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About me: "Well, I work at the most succulent plum of children's branches in New York City. The Children's Center at 42nd Street not only exists in the main branch (the one with the big stone lions out front) but we've a colorful assortment of children's authors and illustrators that stop on by. I'm a lucky fish. By the way, my opinions are entirely my own and don't represent NYPL's in the least. Got blame? Gimme gimme gimme!"
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By: Betsy Bird
Blog: A Fuse #8 Production
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The We Need Diverse Books campaign has kicked it up a notch with an Indiegogo campaign. They’re raising money to support authors, diversify classrooms, develop educational kits, promote diverse programming, you name it. As of my writing this they are $40,000 or so away from their goal. Check it out:
Diverse Campaign w Thanks Card from Undercurrent on Vimeo.
And now for something completely different. Cookie Monster has parodied Harry Potter and Hunger Games (not to mention Star Wars). Dare we hope Twilight is on the horizon? Because I would pay a lot of money to hear him say, “Climb onto me back, little spider monkey.”
It was Travis at 100 Scope Notes who alerted me to the Vine illustrator videos at The Guardian. There are lots there to choose from so I had a hard time figuring out which one to show here. In the end I went with James Mayhew. Lovely stuff.
Thanks to Travis for the link!
Moomins! Rivera Moomins! In Finnish, yes? Beautifully done.
By the way, when I die I’m coming back as one of Aaron Zenz’s kids. A strange ambition but after watching this video can you blame me?
I don’t think I need to tell you children’s librarians out there what a perfect fall craft this would be. And talk about cheap! Here are some additional photos of their creations. These kids once did some Giant Dance Party fan art that I treasure to this day. And as a side note, how cool is it that they watched Exit Through the Gift Shop as a family?
All I can say about this next Alice in Wonderland inspired video is that I am SO grateful I didn’t watch this while on any kind of drugs. Lordy.
Thanks to Marci for the link.
I don’t think I need remind any of you that this past week BookOps (the combined technical services of New York Public Library and Brooklyn Public Library) engaged in a sort-off with the Kings County Library system. You were all watching the play by play on your phones, right? Right? No? Hm. Well, in any case, I am happy to report that this year we won our trophy back. It was a close race but that’s how we get it DONE, SON! Now you can see this drone video of our freakin’ awesome sorter here, but if you’d like to check out the competition the following video shows a sorter very much like our own (and a Collection Specialist doing my job to a tee).
Granted, we don’t have a machine named “Mustang” in our building, but we’re still pretty cool.
I agree with Jezebel that Samuel Jackson’s reading of Go the F*** to Sleep is as good as it gets, but LeVar Burton reading it fulfills some deep hitherto unknown need in my soul. Do I really have to warn you about the language in this?
As for our off-topic videos, this one got me to thinking about how these goofy little internet videos often strip down a famous song to its most essential elements, and make it clear how strong the original melody really was. I think it was Weird Al who pointed out that he could only parody songs that had a distinctive melody. Case in point:
This marks the first year my daughter (now three) actually cared what her Halloween costume was. She wanted to be a princess. I brought home The Paper Bag Princess in response. No worries. She won’t be wearing a paper bag or anything. I just wanted to combat the princess notion any which way. And now – links!
- Almost exactly a year ago I attended the Society of Illustrators show where some of the best picture book art of the year was on display. At that time the show was honoring the late great artist Barbara Cooney (she of Miss Rumphius fame, amongst other things). Her son, Barnaby Porter, was on hand to talk about her and in the course of his talk he explained what exactly she would do on Halloween. I’ve remembered it ever since and figured some of you Cooney fans out there might get a kick of Rocco Staino’s recording of Barnaby’s memories.
- Fair play to Brooklyn Public Library, by the way. They take the cake when it comes to faux hauntings. At NYPL we haven’t a single named ghost in the system. I mean, we all know that the Ottendorfer branch is the haunted one, but I’d love a name to go along with all the mysterious goings on.
- The other day Adam Rex tweeted the following: “Game I play every October: try to discover a children’s character with a commercially available costume but NO sexy version of said costume.” Challenge accepted! Except . . . dang it. It’s not as easy as it sounds. Not Amelia Bedelia. Not Curious George (really, people?). Not the aforementioned Paper Bag Princess (though those get really quite creative). In the end, it turned out that Clifford the Big Red Dog was the only safe one left. The same, I suspect, cannot be said for his companion Emily Elizabeth.
- Finally, today is the day when the children’s book publishers all across this great nation doff their craziest book-related costumes. If you want a taste of what that feels like, here‘s last years costuming kookiness. Fun Extra: If you look at the Raven Boys crew, my husband’s the raven on the far right. True story.
One of my favorite graphic novels this year was the awfully ambitious (and awfully good) The Stratford Zoo Midnight Revue Presents . . . MacBeth. Any book that uses that much ketchup in its plotting has my instant love. So when the folks at First Second asked if I wanted to present the cover reveal for the next book in the Stratford Zoo series, you can bet I said yep.
Good readers will remember which play was alluded to on the last page of the last book. And here she is!
Author Ian Lendler puts it this way:
“When I travel to schools and ask if anyone has heard of Shakespeare, about half the students will raise their hands. They sort of vaguely know that he’s famous for some reason. But when I ask if anyone has heard of Romeo and Juliet, without fail, every hand in the room is raised. Everyone knows this story.
It has worked its way so deeply into world culture (not just Western culture, mind you), that it is easily the most adapted play in Shakespeare’s canon. Off the top of my head, the Romeo and Juliet story has been set in the world of Miami mafias, kung-fu street cops, a military school, ninjas, immigrants in the Bronx, L.A. high schools, alley cats, and garden gnomes. And why?
Because if you can’t root for two crazy kids in the throes of crazy love then your heart is made of stone. I fully confess that while I was writing this book, I found myself rooting for this cocky rooster and plucky bear to beat the odds. Unfortunately, Shakespeare had different plans for them.”
Artist Zack Giallongo concurs:
“I think what I love most about this book is the physical contrast between Romeo and Juliet. One is a small, wiry, brightly-colored bird. The other is a large, solid, earth-tone mammal. And yet, both are equally appealing, not only to one another, but to the readers. It’s clear, though, that despite the physical disparity, both have the same desires, the same wants, and the same problems. Both have parents that are louts, both have aggressive (and pompous) agents in the form of Tibbs and Mercutio, and both feel misunderstood. And isn’t that what we all feel from time to time? I hope that I got these feelings that Ian wrote into the book across with my drawings, and that we can understand one another, even if we’re a bear and a rooster.”
Looking forward to it, guys! Keep up the good work. Fingers crossed you do Tempest next. I’d love to see the animal that gets to play Caliban.
LIEV SCHREIBER, DAVID HYDE PIERCE, JANE CURTIN, MICHAEL POTTS AND MORE
CELEBRATE THE BELOVED AUTHOR OF CHARLOTTE’S WEB WITH READINGS AND MUSIC
Symphony Space, First Book – Manhattan and HarperCollins Publishers announce
A star-studded evening honoring E.B. White on November 16, 2014
October 2, 2014 NEW YORK, N.Y.— After the success of last year’s sold-out event featuring Paul Giamatti and Amy Ryan performing excerpts from Roald Dahl’s classics, Symphony Space and First Book – Manhattan team up once again. This time, the annual event will showcase readings by the New Yorker writer and treasured children’s novelist E.B. White.
At Terrific Tails: A Celebration of E.B. White, Liev Schreiber (Ray Donovan), Tony Award-winner David Hyde Pierce (Frasier), Jane Curtin (Saturday Night Live, Unforgettable), and Michael Potts (True Detective, The Wire) will take the stage with other Broadway and Hollywood actors to perform the work of the cherished writer whose humorous and poignant stories and poetry include Charlotte’s Web, Stuart Little and Trumpet of the Swan. The evening will also include special guest appearances from White’s granddaughter Martha White and his stepson Roger Angell (author and former editor of The New Yorker). Barbershop quartet Scollay Square will perform songs from the film version of Charlotte’s Web. In addition, bestselling author of The Lunch Lady series, Jarrett J. Krosoczka, will return to host the event. Proceeds will benefit First Book – Manhattan www.firstbook.org/manhattan
E. B. White (1899 – 1985), the author of such beloved classics as Charlotte’s Web, Stuart Little, and The Trumpet of the Swan, was born in Mount Vernon, New York. He graduated from Cornell University in 1921 and joined the staff of The New Yorker magazine, then in its infancy. He died on October 1, 1985.
Mr. White is also the author of One Man’s Meat, The Second Tree from the Corner, and This Is New York. In addition, he co-authored the English language style guide, The Elements of Style, which is commonly known as “Strunk & White.” He won countless awards, including the 1971 National Medal for Literature and the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award, which commended him for making a “substantial and lasting contribution to literature for children.”
During his lifetime, many young readers asked Mr. White if his stories were true. In a letter to his fans, he answered, “No, they are imaginary tales . . . But real life is only one kind of life—there is also the life of the imagination.”
Serving the New York City metro area, First Book – Manhattan distributes thousands of brand new books to disadvantaged children and the programs that serve them. Founded in 2011, First Book’s local Manhattan Advisory Board has granted more than 7,000 books throughout the community and expects this December event to be their most successful fundraiser to date.
Each year, First Book – Manhattan distributes thousands of brand new books to disadvantaged children and the programs that serve them throughout the New York City metro area. Founded in 2011, First Book’s local Manhattan Chapter has granted more than 25,000 books to kids in need and looks forward to hosting its most successful fundraiser to date on November 16.
“The bar we set for our signature event last year was a high one to leap over, but the production we have planned this time around will surpass the expectations of anyone who enjoyed last year’s show,” said Sean Gallagher, chair of First Book – Manhattan. “Ultimately, our goal is to provide as many books as possible to the underserved children in our community. We want everyone who comes to our winter benefit to have a fantastic time, and to be inspired to support the kids in this community with action.”
“Terrific Tails: A Celebration of E.B. White”
When: Sunday, November 16 at 5pm
Where: Symphony Space Peter Jay Sharp Theatre
Tickets: $25 each; available on-line or at the box office by calling 212-864-5400
By: Betsy Bird
Blog: A Fuse #8 Production
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- A stumper to begin the day. I got this message from my aunt and I simply do not know the answer. Librarians of the world, do you know? Just to clarify beforehand, the answer is unfortunately not Are Your My Mother? by P.D. Eastman:
“… seeking info on a children’s book that was [a] favorite at least 30 years ago about a baby bird (with goggles) who is having trouble learning to fly.”
- Here’s a new one. Apparently the 2014 Nobel Prize winner for literature is a French author with a children’s book to his name. And the book? According to Karen MacPherson it’s Catherine Certitude. Now THAT is a title, people!
- Me Stuff: Pop Goes the Page was very very kind and did a little behind-the-scenes interview with me about good old Giant Dance Party. Ain’t Dana swell? Meanwhile my favorite transgender children’s librarian Kyle Lukoff just posted a review of Wild Things on his blog. I’ve been very impressed by his reviews, by the way. The critique of A is for Activist is dead on.
- On the one hand, this may well be the most interesting board book I’ve seen in a long time. On the other, why can’t I buy it through Ingram or Baker & Taylor? Gah!
- Movie news! Specifically Number the Stars movie news. Read on:
Young readers and their families enjoyed an afternoon celebrating the 25th anniversary of Lois Lowry’s Number the Stars at Symphony Space in New York on October 19th. Actor Sean Astin (Lord of the Rings) was on hand to read from Lowry’s work,. He and his wife Christine have secured the rights to adapt the book for film.
The event was one of the Thalia Kids’ Book Club series at Symphony Space. The next event is a celebrity-studded tribute to the work of E. B. White on Wednesday, November 19th, with proceeds benefiting First Book Manhattan. (Link: http://www.symphonyspace.org/event/8497/Family-Literature/thalia-kids-book-club-terrific-tails-a-celebration-of-eb-white
Lowry event PHOTOS just posted via Getty Images: http://www.gettyimages.com/detail/news-photo/lois-lowry-and-sean-astin-attends-number-the-stars-25th-news-photo/457520190
- Aw heck. Since I’m just reprinting small press releases at this point, I’d be amiss in missing this:
ASK ME ANOTHER WITH MO WILLEMS
- Date: Wednesday, November 5
- Time: 6:30 doors, 7:30 show
- Price: $20 advance, $25 door
- Location: The Bell House, 149 7th Street (between 2nd and 3rd Aves), Brooklyn, NY 11215
- Ticket Link: http://www.thebellhouseny.com/event/699477-ask-me-another-brooklyn/
- Blurb: Join NPR’s Ask Me Another, along with host Ophira Eisenberg and house musician Jonathan Coulton, for a rousing night of brainteasers, comedy, and music. This week’s V.I.P. (that’s puzzle speak for Very Important Puzzler), is acclaimed children’s book author Mo Willems. Willems is known for titles like Knuffle Bunny, Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!, and the Elephant and Piggie series. See how he fares in a trivia game written just for him. For more information and tickets visit www.amatickets.org.
As a children’s materials specialist I have a little file where I keep track of my 80+ library branches and the types of books they want. One of the topics you’ll find on my list? Death. We’re always asked to provide books about the bereavement process. Now The Guardian has done a nice little round-up of some of the more recent ones. Note, though, that death books all have on thing in common: They’re all about white families. Finding a multicultural book about death isn’t impossible but it is harder than it should be, particularly when we’re discussing picture books. Thanks to Kate for the link.
- There is a tendency online when a story breaks to write a post that comments on one aspect or another of the situation without saying what the problem was in the first place. That’s why we’re so grateful to Leila Roy. If you found yourself hearing vague references to one Kathleen Hale and her article of questionable taste in The Guardian but didn’t know the whole story, Leila makes all clear here.
- Hm. I like Harry Potter as much as the next guy but the Washington Post article Why the Harry Potter Books Are So Influential All Around the World didn’t quite do it for me. Much of it hinges on believing that HP is multicultural. I don’t suppose I’m the only person out there who remembers that in the original printing of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, Dean Thomas was not mentioned as black. That was added for subsequent editions. Ah well. Does it matter?
- Daily Show Head Writer and fellow-who-is-married-to-a-children’s-librarian Elliott Kalan recently wrote a piece for Slate that seeks to explain how his vision of New York as a child was formed by Muppets Take Manhattan and Ghostbusters. But only the boring parts. Yup.
- Fountas and Pinnell have a message for you: They’re sorry. Thanks to Colby Sharp for the link.
They’ve finally announced the winner of the whopping great huge Kirkus Prize. And the final finalist on the children’s side turns out to be . . . Aviary Wonders, Inc. And here’s an image of the committee that selected the prize with the winner herself.
Left to right: E.K. Johnston (author finalist), Vicky Smith (Kirkus Children’s Editor), Claudette McLinn, Kate Samworth, John Peters, and Linda Sue Park.
They mentioned the prize money but they never mentioned that the winner also gets a TROPHY!! That’s big. We don’t get many trophies in our business. Well played. And thanks to Claudette McLinn for the photo.
There are questions in this world that it is always safe to ask a children’s librarian about his or her children. Prominent amongst them: “So what are your kids reading these days?”
The “kids” in question here would be the librarian’s children. Yet I’ll admit that when I’m asked, there’s always that brief moment of confusion on my part where my brain tries to access the answer. I read her four books less than 12 hours ago so why can’t I recall any of their titles? Eventually I’m able to piece together a list of her current obsessions (Fancy Nancy and the Frances books currently dominate) and all is well. And really, I like answering the question and I like, in turn, asking it of other folks.
Still, it gets me to thinking. I’m a children’s librarian. I read, eat, and breathe this stuff. My kids get a LOT of children’s books thrown at them on a regular basis, and yet I still sometimes struggle with coming up with an answer to, “So what are your kids reading these days?” If this question can prove difficult for me, what’s it like if you ask folks who aren’t in the business of children’s literature at all?
It seems to me the question cuts one of two ways. On the one had, it’s a great conversation starter. Your kid loves Ladybug Girl? Mine too! But at the same time, if used for evil instead of good, it could act as an awfully effective way to engage in shaming your fellow parent. The inherent assumption is that the other parent knows what their child is reading and, in fact, reads to them regularly. So for someone who suspected that their fellow parent was not engaging in this necessary activity, the question could be accusatory. What’s your kid reading, smart guy? Can you name the books? No? Why not?
Mind you, I’ve no doubt there are parents out there who, when asked, would merely shrug their shoulders and say, “My kid’s not much of a reader”. Then too there are the differences in asking the parent of a four-year-old the question versus a twelve-year-old. You could get some very different answers.
Still, when you consider the potential awkwardness (however justified) on the part of the other parent when asked this question, is it in the end rude to even ask? I feel like we should engage Miss Manners in this. What would she say?
From our good fellow in the field, Rocco Staino:
As chair of the ALA/CBC committee I am working with United for Libraries and the Children’s Book Council on an initiative for Children’s Book Week. It is our hope that during Children’s Book Week in 2015 that with your help United for Libraries can dedicate throughout the country at least 7 Literary Landmarks that are connected with a children’s book or author.
It would be great if you or your state organization would take the lead in nominating a possible Literary Landmark in your State. You may also want to work with your state’s Center for the Book.
Here are some helpful links that give you more information on Literary Landmarks.
Only 33 States have Literary Landmarks. Check to see if you state has at least one. If it doesn’t this is a great time to get one.
I have worked in having several sites designated as Literary Landmarks. Most recently we dedicated The Walt Whitman Birthplace a Literary Landmark. At the event we had a Congressman, State Senators and members of the NYS Assembly including the chair of the Library Committee. I am happy to say that the Landmark was cosponsored by Suffolk County Library Association, Suffolk School Library Media Association and the Lambda Literary Foundation.
Attached is a photo of the Librarians in attendance.
Feel free to contact me of Sally Gardner Reed or Jillian Kalonick (cc’d in this email) if you have any questions.
This is our second “Walking and Talking” installment by the clearly multi-talented Steve Sheinkin. This week? Jenni Holm discusses how she works and gives some background on the blood, sweat and tears that went into The Fourteenth Goldfish.
Be also sure to check out the first Walking and Talking with . . . John Corey Whaley. Big thanks to Steven too for letting me post these!
Traditionally I tend to attend the Carle Honors secretly pregnant. I’m not sure why this is but at least twice I have walked about, discretely refusing any and all alcoholic beverages. One of those times I’d discovered the pregnancy mere hours before the event.
No hidden incipient heirs were on display this time around, and that suited me fine. But what are The Carle Honors, precisely? Well, they’re best described as an annual benefeit gala for The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art. As their little program says, “At the heart of The Carle Honors is a constellation of awards celebrating those individuals whose creative vision and dedication are an inspiration to everyone who values picture books and their role in arts education.” Each year they designate someone (or sometimes someones) an Artist, a Mentor, an Angel, and a Bridge. This year those folks broke down into the following categories:
Artist – Jerry Pinkney
Mentor -Dr. Henrietta Mays Smith
Angel – Reach Out and Read (represented by Brian Gallagher & Dr. Perri Klass)
Bridge – Francoise Mouly
On this particular day I decided to lop off my hair right beforehand, thereby assuring that it fool people into thinking I have the ability to blow it out myself (note: I do not). I have an odd tendency to cut off large chunks of my hair upon the onset of fall after having suffered through a hairy summer. I have no idea why. Masochism’s my current working theory.
The event was held at Guastavino’s a fancy little event space where the Honors have been held for the last few years. It’s a nice area, with a little garden out front where you can change into your high heeled shoes and not look too tawdry doing so. Inside the hunt begins for waiters bearing trays of tiny food. You quickly denote your favorites and grab only those.
Every year the Carle has also hosts a big auction at the Honors to raise money. And because Ms. Mouly was being honored there were at least two original New Yorker covers, including the one that ran after 9/11/01.
Walking through it was time to play my favorite game of If I Had Money, Which One Would I Buy? In the end, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that my favorite art was by Erin Stead. Shown here:
Can you see what it is? Probably not. My phone camera isn’t exactly high quality. In any case, these are various animals from the book A Sick Day for Amos McGee dressed up like other famous children’s literary characters. The rhino in the Snowy Day costume was worth my attendance that night alone.
After copious schmoozing and devouring of tiny foods it was time to take our seats for the show itself. And since we could choose any seat we wanted except those reserved, I plunked myself directly behind this:
My motivations weren’t actually creepy. It just happened to be the nearest to the podium I could get for my photos. Honest! Scout’s honor!
The festivities were to go on without the presence of Eric Carle himself, which may or may not have been a first. I got to have my usual smile over the perfection of the universe that a man named Christopher Milne was the head of the Carle’s board.
There was a brief presentation at the beginning highlighting some of the cool things the Carle does. For example, they had an event where picture book artists did portraits of kids’ stuffed animals. You cannot understand the wave of envy I experienced when I heard that. My daughter entertains a rotating cast of roughly 20-30 stuffed animals. To get an illustration of one of them would be absolutely delightful. Well done whoever thought that one up!
And then on to our hosts! Once again it was MA locals Tony DiTerlizzi and Angela DiTerlizzi. Tony got a big laugh when he began with, “I see Jerry Pinkney in the audience. Good luck, Jerry! I’m rooting for you tonight!” They also proceeded to show off a slide show of various picture book mash-ups. As you can (barely thanks to my camera) see, this is a rather seamless Eloise in the Hunger Games.
In the program there was a little flyer that gave the complete listing of everyone in attendance. Always nice to have proof of where I am at a given time. I like a good alibi. I also like how I was one of three alliterative BB names present that evening.
The first presentation was made for “Mentor” Dr. Henrietta Mays Smith. A former NYPL librarian (!!) Ms. Smith pretty much embodied everything I’d like to be by the time I reach her age. Whip smart and sharp as a tack she gave a great and very short little acceptance speech. I made a point to speak to her afterwards since I was fairly certain I was the only working public librarian there in attendance. She was mighty gracious and we discussed the various branches I live near.
Next it was a woman I’d actually seen once before at a dinner at NYU. Dr. Perri Klass should be flown out to every library in the nation to rally the troops. They should clone her. Make millions of her and distribute her worldwide because the good she has done with Reach Out and Read cannot be measured. It was wonderful to hear her speak with Mr. Gallagher.
Ms. Mouly was the next to be honored. I got a shot of her with Spiegelman’s head near blocking my view:
But this one’s nicer. I was so taken with her talk that I didn’t write almost any of it down. However there was one quote that stood out:
“With children you have to posit a future that is positive and bright.”
Finally, it was time to honor Jerry Pinkney. His talk was something else. First off, he took time to discuss his own personal connection to the museum. In the 1960s he was going to deliver art to a publisher. As he waited in the lobby the art of N.C. Wyeth graced the walls. That moment was pinpointed as the one that might have inspired Jerry to make art for kids. And, as he pointed out, the same could happen for some child in the Carle Museum.
He then quoted his great-granddaughter at the end of his talk. I was just stunned that he had one. Seriously? Well played, sir!
Finally, Tony and Angela paid tribute to outgoing curator of the Carle, Nick Park. Nick gave a little speech saying “It’s been like getting paid to go to recess.” Aw. No replacement has been found for him quite yet but we’re keeping our ears open for any developments.
Oh! I almost forgot. Each year the Carle Honors give these lovely goody bags away. And what book was in this year’s bag? Amongst other none other than WILD THINGS: ACTS OF MISCHIEF IN CHILDREN’S LITERATURE!! I was so pleased to hear it.
Many thanks to the Carle for allowing me to attend the soiree. See you next year!
Got me a blog. Got me a library job. And now I’ve got me a TV show. Sorta kinda.
The nice folks here at SLJ took a gander at that little Newbery/Caldecott pre-game/post-game show I created with Lori Ess last January (and I just rewatched the post-game show which I would like to play at my funeral someday) and decided to give me a little airtime. Announcing the debut of Fuse #8 TV! Here’s the official description:
Fuse #8 TV is a monthly webcast hosted by A Fuse #8 Production’s Elizabeth Bird featuring interviews with notable authors of literature for children and young adults. Recorded live online, it is made possible by Scholastic, Penguin Random House, Little Brown, Macmillan, HarperCollins, and School Library Journal.
In a way, I sort of wanted to create an offshoot of my Children’s Literary Salons held here in NYC. Conversations on a myriad of different topics in bite-sized pieces.
Now for our first episode I wanted to start things off with a bang. So Travis Jonker was kind enough to help me relive the glory of our previous wordless conversation. After that, I decided to do something timely. I engaged Coe Booth (KINDA LIKE BROTHERS) and Kekla Magoon (HOW IT WENT DOWN) in a discussion ranging from women writing as boys, the “next” Walter Dean Myers, African-American women writers, and more. Here are the results:
We’ll be putting one of these out each month. Stay tuned for more!
My 3-year-old daughter is currently an Hervé Tullet fan, but not in the sense you might think. It’s not Press Here that strikes her fancy (though she enjoys it well enough) but his board books with Phaidon. Who knew? Now there’s an exhibit up over in Brooklyn I need to take her to.
Brooklyn Public Library Hosts sole United States exhibition of Hervé Tullet’s art running through February 1, 2015 at BPL’s Central Library
WHERE: Central Library, 10 Grand Army Plaza, Brooklyn, NY 11238
WHO: Best-selling children’s author and illustrator Hervé Tullet
BACKGROUND: Hervé Tullet’s playful style and unique use of color have earned his children’s books a spot on the best-seller list for more than 150 weeks, and have garnered him acclaim across the globe. His work not only engages children with images on the page, but also with the physical feel of books— making him a favorite for young readers.
The release of Mr. Tullet’s new book, “Mix it Up” will accompany the only exhibition of his work in the United States this year— to be shown from October 2, 2014 through February 1, 2015 in Brooklyn Public Library’s Central Library.Hervé Tullet’s exhibition is sponsored by Handprint Books and Chronicle Books.
About Brooklyn Public Library
Brooklyn Public Library (BPL) is an independent library system for the 2.5 million residents of Brooklyn. It is the fifth largest library system in the United States with 60 neighborhood libraries located throughout the borough. BPL offers free programs and services for all ages and stages of life, including a large selection of books in more than 30 languages, author talks, literacy programs and public computers. BPL’s eResources, such as eBooks and eVideos, catalog information and free homework help, are available to customers of all ages 24 hours a day at our website: www.bklynlibrary.org.
BerlinRosen Public Affairs
O: (646) 200-5297 C: (646) 369-8226
So here’s the deal. In libraries nationwide there are systems where trained children’s librarians are a scarcity. There are any number of reasons for this. It could be that the city or system is low on funds and isn’t hiring. It could be that there isn’t a reliable library school in the state. Whatever the case, just because a branch or a library doesn’t have a children’s librarian that doesn’t mean there isn’t a need for storytimes. It’s not like people stop having kids just because there isn’t any programming for them after all. In a great many rural libraries there’s no statewide ALA accredited library science program in place. As for urban libraries where clerks and sometimes even pages are roped into doing the children’s programs that may be because there’s a hiring freeze or the library system stopped doing “specialties”.
What then is the solution? I’ve seen some states like Vermont create certification programs for people working with children in the libraries, giving them the basic training they need for storytimes and knowledge about the books out there. Yet even if you have a certification program in place, what people working in children’s programming really need are examples of what other librarians are doing out there. Many already know that if you want to get examples of great library displays you should go to Pinterest and sites like that but what about hand rhymes? They’re so hard to do without seeing them done somewhere else first.
Enter Jbrary. It’s not an original idea to film hand rhymes for your library system. For example, the King County Library System (which, if I may be allowed to trash talk for a moment, is due to be royally thumped by my system’s sorting machine in this week’s big sort off) has a marvelous collection of hand rhyme videos for the viewing here. I’ve mentioned them in the past and now I’ve another crew to salute. Acting on their own, two librarians by the name of Dana and Lindsey have systematically been posting hand rhyme after hand rhyme on YouTube under the moniker of Jbrary. But that is not all, oh no, that is not all. They also do songs, rhymes, book reviews, app reviews, craft ideas, and felt board ideas. Everything, in short, that a budding new children’s professional might need to feel a little less out to sea.
So today, I’ll just show a couple of these. If you’ve someone in your system in need of some guidance in this area, this isn’t a bad place to turn.
There’s been a lot of talk about accuracy in children’s nonfiction recently (which is just a fancy way of saying that there’s been a lot of talk on this particular blog). Everything from invented dialogue to series that are nonfiction-ish. One element we haven’t discussed in any way, shape, or form though is the notion of accuracy in illustration. And not just in nonfiction works but historical fiction as well.
My thoughts on the matter only traipsed in this direction because of author Mara Rockliff, as it happens. Recently she wrote me the following query:
“One thing I wonder is why invented dialogue is so often the thing that bothers people most, while other issues don’t seem to come up. For instance, how do you feel about illustrations? It always seems to me that a historical picture book can never be strictly nonfiction, because no matter what the writer does, the illustrations will be fictional. I’ve got a couple of historical picture books on the way this winter. One has very fanciful, cartoony illustrations and the other has meticulously researched illustrations–but both are made up. If an illustrator says, ‘Well, this is the TYPE of thing Ben Franklin wore (but there’s no way to know what he wore on this particular day), and these are the gestures he MIGHT have made and the facial expressions he MIGHT have worn, and here is what his visitors MIGHT have looked like, and this is MORE OR LESS what they might have been doing at that moment, or possibly they never did anything like this at all, and this is a typical style for houses at that time…’ does that seem different to you from a writer saying similar things about invented dialogue?”
It is, you have to admit, an excellent point. Can illustration ever really and truly be factual, just shy of simply copying a photograph? Should we hold historical fiction and historical nonfiction to different standards from one another? She goes on to say in relation to made up text vs. made up art:
I’ve been struggling to formulate my thoughts on this, but I have a vague feeling that
(1) historical picture books should not invent IMPORTANT details (the main events of the story, for instance–what someone would say if asked to summarize the book), no matter how they’re categorized or what’s explained in the author’s note
(2) there should be clues to what’s made up in the story itself, both in the text and the art. Like, if the illustration style is cartoony and the dialogue is humorously anachronistic (“Your majesty, those colonists think they can beat your redcoats! Ha ha ha ha ha.”), an adult reader at least would assume the dialogue had been made up. I think.
There’s lots of time to chew on the notion of art in children’s nonfiction and historical fiction. Mara poses an excellent question about made up dialogue vs. illustrations. Why should one bother a person more than another? I think it comes down to the reality of a situation. Illustration is, by its very definition, going to be made up. The author might do more research than anyone else but you can never say for certain if an eyebrow was up at one moment or a person held a letter in that particular way another. So all illustration is supposition. Dialogue, however, when using quotation marks, is saying that a person definitely said one thing or another. If a books says, “This person may have said this or that” then they’re in the clear but when they use quotation marks without any caveats then they are saying a person definitely said one thing or another. Ex: “Put that peashooter down or I’ll kill you”, said Albert Einstein. When you read that you assume he actually said it. And, for whatever reason, that seems far worse than simply drawing him in one position or another. I think people will always assume that an illustration is coming out of the head of an artist, but wordsmiths are held to a different standard.
Now obviously even when we “know” that someone said something we can almost never “know” if they said that exact thing. But that’s where honesty comes in. Books that say right from the start that they don’t know one thing or another are being honest. Books that just lead you to assume that something happened the way they say it did are being dishonest.
Here in the library we always put “nonfictiony” books with fake elements in the picture book or fiction section. It’s a bummer but we don’t have much of a choice. I mean, compare a book like THE BOY WHO LOVED MATH which never ever includes any fake dialogue and makes a big deal about the fact that the illustration of the boy’s nanny is based on nothing because the artist couldn’t find a photograph of her (now THAT is honesty!) to a book which makes up fake people saying fake things for absolutely no good reason whatsoever. I really love books like HE HAS SHOT THE PRESIDENT that don’t rely on fiction to make the nonfiction parts good. Still, as long as there’s a caveat or explanation somewhere in there I’ll not raise any objections. But what about the art in HE HAS SHOT THE PRESIDENT? Why am I okay with illustrations that are suppositions and not text?
Naturally I decided that this had to be a Children’s Literary Salon at NYPL. So as of right now we’ve a Lit Salon for March planned on this topic with Mara here as well as her HMH editor, Brian Floca, and Sophie Blackall. Let it never be said I go halfsies on these things. I’ll post a link to the event information a little closer to the date, no worries.
So what do you think? Is it ridiculous to your mind to distinguish between “reality” in art vs. text? Or could we go even further in the matter?
By: Betsy Bird
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- Me stuff. You have been warned. So the first thing to know today is that this coming Saturday I’ll be speaking at the Eric Carle Museum about Wild Things: Acts of Mischief in Children’s Literature. It will prove to be an amusing talk and if you live in the area I’d desperately love it if you could attend. I’d like to see your smiling faces, rather than the sea of empty chairs that greets me whenever I close my eyes and imagine worst case scenarios. It will be at 1 p.m. In other news, the panel I conducted on Native Fiction was summarized at Tu Books as well as a rather in-depth write-up in Publishers Weekly. So well done there. Finally Jules and I were interviewed in conjunction with our book by Cynthia Leitich Smith over at Cynsations. Woohoo!
- And for those of you who know who Suzuki Beane is, enjoy this little GIF of her dancing up a storm. If I were ever to get a tattoo it would be one of those images. Or this one. Thanks to Sara O’Leary for the GIF.
- Monica Edinger was kind enough to field some questions from Jules and me about obscure Alice in Wonderland facts. I thought I’d heard them all, but that was before I learned about Harry, Alice Liddell’s older, forgotten brother. A boy who existed before Alice? There’s a book in that . . .
- Okay. So we all know that we need diverse books. Understood. Done. But where precisely do you find lists of such titles? Check out the all new Where to Find Diverse Books site. Everything from books on disability to Islam to LGBTQIA is included. Think something’s missing? Let ‘em know!
- Things I Didn’t Know: So when we talk about podcasts of children’s literature we rarely consider the academic side of things. Imagine then my delight when I discovered the Raab Children’s Literature Podcasts created for the Northeast Children’s Literature Collection and the Teachers for a New Era Project. Quite the listing!
- And speaking of Things I Didn’t Know (a topic worthy of its own post, I suspect) Jules recently discovered that there is such a thing as a Coretta Scott King Book Awards Fair out there. Did you know that? I, for one, did not. The event “celebrates the Coretta Scott King Awards, those authors and illustrators who have received the award, and books that (as the Award states) demonstrate an appreciation of African American culture.” Jules interviews the organizer and founder of the event, Collette Hopkins. Interested in bringing it to your city? Read on.
- So I was moderating a panel at a Penguin Random House teacher event this past Monday (I’m just dropping the “Me Stuff” left and right today) and one of the giveaways was Ian Doescher’s William Shakespeare’s Star Wars. I’m sure you’re familiar with it. It seemed like a cute gimmick and I thought maybe to snag a copy and give it to my brother for Christmas or something. Little did I realize that it’s actually a rather brilliant piece of work. From R2-D2′s soliloquy placing him squarely as a trickster character in the vein of a Puck, to Han Solo’s line after shooting Greedo (“[To innkeeper] Pray, goodly Sir, forgive me for the mess. / [Aside] And whether I shot first, I’ll ne’er confess!”) I was hooked the minute I read it. My husband’s been on a bit of a Star Wars kick himself as of late. First there was his three part series on “Why We Like Luke Skywalker”. Matt posed the question to James Kennedy and got an epic response that is worth reading in Part One, Part Two, and Part Three. Then there was Matt’s post on what Jonathan Auxier’s The Night Gardener and Star Wars have in common. There are other Star Wars posts as well that are worth discovering but I think these make for pretty in-depth reading anyway.
- Daily Image: With Halloween on the horizon it’s time to start thinking about costumes. For inspiration, why not check out BuzzFeed’s 31 Amazing Teacher Halloween Costumes? Lots of children’s literature references in there. Three of my favorites included:
Thanks to Kate for the link.
Creating Children’s Books: Collaboration and Change
A Symposium in Honor of William Steig and Atha Tehon
Creating Children’s Books: Collaboration and Change honors the contributions of William Steig and Atha Tehon to the world of children’s literature during late-twentieth and early-twenty-first centuries.
The symposium will explore the creation of children’s books from both the writer/illustrator and designer/publisher perspectives, looking at the role of collaboration in the process and considering the future of children’s books from various perspectives, including that of diversity.
Atha Tehon worked closely with the renowned editor and publisher Phyllis Fogelman, both of whom championed the work of African-American and Native American authors and illustrators, among others. The symposium is sponsored by the Muriel Pfaelzer Bodek Fund for Library Public Events of the University of Pennsylvania Libraries with additional funding from the Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation.
The symposium takes place in conjunction with two fall exhibitions in the University of Pennsylvania Libraries:
As the Ink Flows: Works from the Pen of William Steig explores the life and career of the artist, cartoonist, and children’s book author/illustrator William Steig. The exhibition highlights materials from the recent gift of over 2,500 original drawings, notebooks and scrapbooks, correspondence, books, posters, and other materials made by Jeanne Steig, his widow, to the University of Pennsylvania Libraries, supplemented with loans from his family.
The School of Atha: Collaboration in the Making of Children’s Books celebrates the life and work of Atha Tehon, children’s book designer and longstanding Art Director for Dial Books for Young Readers.
For questions and queries, contact Lynne Farrington, Curator of Printed Books, Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts (email@example.com; 215-746-5828).
Free and open to the public (please show photo ID at entrance)
Class of 1978 Pavilion, Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts
Van Pelt Dietrich Library Center, sixth floor
3420 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6206
So I’m sitting at a Tri-Library Book Buzz event in NYC the other day, which is basically this massive librarian preview event where publishers of every stripe hock their wares in a lickety-split fashion. I like to go because it lets me see a lot of the little publishers who don’t get a lot of airtime otherwise. Naturally I’ll be writing this up soon.
When Sterling stepped up to the plate they mentioned that they’ll be publishing in January 2015 a new book in their “Good Question” series called Did Columbus Really Discover America? Living in an era where the Common Core demands books to discuss opposing viewpoints, I was heartened to see that the publishing copy for this book raises the question “How did Columbus treat the native people?”, a question that is too often assiduously forgotten particularly at this time of year. Indeed it’s very difficult to be a Materials Specialist these days when the subject of Columbus comes up. Teachers assign bios. Therefore we must have them. Yet how many are actually any good? Sure could use someone’s blog post on this topic [raises eyebrows in Debbie Reese's general direction].
Yes, it’s Columbus Day yet again. The world’s weirdest holiday for contemporary Americans. On the one hand we public employees get the day off. On the other, we sort of have to conveniently forget why we get the day off. Now I could just plug my most beloved Columbus book of all time A Coyote Columbus Story by Thomas King to you yet again, but let’s try something a little different. Some links appropriate to the day instead.
First up, I’m just going to alert you to a recent Children’s Literary Salon I helped put together at NYPL on the subject of contemporary YA Native authors and the learning curve both they and their white editors had to go through. PW wrote it up in their piece Writing Native Lives in YA: A NYPL Panel Discussion and did a heckuva nice job with it too. Editor Cheryl Klein’s podcast The Narrative Breakdown will also be posting the recording of the talk soon, so look for me to link to that in the near future.
I reminded in the course of the conversation of the amusing post from last year What if people told European History like they told Native American history. Good for your eyeballs, if you missed it.
Finally, Debbie Reese had a really lovely post up in 2011 that I saw someone link to recently that deserves notice. Top Board Books for Youngest Readers is a great survey of a very difficult topic. My babies both read Cradle Me and Learn to Count with Northwest Coast Native Art and I can attest that they’re fabulous.
Now go ye and celebrate some other Italian. I suggest Fiorello H. LaGuardia. He wasn’t perfect but there was a nice musical made about him and that’s reason enough in my book to pay him heed.
By: Betsy Bird
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A veritable plethora of dancing librarians greet you this weekend. Now I’ll be the first to say that if you’re going to have librarians or library patrons dancing in a video then the video has to be pretty darn impressive in some way. Life’s too short otherwise. But thing is, these folks are pretty extraordinary. Take, for example, this one from the Texas A&M University libraries as a kind of orientation to their services. Sure, the song’s been overdone but at least they gave it a bit of class:
Thanks to mom for the link.
Then there’s Nashville. I just had the pleasure of speaking alongside my co-author Julie Danielson (of Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast fame) at the Southern Festival of the Book. While there I had time enough to catch one quick sneaky peek at their library. It’s a lucky thing I didn’t see any of their librarians or I was have fangirled out on them after watching this video. I’m a sucker for a talented hand puppet artist:
Then, in other news, old timey footage. The deeply amusing Lemony Snicket video. The YOU CHOOSE THE MYSTERY campaign has begun. Beguiled? Entranced? Confounded? You will be:
Start following the mystery here. It’s like that old Choose Your Own Adventure series except, y’know. Less disembowling.
While I am indeed the mother of a 3-year-old I’ll confess that when it comes to contemporary children’s television programming I’m more liable to pull out the classic Electric Company / Sesame Street / School House Rock DVDs than turn on something from the 21st century. Still, I’ve succumbed to the lures of Daniel Tiger (extemporized upon here) but I’ve only dipped a toe in current Sesame Street schtoof. Maybe that’s why I was so shocked when I saw today’s video. Cookie has always spoofed contemporary film (Chariots of Fur, anyone?) but rarely so in-depth. Wowza.
While not strictly children’s book related, regarding the book as object is certainly of any interest to those parents, teachers, and librarians dealing with kids who put their books through the paces physically. Plus Chronicle does the best videos so I’d be amiss in not posting this:
Neil Numberman (with whom I am in competition for Best Alliterative Picture Book Author Name… and he’s winning) takes on the arduous process of creating a picture book cover and turns it into time lapse art. Behold:
How to Make a Children’s Book Cover (in 1:16) from Neil Numberman on Vimeo.
Hat tip to Greenwillow Books for the link.
And while Banned Books Week may have gone, as long as banning continues so too will the need for remarkably sane (and fun) little videos like this one from Dav Pilkey calling for just a little common sense:
And finally, for today’s off-topic video, Michael Arndt turned my attention to this little beauty. It’s The Missing Scarf, a multiple award winning short film that feels, at first anyway, like a picture book. Stick with it. As it continues you start to really get into the feel (and George Takei should, insofar as I can tell, narrate everything in this world from here on in). I should warn some of you that in spite of its fluffy feel, the ending would prove a bit bleak for the younger kids so be wary and warned and enjoy!
The Missing Scarf from Eoin Duffy on Vimeo.
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Water Rolls, Water Rises: El Agua Rueda, el Agua Sube
By Pat Mora
Illustrated by Meilo So
Children’s Book Press (an imprint of Lee & Low Books)
On shelves now.
Sometimes I wonder what effect the televised ephemera I took in as a child has had on my memories and references. For example, when I pick up a book like Pat Mora’s beautifully written and lushly illustrated Water Rolls, Water Rises: El Agua Rueda, el Agua Sube I immediately flash back to an old Sesame Street episode I enjoyed as a kid that showed a water sapped desert landscape made vibrant once more with the appearance of rain. Taken by itself, such a ran is an event that happens every day on Earth, and as such it’s the kind of thing tailor made to inspire a poet’s heart and mind. Poetry, sad to say, is not a form of literature that I excel in as a student. I can appreciate it, even quote it when called up to do so, but my heart belongs to prose first and foremost. If I have to read poetry, it helps to read the best of the best. Only really stellar poetry can crack my shell of indifference. And when you pair that really good verse alongside art that makes you want to stand up and cheer? That’s when you have a book that won’t just win over crusty old fogies like me, but also its intended audience: kids. Because if a book like Water Rolls, Water Rises can make me stop and think about the natural world, if only for a second, imagine what it could do for an actual child’s growing brain. Better things than old Sesame Street segments, that’s for sure.
We start slowly and watch the roll of the tides and the rise of the fog. The water is blown, then slithers and snakes, and in one particularly beautiful passage glides “up roots of tulips and corn.” After that, things pick up a bit. In swells the water sloshes, in woods it swirls, and it all culminates in storms and thunder and “lightning’s white flash.” Then, just as suddenly, all is calm again. Water rests in an oasis and slumbers in marshes. The book concludes with water joyfully “skidding and slipping”, “looping and leaping” until at last we pull back and view for ourselves our blue planet, “under gold sun, under white moon.” The bilingual text in both English and Spanish is complemented by illustrator Meilo So’s mixed media illustrations and contains both an Author’s Note and key for identifying the images in the book in the back.
Now I’ll tell you right now that I don’t speak a lick of Spanish. I’ve the rudimentary single words and phrases culled from years of watching the aforementioned Sesame Street but there’s nothing substantial in my noggin. Therefore I cannot honestly tell you if the Spanish translation by Adriana Dominguez and Pat Mora matches the English text’s spare verse. Certainly I was impressed with the minimal wordplay Mora chose to use in this book. As someone prone to wordiness (I think the length of this review speaks for itself) I am always most impressed by those writers that can siphon a thought or a description down to its most essential elements. It’s hard to say what you’ll notice first when you read this book. Will it be the words or the art? Mora’s cadences (in English anyway) succeed magnificently in evoking the beauty and majesty of water in its myriad forms. Read the book enough times and you begin to get a real sense of the rise and fall of water’s actions. I also noted that Mora eschews going too deep into her subject matter. The primary concentration is on water as it relates to the landscape worldwide. She doesn’t dwell on something like water’s role in the human body or pepper the text with small sidebars pertaining to facts about water. This is poetry as it relates to liquid. Nothing more. Nothing less.
The bilingual picture book is fast becoming a necessity in the public library setting. Just the other day someone asked if we could have more Bengali/English picture books rather than just straight Bengali, because the parents liked reading both languages to their kids. Yet sadly in the past our bilingual literature has had a rough go of it. Well-intentioned efforts to give these books their own space in the children’s libraries have too often meant that they’re scuttled away in some long-forgotten corner. The patrons who need them most are often too intimidated to ask for them or don’t even know that they exist. So what’s the solution? Interfile them with the English books or all the other languages? Wouldn’t they be just as forgotten in one collection as another? There are no easy answers here and the thought that a book as a beautiful in word and image as Water Rolls could end up forgotten is painful to me.
Since this book travels around the world and touches on the lives of people in different lands and nations it is, by its very definition, multicultural. And to be honest, attaining the label of “multicultural” by simply highlighting different nations is easy work. What sets artist Meilo So’s art apart from other books of this sort is her fearless ability to upset expectations. I am thinking in particular of the image of the wild rice harvest in northern Minnesota. In this picture two children punt a boat through marshland. Their skin is brown, a fact that I am sure Ms. So did on purpose. Too often are white kids the “default” race when books that skate around the world make mention of the U.S. It’s as if the publishers forget that people of races aside from white live in America as well as the rest of the world. As such So elevates the standards for your average round-the-world book.
Every book you pick up and read has to pass through your own personal filters and prejudices before it makes a home for itself in your brain. Let us then discuss what it means to be an English-only speaking American woman looking at this book for the first time. I pick up this book and I instantly assume that the cover is sporting an image of Niagara Falls. On the back of the jacket I come to a similar conclusion that we’re viewing Old Faithful. Thus does the American see the world only in terms of those natural wonders that happen to exist within her own nation’s borders. Turns out, that waterfall on the front is Victoria Falls, found between the countries of Zambia and Zimbabwe. And that geyser? Strokkur in Iceland. With this in mind you can understand why I was grateful for the little key in the back of the book that clearly identifies and labels (in both English and Spanish) where each location in the images can be found. It was interesting too to see each credit saying that the image was “inspired by” (“inspirada por”) its real world equivalent. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about accuracy in works of illustration in picture books. Mostly I’ve been thinking about historical accuracy, but contemporary landscapes raise their own very interesting questions. If Meilo So came up with the “inspired by” label then it may well be that it was thought up to protect her against critics who might look to her view of the Qutang Gorge, say, and declare her positioning of this or that mountain peak a gross flight of fancy. Since she is illustrating both distinct landmarks (the Grand Canyon, Venice’s Grand Canal, the coast of Cabo San Lucas, etc.) alongside places that typify their regions (a fishing boat at sea in Goa, India, a well in a rural village in Kenya, etc.) it is wise to simply give the “inspired by” designation to all images rather than a few here and there so as to avoid confusion.
After soaking in the art page by page I wondered then how much control Ms. Mora had over these images. Did she designate a country and location for each stanza of her poem? The book sports an Author’s Note (but no Artist’s Note, alas) that mentions the places Ms. Mora has traveled too. Look at the list of locations and they do, indeed, appear in the book (China, Holland, Peru, Finland, etc.). So I make the assumption that she told Ms. So what country to draw, though I don’t know for sure.
As a mother of two small children, both under the age of 4, my interest in early brain development has been piqued. And like any mother I berate myself soundly when I feel like my own personal prejudices are being inflicted on my kids. I don’t go gaga for poetry but that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t read it to the kiddos as much as possible. Fortunately, books like Water Rolls, Water Rises make the job easy. Easy on the eyes and the ears, this is one clever little book that can slip onto any home library shelf without a second thought. Sublime.
On shelves now.
Source: F&G sent from publisher for review.
Like This? Then Try:
- Water Can Be… by Laura Purdie Salas, illustrated by Violeta Dabija
There’s this fellow I know. Tim Federle is his name. You might know him from his rather extraordinary and charming middle grade books BETTER NATE THAN EVER and FIVE, SIX, SEVEN, NATE. Both books focus on a theater kid finding his way on Broadway. They are charming, effervescent, and irresistible, much like their author.
In my book WILD THINGS: ACTS OF MISCHIEF IN CHILDREN’S LITERATURE, my co-writers and I tackled the notion of children’s authors doing adult things, living adult lives and the reaction from the public on the matter. Very much what Tim’s doing here. Then there’s the fact that years ago SLJ fielded complaints when they published a picture of me with some children’s literary bloggers in a bar. Needless to say, when Tim suggested I do a post with him that talked a bit about his adult, but still children’s literature related, book HICKORY DAIQUIRI DOCK, I felt this was definitely a topic I wanted to visit.
Betsy: So you traipse between the world of writing children’s books and the world of drinks with children’s book names. Do you find them intersecting in weird ways at all?
Tim: Not so much weird ways as unexpected ones. I was planning my tour for Five, Six, Seven, Nate! when the owner of Inkwood Books in Tampa suggested we do school visits in the daytime and a cocktail event for the parents at night. It was a big hit.
Betsy: Historically, whenever a children’s book author tries to do anything adult they get chastised mightily. There’s this understanding that writers for kids can’t have adult lives. With that in mind, have you gotten any pushback against TEQUILA MOCKINGBIRD?
Tim: Knock on wood — so far, I’ve actually had lots of librarians quietly slink up to me in signing lines for my middle grade books and slide over their personal copy of TEQUILA MOCKINGBIRD. I’m always happy to advise them to “read responsibly.” HICKORY DAIQUIRI DOCK is a board book featuring cocktails inspired by classic nursery rhymes, so I’m hoping the crossover audience expands even more. Provided they are at least 21, obvi.
Betsy: Is there a BETTER NATE THAN EVER inspired drink in there? If not, could there be?
Tim: Ha! Maybe chocolate milk spiked with Red Bull, for a teenage boy needing focus and energy to perform on Broadway. (Note: do not try this at home. Or ever.)
Betsy: Where did you get the names of the drinks? Are they all from you or do you have to credit some folks with a couple of them?
Tim: Most of the HICKORY DAIQUIRI DOCK drink recipe titles — from “Ring Around the Rosé” to “Bloody Mary, Quite Contrary” — came from a combo of my own little head and also crowd-sourcing on Twitter. I asked my friends and followers for suggestions and got a happy deluge. And I had a nifty cocktail consultant help make sure the drinks weren’t just funny but also delish.
Betsy: Do you have a favorite?
Tim: The book is beautifully illustrated (by the fabulous Eda Kaban) and my favorite is probably “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Bar,” which features a new dad pressing his face against the glass of his formerly favorite bar.
Betsy: And will there be a follow-up?
Tim: I’m cooking up a TEQUILA MOCKINGBIRD sequel, whereas HICKORY is more of a companion book. I’m in my mid-thirties, and so many people in my life are having babies — I wanted to create something cheeky and sweet to mark the occasion for my friends; I’m hoping HICKORY DAIQUIRI DOCK will be the premiere baby shower gift for generations to come Or a Holiday gift — it’s out this December.
Betsy: Thank you, Tim!
By the way, I’d be amiss in not mentioning that Tim’s first cocktail book got a mention on an obscure little television program by the name of Jeopardy. As such . . .
Thanks for stopping by, Tim!
Tim Federle is the author of TEQUILA MOCKINGBIRD: COCKTAILS WITH A LITERARY TWIST, which was named the 2013 Goodreads Cookbook of the Year and called “a joy” by the London Evening Standard. Tim’s forthcoming cocktail book, HICKORY DAIQUIRI DOCK: COCKTAILS WITH A NURSERY RHYME TWIST, has been declared “more fun at a baby shower than a Diaper Genie” by the Tampa Bay Times. Though Tim is not a parent himself (that he knows of), he is a very cool uncle. Say hi at TimFederle.com and connect on Twitter and Instagram @TimFederle.
By: Betsy Bird
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By Skila Brown
On shelves now
Survivor’s guilt. Not the most common theme in children’s books these days. Not unheard of certainly, but it definitely doesn’t crop up as often as, say, stories about cupcakes or plucky orphans that have to defeat evil wizards. Serious works of fiction do well when award season comes along, but that’s only because those few that garner recognition are incredibly difficult to write. I’ll confess to you that when I first encountered Caminar by Skila Brown I heard it was about a kid surviving Guatemala’s Civil War and I instantly assumed it would be boring. Seems pretty silly to say that I thought a book chock-full o’ genocide would be a snorefest, but I’ve been burned before. True, I knew that Caminar was a verse novel and that gave me hope, but would it be enough? Fortunately, when the time came to pick it up it sucked me in from the very first page. Gripping and good, horrifying and beautifully wrought, if you’re gonna read just one children’s book on a real world reign of terror, why not go with this one?
He isn’t big. He isn’t tall. He has the round face of an owl and he tends to do whatever it is his mother requires of him with very little objection. Really, is it any wonder that Carlos is entranced by the freedom of the soldiers that enter his small village? The year is 1981 and in Chopan, Guatemala things are tense. One minute you have strange soldiers coming through the village on the hunt for rebels. The next minute the rebels are coming through as well, looking for food and aid. And when Carlos’s mother tells him that in the event of an emergency he is to run away and not wait for her, it’s not what he wants to hear. Needless to say, there comes a day when running is the only option but Carlos finds it difficult to carry on. He can survive in the wild, sleeping in trees and eating roots and plants, but how does he deal with the notion that only cowardice kept him from returning to Chopan? How does he handle his guilt? And is there some act that he can do to find peace of mind once more?
This isn’t the first book containing mass killings I’ve ever encountered for kids. Heck, it’s not even the only one I’ve seen this year (hat tip to The Red Pencil by Andrea Davis Pinkney). As such, this brings up a big question that the authors of such books must wrestle with each and every time such a book is conceived. Mainly, how do you make horrific violence palatable to young readers? A good follow-up question would have to be, why should you make it palatable in the first place? What is the value in teaching about the worst that humanity is capable of? There are folks that would mention that there is great value in this. Some books teach kids that the world is capable of being capricious and cruel with no particular reason whatsoever. Indeed Brown touches on this when Carlos prays to God asking for the answers that even adults seek. When handled well, books about mass killings of any kind, be it the Holocaust or the horrors of Burma, can instruct as well as offer hope. When handled poorly they become salacious, or moments that just use these horrors as an inappropriately tense backdrop to the action.
Here’s what you see when you read the first page of this book. The title is “Where I’m From”. It reads, “Our mountain stood tall, / like the finger that points. / Our corn plants grew in fields, / thick and wide as a thumb. / Our village sat in the folded-between, / in that spot where you pinch something sacred, / to keep it still. / Our mountain stood guard at our backs. / We slept at night in its bed.” I read this and I started rereading and rereading the sentence about how one will “pinch something sacred”. I couldn’t get it out of my head and though I wasn’t able to make perfect sense out of it, it rang true. I’m pleased that it was still in my head around page 119 because at that time I read something significant. Carlos is playing marbles with another kid and we read, “I watched Paco pinch / his fingers around the shooter, pinch / his eyes up every time . . .” Suddenly the start of the book makes a kind of sense that it didn’t before. That’s the joy of Brown’s writing here. She’s constantly including little verbal callbacks that reward the sharp-eyed readers while still remaining great poetry.
If I’m going to be perfectly honest with you, the destruction of Carlos’s village reminded me of nothing so much as the genocide that takes place in Frances Hardinge’s The Lost Conspiracy. That’s a good thing, by the way. It puts you in the scene without getting too graphic. The little bits and pieces you hear are enough. Is there anything more unnerving than someone laughing in the midst of atrocities? In terms of the content, I watched what Brown was doing here with great interest. To write this book she had to walk a tricky path. Reveal too much horror and the book is inappropriate for its intended age bracket. Reveal too little and you’re accused of sugarcoating history. In her particular case the horrors are pinpointed on a single thing all children can relate to: the fear of losing your mother. The repeated beat in this book is Carlos’s mother telling him that he will find her. Note that she never says that she will find him, which would normally be the natural way to put this. Indeed, as it stands the statement wraps up rather beautifully at the end, everything coming full circle.
Brown’s other method of handling this topic was to make the book free verse. Now I haven’t heard too many objections to the book but when I have it involves the particular use of the free verse found here. For example, one adult reader of my acquaintance pretty much dislikes any and all free verse that consists simply of the arbitrary chopping up of sentences. As such, she was incensed by page 28 which is entitled “What Mama Said” and reads simply, “They will / be back.” Now one could argue that by highlighting just that little sentence Brown is foreshadowing the heck out of this book. Personally, I found moments like this to be pitch perfect. I dislike free verse novels that read like arbitrary chopped up sentences too, but that isn’t Caminar. In this book Brown makes an effort to render each poem just that. A poem. Some poems are stronger than others, but they all hang together beautifully.
Debates rage as to how much reality kids should be taught. How young is young enough to know about the Holocaust? What about other famous atrocities? Should you give your child the essentials before they learn possibly misleading information from the wider world? What is a teacher’s responsibility? What is a parent’s? I cannot tell you that there won’t be objections to this book by concerned parental units. Many feel that there are certain dark themes out there that are entirely inappropriate as subject matter in children’s books. But then there are the kids that seek these books out. And honestly, the reason Caminar is a book to seek out isn’t even the subject matter itself per se but rather the great overarching themes that tie the whole thing together. Responsibility. Maturity. Losing your mother. Survival (but at what cost?). A beautifully wrought, delicately written novel that makes the unthinkable palatable to the young.
On shelves now.
Source: Final copy sent from publisher for review.
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By: Betsy Bird
Blog: A Fuse #8 Production
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, Andrea Davis Pinkney
, Barbara Kerley
, Candace Fleming
, Cece Bell
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, Duncan Tonatiuh
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, tom angleberger
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You know, it’s been a while since I showed you some of the fan-freakin’-tastic Wild Things videos we’ve been playing on the old Wild Things: Acts of Mischief in Children’s Literature website. I know some of you haven’t gone over to it lately so I’ll make it easy for you. Here’s a quickie synopsis of everyone since the last time I wrote them up on this blog. In order:
Dan Santat on Beekle:
Tom Angleberger on The Qwikpick Papers:
Andrea Davis Pinkney on The Red Pencil:
CeCe Bell on El Deafo:
Duncan Tonatiuh on Separate Is Never Equal:
Barbara Kerley on A Home for Mr. Emerson:
Kate Milford on Greenglass House:
Nikki Loftin on Nightingale’s Nest:
Sergio Ruzzier on A Letter for Leo:
And finally, Candace Fleming on The Family Romanov:
There are a couple more coming and then we’ll be kaputski! Woohoo!
The New Victory Theater presents
The Snail and the Whale
Beloved Bedtime Story Hits Stage for Limited Engagement
October 18 – 19, 2014
New York, NY (September 9, 2014) – A tiny snail’s big adventure blazes a trail to the Big Apple when London’s Tall Stories (The Gruffalo, New Vic 2004; Snow White New Vic 2003) collaborates with Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler on the stage adaptation of the award-winning story The Snail and the Whale (Blue Peter Book Award, 2005). Created for ages four to seven, The Snail and the Whale runs at The New Victory Theater, New York’s premier performing arts venue for kids and families, for a limited engagement from October 18-19, 2014.
Seen through the eyes of an intrepid young girl and her seafaring father, The Snail and the Whale captures the amazing journey of a small snail who travels the world by hitching a ride on the tail of a humpback whale. Together they spy penguins on icebergs, find fiery volcanoes and dive down to deep water caves, discovering that even little friends can be big heroes. Combining storytelling, live music and sound effects from a viola player on stage, the production incorporates every line from the original book, a specialty of Tall Stories’ adaptations.
“This story uses the characteristics and personalities of the animals in the book to shape the characters on stage,” says Toby Mitchell, director of The Snail and the Whale. “The little girl is adventurous and risk-taking like the snail, and the father is solid and brave, just like the whale,” he continues.
This stage adaptation of The Snail and the Whale was inspired by the work of UK’s Storybook Soldiers, an organization that helps British military personnel abroad record bedtime stories for their children back home. It was discovered that one of the soldiers’ favorite books to record was The Snail and the Whale, and Tall Stories saw a parallel between the story’s protagonist and a child wanting to join a parent aboard a navy vessel. To devise the show, they worked with Storybook Soldiers’ founders Kirsty Alderson and Rosemary Meeke and listened to various soldiers’ recordings of this epic tale.
The Snail and the Whale stars Patrick Bridgman as the Whale/Dad, Lucy Grace as the Snail/Daughter and Rosalind Steele as the Viola Player/Narrator. The show’s creative team includes Toby Mitchell, director; Olivia Jacobs, creative producer; Isla Shaw, set designer; James Whiteside, lighting designer; Richard Heacock, composer; and Pete Foster, company stage manager.
Watch a trailer of Tall Stories’ The Snail and the Whale on the New Victory website.
The Snail and the Whale is supported, in part, by a Presenter’s Grant from The Jim Henson Foundation.
Performance Schedule: 4 performances
Saturday 10/18 11am and 3pm
Sunday 10/19 11am and 3pm
The Snail and the Whale has a running time of 55 minutes and is recommended for everyone ages 4 through 7.
General Ticket Information
Tickets for The Snail and the Whale at The New Victory Theater (209 West 42nd Street) are $17 for Members and $25 for full price tickets. Theatergoers who buy tickets to three or more New Victoryshows qualify for free Membership, with benefits including up to 35-percent savings on tickets all season long, invitations to special events and unlimited free ticket exchanges. Purchase tickets online or by phone at 646-223-3010. Beginning September 2, the New Victory box office (209 West 42nd Street) is open Sunday and Monday from 11am-5pm and Tuesday through Saturday from 12pm-7pm. For more information, visit the New Victory website.
About Tall Stories
Tall Stories is a not-for-profit theater company that creates entertaining and imaginative performances for audiences of all ages. The company is a registered charity which tours the UK and the world. Since 1997, when Olivia Jacobs and Toby Mitchell founded the company, Tall Stories has toured as far afield as Australia, Bermuda, Canada, Dubai, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Poland, Singapore and the U.S. The Gruffalo has been released on DVD by the Really Useful Group and a picture book has been published based on the Tall Stories show The Snow Dragon.
About The New Victory Theater
The New Victory Theater introduces extraordinary performing artists from around the world to extraordinary audiences in New York City, bringing kids to the arts and arts to kids. Created in 1995 for young New Yorkers, their families and schoolmates, The New Victory Theater presents a diverse season of international companies at low ticket prices year after year. Through the theater’s award-winning education programs, The New Victory continues to provide access to schools and communities of New York City who seek to experience and engage with the work on our stages, often for the very first time. The Off-Broadway theater’s contributions to the cultural landscape of the city were celebrated by the prestigious New York critics’ organization, The Drama Desk, which presented The New Victory Theater with a 2012 Special Award for “providing enchanting, sophisticated children’s theater that appeals to the child in all of us, and for nurturing a love of theater in young people.”
By: Betsy Bird
Blog: A Fuse #8 Production
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, book jewelry
, conspiracy theories
, Crockett Johnson
, E.B. White
, food blogs
, funny books
, Jarrett Krosoczka
, Jon Scieszka
, Louise Rennison
, Monica Edinger
, Philip Nel
, Ruth Krauss
, Symphony Space
, The Book Smugglers
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With Comic Con NYC later this week, publisher previews on the rise, and various work-related meetings, talks, and speeches I’m just the teeniest tiniest bit busy this week. But no matter! It is you, dear readers, that give me what for and how to. For you I would forgo all the sleep in the world. And as luck would have it, my 5-month-old baby is currently taking me up on that offer.
- Sometimes when I am feeling pensive I attempt to figure out which authors and illustrators currently alive today will, in the distant future, be so doggone famous for their works that people make pilgrimages to the homes they once lived in. I suspect that the entire Amherst/Northampton area will become just one great big tour site with people snapping shots of the homes of Norton Juster, Mo Willems, Jane Yolen, and so on and such. Thoughts of this sort come to mind when reading posts like Phil Nel’s recent piece A Very Special House in which he visits the former home of Ruth Krauss and Crockett Johnson. It is entirely enjoyable, particularly the part where the current owners reenact a photo taken on the porch with Ruth and Crockett 65 years later.
- So they announced the Kirkus Prize Finalists last week. Those would be the folks in the running for a whopping $50,000 in prize money. The books in the young reader category are split between two picture books, two middle grade titles, and two YA. You can see all the books that were up for contention here and the final books that made the cut here. Heck, you can even vote on the book you’d like to see win and potentially win an iPad for yourself. I don’t think they needed the iPad as a lure, though. I suspect many folks will be voting left and right just the for the fun of it. Thanks to Monica Edinger for the links.
- In other news, we have word of a blog made good. Which is to say, a blog that figured out how to make a living off of its good name. When people ask for YA blog recommendations I am not always the best person to ask. I don’t monitor them the way I monitor children’s book blogs. Pretty much, I just rely on folks like bookshelves of doom and The Book Smugglers to tell me what’s up. Now The Book Smugglers are becoming publishers in their own right! eBook publishers no less. Nice work if you can get it.
- Louise Rennison wrote a rather amusing little piece about how her British slang doesn’t translate all that well across the pond, as it were. Fair enough, but don’t go be telling me we Yanks don’t know humor. That’s why I was pleased to see that at the end of the article it says, “Louise Rennison will be discussing humour on both sides of the pond, and other interesting things, with her fellow countryman Jim Smith (author of Barry Loser and winner of the Roald Dahl Funny prize 2013) and American author Jon Scieszka (author of many hilarious books including Stinky Cheeseman and most lately Frank Einstein) – in a panel event chaired by Guardian children’s books editor Emily Drabble, run with IBBY at Waterstones Piccadilly, London, on 7 October 2014.” Why that’s today! Give ‘em hell, Jon! Show ‘em we know our funny from our droll. Then find out why their Roald Dahl Funny Prize is taking a hiatus. It’s not like they lack for humor themselves, after all.
*sigh* That Jarrett Krosoczka. He gets to have all the fun. One minute he’s hosting the Symphony Space Roald Dahl celebration and the next he’s hosting the upcoming Celebration of E.B. White. I mean, just look at that line-up. Jane Curtin. David Hyde Pierce. Liev Schreiber (didn’t see that one coming). Oh, I will be there, don’t you doubt it. You should come as well. We’ll have a good time, even if we’re not hosting it ourselves.
- This may be my favorite conspiracy piece of 2014 (which is actually saying something). Travis Jonker lays out 6 Theories on the End of Sam and Dave Dig a Hole by Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen. Needless to say, I’m firmly in the “dog as Jesus” camp.
- And speaking of conspiracy theories, were you aware of the multiple theories that abound and consist of folks trying to locate the precise geographical coordinates of Sesame Street? There’s a big Sesame Street exhibit at our Library of the Performing Arts right now (by hook or by crook I am visiting it this Sunday) and that proved the impetus for this piece. Lots of fun.
On Saturday November 8, 2014, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African Art (NMAA) in Washington, DC will host the 22nd annual Children’s Africana Book Awards (CABA). CABA was created by Africa Access and the Outreach Council of the African Studies Association* to honor authors and illustrators who have produced exceptional books on Africa for young people.
And who’s that I see on the list of nominees? None other than Monica Edinger for Africa Is My Home! Two Candlewick books are listed, actually. Well played there, oh ye my fellow publisher.
I admit it. I’ve a weakness for paper jewelry. Today’s example is no exception:
Wood pulp. A marvelous invention. Thanks to Jessica Pigza for the image.
Have a seat, children. Let me tell you a little tale.
The year was 2000. I was a recent college graduate making her way in the world, fighting the good fight against an inevitable career in librarianship (a fight that I happily lost in the end). While tooling around Portland, Oregon I came across the wild televised stylings of one Steve Irwin and it was love at first sight. The fellow was a nutcase in the best sense of the term. Whether he was fleeing hippos or climbing trees to escape Komodo dragons I was very attached to his boyish looks and seemingly genuine enthusiasm. With my friends we would buy little documentary videos of his personal life. When he died it wasn’t a surprise (see: previous mentions of his escapades) but it was shockingly sad. This was a fellow with so much life and vitality to him. Sure, sometimes he could be a bit much but he was just so doggone endearing. And then poof! Gone.
Fast forward. The year is 2014 and Grosset & Dunlap have hit the 100th book in their Who Is? / Who Was? / Quien Fue? series. I’m a fan of those books. They’re quick and catchy and act as good gateway nonfiction for longer bios. Well with the 100th book looming, Grosset & Dunlap held this book contest, which ran from March 1st through June 1st, 2014, and allowed readers to cast their vote for the personality they wanted to see featured in the 100th biography in the series. Say they, “With over 67,000 votes cast in total, Australian wildlife expert Steve Irwin was the winner with over 14,000 votes. Runners up included religious icon Mother Teresa, the country music group Florida Georgia Line, King of Pop Michael Jackson, and Kenyan political and environmental activist Wangari Maathai. Who Was Steve Irwin? will be released in Summer 2015.”
They asked if I wanted to take part in the cover reveal of the latest and you know what? I still love old Steve. I would have devoured his videos as a kid. He had pep and verve, a sense of humor and an honest-to-goodness love of the natural world that trumped everything else. So here you go, Steve my man. This one’s for you. You deserve it:
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Public Relations Consultant to the Grolier Club
One Hundred Books Famous in Children’s Literature
A Holiday Presentation at the Grolier Club
Powerful narrative, unforgettable characters, illustrations that stir the imagination, and insights that engage the mind and heart—literature for children is forged from the same enduring elements as literature for adults. Children’s books with these qualities often shine for generations, with some achieving landmark fame. A few such books ultimately go on to enter the canon of classics of children’s literature.
The Grolier Club’s milestone public exhibition, One Hundred Books Famous in Children’s Literature, showcases one hundred books of this caliber, printed from 1600 to 2000. On view from December 10, 2014 through February 7, 2015, the show includes such beloved books as Robinson Crusoe, Grimm’s Fairy Tales, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Tom Sawyer, Treasure Island, Peter Rabbit, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, Peter Pan, Winnie-the-Pooh, Charlotte’s Web, The Cat in the Hat, Where the Wild Things Are, and Harry Potter. These classics and others—many famous today, some only in their time—will bring smiles of enjoyment to adults and children alike. The curator and children’s book authority Chris Loker has secured loans from major institutions, among them the American Antiquarian Society; Beineike Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Yale University; Cotsen Children’s Library at Princeton University; Houghton Library, Harvard University; The Morgan Library & Museum; and distinguished private collections.
The books are organized according to key themes in children’s literature: Fairy Tales & Fables, Nursery Rhymes, Faith, Learning, Poetry, Girls & Boys, Animals, Fantasy, Adventure, Novelties, and Toys. This arrangement allows viewers to see genres of literature for children from early forms of instructional and devotional primers to exuberant expressions of rhymes, stories, novels and picture books. First or early editions are displayed wherever possible, some of them extremely rare.
The oldest book in the exhibition, Orbis Pictus, published in Nuremberg in 1658, is a schoolbook in simple encyclopedic form for young students of Latin (the text is in both Latin and German.) Used for two centuries throughout Europe, it is an early effort at integrated text and pictures, and thus shows a pivotal step in the development of the illustrated book for children. The New-England Primer is one of only two extant copies printed in 1727 (the earliest known surviving edition.) In print for over 200 years, this was the first reader for many young Americans in the 18th and 19th centuries, and thus one of the most frequently read books in the United States.
Tommy Thumb’s Pretty Song Book (Vol. 2), published in London in 1744, is an exceptionally important book, although not well known today. It is the first known collection of English nursery rhymes, gathering together the earliest recorded versions of ditties crooned to babies such as “Sing a Song of Sixpence,” “Hickory, Dickory, Dock” (here titled “The Mouse ran up ye clock”), “Mary Mary Quite Contrary,” “Baa Baa Black Sheep,” and “Cock Robin,” among others.
Songs of Innocence, written, illustrated and published by William Blake in London in 1789, contains his short lyric poems for children. It is the third in Blake’s series of illuminated books—the earliest examples of artist’s books. Created by this 18th century British visionary, poet, author, painter, illustrator, printer and engraver, this copy—one of fewer than forty copies made–has never been out of print, and is an artistic masterpiece.
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, written by Lewis Carroll [pseudonym for Charles Lutwidge Dodgson], illustrated by John Tenniel and published in London in 1865, is one from the first edition that the author withdrew and suppressed. However, 50 copies from that edition had already been distributed, and today only a few more than 20 of those are known to reside in private or institutional collections. This particular copy is both unique and remarkable as Lewis Carroll edited it by hand in his trademark purple ink in preparation for his publication of The Nursery “Alice.” An unprecedented work of fantasy, enriched with wordplay, nonsense verse and a deep vein of mathematical and logical puzzling, this book invites interpretations on multiple levels, and since publication has never ceased to fascinate children and adults around the world.
The first half of the 20th century saw the explosion of ground-breaking picture books that presented color-saturated illustrations entwined with enticing worlds: Velveteen Rabbit, Millions of Cats, The Story of Babar, Story of Ferdinand, Madeline, Curious George, Make Way for Ducklings, Le Petit Prince, Eloise, and perhaps the most colorful of all, Goodnight Moon. In the second half of the 20th century there are equally glorious picture books that celebrate color, texture and message: The Snowy Day, Where the Wild Things Are and The Very Hungry Caterpillar. Where the Wild Things Are, written and illustrated by Maurice Sendak, was published in New York in 1963. A landmark artistic accomplishment, this picture book is beloved throughout the world by children for its vivid illustration and compelling story of Max, the boy who sails to an island inhabited by Wild Things. Sendak’s integration of pictures and text widened the path for the modern author / illustrator. His obituary in the New York Times described him as “widely considered [to be] the most important children’s book artist of the 20th century.”
Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, by J. K. Rowling, published in London in 1997, is the most contemporary book in the exhibition. The first of J. K. Rowling’s seven fantasy novels, it is a tale full of magical realism about three young friends at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. This book is from the initial print run of just 300 copies, all of which went first to public libraries. In terms of fame, the Harry Potter books unleashed an unprecedented publishing phenomenon, and today have been printed in over 70 languages, making devoted readers out of millions of children and adults alike.
Displayed along with these one hundred books are over 50 historic artifacts that demonstrate the interrelationships between these famous books and the culture of their era, including original book art and illustration, autograph letters, manuscript drafts, antique toys, early dolls and games, antique horn books, ivory alphabet discs and other children’s objects, all of great interest in their own right.
One Hundred Books Famous in Children’s Literature is the sixth in the “Grolier Hundreds” series. The Grolier Club has previously organized only five such exhibitions in its 130-year history, focusing previously on English literature (1903), American literature (1946), science (1958), medicine (1994) and fine printed books (1999). These admired exhibitions have set the standard for book collecting and reading enjoyment in their fields, and the organizers expect no less from this new addition to the Grolier Hundred canon.
Maurice Sendak, famed author of Where The Wild Things Are, believed, “You cannot write for children. They’re much too complicated. You can only write books that are of interest to them.” This concept—that on its way to becoming famous a book needs first and foremost to be of interest to children—underlies the choice of books represented in this exhibition. The Grolier Club believes that the books presented in this historic show will long remain a source of interest, and of joy and wonder, to children of all ages.
Accompanying the exhibition is a 320-page, hardbound catalogue with color photographs of all one hundred famous children’s books plus four scholarly essays, available for purchase at The Grolier Club and through Oak Knoll Books (http//www.oakknoll.com), exclusive distributors of Grolier Club publications.
A Colloquium “Journeys Through Bookland: Explorations in Children’s Literature” takes place Tuesday, January 20, 2015 from 1-5 pm, with a cocktail reception to follow. This colloquium brings together six children’s literary experts who will lead participants through highlights in the history, present, and future of the book for children.
The exhibition and catalogue have been made possible in part by the generous support of Bring Me A Book Foundation, Mountain View, CA; Gladys Kreible Delmas Foundation, NY; Furthermore Grants in Publishing, A Program of the J. M. Kaplan Fund, NY; and Pine Tree Foundation of New York.
CURATOR’S PUBLIC TOURS OF THE EXHIBITION:
Wednesday, December 10, 2014, 1-2 pm
Thursday, December 11, 2014, 1-2 pm
Tuesday, February 3, 2015, 1-2 pm
Wednesday, February 4, 1-2 pm
Curator Chris Loker is available for interviews and tours of the exhibition.
VISITING THE GROLIER CLUB:
The Grolier Club, founded in 1884, is America’s oldest bibliophile society, with a mission to foster appreciation for the art, history and production of the book and graphic arts.
47 East 60th Street
New York, NY 10022
Hours: Monday – Saturday, 10 am to 5 pm
Admission: Exhibitions are open to the public free of charge
For further information please contact:
Jennifer Sheehan, Grolier Club Exhibitions Manager
Susan Flamm, PR Consultant to The Grolier Club