The Looking Glass : New Perspectives on Children's Literature, Vol 9, No 2 (2005)

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Jane Goldstein


In the midst of editing articles for this issue, I got to meet a man who does amazing things with money gathered at pizza dinners and from private donors in the small communities of central Vermont in the United States. With several thousand dollars (US) he can build a school or a library or help bring sanitary water pipes to a village in Afghanistan through his one-man organization, Direct Aid International.

This man, Jonathon Hoffman, shared with me the story of his inspiration to pursue bringing schools to children in crisis areas. He had met a young man in Kosovo on a previous volunteer project. Jonathon was surprised to hear that his brief encounter had helped convince the young man that he could achieve a university degree in spite of all the struggles of his homeland.

Jonathon also had built a school library dedicated to the memory of an old college friend of mine who was a Peace Corp worker in the early 1970s. What I found particularly moving was that five teachers in the school were former students of my old friend. This same friend had written to me years ago that he often thought he was wasting his time teaching English in this remote village with so many other more serious needs.

Throughout this issue a pattern emerges of international governmental and non-governmental groups working with children in many ways. You will find less critical theory of children's literature and more references to studies and methods to help displaced children. You will also see sub-themes of the importance of inspired teachers and social workers and of the need for caring adults in the lives of displaced children. This issue mixes the importance of information and legislation with the timeless value of real caring and interaction in our global village.

Urbanization and globalization have helped to create a group of displaced children who live on the streets in Brazil. They are the topic for Weimin Mo's article appearing in Alice's Academy. Using the characters and plot of Ineka Holtwijk's book Asphalt Angels, Mo explores the plight of these disposable children as they search for security and connectedness.

Meena Khorana is the guest editor for The Mentor and her student, Tameika Reese, is the author of the featured award-winning article. Reese explores the psychological trauma of the refugee child and draws from many experts as she tries to better understand the world Beverly Naidoo writes about in The Other Side of Truth.

Two papers are presented in Illuminating Texts. The first is by Susan Griffith, a member of the Jane Addams Book Award Committee. She gives some background information about the award given in the name of an inspiring social worker in the slums of Chicago in the early twentieth century. Griffith continues by outlining Deborah Ellis's Bread Winner Trilogy. These books describe how war and starvation affect children. They received the Jane Addams Book Award, which is dedicated to the pursuit and recognition of peace and social justice for children. The second article is by Karen Nelson Hoyle and surveys the development of literature about and for immigrant groups in the United States, focusing on the Hmong as an example.

Beth Graham and Kathryn E. Shoemaker join this issue as contributors. Beth has been a copy editor for The Looking Glass and is returning after some time off. We are very grateful for her expertise. Kathie replaces Judith Saltman as the new column editor for Picture Window. She is the illustrator for thirty-four books and will have a lot of insights to contribute. Fuller biographies appear under Who We Are section of the website. In Shoemaker's first column she discusses various visual strategies used to portray displaced children.

After the devastating December tsunami waves in Asia, Debra Angel was curious about how international agencies deal with the issues of education in crisis areas and what were the guidelines, if any, for educating children globally. In The Print Shop she provides a wealth of websites and of strategies proposed for helping children.

As always, The Monitor and Caucus Race contain paper calls, grant information, and announcements. There are new additions to the list. Check it out!

I have always believed that the professionals who read journals and attend conferences to keep fresh are among those actively working to find ways to connect with the children and students they work with. Agencies and guidelines are good things. As many of this issue's literary sources point out, positive personal contact can help the displaced child, or any child, in so many ways. Tameika Reese writes of her teacher, Meena Khorana, "She saw my potential and helped me to take those seed of faith and plant them. Through her encouragement, she gave me the sun and the rain that I needed to help these seeds to grow."

There is an old Afghan proverb that says that a river is made one drop of water at a time. Peace and social justice will come if we continue to reach out to those around us. And it is often not our place to know what that action may inspire in someone else.

Editorially yours,

Jane Goldstein


Volume 9, Issue 2, The Looking Glass, 2 April, 2005

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The Looking Glass: new perspectives on children's literature

ISBN 1551-5680