Showing posts from July, 2011

reading plans for fall 2011

Summer isn't over, but it's drawing to a close.  School starts 8/22, in about 3 weeks.  And I've knocked out articles and book chapters and focused my scholarly reading on primary and secondary historical sources for a long time now, related to each of those projects.  Today I send off the last article for awhile (on evolution).  Then there's one more article-in-progress (accepted!) that needs minor edits this fall (on the historical uses of evaluation in public library children's services).  I have a next project in mind (on race and children's publishing in the mid 1940s) that's on the list for spring. But for this coming fall, I'm planning to read articles on race, racism, and whiteness from a variety of perspectives.  Some will be assigned for my new Youth Services Community Engagement class.  Others will be from K.L.'s stack that she gave me in spring.  Still more will come from the emerging reading/research group on Critical Race Theory/Criti

visualizing evolution, done!

Or at least done for now.  At the SHARP conference in D.C. last week, I presented on a panel I created with two wonderful colleagues, Loretta Gaffney and Debra Mitts Smith (don't miss her book Picturing the Wolf in Children's' Literature from Routledge), about the "struggle for survival" of controversial books in children's literature.  Loretta talked about sex, Debra talked about predators, and I presented on "The Art of Evolution:  Images of Geological Time in Science Books for Children, 1921-1956.  I'll most likely upload the powerpoint to my website soon. The 1921 date is important because that's when the first Newbery medal was awarded to a rather hulking book (not as long as some of Rowling's, but still) called The Story of Mankind by Hendrick Van Loon.  Here's how he visualized human evolution: The text reads:  “The ascent of man.  The world was millions of years old when a creature appeared which was to be our ances

Rapunzel, Rapunzel, Rapunzel

Three Rapunzels .  To be read and discussed during one day of the Fantasy class.  Three interpretations of a tale that has changed in both oral and print form. The most classic of these, from the story to the art, is Rapunzel by Paul O. Zelinsky.  Zelinsky won the Caldecott medal for this Renaissance-painting-inspired version.  He could easily have won another award for his excellent source note in the back, which details a lineage of written versions of the story as well as oral tradition inspirations.  The various mini-versions of the story make for intriguing reading, but this book is really about the glowing illustrations.  The tale is the most traditional of the three:  Rapunzel is raised by a sorceress (taken from her mother who ate the rapunzel in the sorceress' garden), locked in a tower, meets her prince but their passion is thwarted by the sorceress, who blinds him and leaves him to wander in the woods.  Meanwhile, she bears twins, also alone.  When they meet again, her

City of Fire

City of Fire by Laurence Yep is a multi-mythological adventure that reminds me a little of Avatar:  The Last Airbender in its cast of improbable heroes and East-meets-West philosophy.  From Chinese dragons to the Hawaiian goddess Pele and even over to the Norse fire giants, Yep has clearly done a ton of research.  But none of that would matter if there weren't a good story here, and there is.  The story is told in alternating perspectives, but it's hard not to see it mostly from the young girl Scirye's point of view.  When her mother and sister are guarding precious Kushan relics as the Pippal warriors they are, the San Ffancisco museum is attacked by a dragon who steals and ancient ring and leaves behind devastation, including the death of Scirye's warrior sister.  This brings some unlikely allies together:  the royally raised Scirye, the street kid Leech and his friend Koko, and the old woman Bayang, who is really a dragon in disguise.  They band together slowly, as B