Beagley Frame of Reference

Some thoughts from the future editor

David Beagley

Err ... Hello!

What does a new editor say? Coming into such a well established community as The Looking Glass can make one feel a bit presumptuous, a bit of an interloper. So I stand here nervously, at the door for our first date, wondering what you will think of me, hoping you will like me, desperate not to make a mistake ...

Who is this David Beagley? I am a somewhere-near-middle-aged Lecturer in Children's Literature from Bendigo, a regional city in the state of Victoria, Australia. I am a husband of one and father of two who likes literature, cooking, sport and gardening. I am of nondescript appearance, tend to talk too much, still have an unhealthy obsession with Biggles books, and make agonizingly weak puns.

Why have I accepted Jane Goldstein's offer of this wonderful opportunity to edit TLG ? Probably, because I can! Like anyone working in a big institution, I looked and looked for excuses to avoid it, but there were none (well, no honest ones!). The right job in the right place at the right time — call it serendipity, karma, fate or coincidence but it fits beautifully into what I do as work and what I love doing.

Over the past too-many years I have been a child (and avid reader), a student (the fascination of Beowulf in the original Old English!), a school teacher ("On a map of Europe track the journey in The Silver Sword"), a librarian (Should we stock Goosebumps?) and now the grandly titled Lecturer in Children's Literature and Literacy in the Faculty of Education, La Trobe University, Bendigo campus. I have been lucky enough to have a career in something I have long loved — the world of literature and story.

What do I want to do with The Looking Glass? First and foremost, keep it going. Keep it doing what it does so well — unite a diverse community of people with their shared interest, Children's Literature. Give that community a forum to explore and discuss the issues and concepts that define that interest; challenge them to argue passionately for their understandings.

What will I change? I would prefer the verb evolve. Certainly there will be changes. As this is an online journal, the staggering pace of technological change will drive that. Already we have started by moving to load TLG and all its archives into an open access journal program on the La Trobe University server. This means that all the issues will be available across the broad internet and searchable, by author, title, and keyword, even full text, in public indexes such as Google Scholar and by the more formal, academic services.

This, in turn, gives the articles and their contributors greater access to readers, to critical analysis, and to the academic recognition they merit. Obviously, Alice's Academy and Emerging Scholars are key columns in this regard, but all of the journal (and you as its community) has this opportunity before it — to communicate with your peers, and to share your passion.

Children's Literature is still riven by its Great Contradiction: does it exist for Education or for Entertainment? Is it a tool to develop and nurture the sweet potential of an innocent child, or is it the art and creation of a different world that adults have lost? If that sounds like a term paper topic, that is probably because it is! But it is because it is the key question in how we, as adults, define, describe, remember, analyse, construct, criticize, censor, recommend and control this whole realm of literature that is not meant for us !

When Alice went into Wonderland, she was not exploring a child's world. She was observing the adult world, and what a foolish place it was! Let us hope that our Looking Glass can remind us that what we see, and what others see, may be very different, even if they are just children. It is still their world and, for them, it is special.

David Beagley

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"Frame of Reference "
© David Beagley, 2007.
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The Looking Glass: new perspectives on children's literature

ISBN 1551-5680