The judges of the Branford Boase Award (BBA) for outstanding first novel for young people have noted an emerging trend in writing for readers aged seven and up: Instead of setting off for adventures in Narnia or where the wild things are, protagonists are staying home.
A significant amount of children's literature now takes place in an emotionally complex domestic setting. Julia Eccleshare, the award's co-founder and chairperson of the judging panel, points out in The Bookseller that increasingly, main characters are facing challenges such as death, depression, and divorce, which are "impossible for a child to resolve as the issues are insurmountable." Protagonists are trying to untangle internal family drama, not embarking on quests to catch thieves or right wrongs.
Although they might not fit the traditional understanding of adventure, these tales still offer excitement, as tension stems from internal monsters like mental health problems rather than the more literal wild-eyed furry giants with sharp teeth and claws. In more and more children's novels, Ms. Eccleshare explains, the action is in interaction, which invites readers to develop their sense of compassion and empathy.
She pinpoints the rise of more claustrophobic settings as coinciding with mobile phones and restrictions on children's freedom to roam without parental supervision. It is clear that at least the BBA judges still fancy some fresh air: Children will find a fair amount of outdoor adventure in the shortlisted titles below.
The winner of the Branford Boase Award, worth £1,000, will be announced On July 4th.
By Deb A.
Here's a roundup of just a few examples of beauty in the world this week.
Yinka Shonibare's Wind Sculpture has arrived in Central Park.
'They want to read books that engage with their everyday experiences, featuring characters who look like them." Denene Millner wrote in the New York Times about finding books for black children that celebrate daily life rather than extraordinary 'firsts.'
Hot on the heels of his own attempt to show that things just keep getting better, Steven Pinker recommended books to make you an optimist in The Guardian.
March 8th was International Women's Day, and the CBC celebrated with a list of 30 incredible women to inspire you with art...
...while Bloomberg highlighted female photographers around the world.
A book of lost poetry by Lou Reed is set to be published.
Canada's new Heritage Minute is for everyone who grew up with Anne of Green Gables.
By Deb A.
Twenty-two years ago, Dolly Parton launched the Imagination Library to encourage America's preschoolers and their families to develop a love for books. The programme began by sending 1,700 free books to children in Ms. Parton's home county in Tennessee, and since then has expanded to provide monthly reads to one million families across America, Canada, the United Kingdom, and Australia. Each year, a panel of early childhood literacy experts reviews hundreds of books to select the most appropriate titles, which differ from country to country.
This past week, the initiative celebrated an awe-inspiring milestone when it shipped out its 100 millionth book. It marked the occasion by dedicating the book--Dolly Parton's own Coat of Many Colors--to the world's largest library, the Library of Congress.
Here are a sample of some of the books the programme has sent out. We highly recommend you play Jolene on repeat in the background while you take a look.
By Deb A.
A book of poetry written by Leonard Cohen just before his death will be published next year. (Billboard)
We've talked about the Fearless Girl statue at length, and we wish we could be shocked that the firm behind it has a history of underpaying women and people of colour. (NPR)
Thirty publishers rejected Matt Cain's book on the grounds that it was too gay, but the general public disagrees: it's well on its way to getting published through crowdfunding instead. (The Bookseller)
505 new books were released during the UK's "Super Thursday". Which will you read first? (BBC)
Prize round-up: Kazuo Ishiguro won this year's Nobel Prize for literature. And the five finalists for Canada's Giller Prize have been announced. (Nobel Prize, Giller Prize)
The Guardian asked the art world about the biggest question currently facing artists. In one way or another, money comes up a lot. (The Guardian)
A school librarian rejected the First Lady's donation of ten Dr. Seuss books. (The Washington Post)
The Yayoi Kusama museum in Tokyo is open for business! (Yayoi Kusama Museum)
By Deb A.
By now you've heard that Agave Press will be launching its children's magazine, Prickly Pear Kids, in winter. That isn't the only exciting development in children's literature recently...
If you want your child to learn a lesson, those bunnies and bears just won't do. Researchers at the University of Toronto have discovered that only stories that feature human beings can increase children's altruism.
Speaking of bears, A.A. Milne was desperate to escape his own creation, Winnie-the-Pooh.
This year's Klaus Flugge Prize for the most exciting and promising newcomer to children's picture book illustration has been awarded to Francesca Sanna for her book, The Journey, which tells the story of a mother and her two children fleeing war at home to find a new life in a foreign country.
You've read Roald Dahl's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and you've probably seen at least one of the films, but what you never realised was that Charlie Bucket was originally black.
There are boy heroes, there are (significantly fewer) girl heroines. But chances are they aren't playing together. Amelia Hill takes a fascinating look at gender equality in children's books, and even offers a few titles for starting your non-sexist kids' library.
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