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02/2011 Migration

What do mice know about Panama?”, the narrator asks us in The Trip to Panama – and provides the answer himself: “Nothing, if not less.” The mouse, it is implied, is ignorant and small-minded, never leaves its mouse hole and has no understanding of the world. Unlike Janosch’s mouse, the protagonists of migration stories in children’s literature do not simply live in a narrow world; they accommodate different worlds within themselves, unite them, live between them, draw strength and inspiration from them – or they suffer from feeling disjointed and foreign. In view of the never-ending debates on fears of integration, alleged refusals to integrate and ubiquitous racism, children’s literature on migration allows us to address the topic gently. It moves the lives of children and young adults from migrant families into the focus of the majority society, facilitates the development of understanding and tolerance, the comprehension of immigrant cultures and the realisation that the alleged differences sometimes do not exist and that everything is not as problematic as it seems at first glance.

Having looked beyond the rim of our tea cups at literary testimonials from other regions in interjuli 02/10, we are now crawling into mouse holes closer to home and taking a look at the topic of migration in children’s literature. As an introduction, Antje Graf, Johannes Kleine and Daniela Kölling inform us about the thematisation of foreignness in contemporary migration literature. Erin Spring analyses the approach to identity and migration in two Canadian picture books, while Jeong-Yong Kim gives us an insight into multicultural children’s literature in (South) Korea. Henriette Hoppe studies the use of proper names in intercultural children’s literature, and Roni Natov examines the representation of the cultural ‘Other’ in Young Adult Fiction dealing with migration. I would especially like to invite you to read the interview with Aygen-Sibel Çelik, in which she talks about her experiences as a writer of children’s literature as well as about the redundancy and the necessity of debates about integration.

 


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