An Interview with Adele Fasick
By Leacy O'Brien
Volume 17 Number 3
The professional life of Adele Mongan Fasick has always had an intrinsic connection to children and the books they read. Raised in New York City, Fasick began her career as a children's/young adult librarian in the New York Public Library System. For the last fifteen years, she has taught at the Faculty of Library and Information Science at the University of Toronto, sharing her expertise in the field of children's materials with new generations of librarians.
Her role as chairperson of the Children's Library Section of the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions has given her a broad understanding of the International nature of children's literature, and participation in the activities of the Canadian Association of Children's Librarians and the Canadian School Library Association has enhanced her awareness of developments on the national scene.
The recent publication of The Beauty Who Would Not Spin is, for Adele Fasick, a logical extension of a longtime love affair with children's literature. She expresses some surprise, even now, that her first children's book has taken the form of a fairy-tale--she notes that she normally favours reality over fantasy. But she is an avid reader of folk-and fairy-tales, as much for her own pleasure as for teaching preparation, and admits to an Irish heritage that may be a factor in her own facility for "spinning" a story.
Fasick says that she likes to read--and write--fairytales with a view to "the other side of the story" to look at this literary form with consideration of the morals and lessons illustrated by traditional motifs. What will readers learn from The Beauty Who Would Not Spin? Fasick hopes that young people will respond to the feminist twist she has incorporated into a common folk-tale theme. She has reworked the classic motif of the young bride who must, under the tutelage of older women, develop the domestic skills that handsome princes traditionally require of a "good wife" into the delightful story of Anastasia, who successfully rejects stichery but makes the most of her talent in other areas--and still manages to live happily ever after in time-honoured fairy-tale fashion.
While Adele Fasick is confident that her new book can stand on its own as a gentle fairy-tale in traditional form she is hopeful, too, that her young readers will take from her theme the message that the world offers many options to women and that their choices should be guided by the natural talents and instincts rather than by the expectations of others.
As author, librarian and teacher, Adele Fasick looks at the world of children's books from several vantage points and she likes what she sees today. Baby-boomer parents have, in their 'quest for the best' for their offspring, created an enormous market for high-quality children's literature--and as a spin-off, a new demand for creative children's programming in libraries. Fasick's students at the University of Toronto are taught that "children need to catch on to the idea that books are fun," to learn that libraries have entertainment value as well as educational purposes. Fasick's advice to parents is simple: "surround children with books, offer them freedom of choice" and most importantly, "Read to them and with them ... be enthusiastic."
Fasick clearly takes her own advice. She reads widely among both classics and contemporary fiction for children, so much so that she "couldn't begin to identify a favourite." A love of books and a talent for story-telling combined with a sensitivity to children's interests--Adele Fasick is a natural as a children's author.
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