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01/2013 Old Age and Death


In children’s literature, elderly people such as Stian Hole’s “Stamp Man” in Garmann’s Street often offer identificatory potential for the young reader since, similar to children, they can escape societal restraints and expectations. At the same time, these figures have increasingly provided the background to discussions about concepts of aging and death in recent years – whether representing avoidance strategies such as in Hermann Schulz and Tobias Krejtschi’s Mama Sambona or gentle pedagogical approaches to grief work such as Ulf Nilsson and Eva Eriksson’s All the Dear Little Animals. Sickness and death of child and young adult protagonists are also increasingly finding their way into children’s literature, however – a development not only noticeable because of John Green’s successful The Fault in Our Stars but also, amongst others, because of the books we have reviewed and analyzed for this issue of interjuli: Kiki (Antje Damm), La Visite de Petite Mort (Kitty Crowther, also see Marianna Missiou’s article starting from page 51) and Heartbeat Away (Laura Summers).

For the current issue of interjuli, we have thus asked ourselves how the discussion of this topic in children’s literature reflects a social change in the treatment of transience, which linguistic and artistic possibilities are used in this context and how close to reality children’s literature is in its treatment of old age and death.

On the following pages, Sonja Loidl will deal with the presentation of violent deaths in Young Adult dystopias. Vanessa Joosen interprets the differences and similarities between children and old people in the works of Philippa Pearce, Eleanor Farjeon and Lucy M. Boston, while Minu Hedayati-Aliabadi and Sarah Kristina Strehlow shed light on the treatment of the “ice prince” death in the novel The Leanin’ Dog. Not death but intergenerational understanding will, finally, be the topic of our interview with the organizers of the Swiss Prix Chronos, Pro Senectute’s “intergenerational book prize”.