- Birds of Many Feathers:A Multinational Team of Editors 2001-2005
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Each time Bookbird arrives in the mailbox, it evokes memories about the time when we—the multinational foursome—edited the journal from 2000 to 2004. We—Evelyn Freeman, Barbara Lehman, Lilia Ratcheva-Stratieva, and Patricia Scharer—began working together in 2000 so our first issue could be published in 2001. To our knowledge, we were the first multinational editorial team for Bookbird. Evelyn, Barbara, and Patricia are from the United States and had previously edited another children's literature journal together; Lilia is from Bulgaria and was living in Vienna during our editorship. Her fluency in several languages proved to be an invaluable resource for our team. We are grateful for this opportunity to reflect on our time together as editors and how the experience forged new friendships, increased our knowledge and understanding, and provided us personal and professional growth. Lilia reminisced that it was a sunny day in Vienna when she received the first articles for Bookbird, and she felt so happy: "this was my world: the world I lived in and wanted to continue to live in—the world of children and books, and me bringing them together and offering children the best books from all over the world."
Working as an International Team
At the beginning of our common endeavor, we met face-to-face in Utrecht, Netherlands, and then several times in Bologna during the Children's Book Fair. We had many experiences together, some quite unforgettable. In Bologna, for instance, Evelyn's bag was stolen in an internet café, and Lilia's purse was stolen on the bus. As the two of us went independently to the Bologna police to lodge a complaint, we could not help laughing in spite of the stress when we met at the police station. [End Page 86]
During our time as editors, Bookbird was never (and still isn't) a kind of digest. For each issue, we selected a topic and covered it in a large geographic and theoretical context. Work began with selecting topics that included genres, narrative techniques, regions, and special IBBY events. Authors sent us articles that suggested some of the topics. In other cases, we decided a topic ourselves. For example, Barbara proposed the issue Sense of Place in Children's Literature; we highlighted some regions whose literature for children was not well known, and Lilia initiated an issue on Children's Literature in South-Eastern Europe. Evelyn suggested Children's Literature in the Technology Age, while Patricia was interested in Children's Books as Bestsellers. Some other themed issues were Children's Literature and Africa, Narrative Changes, Nonfiction Books for Children, and War and Peace in Children's Literature.
After we decided the topics, each of us assumed the task of developing a concept, with an accompanying call for manuscripts, proposing authors, and editing roughly one issue per year. At each step, we would discuss problems and proposals together. Then we would contact the authors and send manuscripts submitted out for review to the international editorial board we had established. We succeeded in attracting new names as authors for Bookbird—historians, critics, teachers, librarians. We also encouraged submissions in languages other than English. Thankfully, Lilia's talents with multiple languages enabled her to translate some submissions, and we searched for multilingual scholars to translate others.
Work on the two Hans Christian Andersen Award issues during our time as editors was a delight. Based on materials about the nominees sent by the national IBBY sections, we presented their profiles. We felt fortunate to write about these Andersen award winners, finalists or nominees, as all of them were excellent authors and illustrators. During our time as editors, the 50th anniversary of IBBY was celebrated. We devoted an issue to this milestone, with interviews of people who had accompanied IBBY throughout the years.
Using Technology to Facilitate Our Work
As we recall 2000-2004, we note that technology was just beginning to support the kind of work we did as an international team of editors of...