PJAS 13-9

Ewa Klęczaj-Siara
 Protecting the spirit of the American South: Representations of New Orleans Culture in Contemporary Children’s Picture Books
Polish Journal for American Studies, vol. 13 (Autumn 2019), pp. 281-292

Abstract: This article explores selected aspects of southern culture as presented in contemporary children’s picture books. It analyzes children’s stories which celebrate New Orleans’ residents and their traditions. Unlike many scholars who point to the end of the New Orleans spirit due to recent economic and demographic changes, children’s authors perceive the culture as a resource which regenerates the city. By means of writing for children they keep the city’s distinct black culture from disappearing.

The aim of this article is to examine to what extent the spirit of the South has survived in the minds of contemporary authors and artists addressing young generations of readers. It discusses the presence of such cultural elements as jazz music, body movement and the ritual of parading in selected children’s picture books set in New Orleans. Among others, it analyzes such titles as Freedom in Congo Square (2016) by C. Weatherford, and Trombone Shortly (2015) and The 5 O’ Clock Band (2018) by Troy Andrews. The article focuses on the interaction between the verbal and the visual elements of the books, and the ways they convey the meaning of the stories.

Key words: New Orleans, jazz, parading, Hurricane Katrina, children’s literature, picture books

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