We open this week’s roundup with the age-old diversity question. We can only write what we know, but how can we create a more pluralistic and representative children’s literature ecosystem, while making sure that we don’t speak for experiences that are not our own? Mathangi Subramanian puts forth her solution in this opinion piece in the Hindustan Times.
Have you ever stopped to wonder when and how children’s lit became news? When did our favourite picture books and chapter books, the stuff of cosy bedtime huddles and quiet school library corners, become the subjects of critical and journalistic debate? Meghaa Aggarwal speaks to Maria Russo, children’s editor at The New York Times, to learn about the newspaper’s approach to children’s books.
And while you’re here, check out these recent beauties from the NYT’s children’s book review section: One is a photo essay-cum-interview featuring the brilliant Oliver Jeffers and his studio in Brooklyn, and the other is an evocative essay by Russo herself, on the enduring charm of Maurice Sendak’s work.
Speaking of Maruice Sendak, here’s a piece The Wire carried by researchers Katharine Capshaw and Cora Lynn Deibler on the Maurice Sendak Collection, at the University of Connecticut’s Archives. This is a fascinating read for hard-core fans of Sendak, and features drafts of his illustrations for Where The Wild Things Are (handpicked from the archive itself), while dissecting his creative process.
And finally, we leave you with a question. Is there any subject too grave, too big, or too scary to be made into a picture book? Author Gayathri Bashi thinks not. In a conversation with The New Indian Express, she describes the thought process that went into creating Big Rain, a picture book about the floods that devastated Kerala in August 2018. She believes that the key to broaching complex or scary issues with children is to put it in terms that they can understand and identify with.