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I’m having a slamming good time at the 8th IBBY Regional Conference Children’s Books: Where Worlds Meet in St. Charles, IL. Some highlights:

  • Meeting friends, both old and new!
  • Discussing Jane Addams children’s books awards to a full room of peace-lovers
  • Meeting and learning about the amazing work of Korean children’s literature enthusiast Kang Woo Hyon
  • Chatting it up with Arthur Levine about translations, adoption and children’s lit
  • Shaun Tan, David Weisner, and Katherine Paterson signed books for me!

Many thanks to Junko Yokota, Bill Teale, Deana Greenfield, Gail Bush, and others for all their hard work in making this conference a success!

Margarita Engle, author of The Surrender Tree 


Margarita Engle, author of The Surrender Tree


This might seem like a strange title for an almost-post ALA blog entry, but thoughts of how to promote peace have been swimming around my mind for the past few days. One of my favorite parts of ALA is the exhibit hall; every publisher imaginable converged in one location! What a dream. It was great walking around and seeing all the new children’s and young adult books for 2009 and those planned for 2010. However, I was greatly saddened that while many of the books were advertised with signs reading, “Kirkus Starred Review!” or “Notable” or “Newbery,” etc., only one book was labeled as a Jane Addams Children’s Book Award winner. There were even some publisher reps who didn’t know what the JACBA stands for when I asked if they had any books we might consider for 2010.

I met Margarita Engle, author of The Surrender Tree: Poems of Cuba’s Struggle for Freedom, this morning and told her I was on the Jane Addams committee. She broke into a smile, immediately arose, and came around the table to give me a hug. She said, “I’m so glad your committee consider this a book about peace, and not war.” The Surrender Tree received many awards, among them both the Newbery Honor and the Pura Belpré Medal. Interestingly, the Henry Holt & Co. website lists many of its medals but not the Jane Addams.

Why is this?

I really hope that in the coming years, our committee will work very hard to promote peace, tolerance, and social justice through excellent books for young people. At the same time, I hope more publishers will put our JACBA stickers on their covers, place a JACBA bookmark or sign by the winners, and talk up those books with potential buyers and readers. I hope educators will use these books in their classrooms and libraries. And I hope that young people will be excited to read these books, and excited about the possibilities of living and experiencing and promoting peace and social justice in their own lives.

I’ve noticed that, despite not updating as often as I should (or would like to!), I’m still getting a steady stream of visitors from all over the world. Friends, I apologize for not updating more often, but will try to in the future!! I have much to share with you.

For now, I’m in Chicago for the American Library Association conference, and will have news and photos for you 🙂 Stay tuned, and thanks for visiting!~

International Adoption from Korea and Overseas Adopted Koreans:

The Second International Symposium on Korean Adoption Studies

Call for Papers

Symposium Dat
e: August 3, 2010

Planned location: IKAA Korean Adoptee Gathering, Seoul, Korea. For more information about the Gathering, see .

Symposium Sponsor: IKAA (International Korean Adoptee Associations). For more information about IKAA, see .

Submissions Due by: September 15, 2009

Submit to:

Questions? Contact Kim Park Nelson,

If selected, your complete, full-length paper (up to 15 single-spaced pages) will be due January 1, 2010. Submission of a full-length paper by the due date is a requirement for participation in the Symposium. You may also be invited to participate in a research panel at the Gathering the week following the Symposium.

Submission Deadline and Instructions

Complete submissions (cover sheet, paper proposal and CV) must be received by September 15, 2009 by 5:00 PM (U.S.A. Central Time). No late proposals will be accepted. We will accept proposals via email only. A cover page submitted without attached proposal or CV is NOT considered complete. We will not accept or consider submissions that are lacking information. Selection notifications will be made by e-mail by the end of November.
Criteria for selection

While we encourage submissions from everyone, we will prioritize papers from academics who have completed a terminal degree or who are currently enrolled in terminal master’s or Ph.D. programs. We also seek presentations/papers on a range of topics (some of which are outlined below) that represent as many of the current research approaches on Korean adoption as possible.

Introduction and presentation

The International Korean Adoptee Associations (IKAA) plans to convene the Second International Symposium on Korean Adoption Studies as part of the 2010 Korean Adoptee Gathering 2010.

The aim of the symposium is to establish and explore this new and rapidly expanding academic field. The field of Korean adoption studies is specifically concerned with international adoption from Korea, as well as with overseas adopted Koreans. It has recently emerged as an area of study both in Korea, the country of origin, and in the Western receiving countries to which Korean children have been sent for adoption. This symposium will bring together scholars from around the world who are conducting research in the field of Korean adoption studies. These scholars are working at the multidisciplinary intersections of Asian and Korean studies, postcolonial and cultural studies, and social and behavioural sciences. Their work is also engaged with issues of ethnicity, migration and diaspora, and globalization and transnationalism.

This day long and multidisciplinary symposium will take place in Seoul, South Korea, and will be comprised of paper presentations and open discussions. The papers will be published as a volume of collected proceedings, which will be distributed at the Symposium and also made available to university libraries. The First Symposium in 2007 laid the foundation for the growing network of Korean Adoption Studies scholars, and the 2010 Symposium will be an opportunity to continue expanding the network, to include a wider range of scholarship and to incorporate work being done by scholars in Korea.

Background and purpose

South Korea’s history of over half a century of continuous and uninterrupted international adoption provides the background for this symposium. Since the 1953 armistice that suspended the Korean War, almost 200,000 Korean children have been sent for adoption to 15 principal host countries in the Western world. Of those children, over 120,000 were sent to the United States, 60,000 to Europe (with half in Scandinavia of which 10,000 arrived in Sweden alone), and the remaining 10,000 were sent to Canada, Australia and New Zealand. In its significant demographic scope, its lengthy time span, and its wide-ranging geographic spread, international adoption from Korea is unprecedented in modern history as the largest global transfer of children in the world. Today, still around 1,500 children leave Korea every year for adoption to eight different Western countries. The child welfare practice commonly known as international adoption, i.e., the transnational/ transcontinental, and, often, transracial/transcultural adoption, of predominantly non-Western children to primarily Western parents, was carried out in Korea directly following the war. As such, Korean adoption has become a model for understanding subsequent waves of international adoption. Furthermore, adopted Koreans are not only the most numerous, diverse and widespread of the world’s child migrants, but also constitute the first generation and population of transnational and transracial adoptees. The field of Korean adoption studies thus provides a foundation for understanding international adoption and internationally adopted people as a whole.

Past and Current Research

For many years, the subject of international adoption from Korea and adopted Koreans was an under-researched area in academia. The field, as it existed then, was dominated by professionals in social work, psychology, and medicine. The first academic studies on Korean adoption started to come out in the mid-1970s, both in Korea and in the West, but it was not until the mid-1990s that one could begin to talk about a full-fledged field of Korean adoption studies.

In Korean academia, the majority of adoption studies discuss international adoption in terms of social welfare or legislation, and primarily from the perspectives of social work and family law. But Korean research interest in adult adopted Koreans has grown in recent years, with studies focusing on the life consequences for adoptees who have revisited Korea and/or reunited with their Korean family members, as well as cultural studies oriented textual analyses of adopted Korean self-narratives.

On the other side of the world, adoption scholarship in the leading adopting regions of North America, Scandinavia and Western Europe mainly focus on the behavioral and emotional adjustment of adoptees, including their attachment and adjustment to the adoptive family and assimilation and acculturation to the host culture. In addition, a growing number of studies have started to look at Korean international adoption from a comparative historical perspective and others have conceptualized it as a migratory practice linked to globalization and transnational processes. There is also a growing body of research on adoptees’ language detrition and attrition and their cultural output of art, film, and literature.
Finally, a new research trend that has emerged both in Korea and in the West deals with the question of an identity and community specific to adopted Koreans, in the context of existing theories of ethnicity, migration, and diaspora.
This symposium aims to bring together researchers who focus either on international adoption from Korea or on overseas adopted Koreans from these different perspectives and approaches.

Themes and Topics

We welcome submissions from any academic background or perspective, and especially welcome work with multi-or interdisciplinary perspectives. Suggested topics include (but are not limited to):

  • The Korean state and international adoption policy /adoption and Korea’s image in the world. We especially encourage the submission of papers that focus on Korean adoption as a social, cultural or political phenomenon within the nation of South Korea including research that originates from within South Korea.
  • Korean adoptees as part of Korean diaspora and/or Korean adoption as a part of Asian North American, Asian European, or Asian Australian experience.
  • Comparative projects that examine Korean adoption and adoption from other countries.
  • In-between identities and familial relations and the impact of Korean adoption on the adoption triad members.
  • Empirical research that examines a specific question or salient issue within the Korean adoptee community, including the behavioural adjustment and emotional development of Korean adoptees from normative standpoints as opposed to pathologized approaches. We also encourage work that can detail the logic of inquiry or research methods, and that provides sufficient evidence to support and interpret results.
  • Projects that explore the social phenomenon of multiple group status held by Korean adoptees and their relative experiences in North America, Australia, and Europe.
  • Korean adoptees as subjects of cultural production including literature, fine arts, or blogs. We especially encourage work that examines Korean adoption in documentary or cinema.




The Second International Symposium on Korean Adoption Studies

Paper Proposal Submission Cover Sheet

(Please Complete One Cover Sheet per Presenter)

Paper Title:
Academic Affiliation/Department:
Position (Master’s or Ph. D. status or current academic title):

Address (include street address, city, state and/or country):

Adoption Status (please bold your status):

Korean Adoptee

Adoptive Parent

Adoptee, Non-Korean

Not Adopted
Will you be available to travel to Korea to participate in the symposium? (please bold your response)



Would you be interested in publishing your paper in the conference proceedings even if you cannot attend the symposium? (please bold your response)



Are you able to procure your own funding to travel to Korea to participate in the symposium? (please bold your response)



If so, please identify your funding source:

Please attach your brief CV (two pages or less) and paper proposal of not more than 500 words.


Email this completed cover sheet and your attachments



“SISKAS 2010 Proposal Submission” in the subject line.

Yesterday I spent a few hours browsing through the ALA exhibition hall. Anyone who’s gone to ALA knows how deadly this is – you walk in with an empty bag and full wallet and walk out with a full bag and empty wallet. Thank God for free books and posters, though. And the beautiful Hyperion bag 🙂 Thanks for signing my books, Mo Willems (I still think you should have won the Caldecott Medal for Knuffle Bunny!) Linda Sue Park, and Francisco X. Alarcon!

As I walked through the children’s book publishers, I did notice something else, not quite as lethal as spending lots of money, but just as devastating. Out of the new Korean American children’s picture books, some have female characters with rice bowl haircuts. Back in the day it was a huge trend here in the US, as well as for Korean parents to cut their kids’ hair in the shape of an upside-down bowl. My brother and I went through that phase as well. I get it. 

But it’s 2007, not 1980. And this is the US, not Korea. (side note: I’ve seen white kids with bowl haircuts, but I’ve never heard the term “rice bowl” used to describe them. But for some reason we call this haircut on Asian people “rice bowl haircut.” Ahem. Would you like some Orientalismwith your rice?)

The new Yoon story (she has this hairstyle in the first 2 books as well), called Yoon and the Jade Bracelet, and a new picture book called Something for School (translated from Korea and otherwise nicely illustrated) both portray very young girls with these hairstyles. They remind of a picture book called Chinese Eyes (1974) in which some kids bully an adopted Korean because she has “Chinese eyes.” Her mother tells her that kids in China have eyes similar to hers, and the accompanying illustrations portray decapitated children’s heads, all with chinky “Chinese” eyes and rice bowl hair cuts, against a large map of China. First of all, it’s really problematic to suggest that Korean and Chinese kids look the same, and second, does that make it okay to call her Chinese Eyes? And okay, so this was 1974, sort of in the middle of the multiculturalism movement. But if we decided back then that Orientalism wasn’t cool (thank you, Edward Said) why are we reproducing this imagery in 2007?

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