Is Anglophone children’s literature a literature of questions or a questionable literature? Both, apparently, if we take cue from these two strong studies. Joe Sutliff Sanders’s A Literature of Questions refers more specifically to nonfiction for children, historically understood as a literature of facts or answers. The best such material, Sanders avers, invites interrogative reading rather than insisting on its own authority and sufficiency. Whereas Sanders emphasizes the progressive energies of nonfiction, Nel pushes in the other direction, calling out structural racism in and around children’s literature and in solidarity with initiatives like Black Lives Matter.

A Literature of Questions is the first long study of children’s nonfiction and quite timely in our moment of alternative facts. It’s terrific scholarship. Sanders isn’t content to argue that good nonfiction invites questions more than answers; rather, he asserts that nonfiction does this especially well,...

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