The Looking Glass : New Perspectives on Children's Literature, Vol 15, No 1 (2011)

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TLG 15.1 Introduction

Frame of Reference


Oscars and introductions

David Beagley


The quiet reverie that usually accompanies my writing of the editorial introduction to an issue of The Looking Glass has just been shattered by a colleague bursting in squealing "He Won!! He Won!!". Australian author/illustrator Shaun Tan has won the 2011 Academy Award for Short Film for the adaptation of his book The Lost Thing.

This intriguing story is about a boy who discovers a bizarre-looking creature (machine? being?) at a beach. Despite his concern for its isolation in the world, noone else is willing even to notice this uninvited interruption to day-to-day life. The original book of The Lost Thing received an Honourable Mention at the Bologna International Book Fair, Italy, was named an Honour Book at the CBCA Awards, and won an Aurealis Award in Australia and a Spectrum Award for illustration in the United States. Original illustrations from the book were exhibited at the Itabashi Art Museum in Tokyo and the Canberra-based youth theatre company Jigsaw staged a multi-media adaptation of the story at the National Gallery of Australia in October 2004. Go to Shaun's website for a quick introduction to the book and film of The Lost Thing and ponder the possibilties in his other books.

Shaun's Oscar-winning exploit is not only a deserved reward for such an innovative, thoughtful and creative artist, but is also due recognition that children's literature ain't just kids' stuff. It highlights the amazingly complex and exciting world that is opening up in cross-media and multi-modal publishing. Several other of this issues feature articles consider the relationships between different media and forms: printed literature, movies, recordings and even personal perceptions like conversations and visual awareness, all help to build the analytical and critical views of the writers of this issues articles.

Anne Klaus and Stefanie Krüger address Stephenie Meyer's immensely popular Twilight series and its blending of genres in our Alice's Academy article "Vampires Without Fangs: The Amalgamation of Genre in Stephenie Meyer's Twilight Saga". As both books and movies, this series is approaching Harry Potter as an audience and marketing phenomenon. Klaus and Krüger explore how the blurring of the boundaries between such traditional forms such as fantasy, gothic, vampire and teen romance stories can create new and different audiences for what would normally be tightly limited forms.

In Emerging Voices, Andrew Hoe focusses on the perception of body form and how the social, cultural codes attached to particular forms labelled as "acceptable" or "disfigured" may be transmitted in picture books. He notes how picture books, as literary texts, are active in conveying and questioning the attitudinal worlds of these social codes.

Nicholas Paley brings together a range of media to examine Guy Billout's challenging picture book Number 24 in Jabberwocky. Interviews, discussion, and personal reminiscences from readers and publishing figures frame his comparison of the original printed text and a French animated movie version .

Also in Jabberwocky, author Ed Shankman makes an impassioned plea for the power of rhyme in opening the imaginative worlds of literature and imagination.

The Oscar is not the only recent kudos laid on Shaun Tan - in Curiouser and Curiouser, you can read the citation for his recent award of the Dromkeen Medal, recognition that, despite his relative youth in the field, he has already made a huge contribution to Australian and world literature.

Georgie Eberbach, in another Curiouser and Curiouser report, describes the Bendigo Literacy Chat Group, a typical book club in how the members' conversation expands their appreciation of their reading, but in this case helped (it must be admitted) by the conviviality of a restaurant!

Children's and Young Adult Literature is not simply a niche in publishers' catalogues, or a useful tool in the education of literate skills, or a means for parents to present "nice" role models to their children. People like Shaun Tan show that it is an artistic, creative and aesthetic construct that demands intellectual activity from its readers and rewards with rich experiences. To treat it as less demeans and patronizes its readers and its creators, whatever their ages.

 

David Beagley
General Editor - The Looking Glass


Volume 15, Issue, 1The Looking Glass,May/June 2011

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"Frame of Reference -Oscars andIntroductions" © David Beagley, 2011
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The Looking Glass: new perspectives on children's literature

ISBN 1551-5680