Monday, February 28, 2011

Shaun Tan Wins Academy Award

Shaun Tan won an Academy Award for best animated short. Tan took an Oscar for "The Lost Thing," based on his picture book with the same title. You can see that film here:

For a primer on Tan's picture books, look here:

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Joseph Thomas on Shel Silverstein

The spring issue of The Children's Literature Association Quarterly features an essay by SDSU's resident poetry expert Joseph Thomas. His piece primarily concerns the various versions of Silverstein's Uncle Shelby’s ABZ Book: A Primer for Tender Young Minds and Uncle Shelby’s Story of Lafcadio, the Lion Who Shot Back, but it also attends to Silverstein's songs and decidedly adult Playboy cartoons.

Titled "A Speculative Account (with Notes) of the Development & Initial Deployments of Shel Silverstein's Persona, Uncle Shelby, with Special Care to Articulate the Relationship of Said Persona to the Question of Shel's Ambiguous Audience(s)," Thomas's piece speculates on the development and initial appearances of Shel Silverstein's persona, Uncle Shelby, while taking care to articulate the relationship of that persona to the question of Shel Silverstein's adult and child audiences. Thomas argues that the question of audience is crucial to a complex understanding of Silverstein's oeuvre, as it is often unclear just who Silverstein is writing for: children or adults. This ambiguity is something akin to Uli Knoepflmacher & Mitzi Myers's notion of "cross-writing," but with a difference. Thomas concludes,

with the suggestion that Shel Silverstein and his persona, Uncle Shelby, provide us with a more robust way to think about children’s literature, reminding us that the line between texts for adults and those for children is far more blurry than we generally like to believe, as is the line between child culture and adult culture, even though we like to police that line with ever-growing determination [...]. Uncle Shelby and Shel Silverstein help us to de-fetishize the ever fraught and socially constructed distinction between child and adult, but they do so without asking us to naively dismiss audience completely, showing us, instead, that our conception of audience informs our relationship with literature, diminishing certain understandings while emphasizing others. The author isn’t dead after all, despite claims to the contrary, and the author function operates hand-in-hand with his implied audience. The text, far from being static and unchanging, rather, works much like those optical illusions in art textbooks: at one moment we see an old lady, the next a lovely young girl; one moment a vase, the next two human profiles.

This flickering perception, this stuttering flux, is ultimately a part of the text, not epitextual not peritextual not intertextual: it is part and parcel of the work itself, as important as the words on the page. Our persistence of vision and the ideological preconceptions underpinning it render the strobe invisible. We ignore it at our peril, and we’ve ignored this element of Silverstein’s work for too long. (40)

Check it out in the new issue of the ChLA Quarterly, volume 6, issue 1, pages 25-46. And be sure to cite it in your work! Nothing jazzes up an essay quite like referencing a paragraph-long title, especially when the title is longer than the quotation that follows. Imagine:

As Joseph Thomas writes in his essay, "A Speculative Account (with Notes) of the Development & Initial Deployments of Shel Silverstein's Persona, Uncle Shelby, with Special Care to Articulate the Relationship of Said Persona to the Question of Shel's Ambiguous Audience(s)," "The author isn’t dead after all"(40).
Wow! Now that's good stuff!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Friday, February 25, 2011

Spring Break Where? Bologna!

Where to spend Spring Break? Bologna, of course. Because the food is terrific (try the Drogueria del rosso), some great picture book artists live there (look up Fabian Negrin), interesting scholars teach at the university (note that Neil Gaiman wrote the Introduction to Giorgia Grilli's study of P.L. Travers), the place is beautiful, AND

the big international children's book fair 28-31 March 2011:

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Endowed Professorship in Children's Literature

In the picture above, San Diego State University President Stephen Weber (right) honors donors A.K. Jones and Raymond Sabin for their generous gift which will establish an endowed professorship in Children's Literature beginning in 2015. Longtime friends of the National Center for the Study of Children's Literature, A.K. and Ray were featured guests at a dinner hosted at the university's Alumni Center on February 22, 2011.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Fetishes for Children's Books, or Tsotchkes?

When objects are derived from books:

"Mo Willems's Pigeon, Jon Scieszka's Stinky Cheese Man, and Jeff Kinney's Wimpy Kid were some of the familiar book characters that greeted the more than 20,000 retailers attending the American International Toy Fair at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in New York City from February 13 to 16...."

More at:

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Call for Papers: Journal in Spain

Participate in the next issue of Extravío. Revista electrónica de literatura comparada: “The endless tale. Writing and rewriting of traditional tales.”

Extravío is an online review dedicated to Comparative Literature (ISSN 1886-4902). It is an annual monographic publication of the Department of Theory of Languages, University of Valencia (Spain), which is indexed in the database as the MLA Directory of Periodicals.

You can consult the numbers issued until to the current date, and all information about the review at:

Paper Call

Extravío 6 year 2011 (in progress)

The endless tale. Writing and rewriting of traditional tales

Little Red Riding Hood, Cinderella, Tom Thumb, Bluebeard, The Three Little Pigs, Pinocchio... they all are traditional stories that can work as a rich base for any comparative study. This is the proposal for the sixth issue of Extravío, the approach to the writing, the rewriting, even the sabotage, of such narratives that constitute our particular endless tale.

Call for papers: please address your proposal to The deadline for abstracts is 31st March 2011 (name and surname, institution, article’s title and a 15-20 lines abstract).

Selection: during May 2010 the deadline for the complete essay will be communicated to those whose abstracts are accepted.

Call for papers:

Antonia Cabanilles

Profesora Titular de Teoría de la Literatura y Literatura Comparada Departamento de Teoría

Monday, February 21, 2011

Children in Art

Michael Joseph drew our attention to this interesting site about Children in Art:

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Little Red Riding Hood

Neil Jordan's "Company of Wolves" has reigned as the best film (gothic) version of "Little Red Riding Hood." Now word arrives of a new film version of this ancient story (opening March 11):
Red Riding Hood Movie Trailer Official (HD)

Thanks to Gary Malanga for pointing this out. On a related note, college students (in a packed auditorium) were eager to hear about the maiden and the wolf from volksmarchen expert Maria Tatar:

Children's Stories & Animation News

From the animation (production) front, Shelley McRoberts writes:

Pixar set to do Andersen/Brothers Grimm - The Bear and The Bow

Le Petite Prince -

*There's a 52 part animated series, and then a 3D animation due to commence in 2011 and out in 2014, I believe. They always change the production pipelines though. :) Read the article because it's crazy how much promotional stuff and marketing they are going to push out and capitalize on!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Jerry Griswold, the Tea Party, & the American Revolution

"In our own times, Tea Party acolytes have reimagined America’s radicals and revolutionaries as proto-­conservatives keen on fiscal restraint. Anderson’s “Forge” is a terrific return not only to the colonial era but to historical accuracy."

This is Jerry Griswold's conclusion in a brand new review (February 13) of Laurie Halse Anderson's young-adult novel Forge in the New York Times Book Review:

This follows upon a lecture ("When the American Right Gets History Wrong") Griswold gave in October at the University of Paris (13). Prompted by the rise of the Tea Party and by their reshapings of American history, he has been devoting months to examinations of young-adult historical fiction concerned with the American Revolution: the extent to which it is historical and the extent to which it is fictional.

This enterprise began with Griswold's admiration of M.T. Anderson's Octavian Nothing in his essay for the New York Times Book Review :

A handy summary of some recent books about the American Revolution appears in his column in Parents Choice:

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Conscience Gnawing at You? Soliciting Essays on on Guilt

Barnboken – journal of children’s literature research
Call for papers

Narrating guilt in literature for children and young people
Deadline August 15, 2011

Guilt is a powerful force in life as in narratives. It can be considered from a number of perspectives – that of a person with guilt on his or her conscience, or from the outside, for example. In literature for children and young people, guilt may be described with a focus on parents with a guilty conscience (because they have been unable to protect their children, for instance), children who are guilty (of bullying, for example), or collective guilt (literature about the holocaust or with a focus on environmental problems). Even the absence of guilt or of feeling guilty may be of interest and/or symptomatic of something. When is guilt a positive force and when is it negative? Guilt may be colored by either religious or secular political preconceptions. Guilt is also different in different historical and cultural contexts. Barnboken – journal of children’s literature research welcomes articles devoted to the study of narrating guilt in literature for children and young people.

Every issue contains, in addition to articles and essays, reviews of recently-published theoretical literature and information concerning ongoing research in the field of literature for children and young people. It is published by the Swedish Institute for Children’s Books. Two issues a year are published as both printed and Open Access versions. Articles are published in Swedish, Norwegian, Danish and English.

Articles submitted for consideration may not have been previously published or presented in any other context. Papers of no more than 30,000 characters including spaces (please see our style sheet at may be submitted as email attachments to and must include, in addition to the body of the article:
1) Title of article
2) Name, affiliation and email address of author
3) Abstract, 300 words

Articles accepted for this issue will be published in 2012. A guide to our reference and note system may be found at or requested from the editor, Ms Lillemor Torstensson: . This journal is peer reviewed. The editorial committee consists of Stefan Mählqvist, Associate Professor, Janina Orlov, PhD, Agneta Rehal, PhD, and Björn Sundmark, PhD. Barnboken is published with financial support from the Swedish Research Council, (Vetenskapsrådet).

For more information, please contact:
Svenska barnboksinstitutet/Swedish Institute for Children’s Books
Lillemor Torstensson, editor
Odengatan 61
SE-113 22 Stockholm
Tel: + 46 8 54 54 20 51

Monday, February 7, 2011

Grad Student Conference: UK April 2011

In Europe (and elsewheres), a "postgraduate" is what yer American academic would call a "graduate" student:


Postgraduate Conference April 2011

Following on from the Studies in Youth Culture inaugural conference which took place at the University of Leicester in September 2010, the School of English along with the Centre for American Studies and the Studies in Youth Network are pleased to announce a postgraduate conference on the broad and interdisciplinary subject of ‘youth’. Topics that might be considered are:

  • What do we mean by the term youth and experiences exclusive to adolescence?
  • How does the concept of youth manifest itself in culture, literature, poetry, theatre or society at large?
  • In what ways do the experiences/ depictions of adolescence differ from or reflect those of childhood and/or adulthood?
  • How do the relationships between these concepts of childhood, adolescence and adulthood change over time, and are they dependent on cultural setting?

Such speculations encourage debate about the nature, experience and depiction of youth – in its broadest definition – across history, culture and disciplines. These questions are a starting point for a topic that will be explored further at the interdisciplinary postgraduate conference at Leicester on either the 4th or 5th of April 2011 (details will be finalised by March). Papers are welcome from all disciplines on any aspect of youth with particular emphasis on, but not restricted to, theatre, religion, fantasy and popular culture.

The conference will be an invaluable opportunity to learn about other postgraduate students’ research on the subject of youth, as well as to join the Studies in Youth Network, which aims to bring together and encourage academic cooperation between researchers of various disciplines at different stages of their careers. Further details of the network can be found at:

Proposals of 250 words are welcome from all postgraduates for papers of no more than twenty minutes. A liberal approach to the theme is encouraged. Please send abstracts along with the application form to Anjna Chouhan ( by the 1st of March 2011.

We look forward to hearing from you,

Anjna Chouhan, Irina Kyulanova and Sonia Suman

Sunday, February 6, 2011

SDSU Alum Publishes (Another) Book

from Martin Woodside, SDSU alum:

Last year I joined an artist-run co-op press Calypso Editions (several of the other members are ex SDSUers), and we just put out our first book, "How Much Land Does a Man Need," translated by Boris Drayluk. We've gotten some good reviews, including from the Times Literary Supplement, and we have three more books slated for release this year. The third of those will be a book of my own translations of Romanian poetry.

UCSD Class on Illustrating (Apr-June 2011)

from Joy Chu...

I've designed an all-new children's book workshop, for all skill sets. We'll have hands-on exercises and books to share. Please spread the word to friends, colleagues, students, or professionals who might be interested. There will be something for everyone. April 7-June 2, Thursdays, 6-9pm. Registration site is open now. Questions? Write me...