Monday, July 27, 2009

The Author's Perspective

Yesterday I had the enormous fun of speaking at Prof. Shelby Wolf’s children’s literature class at CU. I was invited because I’m contributing the chapter on “The Author’s Perspective” to the huge and fabulously ambitious Handbook of Research on Children’s and Young Adult Literature, which Shelby is co-editing with three other prominent scholars: Karen Coats of Illinois State University, Patricia Enciso of Ohio State University, and Christine A. Jenkins of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champagne.

The goal of this eagerly awaited, massive tome is to bring together research done on children’s literature from three different disciplinary perspectives: literature, education, and library science. All three fields study children’s literature, but seldom come into dialogue with one another, their scholars publishing in their own distinctive journals and attending their own distinctive conferences. The Handbook plans to survey research in children’s literature by focusing on the book (from the perspective of literature), AND on the reader (from the perspective of education), AND on the context that brings both together (from the perspective of library science).

Of course, I was thrilled when I was asked to contribute the voice of the author, though also daunted at the thought that any one author – me! – would be representing the voice of “the” author. So I tried to interweave my own experiences and insights with glimpses into the creative process provided by our profession’s most acclaimed authors in their Newbery Medal Acceptance speeches, published each year in The Horn Book. My new Horn Book just came, containing Neil Gaiman’s acceptance speech for the Newbery awarded to him this year for The Graveyard Book. I haven’t read the speech yet; I’m saving it for the annual read-aloud of the speech that my writing group does at our summer retreat up at Lake Dillon, scheduled this year for August 13-15. No fair peeking! I love any chance to look at how a fellow writer’s mind works. And now the editors of the Handbook have given me the chance to share how my writer’s mind works, as well.

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