Blog from IRSCL

Recently I have been really privileged to attend to attend the International Research Society for Children’s Literature (IRSCL) conference in Stockholm, Sweden. This conference is held every 2 years and is a gathering of children’s literature scholars from  all over the world presenting many different facets of their research. This year the theme was ‘silence and silencing’, and this brought forth a great range of presentations. I presented on how some languages in multilingual picturebooks get less space than others, and so are in effect, relatively silenced. I was also part of a panel of four from Italy, New Zealand, Norway and the United States discussing how we teach children’s literature in our different contexts. The link to silence here was that this topic has rarely been discussed, so we proposed that we were ‘breaking the silence’. I learned a great deal from my colleagues about the different ways in which we all teach a similar topic. My colleague from Norway discussed how she brings eco-critical dialogue into her teaching of children’s literature; my colleague from the United States discussed using themes such as ‘journey’ and ‘borders’ to enable children’s literature students to engage at a personal level with the literature they read and analyse for their studies; my Italian colleague discussed how she uses visual literacy in her teaching, engaging students with developing exhibitions concerning children’s literature. I learned a great deal from all three colleagues which I hope will develop my own teaching in new ways.

Highlights from the rest of the sessions I attended include talks about silence in Moomin stories by Tove Jansson; sessions about the silences associated with refugee voices in the picturebooks telling refugee stories, silences in the translation of picturebooks, an analysis of the silences in world tours made by Munro Leaf, author of The Story of Ferdinand based on itineraries in his archived papers; the presence or silencing of indigenous voices in children’s literature; voices present in children’s lullabies.

I was also able to have a tour of Astrid Lindgren’s apartment (the creator of Pippi Longstocking), still furnished exactly as it was when she died; and we were given a city reception at the Town Hall of Stockholm, in the beautiful golden hall where the Nobel Awards are given each year. So it has been a full and privileged experience which will benefit both my teaching and research into the future. I have taken the opportunity to download biographies of Astrid Lindgren  and Tove Jansson, two amazingly prolific and talented writers (with several picturebooks each among their works) from the region to read. Somehow the connection of having been in the country which each of them had connections to makes reading these biographies even more of a pleasure.


My Two Blankets

Several days after the Christchurch Mosques terrorist attack on 15 March 2019, I struggled to think what to do/say in my classes with early childhood student teachers at the university. Following my inquiry, Nicola recommended My two blankets written by Irena Kobald and illustrated by Freya Blackwood (2014), and loaned me her copy of this picturebook that I was not familiar with.

  • Winner of the 2015 Children’s Book Council Award for Picture Books
  • Shortlisted for the 2015 Prime Minister’s Literary Award for Children’s Books

I found this beautiful book easy-to-read to a captivated audience. The stunning illustrations and narrative struck a chord with many of us at this emotional time. Ruby Jones’ internationally acclaimed artwork depicting two women embracing – one a Muslim wearing a hijab – with the message, “This is your home and you should have been safe here” was in my mind as I read.

Since then I have been looking for picturebooks that may act as mirrors and windows on the world to use with young children in the context of diversity and social justice, and to help children cope with tragedy. The following website is worth investigating.

Here’s a synopsis of My two blankets thanks to Booktopia:

Cartwheel has arrived in a new country, and feels the loss of all she’s ever known. She creates a safe place for herself under an ‘old blanket’ made out of memories and thoughts of home. As time goes on, Cartwheel begins to weave a new blanket, one of friendship and a renewed sense of belonging. It is different from the old blanket, but it is eventually just as warm and familiar.

This beautiful tale about friendship and culture, paired with award-winning Freya Blackwood’s stunning illustrations makes for the most exquisite book.


Blog about bilingual picturebooks

Recently my colleague Dr Andreea Calude from Linguistics in FASS asked me to make a guest contribution to her blog entitled Lippy Linguist. I’ve written about a really beautiful bilingual picturebook I found at the Internationale Jugendbibliothek in Munich.

Blog Seminar Seminar 2018

Save the date – November 22, 2018

The 2018 WaiPRU seminar will be held on Thursday, 22nd November at the Hamilton campus of the University of Waikato. Details concerning theme and registration will be posted here in the coming months.

In the meantime, save the date.


The Pacific Picturebook Collection- Sapling article

Recently I wrote a piece about the Pacific Picturebook Collection and the need for picturebooks which feature Pasifika stories. You can read more at The Sapling website.

Blog Seminar Seminar 2017

Announcing the second WaiPRU one-day seminar- 7 December 2017

“Children’s picturebooks have always been magical in their creative offerings, but postmodern picturebooks present startling new ways to read and view a page” (Goldstone, 2008, p, 119)

We are very happy to announce the second WaiPRU one-day seminar which will be held at the Hamilton campus on Thursday 7 December 2017, 9am-4pm.

The topic this year is ‘Postmodern Picturebooks’, and we have invited three panels of speakers to discuss postmodern picturebooks from educational perspectives, library perspectives and research perspectives.

The day will begin with a talk by Julia Marshall, publisher of the New Zealand Publisher of the Year- Gecko Press (

The seminar is open to teachers, librarians, postgrad students, academics, authors, illustrators, and anyone interested in picturebooks.  Registration is online and here is a charge of $50 per person (morning tea and lunch included).

Nicola Daly and Janette Kelly



WaiPRU Launched

The Diversity in Picturebooks Symposium was held on the 24 November at Te Kura Toi Tangata Faculty of Education and included the launch of the Waikato Picturebook Research Unit (WaiPRU).

The Symposium was attended by over 50 librarians, teachers, academics and postgraduate students who listened to a programme of 14 speakers discussing diversity in picturebooks from the perspective of ethnicity, ability, gender, family, language, illustrations and translations.

read more


Visiting the Marantz Collection at Kent State University, Ohio

In August/September 2016, I had the very good fortune to visit the Marantz Picturebook Collection at Kent State University in Ohio as their research fellow. My project was examining the dual language picturebooks in the collection, and there were about 250 of those. Most of them were Spanish-English, but there was also some indigenous languages (and English) such as Cree, Inuktituk, Navajo and Cherokee, as well as Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Swahili, German, and even a Māori language dual language picturebook called Kei hea te taniwha?. It was very interesting seeing the different techniques used to present the two languages. Often they were presented on the same side of the page, usually English first; and some used other techniques, like Kei hea to taniwha? Which was a folding book with the Māori text on one side, and the English text on the other when you flipped it over. The illustrations were identical.

It’s interesting to consider the purpose of bilingual books and who they are written for and used by. In New Zealand we tend not to have both languages on the same page. Either two versions of the books are simultaneously published (Huia Press does this for many new picturebooks- see Haka by Patricia Grace from this year’s Book Awards), or one language comes on the first so many pages, and then the other language is at the back, usually on fewer pages. Another award winner from the Book Awards called Hush (by Joy Cowley and illustrated by Bruce Potter) does this with English and full colour illustrations first, and then Māori with more text on fewer pages and reduced illustrations in the second section of the book.


Announcing the inaugural WaiPRU one day symposium – 24 November 2016

It gives us great joy to announce the Waikato PictureBook Research Unit, to be known as WaiPRU. The aim of this unit is to foster research and appreciation of picturebooks, particularly in educational settings. Each year we aim to host a one day seminar for researchers, authors and illustrators, teachers, librarians, and picturebook enthusiasts. This year the theme is ‘Diversity in Picturebooks’, and it will be held on Thursday 24 November 8.30-5pm at the Hamilton campus of the University of Waikato. Registration is essential, but there is no charge, so if you’re interested in picturebooks, do register here

“Books are sometimes windows, offering views of worlds that may be real or imagined, familiar or strange. These windows are also sliding glass doors, and readers have only to walk through in imagination to become part of whatever world has been created or recreated by the author.”

This famous quote from Professor Rudine Sims Bishop (Ohio State University) concerning the potential affordances offered by children’s literature, will underpin our one day seminar entitled ‘Diversity in Children’s PictureBooks’.


  • Upon registration a campus map will be provided to guide you to the location of the seminar which is in Room TT1.05 in the Faculty of Education.
  • Morning and afternoon tea will be provided, and lunch is available to be purchased on campus.
  • Free parking is available on Silverdale Rd, or for a fee of $2 (using ticketing machine) in Gate 3A on Silverdale Rd.