Thursday, June 14, 2007

Checking in from the ChLA Conference

Today was day one of the Children's Literature Association Annual Conference located this year in Newport News, Virginia. I've never been in this area of Virginia before (near Williamsburg) and let me say that it is just beautiful. Trees, trees, and more trees.

Today I gave a paper on Baba Yaga in Anglo-American picture books and attended a number of interesting panels. Here's what I found most interesting on day one:
  • A panel called "Generational/Cultural Differences" focused on generational differences between immigrant parents and their first-generation children. Because the books the panelists studied were written long ago (A Tree Grows in Brooklyn and Farewell to Zanzibar, among them), a discussion began as to what would be considered "typically American" now to a child with immigrant parents. Audience members said, immediately, mall culture and consumerist behavior. This makes sense to me, but I have to wonder, is that all? What do you all think? What would a first-generation American consider "mainstream" American today?

  • A graduate student from the University of Pittsburgh presented a fascinating queer reading of Lilo and Stitch. She paid particular attention to the Hawaiian notion of "ohana" and the "family" who joins for dinner at the end of the film.

  • A graduate student from The New School presented an interesting paper on how the Holocaust informed Daniel Handler's A Series of Unfortunate Events. And, she wasn't reading into the books. Handler responded to her paper (alas, not in person) in detail.

More tomorrow...