Friday, April 29, 2011

Children's Book Week, May 2-8

The Children's Book Council inaugurated "Children's Book Week" in 1919. This year May 2-8 has been designated that week and events will be going on across the country:

The Children's Book Choice Awards (decided by tabulating votes from children) is now a part of these festivities. The award ceremony will be hosted by Jarrett Krosoczka (Lunch Lady series) and feature as presenters: Clare Vanderpool (winner of the 2011 Newbery Medal), Laurie Halse Anderson (author of Speak and Chains), Hilary Knight (Eloise creator), Katherine Paterson (National Ambassador for Young People's Literature), Erin E. Stead (winner of the 2011 Caldecott Medal), R.L. Stine (legendary spook-master of the Lemony Snicket books), and Walter Dean Myers (winner of the Coretta Scott King Award for African American authors). New York, May 2:

Six Recent Essays That We Liked

  1. On Princess Culture. Peggy Orenstein in the New York Times Book Review:
  2. Chris Van Allsburg's "Queen of the Hill." Reviewed by Philip Nel:
  3. Ferdinand the Bull Turns 75. Pamela Paul on the pacifist:
  4. Following in Laura Ingalls Wilder's Footsteps:
  5. A Profile of Beverly Cleary. Pamela Paul for the New York Times:
  6. Hollywood is Churning Out Fairy Tales. The Los Angeles Times:,0,1818969.story

Monday, April 25, 2011

NYTimes Profiles Shaun Tan

Sunday's New York Times Magazine published a profile of Australian graphic artist Shaun Tan:

Interesting in a different way is a slide series of his art work:

We're keen on Shaun Tan, as previous posts on this blog indicate:

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Pamela Paul, New Children's Book Editor for the NY Times

Just a few months ago, Pamela Paul was appointed the new children's book editor for the New York Times Book Review. At the time, folks wondered what she was like. One answer has come in over recent weeks: Industrious.

Among her other activities, Paul has initiated a new feature at the Times by doing weekly online reviews of picture books. See an announcement of that project here.

But she has also been busy writing essays and reviews on items in the world of children's stories. Here are some essays published in the last four months or since the start of the year:
But Paul has also been busy writing essays on social topics:

Friday, April 22, 2011

Update: E-Readers & E-Books for Children

Update. Since the publication of Jerry Griswold's evaluations of e-readers and the picture book (at the very bottom) a number of other writers, publications, and experts have weighed in on these topics--most recently (4/22/11) in the Op-Ed pages of the New York Times in an essay by Lawrence Downes, "Th
e Children’s Book Comes to Life Electronically. Should We Be Alarmed?":

See also:

"Examining E- Picture Books," Maryland Morning:

"The Best Children's Books on the iPad," New York Times:

"Children's Book Apps," NPR:

* * * * *

Jerry Griswold writes . . . "When folks talk about e-books, they are mostly thinking about offerings for adult and young-adult readers. These e-texts consist mostly of words and all that’s needed is a black-and-white reader; Amazon’s Kindle (currently, $139-$189) is a popular device in this category. But children’s picture books present a greater challenge since what’s needed is a more sophisticated device that can display color and images. At the moment, there are only two readers that can do so: Apple’s iPad and Barnes and Noble’s NOOKcolor...."

Read more at:

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Student Has Paper Accepted for Harry Potter Conference

Linda Salem writes....

Just wanted to let you know that Kate Murtaugh is working on the Gorey Personal Library project with me this year. She just started the children's literature program here in the Fall. She has had her undergraduate thesis accepted for presentation at this year's Leakycon conference. Her thesis is entitled "The Difference between Jumpers and Sweaters: Exploring the Editorial Process of the Harry Potter Series." The website for this exclusively Harry Potter themed conference is

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Summer 2011 Children's Literature Conferences (a listing)

Children's Literature conferences (May-August 2011)

Monday, April 18, 2011

Graphic Literature & Childhood: SDSU Lectures April 28

from Joseph Thomas...

San Diego State University's The National Center for the Study of Children's Literature is sponsoring a joint lecture on the subjects of graphic literature (comics!) and childhood. The talks are scheduled for April 28th at 4:00, at the SDSU Love Library, in the Leon Williams Room (4th floor, room 430).

The first talk, "Homage to Binky Brown," will be given by California State University, Northridge professor Charles Hatfield, internationally renowned expert on visual literature, comics, and childhood studies. [Details below]

The second talk, "Unsuitable for Children: Queering the Adult/Child Distinction in Graphic Narrative," is the work of Yetta Howard, who will be joining the faculty of SDSU's department of English & Comparative Literature as an assistant professor next fall. [Details below]

Be there!


Homage to Binky Brown

Justin Green’s underground comic book Binky Brown Meets the Holy Virgin Mary (1972)—a graphic memoir at once embarrassing, moving, and, in several senses, deeply comic—is widely recognized as a foundational, if not the foundational, work in confessional autobiographical comix, and thus one of the ur-texts of alternative comics and graphic novels. Scholars have acknowledged its historical priority and influence (see e.g. Hatfield 2005; Gardner 2008; Chute 2010; Witek 2011), McSweeney’s has republished it in lavish facsimile (2009), and no less than Art Spiegelman (1995) has credited the book as an inspiration for Maus. What if we read it as a children’s story?

This would seem to be a stretch. Green himself, in the frontispiece for Binky, cautions that the comic is not for children, and its status as an underground comic (published by the notorious Last Gasp) places it ipso facto beyond the pale of official children’s culture. In any case, Binky is, among other things, a polemic against Catholicism and a memoir of sexual guilt and extreme, life-cramping obsession (partly attributable to Green’s obsessive-compulsive disorder, a condition diagnosed well after Binky was created). The protagonist, Green’s autobiographical avatar Binky, is a boy, later a young adult man, fixated to the point of madness on his own inadmissible sexual desires. An artist at heart, he envisions his sin in graphic terms, imagining his lustful thoughts emanating from him as so many dotted lines of invisible force. To say the least, Binky Brown, due to its darkly comic riffs on neurosis and suffering, its satirical takedown of Catholic dogma, and the scatological precision of its images—images that a student of mine recently described with the single word “foul”—seems far removed from children’s literature.

My talk will not seek to argue that Binky Brown is a “children’ book”—truly, that is a stretch—but will focus on the ways that Green foregrounds and subverts conventional images of the child. My impetus is the recognition (based on teaching experience) that Green’s far-reaching satire, which implicates not only Catholicism but also nationalism, conventional masculinity, and the genre of the bildungsroman, can too easily be misrecognized and dismissed as merely the fanciful venting of one person’s pathology. I’ll show how the book depicts boyhood in the context of 1950s America, specifically how it probes the intersection of nation, religion, gender, and sexuality, and also how Green casts doubt on the book’s own liberationist agenda with a final dose of self-mockery. In the end, I hope to show how Binky Brown Meets the Holy Virgin Mary anticipates the rise of alternative comics for adults that depict childhood from critical and subversive perspectives. In this way Green prepared for the works of Aline Kominsky-Crumb, Lynda Barry, Marjane Satrapi, Alison Bechdel, and so many others.

Expect plenty of images and Q&A.


"Unsuitable for Children: Queering the Adult/Child Distinction in Graphic Narrative."

This talk will ask us to re-think the definitional boundaries of adulthood and childhood as routed through graphic narrative forms and queer identities. Emphasizing their various “unsuitable” positions as graphic—meaning both explicit and pictorial—texts about childhood, I turn to Kathy Acker’s, Diane DiMassa’s and Freddie Baer’s Pussycat Fever (1995) and David Wojnarowicz’s and James Romberger’s Seven Miles a Second (1996). I suggest that theses narratives help us to see where childhood traumas reach their recuperative limits via the adulthood memories of/identifications with them, queering the adult/child distinction while dismantling the logic of recuperation that comes with queer identities as modeled on an assumed trajectory of emancipation. Ultimately I contend that identifying with these limits may offer more suitable, if perhaps unsavory, modes of being and of understanding adult queer identities associated with childhood traumas and abuses.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

"Next" or Joseph Thomas Assesses Children's Poetry Criticism

In a recent issue of the journal Lion and Unicorn, Professor Joseph Thomas does a tightrope act in gently evaluating a new book on children's poetry: Styles, Joy, Whitley, eds. Poetry and Childhood. The review is not only admirable for its circumspect manner but also for the historical overview it provides of critical approaches to children's poetry. Here's an essay worth going out of the way for. Anyone doing anything along these lines, subsequently, will now need to reckon with this compass point.

The Lion and the Unicorn
is an electronic "Muse" journal published by Johns Hopkins University Press and, generally speaking, requires a subscription to access. However, many university libraries have subscriptions of their own and folks (students, faculty, alums) can access the journal electronically through the library; for example, members of the SDSU community can connect with Love Library here
and then enter their identifying numbers.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

2-Year Position in the U.K. (Newcastle)




The School of English Literature, Language and Linguistics is looking to make a two-year, fixed term appointment to contribute to the teaching and research work of the School's Children's Literature Unit from 1st September 2011 until 31 August 2013. Applicants must have a PhD by the time of taking up the post, relevant teaching experience at undergraduate level, and evidence of research achievement and potential. We are interested in candidates who can teach and supervise across the field of Children's Literature at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels, and who can contribute more broadly to teaching and administration in the School.

Informal enquiries may be made to the Head of School, Professor Jennifer Richards:

This post is full-time and fixed-term for 24 months.

Reference no: B398A

[This job announcement was accompanied by a 12-page document too lengthy to insert here. Please request a full copy of the posting by inquiry to the person above.]

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Art in Children's Lives (SDSU's Love Library)

From Linda Salem:

"A is for Art: A Celebration of Learning Through Art."
4th floor, SDSU Love Library in the juvenile books collection area
April 1, 2011-May 2, 2011

The “A is for Art: A Celebration of Learning Through Art” is on display April 1 - May 2, 2011 in the SDSU Love Library 4th floor juvenile books collection area. Several works on display here were created by the Children from the SDSU Children’s Center, a quality service provided to the campus by Associated Students.

This exhibition highlights the important role that art plays in the lives of young children. Children have an amazing potential for creative expression through art. Research and experience clearly show that children's earliest years are crucial learning years. One way that children learn critical communicative and expressive skills is through art. Children have an immense capacity for creativity, and fostering artistic expression can make a difference in the life of a young child.

Each spring an exhibition of individual artwork created by center children can be a viewed in hallways, department conference rooms or individual offices and various buildings throughout the campus from mid March through April.

Each April a special A is for Art: Exhibition and Gala Evening of Art is held at KPBS Studios for the public to view canvases created by the children in collaboration with local community artists. Local guest artists visit the classrooms to discuss their own art, demonstrate some artistic techniques, and mentor children in creating a canvas created by children in each classroom. Examples of those canvases and documentation of their creative process are on display here. Please join us for our 7th Annual A is for Art Gala Evening, Friday, April 15, 5:30-7:30 PM, KPBS Studio on the campus of SDSU. this event is open to the public and there is no fee to attend.

During the past six years, this project has had tremendous support from both on campus and off campus supporters. This Library exhibition highlights key learning that occurs when children have the opportunity to explore the world of art on a daily basis. It is inspiring to experience the pieces that can be viewed here at the Library and at the A is for Art Gala Evening as well. Even more amazing is the fact that these works are created by young children all under the age of five. Our hope is that someday all children will be given enough time, appropriate, real materials and a little support and guidance along the way, so they will be able to “create and paint their dreams.”

For more information on this project, please contact the SDSU Children’s Center at (619) 594-7941 or visit us on the web at

Monday, April 11, 2011

Consider Graduate Study Abroad: Cambridge (U.K.)

If you're thinking about graduate study in Children's Literature (what Europeans call "postgraduate" study), besides places in the U.S., you've got interesting places abroad to do so. There are several in Australia, a new one and an existing one in Ireland (Trinity and St. Pat's in Drumconda/Dublin), and several in the U.K. (including Newcastle and Cambridge). The last is having an Open House in May for the curious:

Open Day for the Cambridge MPhil/MEd in Children's Literature

Thursday, May 12 · 2:00pm - 5:00pm

Cambridge Faculty of Education
184 Hills Road
Cambridge, United Kingdom CB2 8PQ
More Info
This Open Day is a unique opportunity, for everyone interested in studying Children's Literature at postgrad level, to get to know the Cambridge/ Homerton Research and Teaching Centre for Children's Literature. Come along and meet current students, course organisers and lecturers - and learn more about what we do and how to join us!

2.00-2.30: Poster sessions
2.30-3.15: Talks by current students in room GS5
3.15-4.00: Tea, more poster sessions, and meeting the students
4.00-5.00: Talk by poet MICHAEL ROSEN

Please invite everyone you know who might be interested in attending this event. We're all looking forward to meeting you at the Faculty and to answer all your questions on the course, on children's literature in general, and on undertaking postgrad study at Cambridge University.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Louisiana Position: Adolescent Lit

Southeastern Louisiana University
English, SLU 10861, Hammond, LA 70402

Assistant Professor of English
The Department of English invites applications for a full-time, tenure-track position in Secondary English Education. Applicants must have a Ph.D. in English in hand by August 11, 2011. Subspecialty in Rhetoric and Composition preferred, but other subspecialties also welcome. Responsibilities include teaching undergraduate/graduate courses in the teaching of composition and of literature, adolescent literature, and other courses in the English curriculum; conducting an appropriate program of research/scholarly activity; academic advising, supervising field experience, and coordinating with the College of Education. Applicants must be committed to working with diversity. Southeastern is an AA/ADA/EEO employer.

To apply for this position, please complete and submit an on line application, which will include the names and contact information for three references and the following attachments: letter of application, curriculum vita, statement of philosophy of teaching and transcripts (official transcripts required upon employment).
Applicants must apply by May 2, 2011 on line at:

Friday, April 8, 2011

New Peter Pans, Nos. 1-5

The Hollywood Reporter advises that five Peter Pan projects are in the works:

  • "The.Never.Land" [sic] tells the story of Wendy and the forever-young boy with a Twilight-ish spin."
  • A Pan family adventure from Wedding Crashers producer Jeff Rake
  • Pan, which reimagines the classic 1904 stage play (and later novel) by J.M. Barrie with the boy and the dastardly Captain Hook as brothers
  • Neverland with Pan recast as a villain abducting London's children, while Hook, the hero, must stop him.
  • And on television Syfy is making a four-hour miniseries titled Neverland. Keira Knightley just joined the cast as the voice of Tinker Bell in what is intended to be a prequel of sorts.

San Diego Heralds New Seuss Book

John Wilkens may be the first critic on record to write about a forthcoming book by the late San Diego writer Dr. Seuss (Ted Geissel). The Bippolo Seed and Other Lost Stories will be published by Random House and appear in September 2011. According to Wilkens' essay in the San Diego Union Tribune, the book collects work by Dr. Seuss that appeared in the 1950's but that hasn't been seen since. Scholars Phillip Nel and SDSU's Joseph Thomas are quoted in the essay and make a case for the work's showing Seuss at the top of his game.

The book is edited by Charles Cohen, who has written to this blog:
What makes these stories so fascinating (and, to me, vitally important) is that (to turn one of Philip Nel's phrases around a bit), this was Dr. Seuss at exactly the time that he was becoming Dr. Seuss as we know him. Along with the excitement of recovering these "lost" stories so that fans can enjoy them, one of the main things that I cover in the introduction is how these stories mark the transition in Ted Geisel's career from predominantly prose stories to the rhyming tales that we so closely associate with him now. He already was a stellar children's book author. But these were the stories in which he experimented with perfecting his skills with the rhythm and sound of language in order to change how children would ultimately learn to read.

This is the first book of stories that are completely written and illustrated by Dr. Seuss to be published in more than two decades. We lost the marvelous man in 1991, so "new" material, especially of this quality, is a remarkable opportunity for fans around the globe.

John Wilkens, incidentally, seems to have a special interest in these subjects. See his essay where he suggests San Diego is the Capitol of Children's Literature:

See also an essay in the Guardian:

See also report on NPR: