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.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

News about Diwali and Arab Children's Lit

Two Tuesday Tidbits from around the globe:

Firstly, Happy Diwali to all those celebrating the Hindu festival of lights! One of the larger and most recognizable Hindu holidays, Diwali is marked with the lighting of small clay lanterns and candles to emphasize the power of good over evil. Gain some exposure and insight into the festival through some of the helpful books listed here on Paper Tigers.

Secondly, last week the Etisalat Award for Arabic Children’s Literature was awarded to Lebanon-based publishing house Dar Al Hadaek for its book Creatures on the Ceiling written by Nabiha Mheidly and illustrated by Hassan Zahreddine. This marks the fourth annual award in an time where organizations like the UAE Board on Books for Young People (UAEBBY), which convened over the ceremony, are focusing their efforts to raise the standards of children's literature to further encourage and enliven kids' imaginations. Read more about UAEBBY's efforts here, and details about the award winning title and past winners here. This is the second time Mheidly and Dar Al Hadaek have won the award, highlighting both their strength of storytelling as well as the monumental room for growth that Arab Children's Lit still has to conquer.

Jerry Griswold Writes Introduction to Illustrated Beauty and Beast Reissue

Laughing Elephant Press has reissued an 1894 edition of "Beauty and the Beast," lavishly illustrated by H.M. Brock. Jerry Griswold, professor emeritus of SDSU's children's literature, played a part in bringing this classic back into print and wrote the Introduction. 

The book is available on Amazon here, or at the Laughing Elephant website here.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Three Mentors and a Giggle

I found out that one doesn’t have to discover new continents, that people can explore in their minds even when locked in a prison cell, and that books can be my home, my language, my country. I can share with my children and children of the world the universe of dreamers, seekers, and people who dared to think differently. Books are bridges taking you places…
Words from Peter Sis upon his acceptance of the 2012 Hans Christian Anderson Illustrator Award. Read his speech as adapted by The Horn Book. Amid the details of his lifelong journey into illustration and the mentors who guided him, Sis reminds us that we can all be architects bridging the gaps between imagination, dreams, and reality, for kids and adults alike.

 And sometimes that bridge is built upon laughter, a trait that the Roald Dahl Funny Prize, now in its fifth year, strives to recognize. This year the awards went to Dark Lord: The Teenage Years by Jamie Thomson, illustrated by Freya Hartas (in the category for children between seven and fourteen) and My Big Shouting Day by Rebecca Patterson, for children aged six and under. Don't we all just need a good shout once in a while, after all?

Reminder: First ChildLit GSA Forum Tonight!

Don't forget! Tonight is the first discussion forum/meet up hosted by the SDSU Childlit Grad Student Association. If you're in San Diego and want to meet other fabulous folks who  get as excited, enthralled, and ebullient over children's/middle grade/young adult literature as you do, then please join us tonight!

We're meeting at Lestats on Adams at 7:30 pm. Find all the details here!

Looking forward to meeting your friendly faces as we chat about all things Kidlit and Pop Culture... and more! And just to remind you, the possibility of a free cupcake (or similar sumptuous treat) awaits... Not that I need to entice you with a prize, right?

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Election Day

Today the time has come to exercise your right and power to vote. There are many issues at stake during this election, so whether it's the presidency or the propositions that compel you, just make sure to make your voice and your choice heard.

A fair list of children's books about voting that reflect on the nature and importance of this democratic process can be found on Good Reads and Education World. And if you're interested in exploring the entire election process in the guise of fictional characters, take a look at The Horn Book's KidLit Presidential Election. Those polls may be closing early, but don't forget your own polling places will be open until the evening.

Monday, November 5, 2012

New Academic Titles in Children's Literature

The Critical Approaches to Children’s Literature series, published by Palgrave Macmillan, announces its 2012 publications:

Children’s Literature, Popular Culture, and Robinson Crusoe by Andrew O’Malley

Children’s Literature and Capitalism: Fictions of Social Mobility in Britain, 1850-1914 by Christopher Parkes

Playing with Picturebooks: Postmodernism and the Postmodernesque by Cherie Allan

Previous books in this series include:

New World Orders in Contemporary Children’s Literature: Utopian Transformations (paperback) by Clare Bradford, Kerry Mallan, John Stephens, and Robyn McCallum

Empire in British Girls’ Literature and Culture: Imperial Girls, 1880-1915 by Michelle J. Smith (Winner of the European Society for the Study of English Book Awards Category B – Junior Scholars, 2012)

Narrative Pleasures in Young Adult Novels, Films and Video Games by Margaret Macke

For further details please visit the Palgrave site:

American Literature Association Call For Papers

Children’s Literature Society and the
African American Literature and Culture Society
American Literature Association
24th Annual Conference
May 23-26, 2013
Westin Copley Place
Boston, MA

Panel #1: African American Children’s Literature

The Children’s Literature Society and the African American Literature and Culture Society invite abstracts (of about 250 words) for a panel on African American children's literature. We welcome critical analysis and surveys about historical fiction, cultural stories of family, school stories, religious and spiritual stories, stories of fine arts and artists and performers, and stories of important political figures, and transcriptions of oral histories. This panel will contribute to the critical review and analysis of works of African American children's literature and will be an excellent and important contribution to the study of American children's literature.

Please include academic rank and affiliation and AV requests

Please send abstracts or proposals by Saturday, December 30, 2012 to Dorothy Clark (, Linda Salem (, and Shirley Moody-Turner (

Panel #2: Monsters, Inc.
The Children’s Literature Society invites abstracts (of about 250 words) for a panel on Monsters, Inc.

The books Where the Wild Things Are (1963) by Maurice Sendak and The Wuggly Ump (1970) by Edward Gorey presented surreal monsters in stories with child characters. There’s a Nightmare in My Closet by Mercer Mayer in 1968 brought empathy to the monster book that worked on the side of the child reader to help them face fears that might not be as bad as they thought. This tone is alive today in films like Monsters, Inc in which the wild thing that shows up is a lovable monster called Sulley and the child in the room is the unafraid, sweet little girl named Boo who calls him “Kitty.” While Grimm’s fairy tales include protagonists who strive to outwit monsters and sometimes fail, in contemporary stories characters are more likely to solve problems or to grow up alongside their monstrous friends. And the genre of monster stories for children has expanded to include comic relief from fear for kids in books like James Howe’s books, Bunnicula (1979) and The Celery Stalks at Midnight (1984). R.L. Stine’s Goosebumps(1992- ) series are both humorous and horrific and in some cases the author offers readers a selection of endings for a story from which to choose. Today, films like Hotel Transylvania, Paranorman, and Frankenweenie combine traditional horror themes with humor and capitalize on the youth media entertainment market. Unsettling scary stories continue to be published by authors like Neil Gaiman, whose poetry, prose, and illustration are found in works like Coraline (2002), The Wolves in the Walls (2005), and The Graveyard Book (2008). Young adult fiction continues to trend to vampire, zombie, and witch tween and teen fiction.

What do these diverse instances of monstrosity and treatment of horror in youth media reveal to us about children’s and YA narratives as well as youth culture? The Children's Literature Society welcomes proposals of papers of literary research and analysis on the topic of monsters and horror in children's and young adult literature, youth media (film, TV, cartoons, video games), and youth culture.

Please include academic rank and affiliation and AV requests

Please send abstracts or proposals by Saturday, December 30, 2012 to Dorothy Clark
( ), Linda Salem (

Friday, November 2, 2012

PaperTigers' Tenth Anniversary, with Multicultural Top Tens and More

Paper Tigers, a blog about multicultural books for young readers and world literacy, is celebrating its tenth anniversary of readership in a marvelous fashion. Their multitude of engaging reflective pieces, Top Ten lists, and special giveaways demonstrate the goal of mutual awareness and understanding that PaperTigers has striven to build.

Take a look at this reflection by the founding Producer/Editor Elisa Oreglia to get a sense of their roots and purpose for the last ten years. It started with the idea that
books foster mutual understanding; that the web could help bring books that don't have the budget and marketing force of Harry Potter behind them to a bigger audience; and that a website that spotlighted books (and authors, illustrators, publishers, booksellers, librarians, and the whole wonderful tribe) about and from Asia and the Pacific Rim, written in English, to an international audience might be filling an important niche.  
More works can be found in the Personal Views Section.

The highlights for me are the Top Ten lists they have posted on different subjects. The wide selection they present in each of their subjects (and more to come, I presume) offers an invaluable resource for those largely unfamiliar with the range of ethnically diverse children's books. The lists include Multicultural Kids' Books about Food! (Featuring not one but two top ten lists), Multicultural Ghost Stories, and YA/Crossover Books with a Religious Theme.

And as a special treat, they are hosting a great giveaway of tons of books and other goodies.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Kenneth Kidd Brown Bag Session Recap!

University of Florida professor of children's literature Kenneth Kidd virtually joined a group of graduate students and faculty yesterday for a discussion about his book Freud in Oz, among other topics. SDSU Children's Literature faculty Joseph Thomas, June Cummins, Phillip Serrato, and Mary Galbraith eagerly asked questions of their UF colleague Kidd, who answered with eloquence and the occasional self-effacing humor.

Belying his modesty, though, is Kidd's work itself, which takes a thoughtful look at children's literature through a psychoanalytic lens. The chapter under discussion, "Child Analysis, Play, and Pooh," progresses chronologically through the early stages of psychoanalytic research into children's behavior, from Freud to his daughter Anna to Melanie Klein to D.W. Winnicott, and looks at the links between child psychoanalysis and the inherent themes of children's literature. Kidd aligns these links with "Poohology," which he describes as "a form of popular psychology and child analysis and literary criticism and theory"that "refashions the children's classic into a plaything for adults, supporting the interiorization of childhood and of childhood's forms." As Kidd describes, Winnie the Pooh, with its straightforward narration and its playful themes, is an ideal backdrop for examining how play shapes childhood.

Specific questions that came up during the brown bag session with Kidd focused largely on Kidd's treatment of Frederick Crews' The Pooh Perplex, which satirizes the intensity of literary criticism while also highlighting the promise of what literary criticism can uncover. The discussion with Kidd unearthed how Crews' work leans toward sarcasm and in fact shut the door on literary criticism of Pooh for years, but conversely may also have paved the way for analysis of children's literature. By illuminating the shortcomings of taking children's literature too seriously, Crews also may have inadvertently proposed a way of looking at children's literature with both intellectual rigor and self-awareness.

Also up for discussion was the idea of the "inner child" and how much of that is extended adolescence or performative adolescence. The group talked about how contemporary young adult authors in particular seem to be both adult and adolescent at once. Kidd discussed the later chapters in his book that trace the American fascination with adolescence from the 1950s onward and try to explicate a broader history of what we now call the YA novel. Kidd described YA authors as potentially "both therapists and an older young adult," an identity that makes them adept at writing for a teen audience.

In addition to fielding scholarly questions, Kidd also discussed the PhD program at the University of Florida (where a student can specifically focus on graduate work in children's literature) and the job prospects for nascent scholars in the field. While job openings specifically recruiting children's literature scholars are relatively scarce, Kidd pointed out that children's literature PhDs coming out of UF are also well-positioned to talk about their research in broader terms. His assertion supports what we all discover when studying children's literature: the themes and ideas that we analyze may start in children's literature, but they translate to numerous other genres within literature. And as the group also discussed in the brown bag session, we were all children once.

Overall this was an engaging and enlightening discussion with one of the premier scholars in the field of children's literature. Thanks to Kenneth Kidd for joining us via Face Time, and thanks to Joseph Thomas for arranging this brown bag session!

Addendum: An actual corporeal visit from Kenneth Kidd is tentatively planned for the Spring 2013 semester. Stay tuned for more details!