Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Books for Halloween Time

As a child I enjoyed the occasional spooky story, but the dark and haunting features did not capture my imagination until much later in life. Instead, I am not (entirely) afraid to admit that my favorite "Halloween" book as a young kid was Garfield's Halloween Adventure. A lover of lasagna? And sleeping? On a mission to collect all the candy, candy, candy, candy possible? Who wouldn't relate? So yes, I have fond memories of flipping through my comic adventure every year, the colorful and friendly illustrations carrying me through with humor into a haunting ghost story. Year after year, until that one pivotal moment when my family moved in high school and the box with nearly all my childhood books happened to disappear (that my mom won't admit to having donated them to this day remains a touchy subject).

Nevertheless the memory remains, and that shall suffice (until I end up buying it again out of nostalgia). For now, I will entertain myself with some of popular haunting/scary/Halloween-themed books compiled by the Kid You Not Podcast and BlogHer. These offer a delightful selection from rhyming, humorous picture books to spooky, macabre novels for older kids. In a time where the grotesque has really made its mark with the prevalence of zombies, end-of-the-world rhetoric and violence, turning to books that favor the "creepy" and "haunting" aspects of storytelling can be favorable and refreshing, especially for younger audiences. And who doesn't love a witch trying to find room on her broom for everything?

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Books about Natural Disasters

First of all, I want to express my concern and sympathy for anyone affected by Hurricane Sandy. Out here in San Diego we're having our typical sunny and warm weather, so it's easy for us to gloss over what's happening on the Atlantic Seaboard. But being a major university, SDSU also employs and educates hundreds if not thousands of people who have connections to the East Coast. My family lives in Pennsylvania and my brother-in-law lives in Queens, so I've been anxious about their safety (because I'm really good at worrying). Even if I live in a location where an umbrella is seldom warranted, I'm still thinking a lot about all my waterlogged friends back east.

Along those lines, I would like to share a link of children's books that deal with natural disasters and flooding. Compiled by a University of Missouri librarian, this list of books might be helpful to any children (or adults) wishing to read about natural disasters and how, devastating as they are, they can also really highlight the resilience of the human spirit.

A similar book list is also available in PDF form here.

Reminder: Brown Bag with Kenneth Kidd tomorrow!

Don't forget! Tomorrow, October 31, we are holding our brown bag discussion event  with Professor Kenneth Kidd of the University of Florida. The event will be held at 12 p.m. in room 105 of the Arts and Letters Building and we encourage all interested folks to join. Professor Kidd will lead a discussion of Chapter II of his book, Freud in OZ: At the Intersections of Psychoanalysis and Children’s Literature.

If you still need a copy of this chapter, please email Professor Joseph Thomas and he will share the document with you. 

Poetry International Literary Publishing Salon Featuring Kristy King

Next week is the third installment of Poetry International's Literary Publishing Salons, featuring Kristy King.

King, literary agent and founder of Serial Press, will be speaking on campus Monday, November 5th at 5 pm in PSFA 310 (Professional Studies and Fine Arts). 

After working with Writers House agency for seven years and collaborating on an assortment of children’s and young adult literature, King left the literary agency and started Serial Press, an e-book publishing company focusing on adult and young adult literature. King has taken advantage of the current e-reader trend and developed a site that will produce serialized novels in e-book format over a 6 to 8 week period, allowing the authors to play with the narrative structure of the story. This is not an event to miss out on! Attend the event and learn the ins and outs of publishing, as well as how to start your own company, from a woman who has done it all over the past eight years. There will also be a free snack provided after the event. Don't miss this opportunity to gain insight into the world of publishing!

Monday, October 29, 2012

First ChildLit GSA Forum on November 8th

First ChildLit GSA Forum! 

Where: Lestat's Coffee House @ 3343 Adams Ave 
Topic of the Night: "Children's and Young Adult Lit in Pop Culture"

The first event of the new ChildLit GSA is just around the corner! Come join us as we spend an evening in lively discussion over all things Children's Lit!

The SDSU ChildLit Grad Student Association was recently formed to further the cause of cultivating a lively and engaged community of Children's Lit Enthusiasts. One of our many goals for the coming year and beyond is to hold open discussion forums on general topics concerning Children's Lit. On that note, November 8th marks our first ChildLit Forum, and the general topic of the night will be "Children's and Young Adult Lit in Pop Culture." It's a superb chance to converse about all those cool things you see flying around on TV, the movies, or general media that relate to or emanate from Children's Lit. Feel free to bring anything to share, whether on or off topic--the forum is meant to be a welcoming and casual gathering. But don't worry! The GSA officers are coming prepared with topics too, and possibly a prize cupcake or two.

This Forum is open to all folks interested. That means faculty, grad students, undergrads, and you! So whether you have tons to discuss or you just feel like listening in, please drop by! It also provides an excellent opportunity to meet like-minded peers and scholars of the field.

We'll be holding the event at Lestat's Coffee House on Adams from 7:30 pm to 9:30 pm.

Looking forward to meeting up, hanging out, and chatting up on KidLit! 

For more Information about the ChildLit GSA, please visit our Facebook Page 
And follow us on Twitter (you know you want to!): @SDSUChildLitGSA

Friday, October 26, 2012

Location for 10/31 Brown Bag Session with Kenneth Kidd

We're getting very excited about our brown bag discussion event next Wednesday, October 31! All who are interested are invited to join us at 12 p.m. in room 105 of the Arts and Letters Building. University of Florida professor Kenneth Kidd will will lead a discussion of Chapter II of his book, Freud in OZ: At the Intersections of Psychoanalysis and Children’s Literature.

If you plan to attend and need a copy of this chapter to read, please email Professor Joseph Thomas and he will share the document with you. 

From Publisher's Weekly: The 13 Worst Reviews of Classic Books

Publisher's Weekly has pulled their 13 favorite worst reviews from Bill Henderson's recently reissued Rotten Reviews Redux. Check out this link to see scathing reviews of many of the books considered classics today, from Wuthering Heights to The Great Gatsby. My favorite? "[Walt] Whitman is as unacquainted with art as a hog is with mathematics." Now that's a simile.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

The Scorpions of Zahir and Pilgrimages

I love me a good adventure story.  Add a precocious girl protagonist and that usually makes it better (though I've read the occasional exception wherein I dropped my head in frustration at the utter nauseating perfection of some tailored characters. *sigh*). So far it's only a gut feeling, but I wager that The Scorpions of Zahir, by Christine Brodien-Jones, will not disappoint. I've only just begun this harrowing adventure of a young girl and her family on a suddenly-thrust-upon-them-by-a-flourish-of-fate quest to find and save a sacred lost city in the deserts of Morocco. Still, it leads me to ponder over the answers for many questions: How will the author choose to depict Morocco, its people, its culture? Will the girl, Zagora, begin as a tomboy and "blossom" into something more, or will her inherent qualities be good enough to last? Race, gender, and storytelling. Fun stuff!

In considering this novel as my next adventure, I stumbled upon the author's blog itself: Owl Tracks, and with rapid interest read the a post detailing her inspirations for writing The Scorpions of Zahir. In it, Brodien-Jones reminisces about her own journey to Morocco with her family, a voyage that may have lacked tribal myths and extinct supernatural animals but was rich with culture, indelible experiences and most likely sensational food. And so it seems that great tales are born from equally magnificent life experiences.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Reminder: Brown Bag Session with Prof. Kenneth Kidd on October 31

One week from today at noon in Arts and Letters room 105, the National Center for the Study of Children’s Literature, in collaboration with the Department of English & Comparative Literature, will be holding a brown bag discussion session with University of Florida Professor (and Friend of the Department!) Kenneth Kidd. We’ll be reading Chapter II of his fabulous book, Freud in OZ: At the Intersections of Psychoanalysis and Children’s Literature (“Child Analysis, Play, and the Golden Age of Pooh”). Read more about Professor Kidd and this event here.

If you are interested in joining us and would like a copy of Chapter II, please email Professor Joseph Thomas and he will share the document with you. 

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Job Announcement: Assistant/Associate Professor, Children's and/or Young Adult Literature at The Ohio State University

Title: Assistant/Associate Professor, Children’s and/or Young Adult Literature
Institution: The Ohio State University, College of Education & Human Ecology
Start Date: August 2013

The School of Teaching & Learning is seeking a nine-month, full-time, tenure-track Assistant or Associate Professor with a record of scholarship and a program of research with a focus on children’s and/or young adult literature. In particular we are looking for candidates engaged in systematic inquiry into the nature of children’s and/or young adult literature; how readers develop understandings of and interests in such literature; or the diverse contexts that support engagement with children’s and/or young adult literature. We seek a colleague with a background in children’s literature, young adult literature, library and information sciences, English education, or related fields, who is prepared to teach a range of children’s and/or young adult literature courses.

The School of Teaching and Learning has a commitment to scholarship, teaching, and service that emphasizes educational equity, diversity, and social justice. The School values collaborative scholarship among colleagues, and the person in this position will be expected to seek and establish strong ties with colleagues in and across the College and University, including the Ohio Resource Center, as well as with educators in local school districts.

Preferred Qualifications: experience employing advanced technologies in their teaching and scholarship; experience working in or with urban schools and communities, and who have experience as a teacher in K-12 settings.

Duties: research, teaching and service; collaborating with colleagues to expand world class, fundable scholarship agendas that focus on current and important educational issues; providing leadership to the growth of undergraduate and graduate research initiatives including collaboration with Pre-K-12 schools and other centers; working with and mentoring doctoral students; acting as a resource to School of Teaching and Learning colleagues with an interest in children’s and/or young adult literature; developing on-line courses that enable further access to courses related to children’s and/or young adult literature; attracting and mentoring outstanding students from around the world; other duties as assigned.

APPLICATION: Applicants should submit a letter of application, curriculum vita, a statement describing their program of research, a statement regarding their teaching philosophy, the names with contact information of three references, and two representative scholarly works to:

Dr. Barbara Kiefer, Search Committee Chair
c/o: Lindsay Popa
The Ohio State University
333 Arps Hall
1945 North High Street
Columbus, OH 43210

Electronic applications are encouraged. Inquiries welcome by email to Review of applications will begin on November 30, 2012, and continue until the position is filled.

To build a diverse workforce, Ohio State encourages applications from minorities, veterans, women, and individuals with disabilities. EEO/AA employer.

YA and Child Lit on Immigrants and Hard Times

I came across a list of YA books at The Nerdy Book Club today on the immigrant experience that forced me to reflect on my own heritage and lack of awareness on the literature that best serves the needs of mine and my culture's identity. At some point in my adulthood I realized that even though as a child I had no problem identifying with my parents (hard-working, brilliant doctors who moved here from Pakistan before I was born), our faith, and our sometimes overwhelming culture/community, I never explored anything other than the mainstream literature easily nabbed and consumed at my school library or book stores. So I read it all, and certainly identified with many characters: shy or quiet book lovers, tomboys, middle children, wildly imaginative and twice as stubborn. But the cultural element was always absent. I look back now and wonder how it might have helped and prepared me to relate to "the experience" of the characters rather than only their "traits."
And now, with the direction world politics and dynamics have taken, I am curious what novels are out there for young adults from Muslim families, of Pakistani, Indian, or Middle Eastern descent.  Because I am still far too unfamiliar for my liking.

At any rate, this list was compiled to directly highlight the immigrant struggles of many cultures--Mexican(Crossing the Wire), Japanese (Farewell to Manzanar), and Sudanese (The Good Braider) to name a few. It is a compelling collection and one can still find solidarity and empathy reading any one of these novels no matter your own ethnicity. In fact, the description of each book includes a "common immigrant issue" and does well to narrow in on the pressures and pains particular to childhood. Find the list HERE.

A separate issue, at times relevant to the immigrant struggle but certainly not exclusive to it, is economic hardship. An article in the Kansas City Star discusses one educator's work towards understanding children's literature and an economic education. As a result, Lynn Strover pulled together a short list of books that teach children about the value of money, the freedom it enables, and how to deal with hard times. For kids witnessing their parents' unemployment or the growing need to cutback on expenditures and luxuries, the lessons of these books may serve as a guide for them.  One example is:
Potato: A Tale of the Great Depression. Set in Kansas, this story by Kate Lied focuses on eight-year-old Dorothy who sets off for Idaho with her family in a borrowed car after her father had lost his job. Arriving in Idaho, they work day and night picking the potatoes that will help them survive the depression. In its own way, the story teaches children about the concepts of bartering and trading and getting by with little money.
The Harry Potter books are also featured, which makes sense considering the monetary system created solely for the books, as well as the banking system and issues of wealth versus lower economic classes that come up frequently.

You can view the article and the entire list HERE.

Read more here:

Friday, October 19, 2012

Brown Bag Session with Prof. Kenneth Kidd on October 31

On Wednesday, Oct. 31 at noon (location to be announced) the National Center for the Study of Children’s Literature, in collaboration with the Department of English & Comparative Literature, will be holding a brown bag discussion session with University of Florida Professor (and Friend of the Department!) Kenneth Kidd. We’ll be reading Chapter II of his fabulous book, Freud in OZ: At the Intersections of Psychoanalysis and Children’s Literature (“Child Analysis, Play, and the Golden Age of Pooh”). We’ll make the chapter available to those who are interested next week: details to be announced! (Or go out and buy a copy of the whole book: it’s super duper totes great!)

The Center asked Professor Kidd to write up a little introductory piece, and he kindly obliged us! So we’ll turn things over to the dear doctor K: 

A Few Words by Kenneth Kidd on Kenneth Kidd

In graduate school I had no idea one could specialize in children's literature, so I started out as a nineteenth-century Americanist with side interests in gender/queer studies. I wrote my dissertation on (mostly American) discourses of boyhood from the nineteenth century forward, and that eventually became my first book, Making American Boys: Boyology and the Feral Tale (U of Minnesota Press, 2004). The book explores how the pseudo-science of "boyology" intersects with and draws energy from what I call the "feral tale", the story of a "wild child" raised by animals or otherwise away from human culture. By that point I had gotten active with the Children's Literature Association and also the MLA's Division on Children's Literature. I had also moved from my first faculty appointment at Eastern Michigan University to the University of Florida, where I now teach. Both universities have excellent programs in children's literature and so I've had the benefit of interacting with other like-minded scholars locally as well as through my professional networks. I've published on a number of topics, and have coedited two essay collections that reflect particular interests – Wild Things: Children's Culture and Ecocriticism (Wayne State U Press, 2004) and more recently Over the Rainbow: Queer Children's and Young Adult Literature (U of Minnesota Press, 2012). Both are the first such collections on their respective topics.

My most recent book is Freud in Oz: At the Intersections of Psychoanalysis and Children's Literature, a portion of which I've suggested as reading for the brown bag session (we’ll be reading chapter two, “Child Analysis, Play, and the Golden Age of Pooh”). I had a lot of fun researching and writing this project, which I would describe as intellectual and cultural history rather than literary criticism. It is most definitely not applied psychoanalytic criticism; rather, it's a study of the many relays and exchanges between psychoanalysis and children's literature. Freud in Oz continues some themes and emphases from Making American Boys but is more comprehensively concerned with children's literature. Both projects are basically "history of ideas" scholarship.

I chose the second chapter for our brown bag discussion for several reasons. First, it showcases my general strategy in the book, namely to historicize the relation between psychoanalysis and children's literature while also theorizing new ways of thinking about both. I suggest that the attention of child analysts to the play and "forms" of childhood amounts to a kind of "children's literature" all its own. The chapter makes clear my fascination with the play of tropes (including the trope of play) across multiple discourses and professional registers. Also, the chapter is concerned with a canonical children's book, one of the so-called classics of the so-called Golden Age of Anglo-American children's literature. I'm interested in the uses to which such books are put, how they are mobilized in service of various aims and ends. Finally, Chapter 2 is connected to two book projects now in progress, The Children's Classic, and Philosophy, Theory, and Childhood. The former explores the children's literary classic as a cultural formation and fantasy; the second takes up theory "for beginners" and philosophy "for children," making the case that philosophy and theory depend upon childhood and children's literature more than has been recognized. I'll be reading from a chapter in progress from Philosophy, Theory, and Childhood when I visit next Spring,and I'm very much looking forward to that visit, and to the brown bag discussion on Halloween!

Kenneth's Book Picks (with the understanding, of course, that there's no such thing as Essential Books):

Pierre Bayard, How to Talk About Books You Haven't Read

Lauren Berlant, Cruel Optimism

Jacques Derrida, The Animal That Therefore I Am

James F. English, The Culture of Prestige: Prizes, Awards, and the Circulation of Cultural Value

Emer O'Sullivan, Comparative Children's Literature

Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, Touching Feeling: Affect, Pedagogy, Performativity

Susan Stewart, On Longing: Narratives of the Miniature, the Gigantic, the Souvenir, the Collection

Top Ten Characters Who Influenced Me

For more than a decade of my life, I would set aside time each summer to read Two Moons in August by Martha Brooks. Of course, as a self-professed bookworm, I read numerous novels during the summers of my formative years. But this one in particular made it into my repertoire every year from the time I was 12 until I was well out of college. Two Moons in August tells the story of Sidonie Fallows and her bittersweet life in the weeks leading up to her 16th birthday. The setting is a richly-drawn, rural neighborhood in Canada's Qu'Appelle Valley, where a tuberculosis sanitarium is the only source of business. Sidonie's summer is quiet, as her father works 14-hour days and her mother died not a year before, and her only companions are her mercurial older sister, Bobbi, and Bobbi's paramour, Phil. Though Sidonie meets a new boy on her street, Kieran, and her life is predictably more exciting in the flush of first infatuation, the story doesn't make the fledgling romance its center focus. Rather, the author emphasizes Sidonie's emotional fragility and the shattered nature of her grieving family.

I was utterly obsessed with this book when I first read it as a pre-teen, and it's largely because I felt so connected to Sidonie. Her detailed observations -- like the warmth of a lake under the summer sun or the mealiness of a plum past its prime -- felt like my observations. She hung out with her cat, I hung out with my cat. We both had naturally curly hair that we detested. We both loved to read and think. And we had the same birthday. I think I revisited that book every year not only because I loved the evocative, descriptive writing, but also because I needed to check in with an old friend. I don't re-read Two Moons in August every year anymore, but when I do pick it up, I know Sidonie's mannerisms, clever sense of humor, and hijinks as well as I know any of my friends.

In honor of Sidonie, I want to highlight her and nine other protagonists or characters who are, essentially, a part of who I am. In no particular order:

1. Sidonie Fallows, Two Moons in August. I related to Sidonie's frank commentary ("Don't believe what anybody tells you; naturally curly hair is a royal pain"), her pervasive gloom ("I feel sad and lonely, as though something has just been pulled from deep inside"), and all of her observations about the things around her.

2. Charlie Brown. Don't laugh. I read dozens (maybe hundreds?) of Schulze comics as a kid, and I always sympathized with poor, beleaguered Charlie Brown. Rats!

3. Elsha, Winter of Fire by Sherryl Jordan. This was the first fantasy book I really loved. Elsha was fierce, damaged, and gifted. She was not afraid to confront authority and to push her own limits and those of the people around her. People called her "Firebrand." I wanted to be as dynamic and strong as Elsha.

4. Claudia Kishi, The Babysitters Club by Ann M. Martin. Go ahead and mark this one in the frivolous column if you must, but Claudia made an indelible impact on my young self. (And hey, I never professed to have been a literature scholar at age 10.) With her cracked-out clothing choices (see this link for inspired Halloween ideas) and artistic sensibilities, Claudia was the cool older sister I never had. Plus, she had hiding places for junk food all over her room. I would have tried that, but I was actually allowed to have junk food. (Thanks Mom and Dad!)

5. Hazel, Watership Down by Richard Adams. Level-headed, calm under pressure, and faithful, Hazel was a wonderful blueprint for how to be awesome, whether you're a human or a rabbit. I think the fact that I was tremendously moved by The Velveteen Rabbit also contributed to my utter adoration of Hazel.

6. Dickon, The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett. I used to want to grow up and marry Dickon. Perhaps this subconsciously influenced my decision to marry a kind, green-thumbed fellow with an uncommon name?

7. Frankie Addams, The Member of the Wedding by Carson McCullers. I associate Frankie somewhat with Sidonie, even though their regions are completely different. They're both thoughtful loners coming of age in the mid-century, and each narrator manages to infuse mundane details with a melancholy flavor. Frankie's tireless search for self within her own gangly repression of adolescence is evocative and poignant.

8. Jane Eyre, Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. Oh, Jane. Plain yet bewitching. Repressed yet feisty. Reserved yet witty. She was an exercise in dichotomy, which was just what I needed in a character when I first read this at age 15. Jane will always, always be with me.

9. Tom Sawyer, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain. I couldn't leave 'ol Tom off this list, now could I? Tom was the ideal example of pastoral mischievousness, as frustrating as he was loveable, and well on his way to being a gentleman. 

10. Daniel Ross, The Castaway by Arthur Roth. I was OBSESSED with this book as a child. I must have read it at least a dozen times, never tiring of the adventure story that follows the resourceful and unflagging Daniel, stranded on a rocky island and missing his hometown love with the crooked front tooth. Daniel was my Robinson Crusoe. (A book that my grandfather frequently encouraged me to read but I never got around to doing, because, well, I was so busy reading The Castaway.)

Comic Book News of Note

Some noteworthy YA and children's lit happenings in the realm of comic books can be found on Comic Book Resources. Of particular interest to me (and hopefully you!) are:
  1.  News that Penguin Group will be launching a new wave of graphic novels aimed at young readers.
  2. Sean Kleefeld examines children's comics and graphic novels and their existence outside of the direct market.
  3. The second Mumbai Film and Comics Convention is this weekend which promises to be bigger and better than the first one.
 On that note, just a friendly reminder that today marks the beginning of San Diego Comic Fest (held throughout the weekend). The SDSU Library and a number of students will certainly be there as they are involved in a documentary project about the history of the original Comic-Con.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

To Never Grow Up! Peter Pan & Wendy Production and Pre-show Discussion Circle

Peter Pan & Wendy will appear onstage this fall as part of the SDSU's Theatre, Television and Film season of plays. Professor Joseph Thomas, the director of SDSU's National Center for the Study of Children's Literature is helping to organize a pre-show discussion about J. M. Barrie's play and novel in collaboration with production director Margaret Larlham, dramaturgs Shelley Orr, Erica Paulson, and Jamie Gillcrist, and members of the ChildLit Graduate Student Association on Thursday Nov 29 from 6:30 - 7:00 pm.

Peter Pan & Wendy is a bold, imaginative retelling of the magical tale about a boy who never grows up, and his fantastical adventures with Wendy, her brothers and the Lost Boys in Neverland despite the attempts of the vengeful Captain Hook and his pirates to thwart their plans and hasten their demise. Fairies, pirates and mermaids sing and dance to music provided by a live band - “Tiger Lily and the Brave Ones”. Grassroots magic and puppeteers play out onstage as a love letter to the original story and to the creative theatrical process.

Performance Dates:
Friday Nov 16 at 7:30 pm
Saturday Nov 17 - Sunday Nov 18 at 2:00 pm
Thursday Nov 29 - Friday Nov 30 at 7:30 pm
Saturday Dec 1 - Sunday Dec 2 at 2:00 pm

More details and ticket information can be found on the SDSU Theatre Website

Homelessness in Children's Literature: Call for Articles

Call for Articles

Barnboken journal is accepting submissions on the theme of homelessness.

To be homeless is to be vulnerable. Homelessness implies exclusion, poverty and exile; it conjures up images of rootlessness and marginalization. Yet homelessness does not always lead to exclusion and social deprivation. Seekers and free thinkers who feel “homeless” in contemporary culture can still be part of society. Child homelessness is in this context much more threatening and dangerous. The stakes are higher. But even for the child homelessness can sometimes lead to freedom and growth beyond an oppressive home, community and school. Still, homeless children - whether they are victimized or liberated by it - challenge our conceptions of the good society and the nature of the child. Maybe precisely because of this, homeless children and youth are common in children’s literature. Charles Dickens' Oliver Twist, Laura Fitinghoff’s The Children from Frostmo Mountain, Astrid Lindgren’s Rasmus the Vagabond, and Henning Mankell's Comedia Infantil are just some examples from different periods.

We welcome articles on the topic of homelessness. The purpose of Barnboken’s theme is to identify the various depictions of homelessness in children's literature from different angles and perspectives.

Extended deadline: 1 December 2012. Articles submitted for consideration may not have been previously published or presented in any other context.

Barnboken – Journal of Children’s Literature Research is the only scholarly journal in its field published in Sweden. The main language of the journal is Swedish, but articles written in Danish, Norwegian and English are also welcome. All articles accepted for publication have been peer reviewed by at least two peers and will be published online under an Open Access.

The editorial committee consists of Björn Sundmark, Associate professor, Malmö University, Sweden, Åsa Warnqvist, PhD, Stockholm University, Sweden, and Mia Österlund, Associate professor, Åbo Akademy University, Finland. Barnboken is published with financial support from the Swedish Research Council (Vetenskapsrådet).

Articles accepted will be published in 2013. A guide to our reference and note system may be found at

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

Tik Tik, the Master of Time

Something new on the global front: Announced as the first Pakistani Children's book to be (initially) published in English, Musharraf Ali Farooqi's Tik-Tik The Master of Time was just released on October 4th, becoming the author's third children's book. It tells the adventure of "two children from the planet Nopter who come to Earth searching for a way to grow up faster."Sounds exciting!

You can read more about it here. For more details about the book itself, check out the Facebook page.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Links for a Tuesday

Here are a few items worthy of your interest!

This is a fantastic piece about Grimm's fairy tales and why they should be widely read. "In fairy tales, as in dreams, we are every character."

Check out Philip Nel's blog for a wonderful and informative recap of the Children's Literature and the European Avant-Garde conference our own Joseph Thomas attended a few weeks ago. Scroll to the bottom to see a group picture; can you find ol' JT?

"What Hath Fan Fiction Wrought on the YA Industry?" In an era where Twilight fan fiction can top the NYT bestseller list, what are we to make of this phenomenon? Jezebel takes a gander.

Popular Children's Books of the 80s and 90s. Several of the books on this list were published well before the 80s, so really this list could be called, simply, "popular children's books." But a few of these fall under that category of "long-forgotten but now jogging my memory and making me kind of misty-eyed." If you were a child in the 80s or early 90s, I expect many of these books were on your bookshelf.

Books for Halloween Chills. PhD student and blogger Liz has compiled a nice little reference list for books to get your spine a-tinglin'.

And speaking of creepy, Ransom Riggs, author of Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, has a new book of found photographs out today called Talking Pictures. It strays from Miss Peregrine territory, but it still contains the kinds of evocative pictures that beg for a backstory.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Call for Papers: Child & Book Postgraduate Conference

The annual Child & the Book postgraduate conference is seeking paper proposals for the 9th annual conference, to be held at at the University of Padua - Italy, from March 21 to 23, 2013.

The main theme for the conference is “Children’s Literature, Technology and Imagination.” Scholars can combine it with a visit to the Bologna Children’s Book Fair.

Abstracts are due by 15 November 2012. Please visit this link for more information, or download a PDF of paper-submission details here.

Children's Books on Pinterest Boards

A little bit of fun to start off the week... Children's Books as featured on Pinterest!

For anyone familiar with Pinterest, the 15 boards listed on this site should tickle your senses a bit and remind you of the creativity that stems from simply loving books. For those not so familiar, here's a fun way to immerse yourself into Pinterest, where you can "pin" up all the goodies you find across the web and sort them into themed collections. This collection of boards, compiled on Delightful Children's Books, exhibits all sorts of fun, including edible books (my personal favorite), vintage children's lit illustrations and even book mobiles.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Multicultural Perspectives: Chummz by Farah Ansari

Courtesy of Farah Ansari

If you were born in Kentucky, lived in Kuwait for ten years, then moved to the US to grow up in Southern California, you're bound to have some proclivity toward multicultural subjects. What luck if you can harness and apply it to an endeavor that speaks to the world—say, a book.  Even better if you use multiculturalism as the foundation to approach a broader sense of unity within humanity. That's how I would loosely describe Chummz, a children's book by Farah Ansari. Ansari, an Indian American Muslim, is a young professional now working in the San Francisco Bay Area. She recently wrote, illustrated, and self-published this colorful and engaging picture book, incorporating comic book qualities that concurrently simplify the imagery and bring added complexity to each character.

Chummz marks the adventures of eight young Muslim friends (four girls and boys), all of different ethnicities, who find comfort and strength with each other amidst adversities. This first book, subtitled "Isa's Issue", follows the littlest Chum as he struggles with finding his natural gift.  Every friend exhibits his or her own penchant for something, thus uniting them in their diversity; with Isa we witness the desires to belong and to stand out emerge simultaneously. That's a distinctive individual conundrum, but Ansari resolves it with Isa's personal discovery that brings the praise and celebration of all his peers.

Each character embodies a different personality as well, from shy to rambunctious, philosophical to nurturing.  That doesn't come out completely in this first issue, but as each volume will likely highlight a different chum, those differences will become more apparent (and more inconsequential as they continue to bond). Farah is a friend of mine and was happy to answer a few questions about this new endeavor of hers. 

Thursday, October 11, 2012

ChildLit Graduate Student Association @ SDSU!

Hello Children's Lit Specialists and Enthusiasts at SDSU!

A trio of graduate students -- Kelsey Wadman, Alix Lombardo and myself (Alya Hameed) -- have decided to form an organization called the ChildLit Graduate Student Association in order to cultivate a more cohesive community on campus for those interested in the field of children's literature. Professor Joseph Thomas, our NCSCL Director, has graciously agreed to be our Faculty Advisor.
We have come up with two main goals for ChildLit GSA:
  1. To conduct monthly forums on current issues in children's literature. They would be casual and open to grads, undergrads, faculty, and anyone who wanted to attend. Anyone could offer a discussion topic, but the officers of ChildLit would commit to presenting a topic to the forum (casually -- we would intend it to be a fun and enriching discussion, not a strain on everyone's work load!).
  2. To publish an online scholarly journal on the topic of children's literature. We have begun gathering information on how to accomplish such a thing and are brainstorming about topics, who to publish, the process of reviewing, etc!  We envision this journal as a project for grad students.
In being realistic about the time required to accomplish our goals we plan on holding two (maybe one!) forum this semester (going to monthly forums next semester) and publishing the first issue of our journal at the end of next semester. 

The next step in accomplishing these goals is to find a few more officers for ChildLit so the organization can get official recognition with SDSU (if you're interested in seeing what's involved in creating a student-run organization visit the Student Life & Leadership website). We are specifically looking for a Secretary and a Webmaster (does anyone have a particular knack for website design?!) but welcome anyone desiring to commit their time and energy to this endeavor. (FYI we need at least two more people!)

We would love to hear from anyone interested (even if you cannot commit to a position as an officer!) and would be open to fresh ideas and goals for ChildLit Graduate Student Association! Our email is

ChildLit GSA @ SDSU

Call for Papers: 40th Annual Children's Literature Association Conference

call for papers 

The 40th Annual Children's Literature Association Conference
Play and Risk in Children’s and Young Adult Literature and Culture

Hosted by The University of Southern Mississippi
June 13-15, 2013
IP Resort
Biloxi, Mississippi

The 40th Annual Children’s Literature Association (ChLA) Conference will address play and risk in children’s and young adult (YA) literature and culture. Much of John Newbery’s A Pretty Little Pocket-Book, one of the first books to mark the emergence of children’s literature as a successful commercial enterprise, is devoted to teaching the alphabet through play and games. Innovators of children’s literature have taken risks in building businesses or careers around the notion of pleasurable works for children, just as the scholars who gathered for the first ChLA convention in 1974 and those who followed have taken risks to establish the professional study of the “Great Excluded.” Thus, from its beginnings as both literary and scholarly enterprise, children’s literature has been linked with play and risk. Many classic and contemporary works for young people represent children or young adults entertaining themselves or taking chances. The March sisters put on plays in Little Women, and Beth risks her own life to care for the Hummel baby; Alice plays croquet in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and risks losing her head; Peter and Wendy play house in Peter Pan and risk being killed or kidnapped by Captain Hook. Play and risk are everywhere in children’s and YA literature and culture.

We invite paper or panel proposals on the following topics:
  • Play and games in children’s and YA literature and culture
  • Children’s games as texts
  • Children’s theatre and drama or school plays
  • Linguistic, stylistic, or formal play in children’s and YA literature
  • Game theory or risk theory in children’s and YA literature and culture
  • Role-play, performance, or performativity in children’s and YA literature and culture
  • Childhood/adolescence as play, playing at childhood/adolescence
  • Video games and/as children’s and YA literature
  • Sports or competition in children’s and YA literature and culture
  • Winning and losing in children’s and YA literature and culture
  • Risk-taking in children’s and YA literature and culture
  • Uncertainty or chance in children’s and YA literature and culture
  • The personal or professional risks of studying, writing, or reading children’s and YA literature
  • The disclosure of “at risk” youth
  • How children’s and YA literature or culture put children at risk
  • The risks of how children and childhood are constructed or experienced
  • Playing with race, class, gender, or sexuality in children’s and YA literature and culture
The submission window for 300-500 word paper proposals will be open between October 15, 2012 and January 15, 2013.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Dear Teen Me

Zest Books, based in San Francisco, will release Dear Teen Me: Authors Write Letters to Their Teenage Selves on October 31. Publishers Weekly has a thorough write-up of the endeavor, which is the collaborative effort of YA authors Miranda Kenneally and E. Kristin Anderson. The book features letters from several popular YA writers to their past selves. The letter subjects range all over the map of teenage issues, from body image to abuse to friendship to love, with specific details about all the little things that make up a teenager's daily life. (The editors have a website with sample letters -- check it out here.)

Already on the market is a similar concept in the book The Letter Q, in which dozens of queer writers pen notes to their younger selves. The SDSU Children's Lit Center actually has this book in its possession; if you are on campus and would like to read it, please stop by Arts and Letters 218!

As so many young adult and children's books focus on the struggles of finding an identity as a teenager, it's fitting that these authors would channel their experiences into anthologies about what's on the other side of those angst-ridden teenager years. And since I love children's literature and often think about my own formative teenager-hood, I thought I would take a stab at it myself.

What would you say to your teen self?

Dear Teen Me,

I know it's been a difficult road. You don't like high school, because you were a new student at age 14 and everyone already had their friends established. There was no real place for a new girl, especially when you got all skinny and withdrawn. But if you're a senior now, you're doing okay. You always expected that you would pull through the lowest parts, and you have. And guess what? You're just going to keep on climbing.

You've got a handful of really wonderful friends who are going to remain in your life. And many years from now, you're going to be glad that you went to high school where you did, primarily because of these people. Your connection to your unexpected hometown is going to lead to meeting your husband, and he is awesome. And before you meet him, you'll meet some other good guys. (And, okay, some shitty ones.) The bottom line is that you're not going to be the only one without a date forever.

Your high school theatre experience will lead you to many more theatrical options in your future. One piece of advice: stop caring so much about having a starring role. You're going to find that it doesn't matter to you as much as you think it does. And that leads me to my next point:

You know how you read in that hidden spot in the stairwell during lunch period because you'd rather read than socialize? In the future, you'll find a balance between friends and books, but you're actually going to study books for a living. I'm not gonna lie -- you're going to be a graduate student and your living won't exactly be luxurious. But you won't mind, because you're going to be thrilled to feel like you're in the right place. Your bookish instincts are correct.

And remember that you are strong. You've already made it through the hardest part of your teenage years. College is going to rock your world, and eventually you're going to find your own little corner of the world to rock, too.


2012 Jill

Monday, October 8, 2012

Lois Lowry on Dystopian Novels

For those who love Dystopian novels or those who have grown up on the books of Lois Lowry, her new novel Son, the fourth and final installment of the series that began with the critically acclaimed The Giver, should instantly have caught your attention.  This interview on Huffington Post with Lowry is a welcome window into the heart and mind of the author, where she discusses among other things the Dystopian genre and why she loves writing for children.

"Early on I came to realize something... That is, kids at that pivotal age, 12, 13 or 14, they're still deeply affected by what they read, some are changed by what they read, books can change the way they feel about the world in general... I think writing for kids is profoundly important."

Friday, October 5, 2012

A Wrinkle in Time in Graphic Novel Form

Madeline L'Engle's iconic children's book A Wrinkle In Time has been given the graphic novel treatment, and this new version -- which remains true to L'Engle's vision -- has been getting thoughtful coverage on the interwebs.

Publishers Weekly has an interview with editor Margaret Ferguson and illustrator Hope Larson on their website; Boing Boing discusses why this book is so well-suited to a graphic reboot; and the LA Times interviews Hope Larson.

All three sites offer sneak peeks into the newly illustrated world of L'Engle's classic.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

San Diego Comic Fest on Oct 19-21

In celebration of the 40th anniversary of the first Comic-Con here in San Diego (August 1972), some of the original founders are hosting an "old-school" San Diego Comic Fest.  This three day event, to be held on October 19 - 21, will revive some of the original intimacy and sense of community of the early years of Comic-Con. Their goal: "to bring creators and fans closer together, to create an environment of creative exchange in a fun, inclusive environment, much as the El Cortez-era Comic-Cons did."

SDSU is involved as well! The SDSU Library Comic Arts Committee and groups of students have a project underway to document this event and to conduct oral histories of many of the founders and attendees of early Comic-Con.

To learn more about SD Comic Fest and for registration, visit the event site:

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Professor Emeritus Jerry Griswold to Speak on Fairy Tales at the University of Florida

Jerry Griswold (Professor Emeritus from SDSU's children's literature program) will be talking about "Beauties & Beasts @ Halloween" at the University of Florida (Gainesville) on October 30. His lecture will be part of the university's GrimmFest (a celebration of the two-hundred-year anniversary of the publication of the Grimms' fairy tales) and will be followed by a lecture by Harvard scholar Maria Tatar on November 13. Details at: 

The following day, October 31, Griswold will be meeting with Professor Kenneth Kidd's graduate seminar on Childhood Studies where he will be discussing "the future of children's literature criticism." While there, he plans to meet with former SDSU graduate students Latoya Faughander and Sean Printz, who are now enrolled in Florida's Ph.D. program.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Highlights on Banned Books Week

Banned Books Week is underway around the country (Sept 30 - Oct 6), celebrating its 30th year of challenging literary censorship. To get you up to speed on the most challenged books of the last year (including The Hunger Games, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian, and To Kill a Mockingbird), Huffington Post put up an informative infographic breaking down the categories under which the Top Ten most banned books fall.The graphic also displays the number of challenges made over the past twenty years, a useful tool in examining the changing trends.

Check out Publisher Weekly's Banned Books Week at 30: New and Notable Efforts to learn details about some of the events and efforts being held across the nation.

Locally, the San Diego Public Library is holding an All-Day Read-Aloud Reading Marathon on Thursday October 4th at the Central Branch. It's being held in conjunction with their months long library project, Searching for Democracy: A Public Conversation about the Constitution sponsored by Cal Humanities. Check out their site for details and more events:

Lastly, we share an essay by Ray Bradbury, taken from the Introduction to The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2012, which highlights his own adventure of falling in love with books:
"I asked big questions because of books. I dreamed because of books. I started to write because of books. I read everything from comic strips, to history books, to the fantastic tales of L. Frank Baum, Edgar Allen Poe, H.G. Wells, and many others. None of this reading was required, mind you. I just did it."
The essay can be found here.
Find more information on Banned Books Week on their website:

Monday, October 1, 2012

Links You'll Love

Sometimes you just need someone else to round up some fascinating links for you, right? Here are five noteworthy links to entertain you today:

Presenting Lenore's 2012 Dystopian Recap: Every August, blogger and author Lenore Appelhans rounds up dozens of dystopian young adult novels and rates them on a scale of "zombie chickens." The rating system might be a little quirky, but Lenore's thoughtful reviews are an excellent resource for those of you who might be seeking a repository of dystopian options.

55% of YA Books Bought by Adults: Publishers Weekly reveals a study from Bowker Market Research. Are you surprised? Considering that I own about ten bookshelves' worth of young adult novels and I'm a fully qualified grown up, I'm not.

University of Florida's Fairy Tale Resource Page: Check out this fantastic site with information about fairy tale retellings, the Brothers Grimm, and link after link of fairy tale resources, from pop culture to scholarship.

YA Author Jessica Spotswood's Blog: When I do these link roundups, I'll try to highlight my favorite blogs by active young adult writers. The first is Jessica Spotswood, whose first novel Born Wicked debuted last February. Jess writes an eclectic blog that ranges from personal musings to author

Genrefluent: Diana Tixier Herald is a blogger who has been reviewing and recommending children's books for over 15 years. She has a huge archive of book reviews categorized by, you guessed it, genre.