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Tag Archives: Anthony Browne

Where are the fathers in fiction?

Anna Perera; Guantanamo Boy

Anna Perera; Guantanamo Boy

The Sunday just gone was Fathers’ Day. Prompted by this, a friend of mine tweeted a question that I thought I’d be able to answer:

I had a half-hearted stab at naming a couple of father figures who seemed like generally good eggs – Dumbledore, obviously, and The Fat Controller from Rev. Awdrey’s Thomas series. In desperation I added the father from Piggybook, who starts out not very pleasant but grows into a good father. Other friends mentioned Arthur Weasley – Ron’s dad in the Harry Potter series, Pa Ingalls from Little House on the Prairie and  Gilbert Blythe from the later Anne of Green Gables books (from Anne’s House of Dreams onwards).

Contrast this with the number of (kid)literary orphans one can name without taking more than a second to think about it: Harry Potter; Oliver Twist; Giant Peach inhabitant James; Mary Lennox; Heidi; Anne of Green Gables; Dorothy (of Oz), Mowgli; Pauline, Petrova and Posie of Ballet Shoes; Katniss Everdeen; the Sager children of Children on the Oregon Trail or the Chant siblings of Diana Wynne Jones Charmed Life, to name but a few. Read the rest of this entry

CILIP Carnegie/Kate Greenaway medal shortlist released

On 1st April, the shortlist for the Prestigious CILIP (The Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals) Carnegie and Kate Greenaway medals was announced.

The Carnegie medal is awarded for outstanding writing, and the Kate Greenaway medal for outstanding illustration. Nominated by children’s librarians, the judging process is uniquely shadowed by a schools and libraries around the country, with around 90,000 children participating.

A list of nominated titles follows. For detailed synopses of each nominated book, see the CILIP Carnegie & Kate Greenaway website.

In 2010 the Carnegie medal was won by Neil Gaiman for The Graveyard Book, a reworking of Rudyard Kipling’s Jungle Book, and the Kate Greenaway awarded to Freya Blackwood for her illustrations in Harry & Hopper by Margaret Wild. This year the standard is extremely high, but were it up to me I’d have Antony Browne’s Me and You for the Kate Greenaway medal, and Geraldine McCaughrean’s The Death Defying Pepper Roux for the Carnegie.

CILIP Carnegie Medal Shortlist for outstanding writing in a children’s book

BRESLIN, THERESA PRISONER OF THE INQUISITION
Doubleday (Ages 12+)
ISBN: 9781406310276

McCAUGHREAN GERALDINE THE DEATH DEFYING PEPPER ROUX
Oxford Children’s Books (Ages 10+)
ISBN: 9780192756022

NESS, PATRICK MONSTERS OF MEN
Walker (Ages 14+)
ISBN: 9780385617031

ROSOFF, MEG THE BRIDE’S FAREWELL
Puffin (Ages 12+)
ISBN: 9780141383934

SEDGWICK, MARCUS WHITE CROW
Orion (Ages 12+)
ISBN: 9781842551875

WALLACE, JASON OUT OF SHADOWS
Andersen Press (Ages 14+)
ISBN: 9781849390484

CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal Shortlist for outstanding illustration in a children’s book

BAKER-SMITH, GRAHAME FArTHER
Templar (Ages 8+)
ISBN: 97848771260

BROWNE, ANTHONY ME AND YOU
Doubleday (Ages 4+)
ISBN: 9780385614894

GRAHAM, BOB APRIL UNDERHILL TOOTH FAIRY
Walker (Ages 5+)
ISBN: 9781406321555

GREY, MINI (text by Hilaire Belloc) JIM
Jonathan Cape (Ages 6+)
ISBN: 9780224083676

JEFFERS, OLIVER THE HEART AND THE BOTTLE
HarperCollins (Ages 5+)
ISBN: 9780007182305

OFTEDAL, KRISTIN (text by Carl Norac) BIG BEAR, LITTLE BROTHER
Macmillan (Age range: 3+)
ISBN: 9781405051989

RAYNER, CATHERINE ERNEST
Macmillan (Age range: 3+)
ISBN: 9780230529199

WIJNGAARD, JUAN (text by Mal Peet and Elspeth Graham) CLOUD TEA MONKEYS
Walker (Age range: 8+)
ISBN: 9781406300925

 

Feminism for Early Starters: Picturebooks

My plan to write a ‘little post’ about feminism in children’s books turned into  an unwieldy behemoth. For that reason, I’ve decided to split it into smaller sections, starting with…

Picturebooks

I’m not going to rattle on about the importance of picture books in the feminist movement. They are one way in which preliterate children and emergent readers come to understand the world around them, first by clues in the illustrations alone, then by combining visual and textual to create meaning.

Generally, picture books reinforce traditional gender roles and heteronormitivity. More recently, there has been a shift in production of books for pre-school and primary education designed to empower young girls and instil and ‘I can do anything’ attitude in them – see Carmela laVigna Coyle’s Do Princesses… series for a prime example, but overwhelmingly, picture books, with the possible exclusion of those that fall into the ‘post-modern’ category, do little to subvert. Depressingly, this is most apparent in learn-to-read scheme stories such as the Oxford Reading Tree, in which stereotyped family units and gender roles are the norm.  A study carried out in 2003 by Prof. Diane Reay and discussed in Kat Banard’s excellent book The Equality Illusion found that the education our children receive at in early years education is remarkably gendered, with teachers reinforcing typical gendered behaviours:

…girls received harsh criticism from teachers when they didn’t conform to stereotypical gender behaviours. Teachers described girls who misbehaved as ‘bad influences, ‘spiteful’, and ‘scheming little madams’, yet when boys behaved in similar ways, they were described as ‘just mucking about’.

The Equality Illusion  p. 54

So for feminist parents it is critical that books that subvert traditional gender roles are introduced in the home.

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