Editor's Note: Along with a small group of scholars, critics, publishers and writers of children's literature from both West Germany and the United States, Winfred Kaminski and I have participated in two week-long seminars on German and American literature for children: the first, on the topic of fantasy, was held at Brooklyn College in the spring of 1984; the second, on the "new hero," took place just outside Frankfurt am Main in the summer of 1985. These conferences, arranged by Klaus Doderer, Director of the Institut fur Jugendbuchforschung, Jack Zipes of the German Department, University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, and Geraldine DeLuca and Roni Natov of Brooklyn College, were inspirational, to say the least. They certainly made me realize not only how much more those of us working in children's literature in this country could be doing with the literatures of other nations, but how much I could learn from an exchange of information about critical methods, as well as about the literature itself.
I was especially taken by Dr. Kaminski's complex readings of young adult novels, readings which were more steeped in a sense of the political nature of these books than the usual analysis is. Since Dr. Kaminski's English is excellent, I asked him to write this article in English himself; with some help from Peter Neumeyer, I have only edited and polished Dr. Kaminski's own words.
I am hoping that others in the United States—like Nancy Tillman from the University of Iowa (who recently worked with IBBY to produce two annotated bibliographies of books for young people, How Far Away is Germany? and Wie Weit weg ist America?) and Nancy Huse of Augustana College (who spent a sabbatical year recently studying Swedish and German children's literature)—might want to respond and add insights and information of their own. Critical papers on children's fiction in still other countries would also be welcome for this column.