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Pemberton introduces six papers that critically engage with children's books in Australia and present a wide range of subjects and critical approaches. He briefly references the work of the aforementioned authors, quoting from Wrightson's Nargun and the Stars in recognition of the 'mythic potentialities' and 'immense challenge' of writing about what it means to be Australian (166). In this sense it is 'the image of the Australian child' and how this image is situated within and in relation to, the landscape that provides the focus for this issue of the periodical, drawing attention to how 'the dimensions of mythic distance in Australian children's literature are wide indeed' (167). For Pemberton, the authors and texts under discussion utilise 'the idiosyncrasies of Australian idiom, humour and candour' in ways that 'are testimony to a national resilience' and representative of 'the evolution of national identity' (166-67).
McVitty describes 'aspects of the children's book scene in Australia' which includes literature and publishing - especially for children - in Australia' (167). He briefly discusses bookshops, general and professional interest, awards, the Children's Book Council of Australia, school magazines, book clubs, Bologna and overseas markets, and publishing. He includes the shortlists for the 1990 Children's Book of the Year Awards (Older Readers, Younger Readers and Picture Books) and directly refers to John Marsden's So Much to Tell You and Possum Magic (Mem Fox) as examples of successful Australian works for children. He believes that while it is still relatively small, Australian children's literature is a healthy, thriving industry with continuing opportunities to expand within national and international consumer markets.
Niall discusses the literary careers of Australian writer Ethel Turner and Canadian writer L. M. Montgomery with attention to how, as contemporaries, their experiences often paralleled one another. She argues that Turner revolutionized Australian children's literature by bringing 'the action indoors and show[ing] that suburban Australia could be at least as interesting as the outback' (175). As Niall points out 'traditionally, Australian writers have concerned themselves with the city or the bush; there is very little representation of small town communities or closely settled farming districts' (178-179). Up until the 1960s there was very little development of novels that celebrate regionalism and Niall cites Colin Thiele's The Sun on the Stubble as 'perhaps the best example of an emerging regional tradition' (179). While Montgomery's recurring motif was 'the orphan's search for a home', Turner's novels often centred on the struggle of an individual or family 'with poverty or a father's tyranny as the source of conflict' (178), and featured independent and resourceful heroines who often had to choose between 'a career as a writer or artist and marriage and motherhood' (176).
This article is concerned with a major shift in Australian ideology and values that Stephens argues occurred during the 1970s. He argues that 'within a decade during the 1970s Australian political and educational institutions underwent a palpable shift towards an ideology of multiculturalism and Australian Children's Literature shifted with it' (180). By the mid-seventies multiculturalism in children's literature was advocated as 'a desirable social value and one to be inculcated in child readers' (180). Multiculturalism in children's fiction was conceived as 'acceptance of difference and heterogeneity' which was in accordance with the general principles expressed by the Australian Council on population and Ethnic Affairs (1982). Stephens critiques a number of contemporary novels that deal with issues of multiculturalism and identity formation: On Loan (Anne Brooksbank), The Boys from Bondi (Alan Collins), Moving Out (Helen Garner & Jennifer Giles), New Patches for Old (Christobel Mattingly), Deepwater (Judith O'Neill), The Other Side of the Family (Maureen Pople), The Seventh Pebble (Eleanor Spence), Five Times Dizzy and Dancing in the Anzac Deli (Nadia Wheatley). He makes three pertinent claims regarding representations of multicultural identity and/or community in Australia: that the representation of multiculturalism is questionable in these novels as most of the authors do not come from a non-Anglo background; that there is a general subordination of the themes of migration and culture to the theme of personal identity development (a common thematic concern of children's literature); while the novels 'pivot on aspects of difference' the narratives are generally focalized through members of the majority culture and 'hence the privilege of narrative subjectivity is rarely bestowed upon minority groups' (181). Stephens posits that within the genre of children's fiction, 'the absence of significant migrant voices...leads to a partial and hence false, representation of the Australian experience of migration and the development of multiculturalism' (181).
Nimon observes that Australian science fiction for children tends to present futuristic narratives that are 'earthbound' rather than 'launching into the void between the stars or touching down on remote and wonderous planets' (185). She claims that writers of juvenile science fiction 'find Australia itself to be a challenging terrain...a continent whose people are neither comfortable nor assured in their possession of it' (185). Following a discussion of novels by Lee Harding (Displaced Persons, Waiting for the End of the World), Victor Kelleher (Taronga, The Makers), and Gillian Rubinstein (Beyond the Labyrinth, Skymaze and Space Demons), Nimon claims that as well as the tendency of Australian science fiction for children to remain earthbound, there is a pervasive theme of individualization, 'where the dangers encountered and the foes met are the powers of our own desires and weaknesses; we battle to control our unruly selves' and as such, 'the future lies in our own hands' (188).