Plant Tendrils in Children’s and Young Adult Literature | Ecozon@ | avril 2024

Vol. 15 No. 1 (2024): Plant Tendrils in Children's and Young Adult  Literature | Ecozon@: European Journal of Literature, Culture and  Environment
 
 

Plant Tendrils in Children’s and Young Adult Literature, Ecozon@ Vol. 15, avril 2024

In the Anthropocene, some plants are rapidly moving north or south, some are going extinct, and some are going rogue. Rogue, mobile, weedy, invasive, resistant, and even radioactive: the lives of plants have always been dramatic as they feed us all and shape our local systems but their drama is taking new forms, and the arts are formulating new responses to them in our climate-changed, asphalt-covered, globally interconnected world of plantations, urbanization, and industrialized landscapes whether monoculture green or oil-spill brown. Those vegetal beings that we humans deem of value to us are stripped of fertility and torture-cultivated to be free of their entanglements with insects and fungi but tolerant of poison, whereas those we deem to be pests, “weeds,” or “invasive” are declared to be interfering with our rather haphazard reconstruction of ecosystems. We strip the world of much of its biodiversity and curse at the forms that nevertheless resist and emerge. Eager green lives will always spread and engage in lively exchanges with other beings in the forms of flowers, fruits, volatile organic compounds, or underground, fungal-based webs of connection; these facts might be considered a sign of vegetal agency, though defining anything other than the humansas having agency is also all-too-often deemed problematic unless in ecocriticism, fairy tales, and children’s or youth tales. Indeed, literature, film, and other media story forms created for children and young adults often retain the animist magic/reality of our active, vibrant world. One issue for ecocritical study is thus the question of how vegetal life is presented in the texts that remain broadly open to the possibilities of animism such as children’s and youth literature. Do plants in anthropocene texts appear as sustaining, gentle, collaborative, and beautiful beings, or as rogue, invasive, weedy, and resistant pests? What kind of plant-human relations are portrayed and emphasized? Finally, how does the vegetal function as metaphor/s in these texts for younger readers of today?

The special section of Ecozon@’s volume 15.1 on “Plant Tendrils in Children’s and Young Adult Literature,” guest edited by Melanie Duckworth (Østfold University College), Lykke Guanio-Uluru, (Western Norway University of Applied Sciences), and Antonia Szabari (University of Southern California, USA) includes seven essays focusing specifically on the variety of both material and metaphorical portrayals of plants in children’s and young adult literature with an emphasis on plant growth, disruptive behaviours, and vegetal communication forms. The first essay, “Seeds of Change: Negotiating Hierarchies in Seed Picturebook Stories,” by Lizao Hu addresses “the entanglement of seeds and children” in picture books emphasizes the agency of both children and plants. The other six essays consider young adult literature, including Samantha Hind’s discussion, “‘The Trees Got Their Own Ways to Hurt Us’: Entangled Bodies and Fragile Flesh in M.R. Carey’s The Book of Koli(2020),” which portrays trees gone rogue and becoming flesh eaters. In the ecofeminist study by Sara Pankenier Weld, “Survival, Sustenance, and Self-Sufficiency: Taking a Plant-Based Perspective in Jean Hegland’s Into the Forest,” imagines a postapocalyptic world from which the protagonist flees to begin a new a life in the redwood forest with a more positive take on interactions with trees. In the fourth essay, Sushmita Pareek continues the positive and ecofeminist portrayal of tree-human relations and a coming of age story in: “Unlikely Friends in Patriarchal Lands: An Ecofeminist Reading of ‘Sonal Bai’ and Sandalwood Tree.” While continuing with the postapocalyptic scenarios, Cynthia Zhang’s “To See with Eyes Unclouded: Nonhuman Selves and Semiosis in Princess Mononoke” features, as the guest editors note, “Hayao Miyazaki’s legendary anime to explore the ability of the fantasy genre to expand understandings of interspecies communication—including between plants and human and nonhuman animals.”

Editor in Chief: Carmen Flys Junquera, Universidad de Alcalá, Spain

Associate Editor: Heather I. Sullivan, Trinity University, USA

Managing Editor: Gala Arias Rubio, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, Spain



Citer ce billet
vincentlecomte (2024, 29 avril). Plant Tendrils in Children’s and Young Adult Literature | Ecozon@ | avril 2024. Animots. Consulté le 21 juin 2024, à l’adresse https://doi.org/10.58079/10s2c

vincentlecomte

Vincent Lecomte est artiste, chercheur et enseignant en esthétique. Sa thèse, « Un Penser animal à l’œuvre », étudie les façons dont l’art convoque l’animal pour mettre en évidence d’autres consciences possibles du monde.

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