Goldstein Frame of Reference

Some thoughts from the current editor

Jane Goldstein

My philosophy for life has been to have a plan but stay open for those wonderful surprises that come my way. While I am a control freak who needs to think they know where they are going next it has been the surprises that have often brought me the most memorable joys and changes that I've experienced thus far. When I look at the first ten years of The Looking Glass there is a similar pattern. There have been lots of plans but many surprises and often the surprises have left the biggest impact. This issue was planned to focus on the literature and culture of indigenous children around the world and we sent out our paper calls. For longer than I openly admitted I planned to end my period as editor with this issue also. Many people were consulted and efforts were made to help me find the perfect fit I wanted for the future. But life is full of surprises!

Last August I was invited to drop in on a session or two of the CLNE final gatherings at St. Michael's College outside Burlington, VT. I was in Vermont putting together the many details of what is now soon to be a new home for my husband and me. It was horrible weather for Vermont, unusually hot and smothering in high humidity. This is not a part of the world that air-conditions its buildings! They focus on the furnace and the insulation. To be honest most of my career has been in music and theater. These loves drove me to explore children's literature and a degree from the program at Hollins University. For the past several years I have judged piano auditions in Vermont, grading students and advising their teachers. I had spent several weeks previously listening to Vermont's budding Mozarts play St. Michael's beautiful Steinway in their auditorium. The knowledge that that room had to be air-conditioned because of the expensive piano was the force that got me to CLNE's panel on international literature that hot August day! It was at this gathering that I finally met Annette Goldsmith, the first and only other editor of The Looking Glass. We both changed our plans for the afternoon to visit and this issue is the result.

We did not have a firm new editor yet. Truth be told, we both had many fears for the journal's future. It was in the discussions of the past with Annette that it occurred to us that April 2007 would mark the tenth anniversary of the launch of The Looking Glass. We decided that no matter what, this was reason to celebrate and that should be the focus of my last issue as editor.

You will find in the columns of this edition an introduction to the future plans from our new editor, David Beagley and of new plans for Alice's Academy from Caroline Jones. Annette, Allen Briggs and Elizabeth Pandolfo share their thoughts on this milestone for the journal. Kathleen Bailey, a founding staff member, returns to her old column "Mirrors and Windows" to voice her ideas on books that create empathy in readers. Ramona Anne Caponegro writes about the innovative program at the University of Florida, Recess! Links are provided to make their resources available to all of our readers. The last articles are very Canadian in topic, which struck me as so appropriate for celebrating the journal's origins in Toronto. And of course, do check the posting of announcements and paper calls at the end.

My plan five years ago, as new editor of The Looking Glass, was to look for a more international voice. I was living in The Netherlands and instituted a policy of using the English spelling used by everyone but the United States. I relented and let those from the US use their spelling. This explains the dual spelling system of the past years. I have also asked that all submissions to be sensitive in their use of the term American. In planning my first year, one of my first suggestions was to have a special issue on literature for and about Arabic children. I waited anxiously to see what the continuing staff would say. They were enthusiastic and I knew I was dealing with a great group of caring and open people. The past five years have been filled with emails with ideas and papers from so many who work to bring the best to the children of the world.

Originally I was attracted to The Looking Glass to force myself to become more computer literate. Really!!! I went to conferences with the journal's name as part of my identification to get us more visibility. I knew some questioned our legitimacy in the academic world. We never have wanted to be a "jargon journal" but we wanted everyone to know we were to be taken seriously. As time went by, I got fewer inquiries about whether or not we could be used as a citation in a student paper because we were an online journal. Submissions increased and came from unexpected places. Notes came from all continents from students and professionals.

In recent years the internet has become a major research tool and we can proudly say that we were pioneers in that arena. It became clear to me that we needed to become part of an organization or institution for true credibility. The internet had gone from an open and relaxed way to voice a thought to something that is increasingly subject to all of the rules of the print media. When my very own daughter became a lawyer specializing in "intellectual property" of the internet, I knew we had to move to a new level to survive. I am so grateful to the University of La Trobe for directing the journal to that new point in its growth. They have some wonderful plans for the future.

Months ago I started thanking everyone who wrote me or responded to my emails. I did not want to leave anyone out and will avoid any specific gratitude as I close. My life has been enriched by those emails that fell out of cyberspace to my inbox on the website. I will miss you and the insights you brought to my life. I have a plan for the next years and I will be delighted if along the way I am surprised by meeting a reader and one who even remembers I was part of its past.

In a few days I will take my black briefcase full of piano audition materials and head off to listen to students. A composer who used a folk tale will probably come up in discussion as I help an advanced student understand a musical work. Every year some child is amazed when I point out that Beethoven's "Russian Folk Dance" was inspired by a poem about a caterpillar. As I head off I will be confident about the future of The Looking Glass. To borrow one of my favorite Australian phrases, "no worries, mates", I have left the journal in good hands!

Many thanks to many people! May we all continue to work together to bring the best to all of our children in this beautiful world.

Jane Goldstein

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

ISBN 1551-5680