The Looking Glass : New Perspectives on Children's Literature, Vol 10, No 2 (2006)

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Alice's Academy


Introduction and Farewell

Elizabeth L. Pandolfo Briggs


When I suggested that this issue be devoted to Japanese children's literature, I was indulging in one of my passions. I have worked, on and off, with Japanese children's literature since 1994. My interest in Japan, though, was first sparked years earlier, when as a young teenager I spent a summer in Japan. That summer was the first time I was exposed to a country outside North America, and the experience of such a different culture was shocking, exhilarating, and profound. Therefore, this is a fitting issue with which to say goodbye as editor of "Alice's Academy" since both Japanese children's literature and The Looking Glass have been such a part of my life. I have been with The Looking Glass since June 2000, when Annette Goldsmith recruited me at the Children's Literature Association conference in Roanoke, Virginia. It has been an honor to work with wonderful authors, editors, and scholars from around the world in that time. I will continue as assistant editor of The Looking Glass for the rest of 2006 before moving on.

When I first envisioned this special issue, I hoped for submissions that would introduce our readers to the rich history and broad range of Japanese children's literature, beyond the topics most popular in the West. When reviewing submissions, at first I believed this issue wouldn't live up to my hopes: topics varied wildly, and all I saw were the gaps among them. However, as with any journal issue, a sort of weaving together of articles occurs as submissions are selected, given close reviews, undergo revisions. Over time I saw how much these articles inform about Japanese culture and people as well as about their specific topics. I came to understand how important the spaces are to the whole. In this I feel I've gained new appreciation for Japan, and I thank all the authors published in this issue. I am proud now to introduce them to you.

Jane and Bill McCullam introduce us to Japanese picture book and children's magazine illustration from the twentieth century. Japanese names in this article have been reversed to reflect the Western custom of family name following given name. Next is Justyna Deszcz-Tryhubczak's article on Japanese-Canadian author Hiromi Goto and her novel The Water of Possibility. Helen Kilpatrick shows how Buddhist philosophy is expressed through two sets of illustrations for the famous story Wildcat and the Acorns (Donguri to Yamaneko). Japanese names in this article follow the Japanese convention of family name first then given name. Fourth, Rieko Okuhara discusses the influential film My Neighbor Totoro (Tonari no Totoro) by Miyazaki Hayao. Japanese names in this article have also been reversed, as decribed above. Last we have a survey of English-language versions of the tale Issunboshi by Jane E. Kelley, with ideas for teaching the story and about Japanese culture.


Volume 10, Issue 2 The Looking Glass 2 April, 2006

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"Introduction and Farewell"
© Elizabeth L. Pandolfo Briggs 2006.
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The Looking Glass: new perspectives on children's literature

ISBN 1551-5680