The Philasia branch of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators kicked off the new year with a speaker event featuring award-winning Filipino children’s book author and SCBWI member, Lara Saguisag.
The author of There’s a Duwende in My Brother’s Soup, Tonyo’s Wishes and Cat Eyes, and co-editor with April Yap of Nine Supernatural Stories, Laura Saguisag’s newest book, Children of Two Seasons: Poems for Young People, was published in December of 2007, after winning the 2006 Writing for Children Chapbook Series, a writing competition organized by the Writing Program of The New School University, in New York, known for its commitment to creative writing. The poems in the book, illustrated by emerging Filipino illustrator Hubert Fucio, describe the everyday adventures, thoughts and feelings of young children, as well as their take on simple things such as animal sounds, grandparents’ stories, etc.
Held on January 7th at Fullybooked, a bookstore in Makati City, Philippines, Lara’s talk focused on exploring notions of childhood and “Filipino-ness” in Filipino’s children’s literature. When I asked Lara why this topic, she responded:
I spent the past three years writing in New York City. I was very excited to be there, but it slowly dawned on me that my idea of childhood was very different from that of my American peers, and how our writing for children was greatly affected by our different notions. Many of my classmates often thought I was writing “too young” for my intended age group, so I came to realize that that was because the children I knew in the Philippines seemed to me much more “dependent” than their American counterparts.
It may seem very obvious to state that children in the U.S. are different from children in the Philippines. I do feel, however, that many children’s book writers tend to assume that there is a “universal” kind of childhood (childhood as a happy time, free of labor and worries, a time for children to be protected), when, largely, this is a conception of childhood that began among Western middle-class families.
Lara, who is a Presidential Fellow at Rutgers University in New Jersey, NY, where she is completing her PhD in Childhood Studies, began her lecture with a simple question: “Who is the child?” (more…)