In recent decades, age studies has started to emerge as a new approach to study children’s literature. This book is co-authored by several members of the CAFYR team and builds on that scholarship but also significantly extends it by exploring age in various aspects of children’s literature: the age of the author, the characters, the writing style, the intended readership and the real reader. Moreover, the authors explore what different theories and methods can be used to study age in children’s literature, and what their affordances and limits are. The analyses combine age studies with life writing studies, cognitive narratology, digital humanities, comparative literary studies, reader-response research and media studies. To ensure coherence, the book offers an in-depth exploration of the oeuvre of a single author, David Almond. The aesthetic and thematic richness of Almond’s works has been widely recognised. This book adds to the understanding of his oeuvre by offering a multi-faceted analysis of age. In addition to discussing the film adaptation of his best-known novel Skellig, this book also offers analyses of works that have received less attention, such as Counting Stars, Clay and Bone Music. Readers will also get a fuller understanding of Almond as a crosswriter of literature for children, adolescents and adults.
Joosen, Vanessa, Michelle Anya Anjirbag, Leander Duthoy, Lindsey Geybels, Frauke Pauwels & Emma-Louise Silva. ‘Age in David Almond’s Oeuvre: A Multi-Method to Studying Age and the Life Course in Children’s Literature’.
David Almond’s The Savage (2008), illustrated by Dave McKean, demonstrates how narrating enables the adolescent protagonist, Blue Baker, to explore themes of loss, grief and bullying in the embedded graphic narrative he creates about a savage boy, a story Blue calls ‘The Savage’. The metanarrative utterances in The Savage not only reveal Blue’s reflections regarding his role as narrator of ‘The Savage’, they are vital for understanding his experience of continuity-in-change. The Savage, which is ultimately a book about storytelling and illustrating, shows Blue engaging in reflective and transformative ‘narrative self-shaping’ (Hutto 2016). Based on narrative medicine, cognitive narratology, age studies and children’s literature studies, this essay underscores the importance of analysing age-related metanarrative comments in characters’ creative acts of shaping the self via narratives, ultimately showing how narrating tales and sharing stories can be empowering, and this across the lifespan.
Silva, Emma-Louise. ‘Continuity-in-Change in David Almond’s The Savage: Narrative Self-Shaping in Moments of Metanarrative’.
European Journal of Life Writing, vol. 11, 2022, pp. 93–111.
This essay demonstrates the fruitfulness of applying a lens based on 4E-inspired cognitive narratology to David Almond’s My Name is Mina (2010) in order to illuminate how the so-called cognitive-affective imbalance between children and adults needs reassessing, especially when it comes to memory. Merging recent developments in 4E – or embodied, embedded, extended, and enactive – approaches to cognition as proposed in philosophy of mind, with concepts such as fictional minds and storyworlds as discussed in cognitive narratology, I engage in close readings of My Name is Mina that reveal kinship between the adult author and his child character. Adults and children alike are “memorial fabulators” (Chambers), and 4E approaches to the cognitive study of literature can enrich the field of children’s literature studies and its considerations of adult authors’ mind depictions of child characters.
Silva, Emma-Louise. ‘Cognitive Narratology and the 4Es: Memorial Fabulation in David Almond’s My Name is Mina’.
Age, Culture, Humanities, vol. 6, 2022, pp. 1–29.