Bookbird 3 / 2015

How dare we?!

With this paraphrase from Michael Heyman’s interview with JonArno Lawson I signal how provocative it may be to devote almost a whole issue to nonsense. For even if children’s literature historically may have gone “from instruct and delight,” the delight bit is almost always coated with good intentions and didactic impulses. “Everything has a moral,” as the Duchess in Alice in Wonderland would have it, and most children’s books would no doubt prove the Duchess right. The hidden adult of children’s literature always seems to lurk in the background, leaning over the child’s shoulder and whispering about the horrible usefulness of it all ... But nonsense is anti-didactic and useless, which is why it is so endlessly fascinating.

That is why we dare in this issue to broach a subject which remains both central and peripheral to children’s literature: nonsense. It is central, because some of the most important children’s books, like Alice in Wonderland, are works of nonsense and because any history of overview of children’s literature is incomplete without it; it is peripheral, because it is not a major genre or style. Therefore it comes as no surprise that a nonsense-themed children’s literature journal is a rare bird indeed. In fact we believe this Bookbird may be the first to be sighted in thirty years. That’s why we dare!

Björn Sundmark



Introduction by Michael Heyman

Feature Articles

Nonsense in the Netherlands – Wim Tigges

”Never Do What Your Mother Tells You to Do”: Nonsense and the Interrogative Function in Annie M. G. Schmidt’s Children’s Poetry – Annette de Brujn


Nonsense, magic, and superstitition – Kevin Shortsleeve


“Funny” and “Curious” Verse: The limerick in Polish Children’s Literature – Maria Tarnogórska

Challenging the Impossibility of Children’s Literature: The Emancipatory Qualities of Edward Lear’s Nonsense – Sarah Minslow

Nonsensing Translation: How to Turn the Spotlight on the Blind Spots of Interpretation – Daniela Almansi

How to Make Nonsense: The Verbalizing Procedures of Nonsense in Lewis Carroll's Alice Books – Barbara Simoniti

Authors and Illustrators and Their Books

”How dare you? “A conversation with JonArno Lawson on nonsense

Children and Their Books

Thinking about Immigrant Students through Literature Discussion in a Korean Classroom – Jongsun Wee

Books on Books

International Youth Library Reviews

Focus IBBY