Thursday, September 27, 2012

Multicultural Perspectives: "Food in the Moorland," Iceland's Children's Lit Festival

A sad realization struck me none too recently--despite my own ethnic and religious heritage I know very little about international and multicultural children's (and adult) literature. This certainly will not do! I've decided to tackle this with a new series of posts, simply titled "Multicultural Perspectives" so that I may educate myself on the vast scope of literature that crosses through cultures, and share with you my discoveries.

I start with the crossing of two of my passions—children's lit and food—that unfolded at the biennial Children's Literature Festival in Iceland with the theme of "Food in the Moorland." The festival took place from September 15 - 19 and hosted a myriad of events from traditional scholarly panels to workshops for children, readings and exhibitions. Having no knowledge of Icelandic arts or language, I perused the program of events with curiosity and gratefully was able to correspond with two participants of the Festival: Dr. Anna Heiða Pálsdóttir and Dr. Ármann Jakobsson, both from the University of Iceland.

Special Research on Children's Literature Collections and Archives Available Online

The editors of Papers: Explorations into Children's Literature have compiled a wealth of archival research on international children's literature. This special issue, titled "Children’s Literature Collections and Archives," is available for free open access online. The table of contents is below. Follow the link to access these articles!

The Osborne Collection of Early Children’s Books: Toronto Public Library’s Research Collection of Juvenile Material
Leslie Anne McGrath

Twentieth century literary and publishing archives: UK research perspectives on children’s literature
Charlotte Berry

Colonial Girls’ Literature and the Politics of Archives in the Digital Age
Michelle J. Smith and Kristine Moruzi

Anthony Arrowroot and Nutty Nutella: Advertising in Children’s Literature
Afsana Khan

The Historical-Cultural Value of the Juvenile Collection: The McLaren Collection at the University of Melbourne and its Girls’ Books
Margaret Lowe

John Mystery and the Australian Book Trade
Juliet O’Conor

Astrid Lindgren and the Archives
Helene Ehriander

A Token to the Future: A Digital ‘Archive’ of Early Australian Children’s Literature
Kerry Mallan, Amy Cross, and Cherie Allan

Digital Archives and Cultural Memory: Discovering Lost Histories in Digitised Australian Children’s Literature 1851-1945
Michelle Dicinoski

The Lu Rees Archives of Australian Children’s Literature
Belle Alderman

Collections of the Swiss Institute for Children’s and Youth Media and their Public Access
Roger Meyer

Growing up Australian: The National Imaginary in School Readers
Jane McGennisken

Books or Toys? A Traveller’s tale: researching early movable books for and by children in material and virtual collections
Jacqueline Reid-Walsh

Clare Bradford and Kerry Mallan, editors, Papers: Explorations into Children's Literature

This issue is available (free open access) at this link:

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

San Diego City College Book Fair Begins October 1

The 7th Annual San Diego City College International Book Fair will be held October 1 - 6, 2012.

The weeklong celebration of books includes talks and readings that are free and open to the public. Coinciding with Banned Books Week, the Book Fair will also feature talks about and readings from several banned books, including a reading and signing by SDSU grad and young adult writer Matt de la Peña.

Check out the full schedule of programming here.

Philip Pullman on Retelling the Grimms' Fairy Tales

"But my interest has always been in how the tales worked as stories. So I decided to retell the best and most interesting of them, clearing out of the way anything that would prevent them from running freely... I just wanted to produce a version that was as clear as water. My guiding question has been: 'How would I tell this story myself, if I'd heard it told by someone else and wanted to pass it on?'"
 An excerpt from Philip Pullman's essay “The Challenge of Retelling Grimms’ Fairy Tales” found in The Gaurdian. An insightful examination of the fairy tale and how to keep it "true to form."

Monday, September 24, 2012

Fantasy and Sci-Fi for Free: Online Courses through Coursera

I read recently that the University of Maryland, College Park is the latest university to join the ranks of those institutions offering free full-length online courses through the web platform, Coursera. Since this movement began I have been a supporter, but I never actually took time to read through their vision or explore the classes they have since provided to the world's fingertips.  

After an intense review of their site, I am happy to discover both the wealth of knowledge in nearly every subject -- from Neuroethics to the Science of Gastronomy, plus some impressive literary courses! (more on that in a bit) --  as well as the clearly defined pedagogy they employ in accomplishing this monumental task.  As the world embraces and becomes entrenched more deeply in the clutches of technology, it is important to know how to adapt our learning and teaching methods to the online platform. Coursera's mission is a good case study I think; it will be worthwhile to track the efficacy of these courses and the impact they ultimately have on the public.

As to courses related to the subject of Children's Literature, one particular course of merit is Fantasy and Science Fiction: The Human Mind, Our Modern World, taught by Professor Eric Rabkin of the University of Michigan. The course aims to demonstrate the illumination of the human mind through fantasy literature and discuss science fiction's importance as the "only [fictional form of fantasy] that explicitly recognizes the profound ways in which science and technology, those key products of the human mind, shape not only our world but our very hopes and fears."

Another course, Online Games: Literature, New Media,and Narrative discusses how stories are transformed when shift from one medium to another.  Central focus will be on The Lord of the Rings trilogy, but will also explore romance narratives as well.  Pertinent to how many young adults perceive storytelling today, this class targets those interested in current culture of media and how this "medium is altering our understanding of stories."

The dates for Fantasy and Science Fiction: The Human Mind, Our Modern World have not been announced yet.  

Online Games: Literature, New Media, and Narrative is a 7-week course scheduled for July 2013.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Top Ten Books That Made Me Think

I'm borrowing this "meme" from a friend of mine (and SDSU grad - hi Jenna!), because I think it's an interesting idea to explore. What are the top ten books that you found most thought-provoking? Which books have you finished with a sigh, closed the cover, and then pondered before getting up from your favorite reading spot? To narrow it down, my list below features ten children's or young adult books from the last decade (in order of publication), but you're invited to chime in about any book in the comments!

Feed, by M.T. Anderson (2002)
This book is the cornerstone of contemporary dystopian fiction. Narrator Titus's society is an America that is set far into the future and yet disturbingly imaginable today. The "feed" refers to what is essentially an internet implant in the brain of everyone who can afford it. If you can't afford it, you're automatically set back in a society where everything has been corporatized and your worth is measured by how many things you buy. In our world of ever-increasing internet surveillance (Were you just looking at shoes on Nordstrom's website? The internet knows! Get ready to see pop-up ads on every site you visit!) and accessibility, the possibility of a life lived almost entirely within our own heads feels alarmingly close.

What Night Brings, by Carla Trujillo (2003) This is a tough book to get through, focused as it is on a young girl's story of physical and emotional abuse at the hands of her father. Narrator Marci speaks with a maturity beyond her years – she knows it’s not her fault that her father abuses her – but she is still young enough and naïve enough to believe that praying will be her salvation. She struggles with her sexuality, but she doesn’t think that’s the reason her father beats her. With a wry sense of humor and a fierce determination to protect herself and her sister from their parents, Marci brings a thoughtful levity to this difficult story.

Looking for Alaska, by John Green (2005)This story of a teenage boy's first year of boarding school and the people who make his life worthwhile will sucker-punch you. Tucked into this coming-of-age tale full of true-to-life observations is a heart-wrenching twist that remains unresolved, which emphasizes the trauma even further. Not only does John Green's realistic, poignant storytelling elevate this book above the popular fiction fray, but his characters are so finely and vividly drawn that what happens to them feels like it could be happening to you.

Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows, by J.K. Rowling (2007)
Ramble Alert: My assessment of this one is completely un-theoretical and lies simply in the fact that I personally felt devastated by Rowling's narrative choices. Spoiler Alert: I'm going to talk about who dies. Five years later, I still feel morose when I think about Fred's death. How could J.K. Rowling kill off a twin? My brothers-in-law are twins, and knowing their bond made the death of a Weasley twin all the more emotional for me. I cried and cried and cried. While there are certainly many aspects of this book fit for pondering, I'll be honest: the only reason this is on my list is because I am heartbroken for life.

Last Night I Sang to the Monster, Benjamin Alire Sáenz (2009) 
Teenage alcoholic Zach is in rehab, where he encounters other troubled souls with ambiguous pasts. Zach reluctantly works through his own psychological trauma with the help of a counselor and a fellow inmate, but his progress is not without setbacks. This is a thoughtful, poetic look at addiction and redemption.

Before I Fall, Lauren Oliver (2010)Lauren Oliver's eloquently written debut novel follows the unusual story of a quintessential mean girl, Samantha, who...dies in the first chapter. Living in a purgatory not unlike Groundhog Day, Samantha has to figure out the significance of her death. By the end of the book, I found myself rooting for this character who was originally hateful. Lauren Oliver manages to represent the seedy side of high school, contemplate teen suicide, highlight meaningful interactions with family, and explore untimely death in such a way that you contemplate your own life choices even if you're not in high school anymore.

Ready Player One, by Ernest Cline (2011)
Complementary to Feed in many ways, Ready Player One brings to life a world of ubiquitous virtual reality. In a ruined and poverty-stricken America, tech-savvy citizens go about their entire lives on the internet, hooked into rigs that allow them to go to school, hang out with friends, and journey to other worlds all from the relative comfort of one location. Tying the narrative together is a global quest for millions of dollars, hidden in the vast internet communication system by its inventor. The world-building in this book is simply incredible, with so many worlds-within-worlds that by the time you finish the story, you're not even sure of your own reality.

Code Name Verity, by Elizabeth Wein (2012)Two brave young women from Great Britain, one intense friendship, and World War II comprise the main elements of Code Name Verity. This fictionalized account of a significant moment in European history will make you want to embark on your own historical research after you close the back cover.

The Drowning Instinct
, by Ilsa Bick (2012)
I adore Ilsa Bick's writing. She also wrote one of my favorite dystopian novels, Ashes, which I urge you to read because it is so freaky and good. But The Drowning Instinct is based entirely in contemporary reality, and it tackles a taboo sexual relationship between a 16-year-old girl and her science teacher. There are no good guys or bad guys, no black-and-white good decisions or bad decisions, and no happy endings in this book. The narrator, Jenna, is complicated and troubled, but so is her teacher, so are her parents, and so is the detective who tries to help her after a traumatic incident. The Drowning Instinct carefully examines the different perspectives of people who all have their own questionable motivations.

Every Day, by David Levithan (2012) 
What if you didn't have your own body and always had to exist in someone else's? Would you identify with one gender more than the other? The narrator of Every Day, simply called "A," has no body. A wakes up every day possessing a different teenage body, boy or girl or transgender. A falls in love with Rhiannon, who tries to love A back, even though A often appears as a girl and Rhiannon identifies as straight. This book brings up wonderful, thought-provoking questions about the nature of love, the restrictions of gender, and the ever-present human desire for self-control.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Access to the New Review of Chlidren's Literature and Librarianship

The New Review of Children's Literature and Librarianship is excited to offer FREE access to an article from its recent archives 18(1): "Evolving Tools for Information Literacy from Models of Information Behavior" by Andrew K. Shenton and Naomi V. Hay-Gibson.

The New Review of Children's Literature and Librarianship has established itself as one of the leading publications for the exchange of ideas and the sharing of experiences in the provision of literature for children and young people. The journal is multidisciplinary in nature, providing opportunities for the 'pure' discussion of children's literature, and of issues relating to libraries for young people.

The journal fosters the sharing of ideas between those who study children's literature, and those who provide it. The New Review of Children's Literature and Librarianship welcomes articles covering:

    * Management of library services to children and adolescents
    * Education issues affecting library services
    * User education and the promotion of services
    * Staff education and training
    * Collection development and management
    * Critical assessments of children's and adolescent literature
    * Book and media selection
    * Research in literature and library services for children and adolescents

For more information about the New Review of Children's Literature and Librarianship, please visit the journal's webpage:

Dr. Sally Maynard
Loughborough University

Publication Details
Volume 18, 2012
2 issues per year
Print ISSN 1361-4541
Online ISSN 1740-7885

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Infinity and the Brain: The Study of Close Reading and Pleasure Reading

As a former Engineering student (yes, somehow I climbed out of the wilderness of mathematical functions to dwell in the jungle of literature) I positively glow reading about scientific research and discoveries every now and then, and never does it resonate more than when applied to reading or literature. I certainly don't feel that Literature (Children's or otherwise) needs to be legitimized scientifically, but recognizing the interdisciplinary qualities – the brilliant junctions of crossing boundaries – that can emerge from Literary studies fascinates me and reveals the limitless potential of understanding humanness.  We see this when scientific thoughts and theories feature prominently in books – consider the beautifully crafted Infinity and Me by Kate Hosford (author) and Gabi Swiatkowska (illustrator), where the abstract notion of "forever" is plowed through by a young girl until she learns to humanize and bring meaning to it. Check out the blog Seven Impossible Things before Breakfast for an insightful review of the book.

So what of reversing the role, placing Literature into the scientific realm instead? In an article posted today by Laura Miller on the news web magazine Salon, "Your brain loves Jane Austen," Miller speaks with Natalie Phillips, assistant English professor at Michigan State University, about a number of studies she is conducting examining the differences in brain functionality when reading for study and for pleasure. Touching on the enlightening discoveries they have already encountered, Phillips explains, "Pleasure reading has its own demands and close reading has its own pleasures. The value resides in being able to shift between modes. It’s a training in cognitive flexibility."  She also describes, among other things, why they would choose Jane Austen's Mansfield Park as their first source of material.

Reading the interview, you concretely see that the way we read literature effects us in ways we never considered.  I look forward to learning what new findings develop from this. I suggest in the next round of tests, they employ children's books, as I am sure the intellectual and emotional response is going to reveal further variances of brain activity, and may contribute to the discussion of how books can be used in different arenas.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Job Announcement: Assistant Professor of Children's Literature or Childhood Studies, University of Pittsburgh

The University of Pittsburgh has received the green light, pending budgetary approval, to hire an assistant professor in the area of twentieth-century children's literature or childhood studies. SDSU Child Lit is excited to share this unofficial posting with our colleagues who may be on the market or going on the market. Special thanks to Marah Gubar, associate professor of English and part of Pitt's children's literature program, for sending this information along. Keep an eye out on Pitt's website or the MLA job information list for the official posting.

Job Opportunity: Twentieth-Century Children’s Literature or Childhood Studies

The Department of English at the University of Pittsburgh anticipates a position as an Assistant Professor in Twentieth-Century Children’s Literature or Childhood Studies to begin Fall Semester, 2013, pending budgetary approval.

We seek candidates with both scholarly and teaching interests in the field of youth literature or culture who are keen to help us build our current Children’s Literature Program into a more interdisciplinary Childhood Studies Program. To that end, we welcome applications from twentieth- or twenty-first-century literature scholars whose work features a strong focus on childhood or adolescence, but also from scholars with commitments to other disciplines such as History, Art History, Sociology, Film, TV or Performance Studies, and so on. Children’s Literature scholars whose work cuts across historical periods are also encouraged to apply, especially those who specialize in picture books or young adult literature.

The successful candidate will have the opportunity to teach undergraduate courses on children’s literature and culture as well as a wide range of other undergraduate literature courses and graduate seminars in his or her areas of scholarly interest. The teaching load is normally four courses per year. Salaries are competitive, and tenure is awarded for excellence in research, teaching and service. Candidates must have a PhD by September 1, 2013.

The University of Pittsburgh is an Affirmative Action, Equal Opportunity Employer. Women and members of minority groups under-represented in academia are especially encouraged to apply.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Call for papers: 34th annual Southwest/Texas Popular Culture/American Culture Association Conference

Call for Papers

The 34th annual Southwest/Texas Popular Culture/American Culture Association (SW/TX PCA/ACA) Conference, to be held in Albuquerque, NM,  is accepting proposals for the Young Adult Literature and Culture Area.

Conference dates: February 13 – 16, 2013
Proposal submission deadline: November 16, 2012
Submit proposals to:

Conference hotel:
Hyatt Regency Albuquerque
300 Tijeras Avenue NW
Albuquerque, NM 87102
Further conference details are available at

Conference theme:

This year, our 34th, we are “Celebrating Popular/American Culture(s) in a Global Context.”  In keeping with this conference theme, the Children’s and Young Adult Literature and Culture area solicits proposals dealing with journeys, quests, voyages, and globetrotting activities in children’s and young adult literature and culture.  Papers may address these ideas from literal, physical, metaphorical, psychological, spiritual, or ideological perspectives.  We highly encourage “thinking outside the box” with this theme.  While papers addressing the conference or area theme will be given preference, papers addressing other aspects in children’s and young adult literature and culture will be read with interest.

Scholars, researchers, professionals, teachers, graduate students and others interested in this area are encouraged to submit an abstract. Graduate students are especially encouraged and will be assisted in accessing any and all award opportunities the conference and/or associations provide.  Award categories can be found here:  Upon acceptance of a proposal, I send out information on which awards would be most suited to the subject matter of the presentation.

Again, given our conference theme this year, we would like to encourage scholars and students outside of the United States to submit proposals.  However, all potential presenters need to be aware that our conference rules state that participants must present their papers in person at the
conference.  Given the more complex nature of international travel these days, we encourage international proposals be submitted as early as possible so as to provide enough time to make those travel arrangements.

This area covers a wide variety of possible mediums: traditional book/literature culture, but also comics, graphic novels, film, television, music, video games, toys, Internet environment, fan fiction, advertising, marketing tie-ins to books and films, just to name a few.  Proposals on fiction, non-fiction, poetry, or cross-genre topics are welcome.  Interdisciplinary approaches are especially welcome, as are presentations that go beyond the traditional scholarly paper format.

Please submit proposals of 250 words and a brief bio (100 words) for individual presentations or 500 words for full panels (3-4 people on a panel – please submit contact and brief bio for each person on the panel) to our conference database at

Proposal submission deadline: November 16, 2012.
All accepted presenters will have to register for the conference by December 31, 2012.

For questions or if you encounter problems with submitting proposals to the database, please contact Diana Dominguez, Area Chair.  Please put SWTX in the subject line so I can filter the messages effectively.  Contact info:

Diana Dominguez
Area Chair: Children’s and Young Adult Literature and Culture
The University of Texas at Brownsville

Please visit the Conference website for information on registration, accommodations, transportation options, graduate student paper awards, and audio-visual arrangements.

(FYI: They have a variety of subject areas, including a Science Fiction/Fantasy Area, for those whose interests cross into that realm.)

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Joseph Thomas Goes to Europe

Our beloved and clearly in-over-his-head director, professor Joseph Thomas, will be spending next week getting the National Center for the Study of Children’s Literature’s metaphoric house in order before he leaves the country for about ten days.

No, Professor Thomas isn’t fleeing the country for his usual reasons; this time, he’s off to present a paper at a conference sponsored by the European Science Foundation. Held in Norrköping, Sweden, this conference focuses on JT’s two primary research areas: children’s literature and the avant-garde. More precisely, children’s literature and the European avant-garde. So, despite the soul-crushing cost, he’s packing his bindle bag, gathering his works, and heading to the land of smorgasbords and Borgstroms.

His paper has the rather prosaic and tediously descriptive title Shel Silverstein, the Calligramme, and the Legacy of the European Avant-Garde. [If you scan the program online—linked below—just silently and knowingly make the appropriate edits: the colon is such a supermassive star of an academic cliché that editors seem determined to insert the thing whether it’s supposed to be there or not.]

Anyway, his paper discusses Silverstein in light of pioneering visiopoetical work of folks like Guillaume Apollinaire & Stéphane Mallarmé and the literary critical insights of Dick Higgins (primarily his notion of “intermedial” art) and Samuel “Chip” Delany (one of Joseph’s favorite writers—in any genre—and who is recognized the world over as the author whose name, despite its apparent simplicity, is misspelled about as often as it's gotten right).

Which is all to say: lay off old Joseph this week and next. He’s a little stressed out, but also plenty excited by the prospect of heading back to Europe, where he spent his formative years in the early to mid-80s. And expect a full report on the conference upon his return (one probably written in the first person: this tradition of writing about yourself in the third person is insanely awkward. I feel like Bob Dole. That is, Joseph feels, reports suggest, like Bob Dole).

Until then, excelsior!

(Oh, and here’s the link promised somewhere above in that sea of text, and by here, I mean, after a few more letters and a punctuation mark or two, one of which is the colon at the end of this needlessly long final clause):

Friday, September 14, 2012

Call for papers: IRSCL biennial conference in The Netherlands

Call for papers

Read on for information about the IRSCL's biennial conference, held next August in The Netherlands.

The 21st biennual conference of the International Research Society for Children’s Literature (IRSCL) on Children’s Literature and Media Cultures will be hosted by the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, Maastricht University, The Netherlands.

Conference Convenor: Lies Wesseling

Conference dates: August 10-14, 2013

Conference theme:

Contemporary children and adolescents divide their time over many different media. These media do not develop in isolation. Rather, they shape each other by continually exchanging content and modes of mediation. This conference addresses the exchanges between children’s literature and adjacent media (oral narrative, theatre, film, radio, TV, digital media).

Media are best defined as cultural practices that forge specific links between senders and receivers of messages, facilitating certain types of communicative behavior. As newer media tend to imitate, if not absorb, older media, they force older media to reassert their uniqueness and indispensability in a rapidly changing media landscape. How has children’s literature staked out its own niche in these historically variable ‘mediascapes’ in the course of time? How do electronic and digital media affect children’s emergent literacy and literary competence? How have children’s books and the newer electronic and digital media impacted on children’s play? What sort of communicative behaviors are facilitated by the diverse media available to children and adolescents nowadays? Which ethical and political issues are raised by the fact that children’s literature has to share its claim to the audience’s attention with a whole gamut of alternative media? These questions are central to the 21st biennual conference of the IRSCL.

The aim of the conference is to strengthen the ever closer ties between children’s literature scholars and media experts, and to bridge the gap between hermeneutic methods from the humanities and empirical, experimental methods from the social sciences.

Deadline for the submission of abstracts: October 1, 2012.

Confirmed Keynote Speakers: Adriana Bus, Gudrun Marci-Boehncke, Jackie Marsh, Kerry Mallan, Yunko Yokota

For further information about the conference, the call for papers, and the submission of abstracts, please visit

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Reflections on Roald Dahl

Today would have been Roald Dahl's 96th birthday; children and adults alike celebrate his literary legacy today on what is also the 6th annual Roald Dahl Day. In keeping with that spirit, we share the following interview in The Huffington Post with Michael Rosen, former Children's Laureate in the UK and Dahl's "biggest fan" who recently wrote a biography of the author, Fantastic Mr. Dahl, aimed for children.

A thoughtful look into Dahl's continuing legacy can also be found in this piece in which Roald Dahl's widow, Liccy, talks about her husband's life.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Pakistani Children's Literature Festival This Week

Click here for Program Details
The second annual Children's Literature Festival (CLF) in Pakistan is taking place on September 12-13. CLF 2012 intends to reprise the success of CLF 2011, the first national literary festival for children ever.  It was founded by Ameena Saiyid, Managing Director of Oxford University Press in Pakistan, and Baela Raza Jamil, Director of Idara-e-Taleem-o-Aagahi (ITA) or the Center of Education and Consciousness, with the purpose of advocating reading across the country.  

The development of reading, writing and critical thinking skills of children are the primary focus. The CLF is designed to entice children to engage in discussions and book reviews while they learn about book writing/making and experience literature through performance (puppet shows, music, and theatre).  Educators are also invited to attend sessions on promoting mother tongue learning, the need and power of libraries, and creative and alternative teaching methods to engage and stimulate the students.  

This year, CLF will be held in two cities, first in Quetta this week, and next in Peshawar on November 14-15, in order to reach children and educators on as large a scope as possible. As a woman of Pakistani descent, I am excited to see such initiative and vision emerge and take shape the way this pursuit has. I look forward with anticipation to the growth in the literary heritage of Pakistan as a result.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Two thoughtful essays about 9/11

Today marks the anniversary of the tragic events of September 11, 2001. We invite our readers to read the essay below, written by former NCSCL director and SDSU Emeritus Professor Jerry Griswold for the Irish magazine "Inis," in which he discusses how things changed in his classes after the terrorist acts of 2001.

Another thoughtful response to the events of 9/11, this time by the late great David Foster Wallace, is linked here:

Monday, September 10, 2012

Greetings from the staff of the SDSU Children's Literature Center!

Welcome to the Fall 2012 semester at the Center for Children's Literature at San Diego State University! My name is Jill Coste, and my colleague Alya Hameed and I are excited to start posting regularly here about all the fascinating things going on in the field of Children's Literature. Along with the director of the Center, Dr. Joseph T. Thomas, Jr., and the other children's literature faculty here at SDSU, we are excited to contribute to the online conversation about children's lit and its many iterations.

But first, we'd like to extend a big thank you to Dr. Alida Allison, who maintained this blog and posted a spate of interesting links last year. Dr. Allison also established the Children's Literature Book Review service, which has an archive of hundreds of reviews here. Dr. Allison's enthusiasm for and commitment to the Center for Children's Literature is an excellent example for us as we move forward.

About Jill and Alya:

As I mentioned earlier, my name is Jill Coste, and this is my third year working with the Children's Lit Center as a part-time graduate student. I'll receive my M.A. in English Literature in May 2013. Throughout my time at the Center, I've enjoyed reviewing books (thanks, publishers, for sending them to us!), creating a new book review site (over here), and learning about the world of children's literature scholarship. I am particularly interested in representations of psychological disorders in young adult fiction; I received an award from the Children's Literature Association for a paper I wrote examining examples of obsessive-compulsive disorder in the books Harriet the Spy, Dangerous Angels, and Wintergirls. My other research interests lie in gothic horror, border identity, and fairy-tale retellings, and I'm also fixated on contemporary Dystopian novels and their overwhelming prevalence in today's market. So you can expect to see some blog posts that address those areas.

Now I'll turn it over to Alya Hameed, whose input on this blog is going to be awesome:

Hi everyone!  My name is Alya, and I'm incredibly excited to be one of the new bloggers here. I've just started my first semester at SDSU in the English M.A. program specializing in Children's Literature, and while I am new to the game here, I have dipped my feet into the pool of children's lit before. As an undergraduate at UC Berkeley, I had the opportunity to facilitate a course on the analysis of the Harry Potter series. I am not ashamed to admit there was Quidditch involved, but also an extensive amount of critical reading as well. That was my first foray into the scholarship of children's literature, and I look forward to diving deeper and sharing with you my discoveries, as well as what's going on here in the Center and at SDSU. Along with young adult novels, I have a growing interest in global and cross-cultural children's literature and literacy, the world of illustrators, and pop culture. I also have a penchant for the various symbolic connections between food and stories, so you might find some intriguing posts or events to savor from time to time.

Once again, I'm thrilled to begin sharing with you the scintillating happenings within the realm of Children's Lit!