The Horn Book for March/April 2009 has arrived. One of the longer articles, and several shorter columns, examine the importance of words and letters. For example, in A friendship of words (pp. 137-145), Susan Fletcher describes her relationship with her Iranian translator, whom she never met. She uses their friendship to illustrate that people need books from other countries to learn about the world.
In The adventures of Mommy Buzzkill (pp. 149-152), Catherine Gilbert Murdock asks: why are mothers so often absent in children’s adventure stories? Think about A series of unfortunate events, The secret garden and The lion the witch and the wardrobe, to name just a few from different periods. Murdock thinks mothers would be what she calls giant "buzzkills" - constantly advising "wear your helmet, finish your homework first", etc. She concludes that this is not to denigrate motherhood but to idealise it - a mother can't be in a story in which a child might need protection because she would instantly rush to his / her defence thus removing all danger and spirit of adventure.
In The campaign for shiny futures (pp. 155-161), Farah Mendlesohn asks why science fiction for children and teenagers doesn't get the same attention or respect as fantasy. She thinks that SF readers often have different priorities - they want literature to give them ideas and information and to teach them about the world, whereas realistic or fantasy fiction is more concerned with relationships and emotions.
Finally, Joanna Rudge Long, pp. 171-178, asks "What makes a good Three little pigs?" Answer (after comparing several versions): Some pigs!
Don't forget about The Horn Book website, including its newsletter, blog and podcasts.