Wednesday, March 16, 2016

IAFA 37 Conference: Day 1

Hello all!

I send greetings from Orlando, FL where I am attending IAFA 37. After some airport adventures way too early this morning, we--hubby John is traveling with me although he's not attending the conference itself--arrived safely at the Marriott Hotel where the conference is held. I attended the opening session and the first papers session today and worked to get my tired brain into an academic mode.

First up was The Opening Panel: Wonder Tales with Moderator: Gary K. Wolfe, Delia Sherman (replacing absent Terri Windling), Holly Black and Cristina Bacchilega. The discussion centered around "wonder" as a term and experience, from the perspective of both creators and scholars. Some intriguing comments and questions were shared which I don't feel up to trying to convey here tonight as I write. Quite frankly, I would fail even with the helps of my notes to convey the nuances and tenor of the discussion.

Next up was the first set of sessions for the conference. It is challenging to pick one for each session but this time I chose to attend:

The Power of the Female Body in YA Fairy Tale Adaptations
Chair: Amanda Firestone
The University of Tampa

“And they lived ever after, whether they were happy about it or not”: Rediscovering Possibilities for Female Agency and Exploring
Trauma in Re-Imagined Young Adult Fairy Tales
Annika Herb
University of Newcastle, Australia

Your Body is a Wonderland: Fantasy and Desire in Francesca Lia Block’s The Rose and the Beast
Mandy Mahaffey
Valencia College

Annika Herb's paper primarily discussed the short story, "Sharper Than a Serpent’s Tongue" by Christine Johnson in Grim (Harlequin Teen). The story subverts the classic moral of "Diamonds and Toads" or I should say ATU 480 tales. And, yes, there was some amusement in the audience that this was published under the Harlequin imprint, too.

While both papers were strong and brought much to a fun discussion at the end of the session, this paper resonated with me. I am near finished editing an anthology of ATU 480: Kind and Unkind Girls tales of which Diamonds and Toads is a variant (my upcoming collection has over 150 variants of ATU 480 stories) so discussion of a modern take on the tale--a fascinating interpretation at that--was a fine start to the conference for me. I don't want to spoil it here, but really, go read that story if you are at all familiar with Diamonds and Toads.

This is a short story I will need to revisit since I quickly skimmed it when the book was released a few years ago. I own the book in paper instead of ebook, so that will need to await my return home.

Mandy Mahaffey primarily discussed "Snow" in Francesca Lia Block's The Rose and The Beast: Fairy Tales Retold which I remember pretty vividly from when it was released. I was a YA librarian then in Burbank, CA and that was the only book I ever had challenged. Not surprising considering its content perhaps, but it was on the shelf next to The Gossip Girl series which I thought warranted challenging on so many other levels. This book, while not to all tastes, was important to those needing its fairy tale interpretations, rather Angela Carter for teens.

Anyway, back to the session at hand. The Q&A had some wonderful questions and comments that sparked thoughts and ideas. One request was for feminist fairy tale interpretations for some of our youngest readers, in the ages 4-6 range. A lot of the usual suspects came up, such as Cinder Edna, Princess Furball, Tatterhood, The Paper Bag Princess, Sleeping Ugly and more.

My fatigued brain totally spaced on a more recent title: Sleeping Cinderella and Other Princess Mix-ups by Stephanie Clarkson (Author), Brigette Barrager (Illustrator). I reviewed the book last year after sharing it with my then 5-year-old niece. It's not a book that shouts feminist messaging, but once you look past the humorous delivery, it really is exactly that.

Another newer title offered for consideration was Shannon Hale's The Princess in Black which doesn't retell a specific fairy tale, but definitely plays with the genre. My niece, now six, adores this series and was just as thrilled to unwrap the most recent release--The Princess in Black and the Perfect Princess Party--for her birthday last month as the bigger, more expensive presents.

So if you can think of more to share, please do so here in the comments. Even if you aren't here at IAFA, you can join the after discussions with us here!

Now I'm off to rest and coddle my brain before exposing it to all the new discussions that await it tomorrow.

1 comment:

  1. So jealous-both that you're at the Conference, and in Orlando! Some year I would love to go myself...can't wait to hear more from you!