37 pages 1 hour read

William Steig

Abel's Island

Fiction | Novel | Middle Grade | Published in 1976

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Literary Context: William Steig’s Use of Anthropomorphism

Anthropomorphism is a literary technique where authors imbue animals or other nonhuman beings with humanlike qualities. A popular feature of children's literature, the low fantasy genre’s use of well-mannered animals, bugs, and reptiles creates a sense of whimsy and magic that captivates young readers and sparks their imaginations. Young readers can envision a world where anything is possible, including talking animals. Anthropomorphism, however, does more than entertain. Authors experiment with blurring the lines between the human and animal world and create rich narratives that explore universal themes of loneliness, fear, and self-discovery. Author and illustrator William Steig teaches readers about the complexities of the human condition through animal characters who experience humanlike emotions and come alive on the page through his vivid descriptions and captivating illustrations.

In his most famous works, Abel’s Island, Doctor De Soto, and Sylvester and the Magic Pebble, Steig presents readers with animal characters who have rich emotional lives and experience feelings of love, despair, and joy that resonate with the human experience. Anthropomorphism invites readers to empathize with characters who may look different from them but who experience the same fears and doubts. For example, as Abel is stranded on the island and separated from his wife,

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