01 July 2011

"Windows and Wallpaper" ChLA 1

I recently spent a delightful 5 days at Hollins University attending  ChLA; the hosts were wonderful, the sessions were educational, my fellow attendees were interesting and interested, the food was delicious, and there were fireflies at the awards banquet on the grounds of the historic quad.  All that and I got to be dorm "roomie" with Sonya Sawyer Fritz.  What fun!

The Runaway BunnyMargaret Wise Brown, who graduated from Hollins in 1932, is the author of two of my favorite books (Goodnight Moon and The Runaway Bunny)
and is being celebrated with a festival which has just opened.  The campus museum exhibit, where I spent a delightful half hour and wanted to stay the day, is Goodnight, Hush.  Classic Children's Book Illustrations. I lingered and returned again and again to the original illustrations by Clement Hurd.  Since DMP and I had a series of house bunnies spanning twenty years, I delighted in his studies of rabbits in various poses.

Papa Gatto: An Italian Fairy TaleI also enjoyed the classic fairy tale illustrations of Ruth Sanderson and bought a copy of Papa Gatto, An Italian Fairy Tale, a Cinderella story which required no fairy godmother. 
GoldilocksSanderson's illustrations are beautiful and draw one into the story.  If there had been a copy in stock I would have bought Goldilocks because the illustration reminds me of my young neighbor, Emily C.  After making my purchase, I returned to the exhibit to find the benches fully occupied by women with PhDs and tenure-track professorships.  Each had grabbed a book and settled down to read a story of her childhood. What a wonderful recess from the distractions of scholarship!

Word WizardThe first session on Thursday featured Children's Literature as Linguistic Play and a look at books where "conversation shapes social reality" and  I enjoyed learning about these very special children's books:  Max's Words, The Three Pigs David Wiesner's The Three Pigs at first seems to be the familiar story  but then the wolf huffs & puffs & blows the little pigs outside the story frame and away they go on a series of adventures (and changing illustrative style) into other story books.  It's a childhood version of Jasper Fforde's Thursday Next series which neither DMP nor I can resist for a minute.
The Eyre Affair: A Thursday Next Novel (Thursday Next Novels (Penguin Books))Lost in a Good Book: A Thursday Next NovelOne of Our Thursdays Is Missing: A Novel

The Hero with a Thousand Faces: Commemorative Edition (Bollingen Series (General))The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (Original Version)Adam Z. Dotson's presentation linked Frank Baum's The Wonderful Wizard of Oz to Joseph Campbell's The Hero with a Thousand Faces which defined the monomyth and has been required reading for any serious student of literature since it was first published in 1949.  A bit of fun as Dorothy manages all 17 points of the hero's journey although Baum's work predates Campbell's by almost half a century.  If you only know the movie, you've missed much of the story although I did not much enjoy the books when I read them as a child.  

Dotson's paper was lagniappe since I chose that panel because I wanted to hear Anna Panszczyk's paper "Get Thee to a Library:  The Library Setting as a Space of Revolt and Difference in Children's Literature" and Anna did not disappoint.  The library appears as a space of "hushed tones and rigid rules" where one obtains "immediate information" but its  "organized, ordered exterior" exists "in tension with the chaos at its heart" where there is a "frenzied passion" to "collect, hoard, and devour" books.  Anna's talk featured  Library Lion and The Librarian of Basra   and one of the most delightful books I've come across, The Libraryby Sarah Stewart about a girl who would "rather read..."  That girl is a lot like the child I was and the woman I grew to be.
The LibraryLibrary LionThe Librarian of Basra: A True Story from Iraq

The day concluded with a screening of The Library of the Early Mind, a documentary film directed by Edward J. Delaney, produced by Steven Withrow, which features interviews with 50 top writers, illustrators, publishers and critics of children's literature.

{Insert many adjectives for a rave review here!}

 The interview with Daniel Handler a.k.a. Lemony Snicket is a delight!

One of the interviewees (perhaps Peter H. Reynolds) said that children's literature, "the books we read as children... give us windows and wallpaper."  I think he meant "windows" through which to look out and learn of the world and "wallpaper" with which to decorate the rooms of our minds, the images on which our inner eye dwells. 
My quirky mind was pleased at what I think was an unintended double entendre:  Windows is also an operating system and Wallpaper is the image we select for our Desktop. One cannot consider books, reading, information, libraries without considering the changes that technology and digitization are bringing. 
Quoting my friend Luci's blog:  "...if you're a teacher... start imagining how you can transition your classroom to a multi-media, online format. don't worry, your organization's LMS should be a great help, and you can shoot for gradual blended learning if the online component freaks you out. but buck up, soldier - the technology is here to stay, people are already drawn to it, and it can add a lot of options to your class to help different kinds of learners, so make friends with the computer and let it help us turn out critical thinkers who're actively participating in their educations."

ChLA to be continued...


Anonymous said...

It's so wonderful to read your take on ChLA! I've been so curious about that documentary.

BrandyMcD said...

So interesting! I'm jealous of what you got to do and all that you learned. I had a children's lit class in college that I loved.

I just ordered The Library for Ellery. It sounds right up her alley. (and I used the link from your blog, thank you very much!)