Call for Papers – IBBY/NCRCL Conference – Feast or Famine

University of Roehampton, London.
Call for Papers on the theme of ‘Feast or
Famine: Food and Children’s Literature’

As a focus for imaginative gratification, food has a long-standing relationship with children’s literature. Sinclair’s jam-filled ‘coach-wheel’ in The Holiday House (1839) revolutionised Evangelist writing, as culinary reward overshadows recrimination; marmalade sandwiches and honeypots are as iconic as the Paddington and Pooh bears who favour them; and the delights of feasting reach from the comic visualization of The Beano to the excessive wizardry of Hogwarts banqueting. Darker shadows also trouble this relationship though; Brenda’s philanthropy in Froggy’s Little Brother (1875) witnesses the starvation of mice and children, while Andy Mulligan’s Trash (2010) condemns capitalist greed. Moving beyond the immediate concerns of children’s literature, the rise of cup-cake culture in the early 21st century and the recent success of the BBC’s The Great British Bake Off point to an on-going fascination with food that extends beyond sustenance to creation, image and consumption. This evident cultural fascination draws in adults and children alike and thus it seems timely to consider the rich complexity of the relationship between food and children’s literature.

The conference will include keynote presentations by well-known writers, publishers and academics. Proposals are welcomed for workshop sessions (lasting about 20 minutes) on the following or other relevant issues/areas from any period in the history of international children’s literature:

  • the metaphoric treatment of food in children’s books;
  • the visual representation of food in comics, film or picture books;
  • the lack of food – famine, hunger, starvation, or rationing;
  • over-indulgence and greed;
  • food-writing and culinary trends related to childhood;
  • global cuisines – national, ethnic etc.
  • the historical representation of food in children’s books (non-fiction or fiction);
  • environmental, historical and political concerns with food distribution, farming, waste management or consumption – e.g in dystopian fiction;
  • the impact of body image in youth culture – e.g. literary engagement with diet, health issues or eating disorders;
  • oral fixations of early childhood;
  • the consumption of flesh, body or blood: vampirism, cannibalism etc.;
  • food in fairy tales, fantasy literature and myth – e.g. animate and magical food;
  • food and power – the giving and withholding of food;
  • bad food or poison;
  • gender issues: e.g. feminist engagement with nurture, nature and mothering;
  • food and celebration or socializing – birthday cake, honorary banquets/feasts or tea parties.


We welcome contributions from interested academics and others researchers in any of these areas.

The deadline for proposals is 19th July 2013 . Please email a 200-word abstract (for a 20-minute paper), along with a short biography and affiliation to




About Laura Atkins

I am a children's book author and editor who has worked in the children's book field for over twenty years. My published books include picture book SLED DOG DACHSHUND (illustrated by An Phan), and the middle grade biography FRED KOREMATSU SPEAKS UP (co-written with Stan Yogi, illustrated by Yutaka Houlette). This is the first in the Fighting for Justice series - the next book about Biddy Mason to be co-written with Arisa White will come out in February 2019. I spent seven years in editorial departments in the United States where I helped to produce winners of the Coretta Scott King Award and American Library Association Notable Book selections, among others. I continued to work as a freelance editor and as a Senior Lecturer at the National Centre for Research in Children's Literature (NCRCL) at Roehampton University in London. Now based in Berkeley, California, I work with clients all over the world. I have an MA in Children's Literature from Roehampton University, and an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts. My website is

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