Welcome from Bethany and Kekla
Welcome to the Winter Issue of Hunger Mountain, an issue we are both proud and saddened to dedicate to the inestimable Norma Fox Mazer.
Norma was a teacher, a mentor, and a seasoned author whose work never ceased to tackle the hard topics. It is only fitting then, that the theme of this issue—which was decided before Norma’s death in early October, 2009 is Confronting Controversy. In her obituary run in The New York Times, Margalit Fox writes, “Ms. Mazer’s work was widely praised by critics for its literate dialogue; psychological astuteness; believable characters and situations; and unflinching yet nuanced portrayal of lives fraught with guilt, pain and rupture.” Norma never shied away from difficult emotions, and the authors in our tribute section—her daughter Anne Mazer, friend and colleague Marion Dane Bauer, former student Deborah Wiles, and HarperCollins editor Rosemary Brosnan, who each represent one of the cornerstones of Norma’s life, family, VCFA, her teaching, and her publishing life—honor her profound impact on all of us.
Norma, you are missed.
As mentioned, our theme Confronting Controversy explores the many forms controversy takes in the world of young adult and children’s literature. In a field as dynamic as ours, where merit is subjective and opinions are strong, how do we distinguish the best of the best? Who gets to decide what’s good, and what’s appropriate, and how do they do so?
We’re featuring Newbery Honor-winning author Kathi Appelt as she talks about Blurring the Lines discussing the ever shifting audience line of books for children, along with those pesky “anonymous” reviews. Meanwhile Lisa Jahn-Clough tackles the tough questions of censorship, while J. Patrick Lewis wonders, “Can Children’s Poetry Matter?”
Literary agent Regina Brooks opens her Toolbox for us, sharing some pointers on striving to write the next big hit in kid lit….and pitfalls to avoid along the way. An interview with literary agents Holly McGhee and Emily Van Beek give us a glimpse into the thoughts of our industry’s gatekeepers.
For the Flip Side, Deva Fagan and Erin Dionne tackle the presence of princesses in contemporary children’s literature, exploring the ways we want ourselves, our daughters and our characters to be like them…or not. And Mark Fink reveals what his last book taught him.
We also present fiction selections from G.Neri, Shoshanna Wingate, Carol Larese Milward, poems by Tonya Cherie Hegamin, and the winner and honorable mentions of the first ever Katherine Paterson Prize contest. This award is a fine distinction, as the selections published here were chosen by the newly named Ambassador of Children’s Literature herself.
We invite you to dive into the controversy. Discuss, debate, learn, but most of all….
Enjoy the read!
Bethany and Kekla