A Note from the Editor
Pamela Sissi Carroll
For most of us, winter is giving way to spring about now. It is an appropriate time for us to think about changes, not only in the natural world, but in our profession, too. We mourn the passing of Robert Cormier, who helped raise young adult literature from its infancy, through its own awkward adolescence, into its adulthood. But we also celebrate the influence he has had on readers and writers, the indelible signature on the genre and its readers that he has left us. The essays by John H. Ritter, John S. Simmons, and ReLeah Lent and Gloria Pipkin that introduce this issue are a tribute to the impact of Robert Cormier. I believe that they speak beautifully for the many varied voices of ALAN.
In addition to these tributes, the issue is graced with the voices of four authors whose books are reaching adolescents and their teachers in powerful ways. Rod Philbrick, best known among us for Freak the Mighty, discusses what he learns from often blunt and amusing letters and comments that he receives from readers across the country. Ann Turner shares her poignant and inspiring personal story regarding the experiences that are presented through the poems of Learning to Swim. Jack Gantos talks about the sources of his stories, and about his life as a writer for kids and teens, in an engaging interview with Gail Gregg. Martha Brooks urges us to think about the impact that adults have on adolescents' lives, and to take our responsibilities to them seriously, as she discusses her life and art in the print version of her ALAN Workshop presentation-a presentation that left the crowd of 300 literally speechless at its conclusion.
Also in this issue, we learn from colleagues about new ways of viewing some familiar and some less known YA books. Mary McNulty discusses the roles of females in adolescent novels set in the middle ages. In a piece that resonates with the essay by poet Ann Turner, junior high school teacher Kathy Cline suggests a framework for reading YA novels that deal with the theme of resiliency and survival. Middle school teacher Elizabeth Mascia demonstrates how we might read Holes with an eye toward traditions in folklore, an idea that complements the article by media specialist Diane Tuccillo, who, along with the teen readers with whom she works at Mesa Public Library, proposes the reading of fairy tales for today's adolescents. Kathy Bucher and M. Lee Manning help readers who aren't convinced that they like science fiction to look at it from a different perspective. Jim Charles uses the novels of Virginia Driving Sneve at the center of his argument that we give more attention to literature by American Indian writers in our middle and high school curricula. Jean Dimmit explains a new Printz literary award, then discusses the merits of the books that were recognized with the inaugural awards. And Jeff Kaplan and his team provide us with enticing reviews of recently-published young adult books, perhaps helping us begin to think about our summer reading lists. It is an issue that is rich in resources and authors' voices. I think you will enjoy it.
To close, I would like to note another sign of change in the field of young adult literature. Ted Hipple has chosen to step down from the post of ALAN Executive Secretary, a position that he has held for 18 years. I doubt that there is anyone who has attended an ALAN Breakfast or Workshop in November who has not had at least a quick conversation with our gregarious leader; he has always been easy to identify: the man with the wild tie, orange mesh book bag, and handful of breakfast tickets. But more, he has been easy to identify as one of the nation's strongest proponents of young adult literature and of the fact that the genre belongs in classrooms and school libraries, as well as in bookstores and public collections. Ted has had an enormously positive impact of those of us who work in the field of young adult literature. He has taught us to take our work as teachers and researchers and media specialists seriously, but also to laugh at ourselves; he has reminded us to enjoy and respect adolescents as thinkers and as humans. He has pointed us toward great writers for young people, and encouraged us to continually search for and publicize emerging talents. As an ALAN member, I would like to thank Ted-for all of his work on our behalf.
Reference Citation: Carroll, Pamela Sissi. (2001) "A Note from the Editor." The ALAN Review, Volume 28, Number 2, p. 3.