As Leonardi says in her book on ideology in children’s and YA fiction in translation, we use the term children’s fiction to reach out to a huge amount of cultural products destined for a child audience, from their author or their publisher. In our little excursion through these fictional words we have broadened the term ‘literature’ to include paper products and other formats, and even though we have tried to be very comprehensive, we have left a lot aside because in such a short journey it is not possible to comprehend the width of creativity generated by the children’s and YA words and the amount of topics and problems they pose to an adult’s perspective.

On our short journey, we have glanced at picture books and comics as examples of fiction on paper, starting by those with more illustrations, continuing on towards those of which incorporate language and dialogue as narrative strategies. We jumped towards the audio-visual formats of series, films and videogames, animated and live action, but we left aside the wealth of nursery rhymes and songs for young children, poetry, riddles, fairytales and myths because they have received more up to date attention than other audio-visual media. It seemed more important for us to go through opposite terrains, albeit juxtaposed to the space time continuum of children’s fiction, without paying attention to these other four or five formats that tend to be sustained by oral tradition, more so than with a printed or technological medium. Our aim was to introduce you to this multiverse, but we have not been able to describe it all. We hope we have tickled your fancy and you may continue your exploration on your own if you found any of these formats interesting. If you have not, we hope that at least the journey entertained you and you have good memories of it.

We have also wanted to wet your appetite with the last two tangential topics included in this world: young adult fiction and translation, not only because both have a blurred border, but because it is the natural destination on a timeline of a human life. Also they may inspire your summer reading, or simply you can explore titles and language that may be closer to your interests, as a university student. In terms of translation, we are aware, that as language students, one of the most common – and tough – professional paths taken is translation and due to the success of this type of fiction, there has been job opportunities in the last couple of years. Even though it is not easy to enter into this career or get a full time job out of it, it may very well be one of the careers that some of you find in your professional milieu. On top of that, the problems that translation, creation and dissemination of this type of fiction entail introduced us to topics that we can all relate to, in terms of our relationship with children and young people. Hopefully, we can learn to establish more fruitful interpersonal relationships, to be more tolerant, base the ideas that we may or may not have of children and teenagers on true perceptions and not on preconceived prejudices.

In a way, this journey via fictional worlds for children and young adults, has posed the question of cultural manipulation of creative products that are available and marginalized. As in every journey a person goes on, it is not easy to find answers and we may have ended up with more questions than we started with. As Prof Zohar Shavit says, we still have a lot of questions to solve, mainly; how can we conceptualize children’s fiction, unlike adult’s, as part of an educational and literary system at the same time; how does this double purpose affect its development, structure and human agents involved; up to which point does our own notion of childhood affect the norms of narration and character creation and probably many other questions that have occurred to you throughout this module (177). Peter Hunt affirms that these beliefs of children and young people’s world reflect the adult world that up to current times, they have been developing in. The criticism and textual selection of creative products that are made public, inform the attitudes and the shortsightedness that control production and product distribution (144). In his epilogue, he ends up discussing the belief that ‘everybody can be an expert’. He reminds us that many non-reading adults find an open territory in this fiction, liberating them, because there’s nothing to be afraid of inside its borders and that this liberation sometimes allows everybody to offer an opinion that they consider more or less valid about the book in question; but that doesn’t go further from mere popular opinion and has no critical value for a community of readers. On the opposite side of the spectrum, I would like to offer an anecdote from my own experience in 2007; I organized a week dedicated to Harry Potter, free for children and young adults accompanied by an adult, at University of Galway  and the public libraries in Galway. Between the release of the fifth film and seventh book, we spent 4 hours every day of the week doing different activities related to the wizarding world (treasure hunts, drama workshops, storytelling, art/fanfiction workshops, yoga as defence against the dark arts, a mystery play and of course, the sorting hat), and we discussed one book a day, except for the seventh one, which had not been released at that point. In the end of each day, these kids demonstrated their critical skill of comparisons and acute analysis of the books with myriads of sources from other fictional worlds in books, audiovisual products and also through dialogue. Owing to very respectful participation, they managed to semi agree with other kids, in a way that many academic conferences would envy. It is not easy to describe what happened that week because it was actually magic to see how these miniacademic minds would have given me and many of my colleagues a run for our money. I can only hope that this module has managed to inspire you all, at least if only a fraction of how much those children inspired me. If we have not managed that, we hope that, at least, you have learnt a bit of actual Spanish that is often used, with the freshness and creativity that will always break moulds and widen our frontiers.


Share This Book