”Sveriges första barnbok med hen”
Normkritik och didaktik i Kivi & Monsterhund
”Sweden’s First Children’s Book with They”: Norm-Criticism and Didactics in Kivi & Monsterhund
Around 2007, several self-proclaimed norm-critical publishing companies were established in Sweden. This caused a long debate in the daily press, where some critics compared the ”norm-critical” books to propaganda. The debate indicates a conflict between an aesthetic and a didactic approach to children’s literature. Another lively debate with similar critique took off when Kivi & Monsterhund (Kivi and Monsterdog, 2012) by Jesper Lundqvist and Bettina Johansson was published – a picturebook where the protagonist is referred to by a gender-neutral prounoun. The purpose of this article is to problematise the prevailing view on self-proclaimed norm-critical children’s literature and its didactic relationship to the reader. The reception, the paratexts, and the book itself are analysed using Torben Weinreich’s and Clémentine Beauvais’ different definitions of didactics, Gérard Genette’s view on pararatexts, Maria Nikolajeva’s theories on picturebooks, and Judith Butler’s view on gender as performative. The book, and its didactic relationship to the reader, is found to be much more complex and conflicting than suggested by the reception and the paratexts.
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