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  • Editorial
  • Sylvia Vardell (bio) and Catherine Kurkjian (bio)

Dear Bookbird Readers,

Our July 2011 issue presents a wide range of articles that are at times disparate and sometimes resonant with intersecting themes. In the first three articles one can hear a common refrain regarding the value of telling one's own story with language as an expression of identity. Next is a duet of articles focusing on works of modern fantasy, one involves an analysis of a contemporary series and the other focuses on an old favorite classic tale that is transplanted to a different setting. The last two articles hail from Asia; one explores the history of original picture books from China, the other shares how IBBY's vision of books as a way to promote understanding plays out through JBBY's traveling exhibitions.

Feature Articles

First of our trio is Red, Yellow, and Black: Australian Indigenous publishing for young people by Robyn Sheahan-Bright. In this piece she outlines the portrayal of indigenous cultures in Australian literature for young people from the time of white settlement to the current day. She shows over time a movement from literature presented through non-Indigenous eyes, that was fraught with cultural biases and stereotypes, to a slowly emerging authentic literature rich in the wide diversities that exist among Indigenous peoples [End Page ii] of Australia. Sheahan-Bright paints a picture of the current day Indigenous and non-Indigenous publishing houses that demonstrates progress made and challenges to be faced in giving voice to authentic Indigenous literature.

Moving from sharing stories through the eyes of Indigenous peoples, Lea Baratz and Sara Zamir's article, Examining Hebrew-Amharic bilingual children's literature in Israel: Language, themes, and power , turns the tables and addresses the need for and value of giving voice to immigrant voices. In particular, they refer to the Ethiopian Beta Israel community that immigrated to Israel in the mid 1980s and early 1990s. Through their analysis of mutually composed stories written in Amharic and in Hebrew, the authors argue that these bilingual texts can provide a vehicle for social exchange and understanding as well as sensitivity to one another.

The last in this trio is Vivian Yenika-Agbaw's article Folk literature and the preservation of culture: New approaches to African storytelling . Vivian Yenika-Agbaw speaks to the importance of the preservation of oral tales from Africa and describes four specific tales, each of which is transmediated into current day formats (bilingual text format, the picture book format, graphic novel, and YouTube digital format). Yenika-Agbaw highlights variations across formats, in particular, the oral integrity of the stories may vary according to format, as well as the degree to which varying audiences can be addressed. Readers can easily discern that story formats have the potential to enhance or detract from the telling of a tale in varying ways and that digital formats afford dissemination to a global audience in multiple languages and in multiple ways.

Shifting to works of modern fantasy, Lydia Kokkola in Sparkling vampires: Valorizing self-harming behavior in Stephenie Meyer's Twilight series analyzes and compares the Twilight series with works of realistic fiction and memoirs that address the issue of self-abuse. In doing so, she expertly highlights salient similarities and differences in the way this issue is handled. While Kokkola's arguments are convincing, she takes a non-didactic stance by inviting readers to draw their own conclusions regarding the impact of this fantasy series on young readers.

And then Elena Staniou and Tasoula Tsili-meni help us see Collodi's classic modern fantasy Pinocchio from an interesting viewpoint. In Pinocchio's road to adulthood from Carlo Collodi to Christos Boulotis , the authors speak to Boulotis's Pinocchio in light of the intertextuality that exists with Collodi's original work. It is argued that the story of Pinocchio has taken on mythic proportions and cannot be confined to national borders, and as readers, we already know and love Pinocchio, and bring this knowledge to bear on Boulotiis's versions. Thus, Pinocchio is situated in Greece and, while still a wooden puppet, he is a fully human boy with heart and soul who as protagonist negotiates life...


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pp. ii-iv
Launched on MUSE
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