Introducing Bookbird's new editor Chrysogonus Siddha Malilang

Bookbird, IBBY’s journal on international children’s literature, has got a new editor. Elected by the IBBY Executive Committee in March 2022, Chrysogonus Siddha Malilang will be curating and coordinating the next four volumes of the publication created in 1957 by Jella Lepman. Welcome to IBBY, Chrys!

Chrys is a researcher and senior lecturer at Malmö University, Sweden. He holds a PhD in Literature Studies (English) with interests in creative writing pedagogy, play in education, critical pedagogy, community of practice, and a/r/tography. He is also interested in children's literature and new media, including graphic novels and video games. He kindly answered a few questions to help us know him better — scroll down to read more.

IBBY would also like to take this opportunity to thank former Bookbird editors Janelle Mathis and Petros Panaou for their amazing work from 2019 until 2022. We wish them all the best for their future endeavours!



Interview with Chrysogonus Siddha Malilang


IBBY: Dear Chrys, please tell us a bit about yourself: who are you and what do you do? What are your fields of research?

Chrys: Perhaps I should start by saying that despite my long, difficult, and sometimes intimidating name, I usually just go with 'Chrys'. I am originally from Indonesia, but my study and research have brought me to different corners of the world. After doing my Master’s study in England and my doctoral study in Macao SAR, I am now settled in Malmö, Sweden.

Currently, I am trying to combine children’s literature research with what I learned about creative writing and play during my doctoral study. This got me involved with several research projects on reading picturebook as play. Outside the field of children’s literature, I am also doing research on a/r/tography or how to combine academic research with creative process. Hopefully, I will reach the point where all research interests can culminate in one point.

I have also published two books for young adults in Bahasa Indonesia, back in 2006. During my doctoral study in Macao, I worked as an editor for the Association of Stories in Macao (ASM), a community publisher based in the Chinese region of Macao, publishing poetry, fiction, life writing, and translated works in various languages. This position gave me the opportunity to collaborate and publish multilingual haikus. Two years ago, I also published Indonesian translations of the Danish picturebooks series 'Troldeliv', by Sissel Bøe and Peter Madsen.

I: Why Bookbird? What led you to apply as editor?

C: It all started when I saw a copy of Bookbird for the very first time. Unlike other academic journals, I was amused and intrigued by the cute hedgehog lamenting over the fallen sunnyside egg that appeared on the cover. It made me think about how the cover related to the overall theme of that volume—'Queerness and Children’s Literature' (Bookbird 1/2014, Vol. 52.1). It was playful, it was fun(ny), it was inviting and non-intimidating. If one can get a sense of foreboding dread before wrestling with academic texts, it certainly did not happen when looking at the sorry look in the hedgehog’s eyes.

This first impression was quickly confirmed when I started exploring the content. Most of the titles there were playful yet informative. The style in which the articles were written was very communicative and engaging, even for readers who might not be knee-deep into academic research. It was informative yet unpretentious, demonstrating a high level of accessibility for everyone. One can read this journal and take notes while sitting down in a place surrounded by bookshelves. Bookbird can also be read while lounging in a sofa with a warm drink at dusk. No matter how you decide to enjoy the journal, the aim to communicate new ideas to the community of children’s books enthusiasts, regardless of their academic background, is achieved. This is perhaps Bookbird’s own take on ‘dual audience’?

This is the vision that I would want to maintain and develop in Bookbird – a curated collection of articles about children’s literature that still retains research rigors while providing enjoyable and accessible content at the same time. I would like to see Bookbird continue being the wide forum for discussion and idea dissemination from every corner of the globe.

I: What are you most looking forward to in your time as Bookbird editor?

C: The endless opportunity of collaboration with experts and professionals in children’s literature from all around the world! For me, editing Bookbird is another “school” from which I can discover various research and studies in children’s literature from a wide array of perspectives. I am looking forward to all the discussions I will have in the next four years, all the knowledge-enriching exchanges, and all the venues — or should I say, the communities of practice in children’s literature.

I am also looking forward to achieve a pending challenge posed by my supervisor during my Master’s study. When we sat together and looked for a mention of my country of origin, Indonesia, in The Oxford Encyclopedia of Children’s Literature, we could not find any. She challenged me to work hard to warrant that at least an entry would be included in the future edition of that encyclopedia. Alongside Indonesia, a number of countries have not yet received any spotlight there. So, I would like to showcase and promote children’s literature studies in and from these countries.

I: Thank you, Chrys, for your time and for allowing us to get to know you a bit better. We wish you all the best in your current role as Bookbird editor! Lastly, here comes the most difficult question of all: is there a book or an author that has been decisive in your choice to become a children’s literature researcher?

C: That is indeed a very difficult question. How can you ask me to pick only one? Perhaps Sad Book, written by Michael Rosen and illustrated by Quentin Blake. It was the first picturebook I encountered which tackled a very serious and grave issue. It spoke both to my inner child and my adult persona. It is both genial and poignant at the same time. It is the first book that made me realise the enormous potential of children’s literature.


Don't miss Chrys' debut issue as Bookbird editor
Bookbird Issue 1 / 2023 (61.1)

Read about the latest developments in children’s books in Bookbird, IBBY’s journal of international children’s literature.
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and children’s literature awards around the world.
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