A brief report from Stavanger

Maktens Pluttifikasjon, the Nordic children’s literature conference is well underway. What makes the conference special is the breadth of participants and topics, all sectors of children’s literature are represented: librarians, teachers, authors, illustrators, researchers, publishers, translators and last but not least – the super readers, youngsters who aren’t shy to give their opinion.

The conference opened with a reading of the funny and thoughtful picture book Odd er et egg (Odd is an egg) by Lisa Aisato.

Maria Nikolajeva, professor at Cambridge University, held the opening lecture in which she spoke about knowledge and power. An interesting lecture, where prof. Nicolajeva gave examples of how children’s literature can be used as an instrument of power and how the adult writer has the potential to manipulate the child reader through artistic means.

With the conference name Maktens Pluttifikasjon, referring to Pippi Longstocking, in mind Agnes-Margrehte Bjorvand from the University of Agder showed how Astrid Lindgren borrowed and reused material from herself. Themes, characters and scenes in her earliest works, the short stories she wrote for monthly magazines, reappears in her later books.

We also had the opportunity to listen to Danish writer Fatima A. Alatraktchi, who wrote her first novel at the tender age of fourteen. The dystopic novel received critical acclaim for its realistic depiction of power struggles in school, paralleled in the world at large.

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