A lovely image of Margaret Mahy graces the cover of this issue. Mahy, the New Zealand author who passed away in July 2012, published dozens of picture books and forty novels, including some of the most memorable young adult novels of our time. A recipient of both the Carnegie Medal (twice) and the Hans Christian Andersen Award, Mahy was a tremendously important writer. And she was important to us. Mahy won the Children’s Literature Association’s Phoenix Award twice, for Memory (Dent, 1987) in 2007 and The Catalogue of the Universe (Dent, 1985) in 2005, as well as a Phoenix Honor Book award in 2006 for The Tricksters (Dent, 1986). In her essay “A Dissolving Ghost,” Mahy writes about the productive dislocation she experienced as a writer of European descent raised in New Zealand, and her terms strike me as particularly appropriate to considering her importance within our professional organization. She writes about Christmas in New Zealand, an event she processed by reading books about holly and snow while sitting seaside under a sun hat. Mahy explains that:
[C]ontaining and synthesizing such contradictions is easy for an imagination nourished on stories in which so much becomes possible. I did indeed grow up with a fault line running through me, but that is a very New Zealandish feature when you consider that it is a country of earthquakes and volcanoes. A fault line ran right through the town I was born in so perhaps my disjunction is part of what makes an essential New Zealander of me after all. . . . Dislocations can expose the secret nature of the land. They can make for an intensely interesting landscape, provided one doesn’t come to feel that a landscape full of fault lines is the only legitimate kind. Dislocations made me a world reader rather than a local one, and they made me contingent rather than categorical.(33)
In considering her significance for our organization, I thought about the way this passage illustrates Mahy’s capacious imagination, one able to embody and destabilize oppositions, to reveal to the reader the enchantment of the worlds she inhabits. Mahy’s capaciousness is truly emancipating for our organization, for, given our international membership and our increasingly global aesthetic and political awareness, she emerges as the kind of writer who contains multitudes. [End Page 1] She describes herself in the essay as a “world reader,” and for us she has certainly been a writer of and for the world. The Quarterly is grateful to Claudia Marquis, who offers in this issue a symposium dedicated to Mahy. With great insight and affection, the critics here address Mahy’s wide-ranging contributions to children’s and young adult literature.
The issue also contains five essays which reflect the broad embrace of our field. We start with two pieces on fan fiction. In her astute analysis of Harry Potter fan fiction and its place within children’s literature studies, Catherine Tosenberger investigates the “pleasures of unpublishability,” arguing that “Fanfiction enables young readers to speak for themselves: to talk back to the narratives given to them, and develop aesthetic forms and traditions to suit themselves, outside of the direct control of adults.” In “Pure Passion: The Twilight Saga, ‘Abstinence Porn,’ and Adolescent Women’s Fan Fiction,” Sara K. Day examines fan fiction’s negotiation of the series’ demand for sexual reticence. She concludes that “adolescent women fan fiction authors do not understand their works as rejecting or subverting the message of Meyer’s novels, but instead as performing a variation on the abstinence-only theme—they are, after all, exploring sex without having sex, using fan fiction as a safe space in which to seek the satisfaction of the sexual desires cultivated by the novels.” Both Tosenberger and Day pursue the cultural work of fan fiction, analyzing the contributions of young people to sites of public creativity and considering the implications of these contributions for publishing in children’s literature.
Tim Engles and Fern Kory examine a novel that is frequently taught in American colleges and universities, but rarely considered critically: Walter Dean Myers’s Monster. They explain that in this complex and provocative novel, “the prejudicial...