News from Children’s Literature Land

By Erin

On the blog this week-- an update of our busy lives:

Garden Party at Maria’s

We have just returned from a wonderful garden party at Maria’s house to celebrate the ending of another term. Maria and Steffan are wonderful hosts, and their garden is perfect for a party. The weather was a bit uncertain, but the sun appeared and, for the most part, we were outside. For those of us who had not been before, Maria gave a tour of her beloved dollhouses, which she has decorated and created by hand, down to the finest detail—including a miniature version of one of her own novels, and a doll-sized iphone. For entertainment, she had even written a children’s literature quiz for us, ensuring there was a question directed at each of our areas of study—how sweet. I think the only question I was able to answer was the one about Anne, go figure. I feel so lucky to be part of the Cambridge Children’s Literature family.

ALMA Award

As Clementine wrote about in her April ‘news feed,’ the Homerton/Cambridge Children’s Literature Research and Teaching Center was one of the four hundred institutions asked to be a nominating body for the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award. This became quite the process! After much deliberation and debate, we have now finalized and submitted our nominations for two home candidates and two international candidates (as per instructed). For the sake of time, all of the suggestions and ‘debates’ took place through a stream of emails between those involved. It was undoubtedly a difficult decision, but at the same time the same names reappeared again and again—I think I can say on behalf of the team that everyone was quite pleased with our final decision. Next year, if we are asked to nominate again, it would be an interesting process to come together as a group to discuss the nominations in a forum of-sorts, as I see it being a fruitful, engaging process. Whilst we cannot reveal who our final choices were, you can keep your eyes on, where the nominees will be revealed in October!

Our own research

We are all at varying stages of our research. The M.Phils are currently in the midst of thesis writing. It has been fun to watch their status’ on Facebook reveal how many words they have completed. I know, from whom I have spoken to, that their topics are diverse and complex—from The Wizard of Oz, to Twilight, to Hunger Games. Clementine and I are working on our upgrade viva’s—20,000 wd papers that will convince our markers that we are ‘prepared’ for our PhD project. We both feel as though it’s a bit repetitive, but it is something that needs to be done nonetheless. At least we have each other for support J Amongst the PhD’s there has been talk of how difficult it is to define our corpus of study. I am trying to find a rural and an urban-based Canadian YA text that I can use in my empirical research. On Friday I began reading Tim Wynne-Jones’ new novel Blink and Caution, which takes place in Toronto. He uses real place names and landmarks, giving a real, factual sense of the city. I am not from Toronto, but I have been there. I can only imagine that, for someone who grew up there, or who lives there, it would be an evocative reading experience. I think I might have found my ‘urban’ text—which is reasurring.

Conference Preparation

PhD students continue to plan for the 2012 ‘Child and the Book Conference’ to be held at Homerton/Faculty of Education in April. We have secured our keynotes and have decided on the theme and logo. Hopefully we can say more soon about this exciting event!


Ghada, Clementine and I are preparing papers for a conference in Tubingen, Germany. I am particularly looking forward to this conference because of how it is structured. Eight PhD will meet in Tubingen, and bring along a 2000 word extract of their ongoing research. Prior to meeting, we will be given the paper of another scholar, to comment on in detail. It will be interesting to see how other scholars approach our work, and what comments they will provide. Following the two day ‘PhD workshop’ there will be a picturebook conference, where we will hear the likes of Perry Nodelman, Carole Scott, Evelyn Arizpe, Janet Evans, to name a few! Aside from the conference (which is in a castle, by the way!), we are very excited to travel together again in a new city and country. The joys of international research!

That’s all for now :)