Happily Ever After…
The IBBY/NCRCL annual conference for 2017, Happily Ever After: The Evolution of Fairy Tales Across Time and Culture, was held on Saturday November 11 at the Centre for Literacy in Primary Education, near London’s Waterloo Road.
The first speaker was Vanessa Joosen from the University of Antwerp. Joosen has long been known for her literary critiques of fairy tales. On this occasion she spoke with a particular emphasis. Scholars who study characters in fiction from the viewpoint of their age and the effect that ageing has on them, are termed age scholars. In Western fairy tales the older character is normally evil, oppressive or even invisible. Sometimes older characters have a bifurcated view of their own personality, their physical self differing from their emotional self.
Celebrated authors Hilary McKay and Deirdre Sullivan then introduced their collections of fairy tales. The two authors explained to the audience which of their stories they found most difficult to write and why.
The first parallel session examined Deirdre Sullivan’s book Tangleweed and Brine.
The second session was presented by Abie Longstaff, author of the Fairytale Hair Dresser, and Kirsten Nott of Roehampton University. Longstaff spoke about her series of books and Nott about the use of technology in Disney retellings of fairy tales.
The third parallel session was a story told by the story teller Patrick Ryan and a discussion of the use of stories to help people with learning difficulties in the context of family therapy.
The acclaimed illustrator Jackie Morris spoke about the sense of place in her books and cultural appropriation, as when a writer from a certain culture tries to write about a different culture.
The next session was a panel discussion involving Beverley Naidoo, the author of Journey to Joburg, Jamila Gavin, author of Blackberry Blue, Sally Pomme Clayton, storyteller and finally Delaram Ghanimifard, the Iranian-born co-founder of Tiny Owl publishing company. The panellists were asked what role fairytales had played in their childhood and why they thought such stories were important for today’s children.
Pam Dix, the chair of IBBY, presented a short summary of IBBY’s wok in the past year. Finally Sally Pomme Clayton told us an electrifying story from Russia.