What better theme to launch the new than a look at the classic. What do we mean by this? Can one identify a classic? Are there criteria? Perry Nodelman takes up these questions to present his thinking on the matter. It would seem that this is not as clear cut as might be expected. Indeed it may be that the concept of a classic is flawed. Not least by the assumption the ‘classic’ has universal appeal and should (note the imperative!) be read by everyone. We are all familiar with those interminable lists of 100 best books or books you or your child must read. Looking at these lists they rely almost exclusively on the literature of Western Europe or white America. What if that is not your culture or background? Debbie Reese as a member of the tribal nation, Nambé, offers a very salutary view – and one that will provoke thought.
How do such ‘classics’ travel? Well it seems that they do by finding new homes and new audiences through translation. It may be surprising to learn of some of their destinations; Slovenia for one. Darja Mazi–Leskover reveals that classics of English children’s literature have been available and enjoyed by young readers in Slovenia for over 100 years.
While the theme has mainly concentrated on the written text, June Hopper Swain’s review of the recent exhibition at House of Illustration of work by John Vernon Lord reminds us – as does Debbie Reese – that illustrations can be considered ‘classic’. In the case of John Vernon Lord this is doubly so; much of the exhibition was devoted to his work illustrating ‘classic’ works.
I hope you will enjoy our old wine in its new bottle.
June Hopper Swain discusses the work of John Vernon Lord.
Davila Forni explores two picture books illustrated by Roberto Innocenti: The Girl in Red (2012) and Cinderella (1983).
Darja Mazi–Leskovar explores Slovenian translations of old English classics.
Lucy Pearson studies the impact of the Carnegie Medal.
Dr Debbie Reese reflects on classics.
Perry Nodelman discusses what makes a children’s classic.