Sunday, September 29, 2013

Recent Children's Lit Books of the Critical Nature

Given The Unjournal of Children's Literature's soon-to-grow book review section, my recent project has been to keep up with new scholarly books in the field of children's literature. Finding some intriguing titles, I'd like to share some of my discoveries. In our burgeoning field there are several amazing new books to discuss, so I first have to apologize for only highlighting a few this time around:

Second-Generation Memory and Contemporary Children's Literature: Ghost Images by Anastasia Ulanowicz published by Routledge in March, 2013. This book, declaring that second-generation memory "is characterized by vicarious, rather than direct, experience of the past," caught my eye because of my curiosities about the impact of memory on children's literature at large. Usually stuck on notions about how an author is in touch with their own childhood memories and how this may impact their writing, Ulanowicz's book promises to challenge my own assumptions about memory itself by claiming that memories can be adopted instead of formed from personal experience. Dedicated to examining how child protagonists adopt the memories of their elders, "this study shows how novels such as Lois Lowry’s The Giver (1993) and Judy Blume’s Starring Sally J Freedman as Herself (1977) — both of which feature protagonists who adapt their elders’ memories into their own mnemonic repertoires — implicitly reject Cartesian notions of the unified subject in favor of a view of identity as always-already social, relational, and dynamic in character." Ulanowicz is an Assistant Professor at the University of Florida.

The Children's Table: Childhood Studies and the Humanities edited by Anna Mae Duane, published by The University of Georgia Press in June, 2013. Always a fan of interdisciplinary work, The Children's Table had immediate appeal for me. Referencing the image of children relegated to a separate table at holidays and other adult-run events, this book's organizing principle embraces this image and claims a space for scholars to discuss childhood and its place in various adultcentric fields and at the same time challenges this "seating arrangement." Essays feature scholars from fields such as architecture and law as well as children's literature and cultural studies. Well-known in the field of children's literature is Robin Bernstein, who wrote an essay for this collection titled "Childhood as Performance." Duane is an Associate Professor in the Department of English at the University of Connecticut.

Bloody Murder: The Homicide Tradition in Children's Literature by Michelle Ann Abate, published by The John Hopkins University Press in February, 2013. As a passionate advocate that children's literature is no genre of mere sugar-coated fantasies, it's exhilarating to see a new book that not only blasts this misconception, but also promises to examine and tease out meanings of the killing trope in children's lit. Abate's book was released in a climate of Hunger Games hysteria, including protests about the trilogy's violence. Using this hysteria as an introduction, this article in the Boston Globe interviews Abate about her book. Abate is an Associate Professor at Hollins University.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Banned Book of my Week: Bridge to Terabithia

Despite knowing that this is Banned Books Week, I completely overlooked the fact that my children's literature graduate seminar had actively discussed a frequently challenged book this week: Bridge to Terabithia. And what a wonderful experience that was, since this was one of my all time favorite books as a child; reading it as an adult, I can easily say it remains high up there.At any rate, it did not dawn on me until now the status of Bridge and its relevance to this week.

Now that I've had time to ponder it, I can't help but feel perplexed by the reasons to ban such a novel. Having read it as a child, I latched onto the imaginary dreamscape the children concoct and make into a near-reality; the power of imagination felt like the most amazing gift of all and I constantly rooted for Jesse to bring the breadth of his artistic potential to life (while also yelling at him for not inviting Leslie. Just take her to the museum too, for goodness sake!). Ah, but I see that I've lightly touched upon one of those troubling "challenge-able" notions: power of imagination that can equate to magic. Because naturally that implies a disregard and turning away from faith and turning toward the occult. Naturally.

Viewing it through critical eyes now, I have a deeper appreciation for the purpose of that imagination, and the limits to its power. I can comprehend the conflict struck between the awesomeness of Nature -- the marker of rural, regional life -- and the cosmopolitanism the Burkes symbolize (as they hail from "the city"). I can see how we might break down the barrier between adult and child behavior and identify the wisdom that comes from forging a physical, tangible relationship with Nature in order to keep on going. Maybe the city identity acts as invader of the regional world, but hey, maybe not. Regardless, I see doorways leading to enormous ideas, challenging ideas, ideas that redefine what we might instinctively consider childhood, maturity, human development.

But THESE are hardly ever the reasons why certain peoples challenge these books. It goes back so often to the danger of exposing kids to profanity, to "magic" and blasphemous respectable characters, to issues of identity that don't coincide with the beliefs of some (here's an oversimplified list of reasons). These are so insubstantial though, and therein lies the truth of so many instances and issues of censorship -- a fear and loathing for the superficial characteristics of a novel that leave room for ghastly misinterpretation and vilification to enforce one's own agenda. In the case of children's literature, the excuse comes from wanting to shelter children, to guard them from the reckless perils of ungodly behavior. I for one loved the difficult books most, the ones that make your heart ache and then sing and then scream and then sigh.

And one blogger discusses this situation: the very things that get focused on are harmless and misunderstood and in fact, the very reasons one MIGHT ban a book like this are totally untouched. Of course, she jokes about the misleading title of Bridge to Terabithia (fair point) but the end result is that the novel offers so much more than the trouble-seeking eye permits. And children deserve the choice to decide for themselves if they want to take what it offers, what any book offers, for their own personal benefit. 

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

A Cancellation and an Addition to the Rutgers University Speaker Series

Because she is under the weather, Robin Bernstein’s lecture (“Trayvon Martin and So Many More: Racial Innocence Today”)–mentioned in a blog post earlier and scheduled for September 19th at the Childhood Studies Program at Rutgers University (Camden)–has, unfortunately, been canceled:

At the invitation of Rutgers grad students, however, Professor Emeritus Jerry Griswold will be there on October 1 and 2. Details can be found at: He will be speaking on "Visualness" and "The Anthropology of Childhood" during his visit.

While in Philadelphia, Griswold will also be assessing the progress of Martin Woodside and Ellen Malven, former SDSU grad students now studying for the Ph.D. in Childhood Studies. These examinations will take place in Irish bars throughout the city.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Banned Books Week 2013

It's that time of the year again: Banned Books Week (Sept 22-28, 2013), which too appropriately is coming on the heels of last week's news that Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man would be banned from school libraries in a North Carolina county.

A cool new feature of the Week, especially in its attempt to connect people to the voices that at times must fight to be heard, is ability to virtually "hang out" with banned authors via Google Hangout, including some fabulous young adult authors. Sherman Alexie was available yesterday, but 13 Reasons Why author Jay Asher will chat today and many more are on the list. Our society continues to struggle with censorship, unable to always strike that balance between evocative ideas and ideas that trouble one's belief set. A good challenge is healthy for anyone and anything; it only makes things stronger and thus demonstrates the resilience of so many of the "banned" books we love.

You can read some more about the importance of Banned Books Week here. And if you know of any local events, do share.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

CFP: Perceptions of Childhood for The Unjournal of Children's Literature

Volume 1, Issue 2 (Spring 2014):  Perceptions and Portrayals of Childhood
Submissions Deadline: November 4, 2013
Submit to:
Send Questions to:

The Unjournal of Children’s Literature is now accepting submissions on the topic of perceptions and portrayals of childhood in children’s literature. Traditional scholarly articles are welcome, as well as more creative approaches to addressing the subject.
The academic field of children’s literature often struggles with the definition, or indeed the existence, of childhood. While scholars like Jacqueline Rose and Perry Nodelman have long maintained that the adult-constructed perception of childhood dominates the field of children’s literature, others such as Jerry Griswold and Marah Gubar are exploring the role of the real child in children’s literature. We hope to enliven this discussion with thoughtful approaches that expand on one or more of these perceptions, examine various portrayals, or challenge the conceived notions of childhood with a point-of-view altogether unique.

Possible topics could include, but are not limited to:
  • Blurred boundaries between children’s books and adult books
  • The authenticity of the portrayal of the childhood experience
  • Children in adult roles in children’s lit
  • Interdisciplinary analyses of childhood in children’s lit (e.g., psychological, anthropological, historical, socio-cultural, geographical, etc)
  • Portrayals of adults in children’s lit
  • Children’s books that aren’t: Go the Fuck to Sleep, Animal Epitaphs and more
  • Child authors
  • The real versus the constructed child
  • The rhetoric of the constructed child in children’s lit
  • Essentials of childhood debunked
  • Child agency, either in child characters or in the field itself
  • Evolution of the concept of childhood
  • Effects of globalization on the understanding of childhood
Once again, both traditional and unconventional submissions are welcome. Some potential examples of creative approaches include: an interactive map/chart of your argument, an illustrative approach, or an editorial/opinion article (less academic, more charged).

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

Submission Specifications:
Send your submissions to
  1. Indicate in the subject that this is an article submission
  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 Word document
Any supplemental 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 the Unjournal editors at

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Multicultural Perspectives: Burka Avenger versus Disney

For the latter half of summer, I heard a lot of talk and saw many a screen shot of an emerging star in Pakistan's children's media field: The Burka Avenger. Skipping over the fact that the burka is not a cultural norm in Pakistan (read some insights about that here), this female super hero cartoon topples many of the preconceived notions of heroism and strength by using educational tools--books, pens etc--as her weapon of choice. And the Avenger's day job? A school teacher. One who does not wear a burka, by the way.

What the creators are trying to accomplish is clearly evident: the importance of female education, the power that an individual voice (and superb ninja training abilities) can have, a demonstration of female and child empowerment in general, and a visual challenge to those who would strive for otherwise. Does equating her attire with superhero skills glamorize the potentially limiting uses of the burka? It can, yes, but not necessarily. And what I enjoyed about the cartoon is how the teacher chooses to use it specifically for her own advantage, an important lesson in cultural awareness (that these are choices at all).

The cartoon feeds into the international dialog on Girl's agency too. Last week I shared a link about the merits of paranormal YA, which addressed the explosion of girl-centric YA adventures, dystopias, and science fiction and gave merit to the boom of YA romances. In it, the author did conclude that while a lot of movement has been made, there is still much left to be altered. I couple this with Sophia McDougall's "I Hate Strong Female Characters" to shed light on the fact that young women are prone to be classified as strong but little else. The diversity of their personal character is as sparse as the diversity of their culture. McDougall basically suggests that the sudden explosion of female-protagonist YA has gilded the post-apocalyptic road to serenity with girls whose primary struggle is with troubled romance, apart from having to save the world. Not enough room for character depth.

Of course, there are arguments challenging this. Do I think all female protagonists fall under those clutches? No, and they surely don't need to either. Some would say it isn't a forgone conclusion, and it is important to note that the McDougall focuses on films and television rather than literature. It is quite fair to say, I think, that books allow for more subversive actions, upending of cultural "norms"; they yield a greater amount of charisma for females. Movie adaptations tend to succumb to the aesthetic of visual appeal, and sacrifice story for pretty faces.

Still, even within books, there's a debate about the efficacy of girls' agency. All the more reason that I was impressed with the concepts supporting The Burka Avenger. It is trying quite fervently to place itself as a bearer of empowering thought. It stumbles and suffers from a collection of stereotypes itself, but nothing that impedes the feminine or child's voice. And, as the Huffington Post points out, it teaches Disney six invaluable lessons about heroines.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Forum Recap: The Paranormal in Children's Literature

On the evening of Friday the 13th members of the ChildLit GSA gathered at the Living Room Cafe on El Cajon Blvd to discuss various elements of the paranormal and supernatural in children's literature.

Discussion topics included love for the works of Neil Gaiman, the trend of angel and demon romance in YA lit, and a general embarrassing fear of lightweight horror such as the Goosebumps series of the 90's. Newcomer Matt Griffing revealed himself as the only true fan of horror and otherwise scary paranormal happenings in children's lit, and won the Pub(lication) Quiz after a riveting lightning round tie-breaker with President of the ChildLit GSA, Alya. Congrats, Matt!

If you missed this forum but would like to attend the next, don't fret! The ChildLit GSA will be sure to hold another forum soon, possibly on comics and graphic novels and their intersections (or not?) with children's lit. Check back for updates!

CFP, Edited Collection: Comics and the Canon

Deadline: April 30, 2014


Over the last three decades, comics, graphic memoirs, and graphic novels have emerged as literary, artistic, and cultural artifacts of central importance. Comics were once seen as outside what we might broadly call a literary and fine-arts “canon”: as objects belonging to low culture rather than high culture, as ephemeral items rather than artworks of lasting and iconic significance, as lesser hybrids of word and image rather than as belonging to a specific demanding medium. And yet the last thirty years have seen the rise and impact of works that are serious, ambitious, and monumental — works in conversation with an established literary and artistic canon, and works which themselves make a claim to cultural centrality and significance. “Comics studies” has developed as an academic discipline; artists and critics have worked to recover the rich and understudied history of the medium, with the result that a “canon” of central figures is emerging.

What is gained and what is lost when we try to establish a Comics canon? How do artists make claims to cultural centrality by putting their work in conversation with more traditional canonical works, and how do they challenge the “canon” through exploring alternative aesthetic values and subjects? In the canon-building process of winnowing and centralization, which works are elevated and which are excluded? Is there something perverse in canonizing works in a medium that has often characterized itself as marginal? What tensions are thereby exposed, not just in comics but also in the very process of canonization?

This collection invites essays on all aspects of comics and canonization, including:
  • analyses of comics which rewrite or otherwise engage with canonical works of art, film and literature 
  • studies that consider comics in relation to other artistic media in which word and image are traditionally combined (illustrated novels, illuminated manuscripts, film scripts and storyboards, etc.)
  • defenses and critiques of the artists whose works have become most central to the comics canon (Spiegelman, Satrapi, Bechdel)
  • arguments for the inclusion of understudied artists, artworks and movements in the comics canon, essays on the ways in which comics challenge the premises and processes of literary canonization
  • projections on the future of the “canon” in comics classes and scholarship

Submissions (between 5,000 and 10,000 words, the Harvard system of references) are due by April 30, 2014. Authors of the papers that are accepted will be responsible for obtaining permissions to reprint illustrations.

The journal will accept electronic submissions, in Word or RTF, to be sent to . For inquiries please contact the guest editor, Professor Ariela Freedman (Concordia University, Montreal) at

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Links for a Thursday

To liven up your Thursday, here are some curious reads, activities, and discoveries going on around the Web these days:

  1. Actor Jim Carrey joins the growing troupe of celebrities extending their reach into children's books. On September 24, his picture book, How Roland Rolls, will be released and will address the more existential crises of early life -- notably that sudden awareness of life and loss.

  2. Read a cultural examination on why Sci Fi and paranormal YA matters at McGill Daily. A simple look perhaps, but it ultimately focuses on the importance of sci fi to allow readers to think outside the normal conventions and to address social and political issues in exciting new ways, as well as inviting social change. It also tries to justify all the romance. That's a lot of romance to justify.

  3. Evidently one of my favorite current middle grade novels, Reif Larson’s The Selected Works of T.S. Spivet, is being converted to the big screen. Director Jean-Pierre Jeunet (Amelie) is bringing his whimsical, enchanting style to a book that explores the meaning of childhood through an exhibition of love of country and humanity (the amazing conceptual maps that situate the young boy clearly in his regional space, demonstrate his ability to broaden that awareness, and expose his acute sense of what humanness is). I am somewhat obsessed with maps and all that they signify and influence, so anything to do with this story excites me. Until I saw the trailer, and began to fear the changes they would feel obliged to make to a remarkable story about a young cartographer and the transformation of the hold his family has on him. Another time I'll discuss this in detail. For now, take a look at the trailers, and if you have read the novel, let me know your first thoughts!

  4.  Disney is re-imagining what it means to watch a movie in the 21st century with 2nd Screen Live. I'll withhold my comments on this except to say that here is cultural disparity at its best -- enlisting young children to bring an iPad to the movie theatre because of course all children have them, and they should of course be consumed by constant interaction on numerous interfaces at all times. 

  5. Wrapping up on a lighter note, authors around southern California are invited to a book event at the Norman F. Feldheym Central Library, Saturday, Sept. 14, from 1 to 5 p.m. to discuss their books and old book signings. This celebration of authors will involve all kinds, from children's book writers to mystery, sci fi and local history writers.

  6. And lastly, a bit of book fun: Better book titles for children's books!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Open Call for PhD in Literature for Children and Young People: Aarhus University, Denmark

Application Deadline: October 1, 2013



PhD scholarship in the field of Literature for children and young people in an intermedial perspective

The Graduate School, Arts, Faculty of Arts, Aarhus University invites applications for a PhD scholarship inLiterature for children and young people in an intermedial perspective. This scholarship is available as of 1 February 2014 for a period of up to three years (5+3) and of up to four years (4+4). The candidate who is awarded the scholarship must commence their PhD programme on 1 February 2014.
The Faculty of Arts at Aarhus University has made Literature for children and young people in an intermedial perspective a research priority.
Digital developments have led to fundamental changes in the text and media world of which children and young people are part. For instance, children and young people have simultaneous access to literature in the medium of books (books written on paper) and in the form of digital formats such as audiobooks, e-books and apps.
Developments indicate that the degree of interaction between forms of expression such as literature, films, computer games and music will increase in future. For instance, characters, plots and settings occur simultaneously in children’s literature and a range of other media. Literature for children and young people is developing in an interaction between aesthetic choices and media/market conditions. Within this overall framework, applicants are required to describe a project that poses a central research question which takes its point of departure in literature for children and/or young people in an intermedial perspective.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Childlit GSA Forum: The Paranormal and Supernatural this Friday the 13th!

First ChildLit GSA Forum of Fall 2013 

When: Friday, September 13 @ 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Where: Living Room Cafe @ 5900 El Cajon Blvd 
Topic of the Night: "Paranormal and Supernatural in Children's Lit"

The GSA Discussion Forums reconvene for the new school year, hoping to bring an energetic community together for lively and fright-filled discussions on spooky spirits, spine-chilling species, and more.
The GSA Forums are a chance to engage with like-minded folks on all realms and levels of Children's Lit. This month we feel like starting off with a journey into unsettling and haunting territory, and what better day then Friday (September) the 13th to do that! We hope to dive into such topics as the popular Goosebumps series, Paranormal YA's strange success, myth/folklore/legends, the influence and longevity of Frankenstein and Dracula, issues of spirituality (angels and demons galore) and yes, even the star-crossed combo of Werewolves and Vampires. We could even spend the evening talking Neil Gaiman: Coraline, Good Omens, and The Graveyard Book pretty much cover all the spook and spirits for me, that's for sure. If you're a fan of horror, come and share with us your insights on the genre or why B-rated horror films attract so many kids. Love the recent spooky kids' films like Paranorman or Frankenweenie? Come by and tell us why!

In fact, 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 will come prepared with topics too, as well as a of fun activities... and who knows, maybe another prize cupcake or more.

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 The Living Room Cafe from 7 pm to about 9 pm, so stop by any time and stay for as long as you like.

Looking forward to meeting up, hanging out, and exploring the paranormal with you.

For more information about the ChildLit GSA, please visit us at:
On Twitter: @SDSUChildLitGSA

CFP: Engaging the Woman Fantastic in Contemporary American Media Culture

The past thirty years have offered a growing and changing body of scholarship on images of fantastic women in American popular culture.  Collections from Marleen Barr’s Future Females (1981) and Future Females: The Next Generation (2000) to Elyce Rae Helford’s Fantasy Girls: Gender and the New Universe of Science Fiction and Fantasy Television (2000) and Sherrie Inness’s Action Chicks: New Images of Tough Women in Popular Culture (2004) have offered multifaceted commentary on ways in which contemporary media culture posits and positions “empowered” women in speculative fictions.

Engaging the Woman Fantastic in Contemporary Media Culture takes part in this tradition and brings it to the present day with emphasis on texts from the 1990s to the present and media from young adult fiction to social networks.  In particular, this edited scholarly collection, to be published in 2014 by Cambridge Scholars Press, engages with female protagonists, antagonists, and characters that challenge such simple binaries in popular literature, television, comics, video games, and other new media.  As a whole, the volume will examine how images of fantastic women address prevailing ideas of gender, race, sexuality, class, nation, and other facets of identity in contemporary American culture.

We welcome proposals on all aspects of the “Woman Fantastic” within an imaginative fictional context and originating or retaining special media resonance from the mid-1990s to the present. Submissions should be grounded in a particular critical or theoretical perspective and center on a single text and/or character. We especially seek manuscripts engaging with:
  1. social networks and internet culture
  2. utilizing postcolonial, queer, disability, or fandom studies approaches
  3. or, focusing on images of women of color and/or queer women in any medium other than film
Note:  We do not seek submissions on film, non-American texts, or DC comics.  Also, because we are most interested in publishing studies of texts that have not been written about extensively elsewhere (e.g. the Harry Potter novels), be sure to offer a unique focus or new angle if you write on academically popular texts.
To submit, send a two-page proposal with working bibliography and brief vita (as a single .doc or .rtf attachment) to by November 1, 2013.  Complete, polished manuscripts are due by January 30, 2014.  Queries are welcome.  Acceptance will be handled on a rolling basis.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

CFP: Edited Collection, Prizing Children's Literature

Kenneth Kidd & Joseph Thomas

Prizing Children's Literature: The Cultural Politics of Children's Book Awards

On June 21, 1921, publisher Frederic G. Melcher proposed to the American Library Association that a medal be given for the most distinguished children’s book of the year. He suggested it they name it in the honor of John Newbery, famed eighteenth-century English bookseller. The next year the proposal was accepted, and the ALA has awarded a Newbery Medal annually ever since. The Medal was the first such award for distinguished children’s literature, and the second literary prize on the American scene, after the Pulitzers in 1917. Children’s book awards have since mushroomed and diversified, especially from the 1960s forward, as prizing more generally became a favored strategy for commodity promotion and circulation. There are over 300 awards for English-language texts and authors alone, many of them nation- or genre-specific, most meant to recognize an individual text, but some dedicated to the author and/or a body of work. The Caldecott Medal, for instance is awarded to the best illustrated children’s book (typically a picture book, but not always), while the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award (founded in 1954) functions as a lifetime achievement award for an author or an illustrator. More recently-established awards give priority to social or political vision, such as the Coretta Scott King Award, the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature, the Pura Belpré Award, and the Jane Addams Book Award (debate remains spirited on the “identity politics” of children’s book awards). A plethora of prizes exist for young adult literature; mystery fiction has its major award (the Edgar Allen Poe Award), as do historical fiction (the Scott O'Dell Award) and North American poetry for young people (the Lion and the Unicorn Poetry Award). Many awards are regional, even local in operation or focus; in contrast, several are international, such as the Astrid Lindgren Award and the Hans Christian Andersen Medal.

Despite the clear impact of children’s book awards on publishing, education, and commodity culture, there's been relatively little scholarship on the subject. This volume will bring together existing and new work on Anglophone children’s book awards. We seek case studies of particular awards in cultural context as well as analyses of larger trends or patterns. What are the aims, ideologies, contexts, and effects of children’s book awards and perhaps particular winning titles and authors? Have children’s book awards helped to promote a public sphere of children’s literature, or are they yet another symptom of our overheated culture industry? What tensions exist in and around these awards, and the institutions (civic, commercial, educational) that devise and administer them? Are prizing-winning titles “canonical” or otherwise influential; what kind(s) of cultural capital do children's book prizes claim or embody? Do such prizes tend to reinforce nationalism, promote internationalization/globalization, both, neither? What are the consequences of English-language prizing; can we study such prizing without reinforcing the cultural, linguistic, and aesthetic hierarchies it maintains?

350-500 word chapter proposals are due by December 1, 2013. Proposals should be for original works not previously published (including in conference proceedings) and not currently under consideration for another edited collection or journal. If the essay is accepted for the collection, a full draft (5000-7000 words) will be required by June 1, 2014. Editors are happy to discuss ideas prior to the deadline.

Proposals and Final Essays should be submitted to:
Kenneth Kidd:
Joseph Thomas, Jr.:

Friday, September 6, 2013

SCBWI (San Diego Chapter) Meeting September 7 (Saturday!)

Below are several important announcements from SCBWI San Diego Chapter as they begin the 2013-14 Season:
FIRST, The September meeting will be held THIS Saturday, Sept. 7 from 2- 4 pm at the Hahn School of Nursing (USD), Room 106. (map)  Please note this location has been confirmed but is subject to change, so please look for the signs on Saturday to get you to the correct place.
Playwright and set designer Mike Buckley and children's author Patricia Morris Buckley will discuss how to bring together dialogue, character and setting to create scenes that absorb the reader and make a story something memorable long after the last page is read. Saturday's discussion will include, scene vs. narration; a 'must' list for characters; setting do's and dont's; and a chance to practice combining all three elements for greatest effect. You don't want to miss this.
SECOND, Each September, we update our records so we are able to get you info about chapter events and programs and to gather info that helps us plan for the chapter. This year we've created an online form to make the process quick and easy. Please paste the following link into your browser to access the online form: 
If you can complete the form prior to the meeting - that will certainly speed things up so we don't waste any of our time with Mike and Patricia.
THIRD, Season Tickets will be available at the meeting for $50 for SCBWI members and $70 for nonmembers. Season Tickets include the cost of monthly chapter meetings, discounts on the Spring conference and other chapter events, and a free pass to a chapter meeting for a friend, for a total savings of over $30 over the course of the year.
FOURTH, Critique groups will meet at the Hahn School of Nursing at noon prior to the chapter meeting. Please email Gigi for MG/YA at, Karen for PB/Chapter books and Nonfiction at, or Katrin for Illustrators at to RSVP so they can plan ahead. Thanks.
FIFTH, We could use some help rearranging tables to accommodate everyone at the Hahn School of Nursing, so if you can arrive at 1:30 to help move chairs it would be appreciated and help you get a jump on registration as well.
Looking forward to seeing you there!

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Call for Papers for two Time Travel collections

Two collections of essays on time travel in the media will be published by McFarland, edited by Joan Ormrod (Manchester Metropolitan University) and Matthew Jones (UCL). The editors are currently seeking additional chapters to broaden these collections:

The first collection addresses time travel as a genre, including its history, narratives, tropes and cultural contexts. The second addresses the philosophical and theoretical concepts that underpin and are utilized by time travel stories. We are interested in a broad range of media formats, including but not limited to film, television, video games, new media, comics, radio, anime and manga.

The collections are aimed at:
  • undergraduate and postgraduate students in film and media, cultural studies, philosophy, social sciences, history and science programs.
  • science fiction and fantasy fandoms
We are currently inviting 500-word proposals for 5000-7000 word chapters.

We received an incredibly positive response to our first call for papers and are now seeking to fill a number of clearly defined gaps in the collections. As such, we are interested in chapters that address:
  • Philosophical, theoretical and scientific approaches to time travel
  • Time travel in various cultures:
    • manga, anime and/or broader Asian popular culture texts
    • Time travel in Bollywood and/or broader Indian culture
    • Non-Western cultures - e.g., Latin America
    • Western cultures beyond the US and the UK, such as Australia, Europe and Canada
  • Case studies of specific time travel texts within either their socio-cultural or theoretical and philosophical contexts
Proposals and a 50-word biography should be sent to
Proposal Deadline: September 14, 2013

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

The Multicultural and Murderous in New Children's Lit Scholarship

Here are a few new reads to add to your research and collection. 

The first, Reading Diversity through Canadian Picture Books: Preservice Teachers Explore Issues of Identity, Ideology, and Pedagogy, edited by Ingrid Johnston and Joyce Bainbridge, may appeal to those interested in picture book study, multicultural studies (through a Canadian lens) and pedagogical practices. The description from the UTP site explains:

What is the value of picture books in educating a diverse society? This collection of original essays explores how preservice teachers from faculties of education across Canada engage with issues of diversity and national identity as represented in children’s picture books. Based on research drawn from education courses and student teaching experiences, the book illustrates new and culturally relevant approaches to curricula that meet the needs of increasingly diverse student bodies.

In the second book, Bloody Murder: The Homicide Tradition in Children’s Literature, Michelle Ann Abate discusses the long history of violence that prevails in children's books -- not merely an indicator of American obsession with the grim, but also a sign of the complications, severity, and seriousness that children witness and face in reality. You must read Abate's insightful and excellent interview with the Boston Globe as well. Bloody good stuff.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Fall 2013 Greetings from the Staff of the NCSCL!

Welcome to the Fall 2013 semester at the National Center for the Study of Children's Literature at San Diego State University! The last year has been an incredibly active one for the blog; my colleague Jill Coste and I, Alya Hameed, found great pleasure in contributing to the conversation about children's literature and sharing the wealth of activity in children's lit occurring at SDSU and San Diego at large. This year, I am happy to continue the task with my new colleague Kelsey Wadman (Jill graduated last year -- many congratulations to her!). Kelsey and I are excited to keep rolling with regular posts about all the provocative things going on in the field of Children's Literature. Along with the director of the Center, Dr. Joseph T. Thomas, Jr. (who claims to be on sabbatical this semester), interim director Dr. Phillip Serrato, and the other children's literature faculty here at SDSU, we are delighted to participate in the ongoing online exploration of children's literature.

Along with this blog, the Center is happy to continue the work started by Dr. Alida Allison, who established the Children's Literature Book Review service, which has an archive of hundreds of reviews here. Following Dr. Allison's example, we want to uphold the same level of enthusiasm for and commitment to the Center for Children's Literature as she has demonstrated; maintaining the reviews is the first step and we look forward to new experiences.

About the Bloggers:

Once again, my name is Alya Hameed, now working for my second year at the Children's Lit Center. I am also a second-year graduate student working toward an M.A. in English Literature. While at the Center I have enjoyed the wonderful opportunity to review books and participate in special events here. If you follow the blog, you've heard plenty about the SDSU ChildLit Grad Student Association and The Unjournal of Children's Literature, an organization and scholarly journal I co-founded (with a remarkable set of peers). I've presented a paper on feminine place and identity at a Southwest Popular and American Culture Conference, have interned for the Andrea Brown Literary Agency, and participated in a number of children's lit-related campus events. I've also seen my interests simultaneously broaden and find new focus; still with an eye on multicultural texts, I've found a home in researching geography and the many iterations of space in children's literature, with a penchant for maps from both fantasy and realist fiction. Feminism and of course food are still big interests too, and I hope to introduce and explore new facets of children's lit through those lenses. You might even catch a glimpse of my literary-food blog. Maybe.

And now, on to my peer and friend, Kelsey Wadman:

Hello there! Much like Alya, I am a second year M.A. candidate specializing in children's literature and am enjoying taking advantage of every opportunity SDSU has to offer. Last year I had the pleasure of serving as the ChildLit GSA's first President and co-founded the aforementioned Unjournal. This summer I took up snorkeling in La Jolla Cove, learned how to bake a strawberry rhubarb pie, and attended the 40th annual conference of the Children's Literature Association where I presented a paper on trauma in Disney's Tangled (although the best part of the conference was visiting with friends of the NCSCL, such as Kenneth Kidd, Lissa Paul, and Richard Flynn -- literally some of the nicest people you could ever meet!). My academic interests include fairy tales and trauma narratives, particularly depictions of domestic abuse in children's lit; however, I'm helplessly curious about every aspect of children's literature, from the community here in San Diego to Perry Nodelman's blog on salt and pepper shakers. I'm looking forward to sharing my quirks and finds on the blog!