Monday, December 24, 2012

New Reviews: Holiday Picturebooks

Happy holidays to all! This blog will be quiet for a little while as its writers eat cookies and read for pleasure, but I wanted to pop in and direct you to a couple of new reviews on our sister site, SDSU Children's Literature Reviews. Last week saw reviews of Polar Slumber, The Golden Christmas Tree, and Deck the Halls. Additionally, see this link for an archive of holiday-themed picture books. If you have any holiday favorites, please feel free to share in the comments!

Friday, December 21, 2012

This is the Way the World Ends: Top Ten Post-Apocalyptic Young Adult Novels

In honor of the end of the Mayan calendar, I'd like to share my favorite post-apocalyptic books for teens. I'm using the term "post-apocalyptic" loosely, here. Some of these books are set in a distant future, when society has rebuilt itself (in an appropriately dystopic manner), and others focus on the immediate aftermath of a catastrophic event. But they all share the same idea: that nothing is the same as it used to be.

1. Life As We Knew It, by Susan Beth Pfeffer. When a meteor hits the moon and knocks it out of its standard orbit, the environmental effects are disastrous. Massive tidal waves wipe out all coastal cities, long-dormant volcanoes erupt and choke the sky with ash so that the sun can no longer warm the earth. If you want to be freaked out by the idea of being able to do absolutely nothing in the face of a natural disaster, go ahead and give this book a look-see.

2. Ashes, by Ilsa Bick. Part lost-in-the-woods survival story, part zombie apocalypse, part dystopia, Ashes is the kind of book you'll want to read with the lights on.

3. Blood Red Road, by Moira Young. Whether another world or a ravaged Earth, the setting for Blood Red Road is bleak and dusty. Think the salt flats in Utah, or a dessicated Salton Sea. The story, though brutal at times (particularly when the main character is forced into cage fighting), is ultimately uplifting.

4. Legend, by Marie Lu. I attended an author talk in which Marie Lu admitted that part of the inspiration for writing this book was this: she saw a map of the projected changes to North America with drastic global warming, and Southern California was all but wiped from the landscape. An Angeleno, Lu mused "What if my hometown was completely ravaged?" Legend features a Los Angeles like you've never imagined.

5. Empty, by Suzanne Weyn. What if we really do run out of fossil fuels? Empty imagines a not-so-far future in which that happens. Neighborhoods go dark, nobody can drive, and global warming sends massive storms across the continental U.S. This book is realistic enough to make you want to go out and buy an electric car to help assuage the need for fossil fuels and a crap-ton of matches and canned goods for when we run out of them anyway.

6. Gone, by Michael Grant. Not quite so much post-apocalyptic as teenager's fantasy. When all the adults suddenly poof! disappear, children and teenagers must form a new society on their own.

7. Partials, by Dan Wells. A virus has wiped out everyone in the world except for a small community of survivors in what used to be Long Island. The science-fiction element of a virus that kills newborn babies -- so that no life may ever thrive again -- is compelling, but what really stands out in this novel is a Manhattan that has been overtaken by nature in the wake of human disaster.

8. Ready Player One, by Ernest Cline. Overpopulation has forced people into trailer parks that climb into the sky, and everyone now functions within a giant global internet that has usurped the need for any human interaction. While the outside world is disturbing, the universe inside the internet is amazing. Ernest Cline should win a prize for world-building. Read this book. You will be in awe. And if you're a child of the 70s or 80s, you'll enjoy the dozens of references to the pop culture of your childhood.

9. The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins. Do I really need to say anything about this one? It's chilling and thrilling, and if you haven't read it, what's it like under that rock?

10. Pure, by Julianna Baggott. This one earns the prize of best-book-I've-read-all-year. In a frightening future where nuclear detonations have changed the face of the planet and the faces of the people, main characters Pressia and Partridge must figure out what brought them together and what the real significance of the Dome is. The Dome -- a sheltered area around the erstwhile Washington D.C. -- is home to the "Pures," people who were untouched by the detonations. Those not so lucky to make it to the dome (basically everyone who wasn't rich or otherwise already privileged) fused to whatever was nearest at the time of the explosions, resulting in a new society of mutated humans. With themes of gender difference, familial obligation, disability, political unrest, science fiction, abjection, and class difference running through this book, it is ripe for analysis and discussion.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Publishing Response to Sandy Hook

As an offshoot of Alya's post from Monday, I wanted to share this short piece from Publishers Weekly. The article highlights the books and other goods that publishers and bookstore owners are sending to Newtown. In particular, Tanglewood Publishing is donating hundreds of copies of Audrey Penn's The Kissing Hand, which focuses on the great leap young children take when separating from their parents to go to school.

From Publishers Weekly:

"Kim Pescatelli, a Connecticut mother and knitter, knew that many schools use Audrey Penn’s The Kissing Hand (Tanglewood Books) in kindergarten to help ease children’s anxiety about being separated from their family during the school day. Her idea: to give a copy of the book along with a pair of Kissing Hand mittens with hearts on the palm to children in Newtown." Read the rest of the article here.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

CFP from the ChildLit GSA: Transformations in Children's and Young Adult Literature

The SDSU ChildLit GSA is very excited to announce our first CFP for the 2012-2013 academic year:
Call For Papers
Open to All SDSU Graduate Students 
Publication: Leafy Lofts: A Journal by and for Those Who Take Whimsy Seriously
Topic: Transformations in Children’s and Young Adult Literature
Submission Deadline: February 1, 2013

Leafy Lofts, the online journal founded by the ChildLit Graduate Student Association, will harness the creative identity of the SDSU graduate student body by showcasing their work. We are accepting submissions from graduate students in all disciplines who have projects related to the study of children’s literature or culture. Unconventional topics and approaches are encouraged; creative and quirky articles are given just as much merit as traditional scholarly articles.

The theme of the inaugural issue is Transformations in Children's and Young Adult Literature. Subjects may include but are not limited to stories of maturation, physical transformations, or the transformations of the genre itself (see topics below for suggestions). The potential organizational structure of the journal will include conference papers (past or present), reviews of scholarly books, articles on the visual elements of children's literature, and original artwork. Because of our opportunity of exposure to Chicano/a children’s literature, we particularly welcome any submissions on the topic of border identity.

Scholarly articles should be conference paper-length (between 7-10 pages, double-spaced, in MLA citation style); conference papers past and present are welcome. Book reviews should be about 2-3 pages, double-spaced. Articles about the visual elements and other informal articles have no page requirements.* Original artwork needs to be submitted in JPEG format.

Topics can include but are not limited to:
Analysis of children's movies
Portrayal of adolescence
Physical transformations into fantastical forms
Transformations of readers' minds
Sociological implications of the popularity of e-books for children
Contemporary interpretations of children's tales
Transformations of the child body
Changes in the genre and its reception
Monumental texts that changed the genre (past and present)
Transformation of fairy tales (retellings in various media)
Any other interpretation of "transformations"

Review Process:
The review process for submissions will include a double blind peer review. The final selections for publication will be based on recommendations from the peer reviewers and a committee from the ChildLit GSA. 

Submission Specifications:
Send your submissions to
  1. State in the subject heading the type of work being submitted: scholarly article, book review, article on visual aspects, or original artwork
  2. In the body of the email, include your name, contact information, title of your work, and abstract (250 words max)
  3. All papers should be attached as a Word document (.doc or .docx). Include ONLY the title (do NOT include your name or contact information in the paper)
  4. All artwork should be attached as a JPEG. If the file size is too large to be sent via email, please contact us directly to arrange an alternative method of submission.

*Copyright Information: Please note that due to copyright laws, there may be images that we will not be able to reproduce; it is up to you to confirm, obtain, and provide us with proof of copyright permission. Otherwise, we can include legitimate links to artwork/images if provided.

Any Questions? Contact ChildLit GSA at

ChildLit GSA website (still a work-in-progress):

Monday, December 17, 2012

Thoughtful Pieces on Coping and Helping Children

The tragic events last Friday at Sandy Hook Elementary School have left a cold numbness on everyone's hearts and minds. As a graduate student of children's literature, I feel a pang whenever I glance at my children's books--part of why I pursue this is because of the light these stories bring to kids, the excitement, amazement, and comfort they glean from these silly and not-so-silly books.  As such, I particularly appreciated this article on the Huffington Post, about the comfort and strength reading offers in times of trauma. I especially think using children's books to help kids cope--be it focusing on loss, heroes, or families--enables them to connect their emotions more easily to positivity and hope.

Two other thoughtful pieces on how to guide children through a traumatic experience can be found on:
Educating Alice
The Moving Castle

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Books that Cast a Spell on Me

I'm a big fan of magic: fantastical worlds, untapped energies, roaring spells and philosophical beings that emerge due to a magical universe and reveal deeper elements of humanity. It's what gets my imagination racing with joyful adrenalin. I've shared before with friends, peers, and you that the magic of the Harry Potter series guided me back to children's literature as a whole to discover the possibilities in studying and pursuing it. All comes back to magic... And yet while reminiscing about some of my favorite books from childhood, I realized that the idea of magic without magic is a powerful component of many of my early books--the spells the stories cast was upon my imagination and creativity. So here I am sharing a few, just a handful, of books that I am indebted to for waking up different facets of fantastical thinking in my mind:

1. Bunnicula by Deborah and James Howe -- Long before vampires became the sparkly creatures of every teenagers dream, their mystique inhabited a little rabbit, raising the suspicions of the family's keen observant cat, Chester. As a child I adored rabbits and the intrigue of this tale played upon that love completely, making me much more curious, observant, and thoughtful about the ordinary people, places, and animals around me.

2. Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH by Robert C. O'Brien -- the ultimate presence of science astounded me, making the characters more accessible and memorable for me.  The balance between intelligence and the heart twisted around the idea of where magic resides, and the sweet protagonist mother mouse Mrs. Frisby has the coolest name too (who doesn't love frisbees? come on).

3. The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery -- You know how he tames the fox, makes it love him and loves it back in return? Yeah, I may have tried that over and over again with the wild bunnies around our home when I was little. Perhaps it didn't work, but I certainly came to care for my little bunny more and more at least. That of course is just one of the epic reasons I love this story.

4. Frindle by Andrew Clements -- Okay I wasn't actually a child when I read this. It was my brother's and I must have been about 15 or so when I did. Nevertheless, it resonates with me always as the perfect depiction of the power of words, creativity, and idea formation in the real world. Plus, I considered time and time again what word would I want to create... still working on it.

What books wove magic spells and enchantments around you simply by their ideas? What shaped your imagination as a youngling? Do share! 

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

"Hey baby, what's your faction?"

In keeping with the theme of easy distraction this week, I have a couple of fun diversions for you. I recently read Veronica Roth's Divergent, which came out in 2011 and was hailed as the perfect option for readers who couldn't get enough of The Hunger Games. In Divergent, another young adult dystopian thriller, the society is divided into five factions, each representing a shared set of very specific values. The factions -- Abnegation, Amity, Candor, Dauntless, and Erudite -- have their own respective codes of conduct, and the people within them are defined by the characteristics of their faction. For example, the members of Dauntless get around town by jumping on and off of moving trains, and the selfless members of Abnegation always carry extra food to give to the homeless. Amity is filled with friendly, peaceable types; Candor is home to the artless; and Erudite finds its members spending their days in the library.

Of course, there are problems with essentializing an entire community of people, but if there weren't problems, there wouldn't be a book. And much as you may resist wanting to categorize yourself and others, it's difficult to read this book and not consider which faction you would inhabit. To that end, here are three online quizzes that sort you into your faction. (Much like Hogwarts' fabled sorting hat.)

Quiz One
Quiz Two
Quiz Three

Monday, December 10, 2012

Monday Pick-Me-Ups

Oh joy, it's Monday and surely you need a pick-me-up if, like me, you had a raucously wild weekend of writing, and writing, and thinking about writing, and being distracted from writing. So here, two delightful looks back on the excellence that is Children's Lit:
  1. Writers' Favorite Classic Book Illustrations -- compiled on The Guardian, authors share the images that best capture the innocence, terror and enchantment of children's stories, images that mean the most to them.
  2. The Year in Miscellanea at 100 Scope Notes -- from Most Disgusting Moment to Jawline of the Year (with some blue LEGOs and a bookmark here and there), this review of 2012 in Children's Lit is really like none other. Really. Even toenail clippings make a cameo. And that is what makes it brilliant.
Hope they lift your spirits up!

Friday, December 7, 2012

Newest Issue of Through the Looking Glass available online

The most recent issue of Through the Looking Glass, an online journal featuring scholarly explorations in children's literature, is available for viewing at this link. General Editor David Beagley states that articles in this issue "explore the huge changes that loom in children's and YA literature through the new world of online media."

Articles that exemplify this include Stephanie di Palma's "Blogging or Believing? Do themes presented by scholarly discourse correlate with the casual conversations of people through the world wide web?" and David Beagley's "Blurring the Boundaries: the changing i-Discourse of children's literature."

This issue also introduces a new column, called A Tortoise's Tale, which features school and classroom issues and ideas. In the inaugural contribution, Amanda von der Lohe discusses the consequences of censoring classic literature in an article titled "Old Jim Won’t Be a N*gger No More: Ramifications of Using Censored Versions of Adventures of Huckleberry Finn in the Classroom."

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Diverse Books for Diverse Readers in the Classroom

An interesting article about diversity (or lack thereof) of children's lit in classrooms cropped up on the NY Times a few days ago. Speaking directly about young Latino/a readers, the article raises questions about the accessibility of multicultural children's books that speak to a child's particular culture. I've mentioned my own experience in lack of exposure to my cultural background from books as a child, and those reflections along with this article make the issue abundantly clear: the books are out there--they do exist--but their lack of presence in schools makes it all the more difficult for kids to be aware of and seek out those books.

So how to work around that? Well, there are countless diverse blogs for one, you need only run a search to find one you like. But the NY Times has pulled together their own resource as well: Books to match Diverse Readers, a collection of first chapters from diverse books for second to fourth graders highlighting black, Latino, Asian, American Indian or Alaska Native cultures.

Nevertheless, as more books get exposure, our collective awareness and understanding gets stronger too. Authors like Julia Alvarez, Pam Muñoz Ryan, Alma Flor Ada and Gary Soto are familiar, but can we expand that? I personally feel uninformed in many ways, and hope to change that quite soon, if only to be able to recognize authors and identify the wealth of their works in a snap. On a side note, I happened to play a pick-up tennis game with Gary Soto in Berkeley a few years ago (which was totally awesome by the way). I hadn't the slightest clue who he was though until he finally shared with me bit by bit, yikes.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Top Ten Books I'd Want On A Deserted Island

Oh, hey, remember when I did two other top ten lists? I'm still not on a regular rotation joining in the group of bloggers who consistently do the Top Ten Tuesday lists hosted by The Broke and the Bookish blog, but I haven't forgotten about this charming little meme. The next one I'm going to tackle is this: The Top Ten Books I'd Want On A Deserted Island.

Is it possible to narrow this list down to just ten? If I were stranded on a deserted island, I would want an entire library. Stranded, with no outside obligations? Think of all the reading time! I mean, after I hunt for food, find a water source, and build a sophisticated fort for shelter, of course. But if I'm limited to ten, these will do the trick:

1. Castaway. I've written about this book before. I'll want it on the deserted island for survival tips.

2. Speaking of survival tips, I'm going to cheat a little: obviously I will need The Worst Case Scenario Survival Handbook.

3. The Velveteen Rabbit. Because I'm going to want to cry over something other than how much I miss home.

4. War and Peace. Because when else am I going to have the time to read this book?

5. Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince. Because it is the best one.

6. Anna and the French Kiss. Because it is tres charmant, and I will want to escape into a fluffy world of teenage friendship and romance.

7. Macbeth. So that I can recite Lady McB's monologues without fear that anyone will overhear my awkward attempts at acting Shakespeare.

8. The Grimm Reader. Because even (especially?) on a deserted island, I'm going to need fairy tales for escape and imagination.

9. Kate Bernheimer's My Mother She Killed Me, My Father He Ate Me. To compare these 40 re-envisioned fairy tales (by a variety of authors) to the classics represented in The Grimm Reader.

10. A GIANT blank journal, so that I can write my own story.

What books would you want on your lonely island?

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

You Get to Answer Hamlet's Eternal Question, and Much More

Do you remember the Choose Your Own Adventure books? How you would try to carefully pick and navigate through this maze of pages in order to emerge triumphant? Or rather, like me, in search of every untimely demise the author had to offer? Oh, childhood.  Well, a Canadian comic book writer, Ryan North, is writing one... on Hamlet (read about it here). And the premise alone is brilliant.  at least a hundred different storylines and outcomes (one of which is actually the Shakespearean original, if you choose your path the way the Bard intended), all carefully construed around the characters and drawn from their personalities and histories. I think it sounds fabulous and enriching--literary adventures are the most grueling and daring of all! And rather a concise, in-one-volume approach or reimagining of the many ways people write or create stories based on a classic or well-read book--what they imagine characters might be like in a different situation, or had they chosen a different path. The best part might be learning all the details you don't realize are included in the play itself until they manifest themselves into the dead character whose ghost you are now following.

But you must also read about how other people must agree with me because of the money he has raised on Kickstarter. It will shock you. And perhaps return some faith in humanity's love for creativity, imagination and the written word (as well as exceptional illustrations from at least 30 different artists).

So I wonder, will CYOA books come back to the forefront? I loved them as a kid, but their existence whittled away. On the one hand, one might think an author would have a difficulty truly developing a character or plot, and bringing up all encompassing themes seems like an impossibility; thus authors may not find it rewarding or fulfilling to their purpose. And yet, as I hope will be the case with this, the world is all the more fine-tuned and detailed. Plus, a depth can be found in the characters who may struggle between a right or wrong, a good or bad, and show where their inner demons may lead them (by the way, that inner demon would be you in this case! Hmm...). Something to ponder in your free moments. 

Friday, November 30, 2012

Fairy tales, Villains, and Creativity with Guillermo del Toro

Just a fun and thoughtful read to carry you into the weekend. Guillermo del Toro talks about his current film, Rise of the Guardians, covering the darkness within storytelling to children (or how dark is too dark), bringing fairy tale characters to life as well as making one-dimensional marketing ploys into tangible characters, and other goodies. One of my favorite quotes, on horror versus dark fairy tale movies:
You know, the fairy tale contains a lot more elements of magic and whimsy and the horror story contains a lot more, sort of, almost existential feelings — sort of dread, and ultimately they are similar melodies, played at a very different key.
If you aren't bogged down with final papers and projects and the kind of madness that storms in at the end of a semester, maybe catch the film in theatres this weekend and fill me in on it.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

CFP: Biennial Meeting of the Society for Psychological Anthropology along with the Anthropology of Children & Youth Interest Group

Call for Papers 

Biennial Meeting of the Society for Psychological Anthropology, in conjunction with the Anthropology of Children & Youth Interest Group
April 4-7, 2013
Hyatt Regency Mission Bay, San Diego, CA

For the first time the Society for Psychological Anthropology biennial meeting will be held jointly with the Anthropology of Children and Youth Interest Group (ACYIG). Psychological anthropology examines the relation among social processes, cultural meanings and human subjectivities. Psychological anthropologists study topics such as narrative, identity, experience, emotion, memory, discourse, belief, motivation, conceptualization, gender, sexuality, trauma, mental illness, stigmatization and psychological development in social and cultural contexts.

The anthropology of children and youth is the cross-cultural and ethnographic examination of infants, children, youth and adolescents. It examines such topics as child development across time and space (physical, cognitive, emotional, social); parenting, childcare and child-rearing around the world; the evolution of childhood; the impact of globalization on children and their families and communities; child health; child education and learning; children’s participation in their cultures; the socio-historical construction of childhood; child agency and vulnerability; children’s rights; the political lives of children; and critical studies of childhood.

For this biennial we welcome proposals for panels and papers representing innovative work in either field. Historical, applied and methodological topics are welcome as well.

In addition to panels and discussion groups, we will also schedule plenary sessions, coffee breaks and receptions that will bring our group together and facilitate informal conversation and networking. Saturday afternoon the ACYIG will hold a business meeting. There will be a banquet on Saturday night, highlighted by presentation of the SPA Lifetime Achievement Awards to Anthony Wallace and Jean Lave.

Panel, Discussion Group and Paper Submissions

The deadline for submitting panel and paper proposals is December 18, 2012, but earlier submissions are encouraged. Proposals for panels, groups, and papers should be SUBMITTED HERE.

Both individual papers (15 minutes) and full panels (1 hour and 45 minutes) are welcome. Younger scholars are particularly encouraged to suggest panel, paper or discussion group topics. Abstracts are required for individually submitted papers, for panels and for each paper on a panel (panel abstract and abstracts for the papers on the panel should be submitted together) and no abstract should be longer than 250 words.

Each participant is allowed to have two formal roles: to give a paper, and to be a discussant. However, we encourage the submission of less formal sessions as well. In these less formal sessions, participation does not count against the two-role rule. A discussion session can be formed by listing people who will speak for no more than five minutes, and then opening up the floor to general discussion. In this case, the session requires a session abstract but no abstracts from participants. A workshop is a focused discussion around a practical theme: for example, publication venues, team ethnography, specific methods, etc. Again, the workshop format presumes that papers are not given and the primary focus is discussion. A workshop requires a workshop abstract, but no abstracts from participants. Film and poster proposals are also welcome.  

Information on the registration process is forthcoming.

The Conference Hotel and Venue
The meeting will be held at the Hyatt Regency Mission Bay in San Diego, CA. The Hyatt Regency Mission Bay and Marina is a resort near Sea World. It features waterfront rooms, a health club, spa, fire pits, water slides and a marina with kayaks and whale excursions. Workers at the Hyatt Regency Mission Bay are represented by UNITE-HERE. This hotel is on the approved list of the AAA Committee on Labor Relations.

For more information, contact Claudia Strauss (SPA President):

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Details for Peter Pan & Wendy Discussion Circle, Thursday Nov 29

This Thursday (Nov 29) at 6:30 pm in the SDSU Black Box Experimental Theater, The National Center for the Study of Children's Literature, in collaboration with director Margaret Larlham, SDSU's School of Theatre, Television, & Film, and our own Children's Literature Graduate Student Association, will be leading a discussion circle about J.M. Barrie and Peter Pan. This discussion can be part of your experience of seeing the production of Peter Pan and Wendy now showing at the Don Powell theatre or simply for your own edification (attending the show is not mandatory, and the discussion circle is FREE). Please tell your students and friends, and plan on attending yourselves. It should be a wonderful event, with or without (though especially WITH) the added delight of Peter Pan and Wendy.

Participants include Joseph Thomas, the director of the NCSCL, children's literature scholar Mary Galbraith, the director Margaret Larlham, and SDSU English graduate students (and ChildLit Grad Student Association members) Kelsey Wadman, Alya Hameed, Alix Lombardo, Lauren Benard, and Jill Coste.

Please attend! For more information, follow the link above to the School of Theatre, Television, & Film's Peter Pan & Wendy site, or contact Joseph Thomas at

Notable Tales Rooted in Forests

Recently I read an article on The Guardian about the most notable or evocative presence of forests in literature, at least the most loved appearances from the perspective of the author, Sara Maitland. What matters in her compilation is that the forest exists as its own entity, overpowering the story and characters with both terror and delight. From children's to adult literature, she describes the magic of these forests, magic beyond a spell or wand. Do you agree with her choices? What would you add to the list? (For my part, I can't imagine leaving out Tolkien's Lord of the Rings series. The Ents!) Check out the article here.

Monday, November 26, 2012

CFP: Comics, Picturebooks and Childhood

Call for Papers: Special issue Journal of Graphic Novels and Comics (

Special Issue Editors: Dr. Mel Gibson (University of Northumbria), Dr. Kay Sambell (University of Northumbria), Dr. Golnar Nabizadeh (The University of Western Australia).

This special edition will explore links between graphic novels and comics in relation to childhood. Both have been studied in relation to how they work (key examples being Maria Nikoljeva and Carole Scott's How Picturebooks Work and Thierry Groensteen's The System of Comics). The history, specific creators, culture and audiences for these media have also been areas of research. Focusing on the links across illustration, graphic narratives and visual culture, this special issue will offer critical examinations of the field of comics and picturebooks.

Comics and picturebooks are not typically considered together, although some research has done so, including Mel Gibson's article "Graphic Novels, Comics and Picturebooks" in the Routledge Companion to Children's Literature and David Lewis's "Oops!: Colin McNaughton and 'Knowingness'" in Children’s Literature in Education.

In relation to audience, comics and picturebooks have frequently been associated with younger readers, despite the two being very flexible media which can be used to address readers of all ages on any topic. When such assumptions are dominant, this is usually related to perceptions of what might be ‘appropriate’ content.

Sometimes controversy is about an entire medium, as John A. Lent outlines in "Comics Controversies and Codes: Reverberations in Asia." This chapter, in the book Pulp Demons: International Dimensions of the Postwar Anti-Comics Campaign, examined how manga comics were seen as having an impact upon the health and morals of young people in South Korea, Japan, the Philippines and Taiwan between the 1940s and the 1980s.

Equally, controversy might focus on a single text, as was the case in relation to the British publication of Jenny Lives with Eric and Martin by Suzanne Bösche (originally published in Denmark as Mette bor hos Morten og Erik), one of the first picturebooks focusing on homosexuality and family structure. This single text was a key element in Britain in the introduction of Section 28 of the Local Government Act 1988, which forbade the "promotion" of homosexuality by local government.

In both of these cases, what may be seen to underpin controversy relating to these media are social constructions of childhood, a concept developed within Childhood Studies and perhaps best illustrated by Allison James and Alan Prout in the book Constructing and Reconstructing Childhood.

This issue also constitutes an attempt to extend the scope of scholarship on the comic and the picturebook beyond US/UK and European critical frameworks by highlighting Asian and Australian visual cultures and contexts.

Suggested topics for proposals include, but are not limited to, the following:

- Creators who work with both these media, such as Raymond Briggs and Shaun Tan.

- Picturebook creators who are influenced by comics. For example, the ways in which the work of Maurice Sendak is influenced by that of Winsor McCay.

- Comics for children and constructions of childhood

- Controversies around comics, picturebooks, childhood and child readers

- Defining the borders and emerging areas in comic book scholarship

- Manga, comics and picturebooks

- Comic book conventions and avant-garde innovations

- Divergences and intersections between comic books and picturebooks

- When and how does a comic book creator become perceived as a picture book creator?

- In what ways do constructions of childhood as innocent and vulnerable impact what is considered suitable content in a comic or picture book?

Deadline for proposals for 5000-7000 word articles is March 31, 2013 (for issue 5:1, June/July 2014 of the Journal of Graphic Novels and Comics, Send proposals to Dr. Mel Gibson at

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Fun Little Links

It's been a few weeks since I last posted a round up of interesting children's literature links, and since we've got a short holiday week, now seems like a good time for some diversion. Happy Thanksgiving to our readers!

Would The Hunger Games be picked up if it were submitted to a publisher today? While it's kind of a silly question to ask of a book that is only four years old, this blog entry on i09 examines the responses from publishing insiders. (But it really boils down to is a chicken-or-the-egg question. Yes, the market is saturated with dystopias. But didn't The Hunger Games encourage that publishing trend?)

This 6-year-old child in Great Britain took Hasbro to task for gender inequality in their game "Guess Who?" In response to her honest question about why there are only 5 girls compared to 19 boys in the classic board game, Hasbro spouted some mumbo-jumbo about statistics. The following response by the little girl's mother is pretty classic. I hope that her question - why is female gender considered a "characteristic" while male gender is not? - will have the gamemakers furrowing their brows in thoughtful reconsideration. Check it out!

And speaking of gender, this thoughtful blog entry on The Horn Book's website looks at gender-neutral books for children.

Oh man, you guys, this is the best site about fairy tales EVER.

Page To Screen: What popular YA books are next in line for Hollywood? I haven't read Warm Bodies, but the trailer for the movie looks very charming.

Anyone out there have a first edition copy of Anne of Green Gables? You could make yourself a cool $10,000 if you were willing to part with it. Read here.

Until next time!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Kidlit Cares Disaster Relief

A beautiful effort is being made to raise funds for those afflicted by the devastation of Hurricane Sandy at the end of October, one that I really meant to share much earlier. No matter, there's still time to participate in the KidLit Cares Auctions for Superstorm Sandy Relief. Just take a moment to scroll through the various auctions set up -- Skype visits from authors, signed manuscripts, critiques on anything from illustrations and picture books to chapters of novels with notable editors and agents, website design, and more.

All offerings revolve around the development of Children's Lit, and all proceeds will go directly to the Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund.  Definitely an inspired way of getting people involved that benefits everyone. Read more about it and the creators Kate Messner and Joanne Levy.  And if you're interested, participate soon--the auctions start wrapping up this week.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Current ChildLit Activities around SDSU

Some goings-on around campus...

1. If you've visited the English Lit department's website recently you might have noticed a news item freshly featured on the front page, highlighting the impressive activities of Professor Jenny Minitti-Shippey and students of her Class on Literary Editing and Publishing (ENGL 576).  Her students have created an insightful and creative array of web journals centered around different genres and aspects of young people's literature. From the multicultural (The Playground Diaries) to dystopian (The Dauntless Review) and all that bizarre stuff in between (The Bizarre Assemblage, for example), these new blogs demonstrate the popular and growing interests of the current era. There are seven literary journals listed that all feature book reviews, interviews, event write ups and more, so peruse the sites and see which ones fit your fancy. Speaking of event highlights...

2. The SDSU Childlit GSA held its first event last Thursday, Nov. 8, at Lestat's Coffehouse and it was a great success. We were introduced to some new faces (and even a random passerby who shared his interests with us too!) and spent the evening immersed in various topics intersecting Pop Culture with Children's Lit. We kicked off the event with a pub(lication) quiz created by GSA President Kelsey Wadman, testing everyone's knowledge of kidlit as it exists in movies, music, and beyond. Congrats to super member Megan Parry for taking home the honor of first place accompanied by a ginormous cupcake. From there we delved into discussions on TV shows and the rise of fairy tale adaptations (Phillip Pullman's new book would have been a great asset for this discussion, come to think of it); book-to-movie adaptations, including the pros and cons when Disney gains the production rights; favorite Disney films/characters and why; and the occasional tangent into conference experiences or imaginary friends. It was a fruitful discussion which culminated with reviewing Maurice Sendak's appearance on the Colbert Report, which served as icing on the (cup)cake.

3. Don't forget! The Peter Pan & Wendy theatre performance is almost upon us as well! Performances begin tomorrow (Nov 16) and more news about the Pre-Show Discussion circle should appear shortly. In the meantime, check out the Production Blog for Peter Pan & Wendy.