It’s always so intriguing when I get my hands on a new issue of a literary journal. Paper Lanterns: the Teen and Young Adult Literary Journal was born just as the pandemic swept over the world and to keep it going was no mean feat. (Hats off to you guys!) Over the last tumultuous year, it has become the most anticipated bit of book post that comes through my letter box. There is always something new and different; so much to dip into and consider…the vast majority of which is penned by young writers and illustrators. Poems, short stories, flash fiction, art, photography, book reviews; not to mention the articles and interviews…it packs quite a punch and keeps me occupied for days. And is something that is a joy to go back to time and again.
This new issue, the 4th, turned out to be filled with my favourite genre of writing; fantasy, fairy tales and mythology (quite unintentionally, as Grace and Amy state in the opening editorial.) It moves through daydreams and nighttime rambles into the heart of rich, full fantasy worlds, touching reality as if it were only passing through; each of the offerings of poetry and short stories by young writers evoking feelings that pull you back from day-to-day life, giving a more observational perspective to the rhythm we have fallen into. This is much needed.
Language by Sean Mahon (17) allows a brief space to consider the power of words. Misdirection by Hannah-Rose Sullivan (16) draws us into a haunting world of the theatre. Sanctuary by Ryan Wong (17) offers a tale that is eerie and breath-taking, particularly as it is accompanied by a mesmerising piece of art by Sadhbh Elliot. And Wishin Upon A Moon by Alyson Tait explores a space of memory, love, loneliness, with lyrical language that removes the reader from their immediate surroundings and takes them somewhere only they will know. These are but a few of the excellent, moving, fantastical (on many different levels, in many different spaces) offerings.
Within the Features pages, there are visits with two favourite YA authors, Brigid Kemmerer and Shirley-Anne MacMillan. Shirley-Anne takes us through a day in the life as a YA author in Beyond the Books: Where a Love of YA Can Take You…a brief but fascinating look at….well, a day in the life… And Brigid allows us to briefly explore the landscape of her fabulous Cursebreakers series, set in the world of Emberfall (complete with map…I do love a map.)
But other features really stand out for me, simply because they both touch on two things in literature that never ceases to enthrall and consume my thoughts in literature. Dainy Bernstein expands my thinking in Fighting the Past: Medieval Dragons in Young Adult Literature. This reads like an exposé, if you will, of the many paths dragons have taken and their expression as folklore moves within the realm of social change, attitudes and ideas. Wonderful stuff! Then we have a intriguingly hot topic in YA literature with From Damsel in Distress to Damsel Independent by Aoife E Osborne. That’s right, it’s The Feminist Fairy Tales of YA Literature. If ever there were an indication of radical shift of social ideas and attitudes, it’s this. The echoes of the old faithful fairy tales have never left us from the moment they crept into the world as oral tradition. But, as the living, breathing things they actually are, these stories and all their offspring have grown, changed and taken on the aspects of an ever-shifting society. This is what fairy tales are meant to do. And Aoife explores this idea dynamically, opening up the discussion to really expose how we rewrite and re-consume the notions of the feminine in fairy tales and what it means, how it changes, today. As always, this topic fascinates me no end…and I could go on for hours, but I leave it to you to explore this yourselves. This article is a most excellent place to start….in fact, they both are.
And of course, there are the reviews; great insight into some very exciting, intriguing books that you will want to check out.
I want to thank everyone at Paper Lanterns for sending this wonderful new issue to my door. It’s something very special and I know I’ll spend A LOT of time pouring through the pages. Congratulations to you all for, not just making through this first year, but for going from strength to strength with each issue getting better and better. To everyone else out there, have you picked up Paper Lanterns yet? I really think you should….. it’s available online or in hard copy.