Matching Items (2)
- All Subjects: Children's Literature
- Creators: Danielson, Marivel
- Member of: Theses and Dissertations
- Status: Published
My work focuses on the themes of grief, closure, and celebration of life. Life is a catalyst both celebration and grief. Feeling joy when a life is introduced is as common as feeling pain when a life is lost. When I lost my maternal grandmother nearly a year ago, I felt grief accompanied with guilt. I never got a chance to say goodbye since we lived so far apart, her residing in the Philippines and me residing in the United States. In order to get rid of these negative emotions, I sought closure. I attended her funeral, and now I want to celebrate her life through my artwork.
My work comes in two parts: an illustration book titled The Butanding and an illustration exhibition. The book will be published through lulu.com and made available to the public. The exhibition component will be held from March 2nd to March 6th in Gallery 100 as part of my senior exhibition Post Pre-Production with six other colleagues in the School of Art. The illustration book is a narration of a little girl and her growing friendship with a whale shark. The overarching theme of the creative project is closure with the passing away of loved ones.
The Butanding is a narrative illustration book about a young girl befriending the local menace of her village, the whale shark. Similar to my own experience, the main subject—the young girl—of my narrative is shown suffering from grief and guilt over her grandmother’s death. My work illustrates a progression of the young girl’s emotional state as she goes on a journey with the whale shark or locally known in the Philippines as the “butanding”. It provides the scenario of a grieving individual who gets the chance to reconnect with a deceased loved one and rebuild relationships that were lost.
The front cover of Uncle What-Is-It is Coming to Visit, a 1993 children’s book by Michael-Willhoite, features two white children frightened by the hairy arm and upturned wrist of an unseen adult. The arm is clad in a frilly pink and orange sleeve, and gaudy bracelets hang from the wrist. The plot hinges on the children’s uncertainty about an uncle they have yet to meet; they know he is gay but are unsure of what it means. Before their mother can explain, she is distracted by a kitchen mishap and the siblings turn to other neighborhood children for answers. They encounter a host of descriptions that terrify them: one neighbor describes gay people as “fags [and] queers [who] really want to be women.” He shows the children a newspaper clipping photo of “a large man dressed in a frilly dress [with] a turban piled high with fruit on his head,” an implicitly racialized caricature reminiscent of Latina style icon Carmen Miranda. Another neighbor describes gay people as “dressed up in black leather. Zippers and chains all over...Dark glasses [and] chaps” (Willhoite, 1993). After having nightmares of men with sinister expressions in tropical-themed drag and leather, the children are overjoyed to discover that their uncle seems “normal.” Relative to depictions of other gay people in the book, Uncle Brett is normal because he is nonthreatening—he is white with short, straight, brown hair; he wears a plain, blue, collared shirt and brown dress pants; he carries a brown briefcase; and he enjoys and excels at activities appropriate for his gender, like catch. Although the book seems to have an affirming message about accepting queer people, it sends a clear message about which queer people are to be feared by children and which are nonthreatening. Nonthreatening queers are those who seem most like people mainstream western society considers normal: people who conform to expected gender roles, who have a vested interest parenting, and who are white and middle-upper class. These nonthreatening queers are by far the most represented in queer-themed literature for children. Based on a survey of 68 children’s books with queer characters, this paper argues that the representation of queer identities in children’s literature upholds more than challenges heteronormativity. I will first address ways many of the books perpetuate gender normativity by problematizing young male characters’ gender-transgressing behavior, portraying queer adults with less threatening gender presentations, and upholding gender binarism; next, I will address how the majority of the books promote repro-narrativity by focusing on monogamous couples’ strong desires and concerted efforts to have/raise children; I will then address race and class and the way white and upper-middle class queer characters are overrepresented while non-white and lower-class queer characters are underrepresented or not represented at all.