“What in the nation am I supposed to be?”: Child and Nation in two picture books from Ireland

Petros Panaou


Petros Panaou undertakes a bold, perhaps daunting task: exploring the idea of nationhood from outside the nation in question.  Even more boldly, he uses literature for children as the medium for that exploration. Panaou offers two Irish picturebooks that exist in tension with one another: War and Peas from Northern Ireland and Naomh Pádraig agus Crom Dubh (St Patrick and Crom Dubh) from The Republic of Ireland. After (briefly) contextualizing the worlds in which each book appears, Panaou explores the ideological approaches, in varying degrees of overt- and covert-ness, to the Irish famine and to Gaelic identity, respectively.We hope that this piece offers readers the impetus to explore national identity—your own, or another’s—through the lens of the books that nation offers to its children. 

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The Looking Glass: new perspectives on children's literature

ISBN 1551-5680