WOW Currents

An Interview with Mary Margaret Mercado: Publication Practices

By Judi Moreillon, Literacies and Libraries Consultant

Part 2: Publication Practices

This month, I interview Pima County Public Libraries children’s librarian and book reviewer, Mary Margaret Mercado. Last week, Mary Margaret responded to questions related to her goals and process for reviewing books. This week, we explore publication practices. To guide our thinking, we create a framework from Critical Multicultural Analysis of Children’s Literature: Mirrors, Windows, and Doors by Maria José Botelho and Masha Kabakow Rudman and WOWLit’s “Evaluating Literature for Authenticity.”
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WOW Currents

Book Reviewers as Mediators of Children’s Literature: An Interview with Mary Margaret Mercado

By Judi Moreillon, Literacies and Libraries Consultant

Part 1: Goals and Process for Children’s Book Reviews

Children’s book reviewers serve as mediators between newly published children’s literature and those who promote, purchase or use these books. Newspapers and other media that promote children’s books use what book reviewers publish. Bookstores that sell children’s books refer to these reviews. School and public librarians, classroom teachers and families that purchase and share children’s books often rely on published reviews. Book reviewers, therefore, have the responsibility to be competent. Their reviews should accurately address all aspects of global children’s literature, including cultural authenticity and accuracy.
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Seeking Global Perspectives in Traditional Literature Picture Books: Part 2

Climbing Rosa

By Judi Moreillon, Texas Woman’s University

As Rachel Young, former Art of Storytelling student learned, Hungarian folktales often begin with these lines: “Once there was, or once there wasn’t…” This introduction could easily be applied to a retelling of Climbing Rosa. Retold by Shelley Fowles, this story is about a girl who is an expert at climbing because she is forced by her stepmother and stepsister to sleep on the roof of their house. This skill gives her an advantage when the king has had enough of his son’s reading, reading, reading and holds a contest in which the prize is none other than the prince himself. Continue reading

Seeking Global Perspectives in Traditional Literature Picture Books: Part 1

My Village: Rhymes from around the World

By Judi Moreillon, Texas Woman’s University

In addition to informational books and Web sites, school and public librarians and classroom teachers who are looking to provide children with global perspectives often turn to traditional literature. The fairy and folktales, myths, and fables of a people provide “insights into the underlying values and beliefs of particular cultural groups” (Short, Lynch-Brown, and Tomlinson 108). These stories that have their origin in the oral tradition carry cultural markers that offer readers and story listeners opportunities to learn about and compare other worldviews to their own. Continue reading

Inquiry into Cultural Authenticity in Traditional Literature: Sita’s Ramayana

by Judi Moreillon, Texas Woman’s University

“…Myth might be defined simply as ‘other people’s religion,’…”

Joseph Campbell.

While folktales and fables are traditional literature of a secular nature, myths are sacred narratives. To people within a particular religious group, myths are true accounts of past events. Myths explain how the world came to be and how people’s behavior, societal customs, and institutional norms were formed. The main characters in myths are usually gods or heroes with supernatural powers and the humans with whom they interact. “…Myth might be defined simply as ‘other people’s religion,’ to which an equivalent definition of religion would be ‘misunderstood mythology,’ the misunderstanding consisting in the interpretation of mythic metaphors as references to hard fact” (Campbell 27). Continue reading

Inquiry into Cultural Authenticity in Traditional Literature: Aesop’s Fables

by Judi Moreillon, Texas Woman’s University

Fables are another form of traditional literature. They are short stories written in prose or verse. The main characters are most often anthropomorphized animals whose behaviors demonstrate moral lessons. Fable tellers and writers end their stories with a maxim, or a statement that encapsulates the moral. The most famous fables in Western culture are attributed to a Greek named Aesop. Continue reading

Inquiry into Cultural Authenticity in Traditional Literature: The Parade: A Stampede . . .

By Judi Moreillon, Texas Woman’s University

The week’s selection The Parade: A Stampede of Stories about Ananse, The Trickster Spider was selected for grades three through five on the 2012 USBBY Outstanding International Books list. This collection was written by KP Kojo, the pen name of Nii Ayikwei Parkes, who was born and raised in Ghana, the original homeland of Ananse (sometimes spelled Anansi or called Kwaku Ananse or Anancy). Many U.S. children are familiar with picture book versions of Anansi stories. Authors such as Verna Aardema, Eric Kimmel, and Gerald McDermott (who also illustrates), have retold these stories for a young readership; they are all cultural outsiders to West Africa. Illustrators of these titles include Lisa Desimini and Janet Stevens, who are also cultural outsiders. Continue reading

Inquiry into Cultural Authenticity in Traditional Literature: The Great Snake . . .

By Judi Moreillon, Texas Woman’s University


In the Amazon, people often laugh at their own belief in fantastic stories. But all the same, they believe the stories.

Taylor p. 55

As we continue our inquiry into folktales, we travel south to Brazil to investigate The Great Snake: Stories from the Amazon written by Sean Taylor and illustrated by Fernando Vilela. Sean Taylor, a Brit married to a Brazilian woman, lives part-time in her home country. Taylor frames the retellings of these stories as stops along his journey up the Amazon River. Continue reading

Inquiry into Cultural Authenticity in Traditional Literature: When Apples Grew Noses . . .

By Judi Moreillon, Texas Woman’s University

Each year the United States Board on Books for Young People (USBBY) selects and promotes a list of Outstanding International Books (OIB) for children and young adults. On the USBBY Web site, the annual list divided by instructional levels (K-2, 3-5, 6-8, and 9-12), is available as a downloadable bookmark. Educators can also find a Google map showing the setting of each book or the place of its publication.

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The Hero’s Journey from Another Point of View: Here Lies Arthur

By Judi Moreillon, Texas Woman’s University, Texas Ambassador for USBBY

“Cei laughed off the slanders. ‘They’re only stories,’ he would say. ‘What do stories matter?’ But he wasn’t stupid. He knew as well as Myrddin that in the end stories are all that matter” (Reeve 204).

British author Philip Reeve uses the well-known legends of King Arthur and the Knights of the Roundtable as a springboard for his novel Here Lies Arthur. Reeve offers explanations for the unexplained in the original tales, which may be part history and greater part folklore, and have been embellished by retellers since the late 5th and early 6th century when King Arthur supposedly performed heroic and even magical deeds. Along with his knights, Arthur has been credited with defending Britain from invading Saxons. He has embodied the virtues of loyalty, honor, and chivalry. In his author’s note, Reeve provides historical and literary documentation for the novel.
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