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Children’s Literature Association recognizing essay co-authored by CCBC’s Horning

March 27, 2018

UW-Madison’s KT Horning is being recognized by the Children’s Literature Association for an essay she co-authored that’s titled, “Much Ado About ‘A Fine Dessert’: The Cultural Politics of Representing Slavery in Children’s Literature.”

This work, which appeared in the Journal of Children’s Literature, is receiving honorable mention recognition for the association’s 2018 Article Award.

Horning directs the School of Education's Cooperative Children's Book Center (CCBC), which is a non-circulating examination, study and research library for Wisconsin school and public librarians, teachers, early childhood care providers, university students and others interested in children's and young adult literature. Co-authors on the paper are Ebony Elizabeth Thomas, an assistant professor in the Literacy, Culture and International Education Division at the University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education, and Debbie Reese, who is tribally enrolled at Nambe Pueblo and whose research is published in book chapters and articles used in education, library science and English courses.

Their paper examines the cultural politics of representing slavery in children’s literature via the controversy surrounding the depiction of smiling enslaved people in the book, “A Fine Dessert.” In the fall of 2015, author Emily Jenkins apologized for being “racially insensitive” after “A Fine Dessert” -- a collaboration with illustrator Sophie Blackall – was criticized for its cheerful depiction of a 19th-century slave mother and daughter as they prepared a blackberry recipe.”

The authors write: “The controversy around ‘A Fine Dessert’s’ depiction of smiling enslaved people is a useful case to examine, for it provides a concrete example of some of the challenges inherent in teaching young people about history through children’s literature.”

The authors will be recognized at the Children’s Literature Association’s conference, which runs June 28-30 in San Antonio, Texas.

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