  • The Tale of Peter Rabbit | Beatrix Potter
  • The Cat in the Hat | Dr. Seuss
  • Where the Wild Things Are | Maurice Sendak
  • Charlotte’s Web | E.B. White
  • The Mouse and his Child | Russell Hoban
  • Kitchen | Banana Yoshimoto
  • Weetzie Bat | Francesca Lia Bloch
  • Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry | Mildred Taylor
  • The House on Mango Street | Sandra Cisneros
  • Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone | J.K. Rowling
  • “The Sleeping Beauty in the Woods” | Charles Perrault
  • “Little Red Riding-hood” | Charles Perrault
  • “Blue Beard” | Charles Perrault
  • “Cinderella, or The Little Glass Slipper” | Charles Perrault
  • “Beauty & the Beast” | Madame Le Prince de Beaumont
  • “Snow-white” | The Brother’s Grimm
  • “The Frog Prince” | The Brother’s Grimm
  • “Hansel and Grethel” | The Brother’s Grimm
  • “Aschenputtel” | The Brother’s Grimm
  • “Rapunzel” | The Brother’s Grimm
  • “The Sleeping Beauty” | The Brother’s Grimm
  • “The Snow Queen” | Hans Christian Andersen
  • “The Little Mermaid” | Hans Christian Andersen
  • “The Princess and the Pea” | Hans Christian Andersen
  • “The Little Match Girl” | Hans Christian Andersen
  • “The Swineherd” | Hans Christian Andersen
  • “The Emperor’s New Clothes” | Hans Christian Andersen
  • “The Ugly Duckling” | Hans Christian Andersen
  • “Jack and the Beanstalk” | Joseph Jacobs
  • “Molly Whuppie” | Joseph Jacobs
  • Selected poems by Emily Dickinson
  • Selected poems by Walt Whitman
  • Beloved | Toni Morrison
  • Hamlet  | William Shakespeare
  • Othello | William Shakespeare
  • Gulliver’s Travels | Jonathan Swift
  • Emma | Jane Austen
  • The Odyssey | Homer, trans. Robert Fagles
  • One Hundred Years of Solitude | Gabriel García Márquez

How many of these have you read??

And please, send me LOTS of happy thoughts on May 12th!