Theme: Ulf Stark

Ulf Stark (1944-2017) was one of Sweden’s most prominent children’s and young adult writers. He made his debut as a writer in 1964 with a collection of poems called Ett hål till livet (“A hole to life”), and his first children’s book, Petter och den röda fågeln (“Petter and the red bird”) was published in 1975. Stark’s breakthrough came in 1984 when his young adult novel Dårfinkar och dönickar (Fruitloops & Dipsticks) won first prize in a competition arranged by the publisher Bonnier Juniorförlag. Many of Ulf Stark’s stories are set in his childhood neigbourhood of Stureby, and they often include autobiographical elements. Some of his most well-known works are the trilogy about the two friends Ulf and Percy, beginning with Min vän Percys magiska gymnastikskor (My Friend Percy’s Magical Gym Shoes, 1991). 

Ulf Stark worked with many leading illustrators and picturebook artists, such as Linda Bondestam, Anna Höglund, Mati Lepp, and Stina Wirsén. His books have been translated into many languages and he was awarded a number of literary prizes, Swedish as well as international. He was often asked to hold lectures abroad. Besides being a prolific children’s books writer, Ulf Stark also worked as a cultural writer and critic and as a screenwriter, adaptating not only his own books but also the works of others for the screen. Moreover, he was a member of the Swedish Academy for Children’s Books for a decade, and a passionate advocate for children’s culture all his life.

Despite Ulf Stark’s long career in writing and debating children’s and young adult literature, there is surprisingly little research on his authorship. The few existing studies mainly examine his works from a gender perspective, discussing issues such as Simone’s gender transgression in Dårfinkar och dönickar, and aspects of masculinity in his autobiographical works about Ulf and Percy. Barnboken wishes to encourage research on Ulf Stark’s lesser known works as well as on recurring themes in his texts, such as death and grief, friendship, play, and love. 

Possible topics for articles include ideology and views on literature, language-play and poetry, historical fiction, spirituality and religious aspects, humour as a narrative strategy, father figures, translations, autofiction and perspectives on autobiographical writing. Moreover, we invite articles addressing Ulf Stark’s many collaborations with picturebook illustrators as well as his work as a screenwriter and critic. Ulf Stark’s own thoughts on children’s literature can be found in a number of articles and essays, and these can also be explored within the theme.

Deadline, abstracts: 20 January 2020

Please send a 300-word proposal to The following information should be included: The title of the article, the name of the writer, affiliation, and e-mail address.

Deadline, articles: 1 October 2020

The articles will be published in 2021. Articles submitted for consideration may not have been previously published.

Texts are sent via e-mail to or via the login system on Barnboken’s website: For further information on submission details such as length, see Author Guidelines: A guide to our reference and note system can be found at the journal website.

Barnboken – Journal of Children’s Literature Research is published by the Swedish Institute for Children’s Books. All articles accepted have been peer reviewed by at least two peers and will be published online under an Open Access model. The main language of the journal is Swedish, but articles written in Danish, Norwegian and English are also welcome. We are especially interested in contributions related to Sweden or the Nordic countries.

The editorial committee consists of Editor Åsa Warnqvist (PhD, The Swedish Institute for Children’s Books, Sweden), and Assistant Editors Maria Jönsson (Associate Professor, Umeå University, Sweden), Anne Skaret (PhD., University of Applied Sciences, Norway), Björn Sundmark (Professor, Malmö University, Sweden), Olle Widhe (Associate Professor, University of Gothenburg, Sweden), and Mia Österlund (Associate Professor, Åbo Akademi University, Finland).

Barnboken is published with financial support from the Swedish Research Council (Vetenskapsrådet).

For more information, please contact:

Åsa Warnqvist
The Swedish Institute for Children’s Books
Odengatan 61
SE-113 22 Stockholm

Phone: + 46 8 54 54 20 65.