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20676. From the Editor – February 2015

Roger_EdBriant_191x300The ALA has spoken, and this year’s roster of awards for children’s and young adult books is impressively diverse and Diverse. The forthcoming issue of The Horn Book Herald includes all the lowdown about the Newbery, Caldecott and other book awards announced earlier this month in Chicago — and 2015 Newbery medalist Kwame Alexander gets the Horn Book’s five-question treatment. Look for the Herald in your inbox next week.

roger_signature

Roger Sutton,
Editor in Chief

From the February 2015 issue of Notes from the Horn Book.

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20677. Casterman BD: L’effet Durian Wins Angouleme Award




L’effet Durian by Saulne was awarded the prize of « the best graphic novel that makes a difference » at Angoulême festival. This title portrays the life of a young blind woman full of energy in spite of her handicap.

My apologies when it comes to my translation!

L’Effet Durian
Saulne
Black & white/grey tone
Pages : 108
Prix : 22,00 €
 Dimensions : 19.1x27.9x2.4 cm
ISBN : 2203060913
EAN : 9782203060913
 http://bd.casterman.com/albums_detail.cfm?id=45637


De la naissance à l’âge adulte, le surprenant portrait d’une aveugle extraordinairement attachante, qui compense son handicap par une énergie hors du commun.

Deux jumelles naissent à Hong Kong de père inconnu. L’une d’entre elles, Jade, est venue au monde presque aveugle, avec des yeux entièrement blancs qui ne lui permettent qu’une vision extrêmement restreinte. Mais au fil du temps, pour compenser ce lourd handicap, l’enfant va développer un rapport au monde ludique, excentrique et provocateur, avec la complicité de sa soeur Sophie et de Philippe, un ami français de la famille qui va progressivement jouer auprès des jumelles un rôle de mentor, en lieu et place du père absent. Il initie notamment Jade au maniement de l’appareil photo numérique qui, par l’entremise de son viseur vidéo, lui offre un substitut de vision humaine.

On suit dès lors le surprenant parcours de cette personnalité atypique et attachante. D’abord enfant non conformiste et parfois presque violente, au point de s’infliger des blessures volontaires qui sont autant de manières d’inscrire dans sa chair la configuration de son environnement, Jade deviendra une adolescente sensible puis une adulte qui fascine par sa personnalité complexe, étonnant mélange d’énergie, de volonté et d’étrangeté. Le portrait intense d’une guerrière qui n’a jamais lâché prise ni jamais renoncé à être elle-même, quel qu’en soit le prix.

 From birth to adulthood, this is the surprising portrait of a blind extraordinarily engaging, young woman who compensates for her disability by uncommon energy.

Twins born in Hong Kong of an unknown father. One of them, Jade, was born almost blind, with all-white eyes that allow her only extremely limited vision. But over time, to compensate for severe disability, the child will develop a rapport to the playful world, eccentric and provocative, with the help of her sister Sophie and Philippe, a French family friend who will gradually act as mentors, in place of the absent father. It initiates Jade's use, particularly with the use of digital camera through its video viewfinder,  a substitute for human vision.

It follows the surprising journey of this unusual and endearing personality. From child unethical and sometimes almost violent, to the point of inflicting bodily self harm , Jade, as an adult , develops a complex personality combining fascination with an amazing mix of energy and will. 

This is the intense portrait of a warrior who never let go or never renounced being herself, whatever the price.






















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20678. YALSA Board Post-Midwinter Update

YALSA’s Board of Directors met last weekend at the ALA Midwinter Meeting. Between the blizzard and the member Happy Hour and the number of other YALSA programs, I'm pleased with the time and attention the Board spent on big issues that drive and guide YALSA and our members.

Key activities included participating in training about outcomes-based planning and assessment and strategic planning. The board also took action in some key areas, including:

The board also initiated discussion on some critical topics that may or may not lead to action down the road, depending on further information-gathering and discussions:

The full minutes of the meeting will be posted in the Governance Section of the web site later this month.

One big thing that I would like members to know about the Board’s work at Midwinter is that the group came to the consensus to shift strategic planning in a different direction. The original vision for the Board’s time at Midwinter was to create a draft plan to share out with members; however, once the discussions started it became obvious that the Board first needs to step back and have a bigger picture discussion about YALSA—what its fundamental purpose and mission is and whether that needs to evolve based on the rapid changes in libraries.

The Board voted unanimously that the focus of their work and strategic planning needs to be grounded in the findings of “The Future of Library Services for and with Teens: a Call to Action” report. This document will drive all of the work that YALSA will do over the next few years and will be the foundation on which the new strategic plan is built. If you haven’t read the report yet, I encourage you to do so. Think about what you need in order to implement the recommendations in the report and come share your ideas and thoughts at a virtual town hall session on Feb. 24th from 3:00 – 4:00pm, eastern (no advance registration is required). The input of members is a vitally important part of the strategic planning process. Member feedback helps drive the Board’s decision making, so please make an effort to attend. There will be other opportunities besides the Feb. town hall, and we’ll keep you informed about those via the weekly e-news.

Lastly, I’d also like to take a moment to thank all of the members who participated in the Midwinter Meeting, whether it was volunteering in the booth, conducting committee work, participating in sessions or more.

I appreciate all the time and talent you give to YALSA!

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20679. Books mentioned in the February 2015 issue of Notes from the Horn Book

Five questions for Lucy Cousins
Count with Maisy, Cheep, Cheep, Cheep! by Lucy Cousins, Candlewick, 2–5 years.
I’m the Best by Lucy Cousins, Candlewick, 2–5 years.

ABC, easy as 123

Mix It Up! by Herve Tullét, Chronicle, 2–5 years.
Press Here by Herve Tullét, Handprint/Chronicle, 2–5 years.
The Happy Little Yellow Box: A Pop-Up Book of Opposites by David A. Carter, Little Simon, 2–5 years.
B Is for Box: The Happy Little Yellow Box by David A. Carter, Little Simon, 2–5 years.
Once Upon an Alphabet: Stories for Each Letter by Oliver Jeffers, Philomel, 5–8 years.
Before After by Anne-Margot Ramstein and Matthais Aregui, Candlewick, 5–8 years.

Be-bop-a-skoodley!
Little Melba and Her Big Trombone by Katheryne Russell-Brown, illus. by Frank Morrison, Lee & Low, 5–8 years.
Leontyne Price: Voice of a Century by Carole Boston Weatherford, illus. by Raúl Colón, Knopf, 5–8 years.
Mahalia Jackson: Walking with Kings and Queens by Nina Nolan, illus. by John Holyfield, Amistad/HarperCollins, 5–8 years.
Bird & Diz by Gary Golio, illus. by Ed Young, Candlewick, 5–8 years.

(Not-so) long ago or far away
Bo at Iditarod Creek by Kirkpatrick Hill, illus. by LeUyen Pham, Holt, 8–12 years.
Bo at Ballard Creek by Kirkpatrick Hill, illus. by LeUyen Pham, Holt, 8–12 years.
The War That Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley, Dial, 8–12 years.
Stella by Starlight by Sharon M. Draper, Atheneum, 8–12 years.
The Paper Cowboy by Kristin Levine, Putnam, 8–12 years.

Bad company
On a Clear Day by Walter Dean Myers, Crown, 14 years and up.
The Doubt Factory by Paolo Bacigalupi, Little, Brown, 14 years and up.
Denton Little’s Deathdate by Lance Rubin, Knopf, 14 years and up.
Tabula Rasa by Kristen Lippert-Martin, Egmont, 12–14 years.

These titles were featured in the February 2015 issue of Notes from the Horn Book.

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20680. “I was having a pint with editor Nick Lowe,” Ennis Returns to the Marvel Universe

06-moster-dwell.w1125.h748.2x

How many stories start like this?

I was having a pint with editor Nick Lowe, and he suggested putting the Phantom Eagle up against dinosaurs.

Thankfully at Marvel Secret Wars means that the publisher gets to play up even goofier ideas than usual.

The upcoming crossover is exploring the War part of the Secret Wars title by introducing veteran writer Garth Ennis back into Marvel comics. The legendary Punisher scribe is returning to the House of Ideas with a World War I character known as The Phantom Eagle. The story is entitled Where Monsters Dwell. Longtime collaborator of Ennis, Russ Braun is illustrating the comic. Karl Kaufmann is the Phantom Eagle, an old character who first appeared in the 1960’s. Vulture announced the news with an emphasis on dinosaurs, biplanes, and World War 1 culture. May 27 see’s a return to the legacy flavored action of Ennis and the Eagle’s adventures that started in 2008’s War is Hell: The First Flight of the Phantom Eagle. Vulture had several more delectable quotes from Ennis:

 Sometime in the early 1920s, ex–Great War fighter pilot Karl Kaufmann is bumming around the Far East, getting into various scrapes and trying to make a dishonest buck. He agrees to fly naïve English socialite Clementine Franklin-Cox to Singapore, only to end up blown off course and flung into an exotic world of dinosaurs, cannibals, and a rather unusual tribe of amazons — who have their own plans for Clemmie. She, in turn, is not quite all she seems.

Finally, the author also shared how involved this story is to Secret Wars itself:

Not really for me to say.

Ladies and gentlemen we’re in for a treat!

06-moster-dwell.nocrop.w529.h861

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20681. Bad company

Conspiracy theory or everyday life? These new YA novels — three thrillers and one dark comedy — star teen protagonists finding their places in worlds manipulated by not-so-scrupulous corporations.

myers_on a clear dayWalter Dean Myers’s posthumously published On a Clear Day takes place in 2035. The Central Eight (C-8) companies rule everything, enriching themselves while the rest of society suffers. Millions are starving, schools have closed, and everyone seems to ignore the collateral damage caused by the seductive “marvelous gadgets” the companies sell. Hope lies in small bands of resistance such as the one joined by sixteen-year-old math whiz Dahlia Grillo. Dahlia is an appealing protagonist in a troubling world not far removed from our own. (Crown, 14 years and up)

bacigalupi_doubt factoryMoses Cruz, leader of a diverse group of orphan teens, has targeted Alix Banks in order to destroy his real objective: her father, whose PR firm defends harmful products sold by Fortune 500 companies. Moses shatters Alix’s sheltered, privileged existence — stalking and kidnapping her — in hopes that she’ll help expose her father’s corruption. In his compelling thriller The Doubt Factory, Paolo Bacigalupi excels at creating two fully rounded narrators: Alix, who transforms from naive rich-girl to activist, and Moses, enigmatic, dangerous, yet somehow likable. (Little, Brown, 14 years and up)

rubin_denton little's death dateIn seventeen-year-old Denton’s world, AstroThanatoGenetics makes it possible — and the U.S. government makes it mandatory — to know the date of a person’s death at the time of their birth. On the morning of his funeral, Denton wakes up in his best friend’s sister’s bed, unsure of whether he’s cheated on his girlfriend. He then spends his deathdate (also the day of his senior prom) wondering how he’ll go — and there are plenty of possibilities. Denton Little’s Deathdate by Lance Rubin has dark humor in spades, plus fully developed relationships and a mystery that will keep pages turning. (Knopf, 14 years and up)

lippert-martin_tabula rasaIn Kristen Lippert-Martin’s Tabula Rasa, Sarah is one of several young patients in a remote state-of-the-art hospital, living in isolation while doctors surgically remove their memories. Before her final treatment can be completed — and after Sarah has taken a covertly delivered pill that may release her damaged memories — soldiers attack the hospital, killing patients and doctors alike. Sarah taps into a forgotten cache of strength, agility, and tactical instinct to evade the intruders, but to escape the hospital she must ally herself with friendly-but-cagey hacker Thomas. Mysteries stack upon mysteries in this gripping, multifaceted thriller. (Egmont, 12–16 years)

From the February 2015 issue of Notes from the Horn Book.

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20682. Kirkus calls me "easy on the eyes," and other review news.

Hey, my upcoming book Dirty Rats? by Darrin Lunde (Charlesbridge) has garnered some friendly press worth sharing.




https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/darrin-lunde-54167/dirty-rats/
Gustavson joins the rescue operation with close-ups of rats rendered in naturalistic detail but looking more inquisitive than feral, sporting large pink ears and whiskery snouts. Some of the city settings are picturesquely grimy, but there are no dead creatures or images more disturbing than, in one scene, a white lab rat and a researcher in surgical garb locking eyes. On the contrary, another illustration even features a rat leaning in from the edge of the page to peer up at viewers, and a closing portrait gallery of selected rat species is equally fetching.



http://www.publishersweekly.com/978-1-58089-566-8

Few animals are as maligned as rats, something mammal specialist Lunde knows well. “Dirty rats. Their beady eyes and naked tails make us scream. Eek! Aargh! Yikes!” he writes as a frightened woman in hair curlers tries to sweep rats off her apartment’s fire escape...Gustavson’s typically lush oil paintings do their part to help sway opinions—his sewer rats come across as intelligent, curious, and even adorable. 




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20683. Soap on a Rope - a bookwrap




Unwrapping...







Authored by:  Denise Barry
Illustrated by:  Andy Boerger
Ages:  4-8




Unwrapping the illustrations for you...

























A shiny red box arrives in the mail complete with ribbons and bows.  Abigail is so excited and hopes with all her heart that it is a toy.  She quickly unwraps the box and finds to her disappointment some plain old soap...on a rope. Who could have sent her such a thing?  Do they think that she stinks? What in the world is she supposed to do with soap? 


Her dog Foo Man Chew suspects it might be a bone or an ice cream cone and gives it a lick to find out.  Yuk!! It tastes terrible and he considers taking off and finding a new home. 

 Nolan, her brother, surprises Abby by giving her a "run" for her money according to the soap's magical ability.  His imagination bubbles up and yes...he manages to turn her unexpected and unwanted gift into a celebration of pure joy.  He runs with the soap up and down the grassy hill, and instructs Abby to add water from the hose. The suds start swelling up and make a sudsy outside bath, like a car wash with no car, and whaahoooo it's party time.  A lovely diverse swarm of kids from all around the world hear their happy sounds as they are captured in the empty bubbles and then burst letting out the invitation to come join them.  These kids, ready in their swim suits, flock to the hill to play and slide until sunset sends them home.  

This playful, happy book is written in rhyme and it inspires kids to look beyond what they see in the natural and create with their imaginations a world that can bring joy and laughter out of the ordinary things of life.  Abby learns valuable lessons of being grateful and sharing her gift with others.  I highly recommend this book.



Denise Barry is the award winning author of WHAT DOES THE TOOTH FAIRY DO WITH OUR TEETH? and SOAP ON A ROPE. Both books were the recipients of the Mom's Choice Gold Award in 2014. 

Denise is also an inspirational writer who's work has been featured on many national websites, and in the best-selling book "Watch Her Thrive: Stories of Hope, Courage and Strength."
Denise loves hanging out with her husband and kids; bike riding, traveling, eating out, cooking at home with a recipe (the only way she can cook), hiking, playing in the snow...
She is currently working on a middle grade book for ages 8-12 called SWEENEY MACK AND THE SLURP AND BURP COMPETITION, a possible series. 
For more information on Denise and her books please visit her website at www.denisebarry.net You can also find her on Facebook and Twitter.  

You're never too little to dream big, nor too big to dream!







Andrew Boerger is a well-established illustrator who has been in Tokyo for close to twenty years. His work regularly appears in All Nippon Airway's magazine, Wingspan, The Daily Yomiuri, and other publications. His work has received awards from The San Francisco Illustrator's Society, The San Francisco Art Directors Club and The International Festivals and Events Association, among others. Andy's Right Brain Drawing training, as well as his commitment to children's education, makes him the ideal lead teacher for our Right Brain Drawing for Kids program. Andy has developed many workshops for RBR that further fine tune the 5 perceptual skills learned in the 5-day Right Brain Drawing workshop, notably the Old Masters series. He finds that his work as an illustrator and an instructor continually puts him into contact with the creative efforts and output of other people; writers, designers, students, etc. He uses these opportunities to filter through his own imagination to produce something unique.







Read on and read always!

It's a wrap.

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20684. Most popular boys’ names 2025?

I read a lot of supernatural romance YA — for the Mag, for the Guide, and for fun — and I’ve been noticing how many dreamy guys in recent series are named either Jared or Cole. Bonus points for a Jared/Cole in a love triangle with the female protagonist, or if the protagonist and said Jared/Cole have a heartbreaking misunderstanding. For your consideration:

In Kami Garcia’s The Legion series, protagonist Kennedy must choose between Jared and his twin Lukas as they bust ghosts and come up against the demon Andras.

garcia_unbreakable garcia_unmarked
Kami is torn between Jared Lynburn and his half-brother Ash — both of whom she’s been connected to telepathically — in Sarah Rees Brennan‘s Lynburn Legacy trilogy. Complicating their love lives further is the boys’ seriously dysfunctional, magic-using family.

brennan_unspoken brennan_untold brennan_unmade
Nikki, protagonist of Brodi Ashton’s Everneath series, is in true-love-always with boyfriend Jack, but finds herself drawn to dangerous (read: life-sucking) immortal Cole after she thinks Jack has cheated on her.

ashton_everneath ashton_everbound ashton_evertrue
Ali, zombie-slaying protagonist of Gena Showalter’s White Rabbit Chronicles, is on-again, off-again with fellow slayer (and soulmate) Cole.

genashowalter_alice in zombieland showalter_through the zombie glass showalter_queen of zombie hearts
This one is cheating a little… Cole St. Clair, rockstar/werewolf, is one of several narrators (including his love interest, Isabel) in Maggie Stiefvater’s Wolves of Mercy Falls trilogy. Cole gets his own story in spin-off Sinner.

stiefvater_shiver stiefvater_linger stiefvater_forever stiefvater_sinner
Interestingly enough, the data from this small sample indicates that Jareds tend to be love-of-your-life types, while Coles tend to be bad boys with hearts of gold. Occasionally Cole is both the love of your life and the bad boy with a heart of gold.

Any Coles or Jareds I missed? Thoughts on what (or who) might have inspired the trend?

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20685. Haven't I seen you someplace before? Ever more dueling covers of scary woods

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20686. Was Miss Bennett amused?

View this and other vintage cards at March House Books

I'm very happy to say I've never been the recipient of one of these.  According to Wikipedia, these often mean-spirited postcards were first produced in America in the 1840s.  Known as ‘Vinegar Valentines’ they were once very popular among those who liked to tease and poke fun of others.


I can only imagine how Miss Bennett felt when this landed on the mat on Valentines Day 1912.


I sincerely hope Miss Bennett found her Valentine and boxed his ears!


Happy Valentine's Day.



May all your cards be pretty ones.


View this and other vintage cards at March House Books

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20687. Tiny Hamster to Star in Picture Book

hamsterSimon & Schuster Books for Young Readers plans to publish a children’s book starring the YouTube sensation, Tiny Hamster.

Here’s more from the press release: “Tiny Hamster Is a Giant Monster will have a photographic treatment and feature images from the video. When Tiny Hamster accidentally eats some mad scientist goo, he turns into a giant, Godzilla-like hamster, stomping through the city and eating everything in sight. This adorably monstrous story is sure to delight readers of all ages. The Tiny Hamster videos, including ‘Tiny Hamster Eating Tiny Burritos,’ are created by Denizen Company.”

Joel Jensen, Joseph Matsushima, and Amy Matsushima, the co-founders of the Denizen Company, will collaborate on the writing for the forthcoming picture book. A release date for both the book and a new video with the same title has been set for June 2nd. Follow this link to check out a playlist of videos featuring the celebrity rodent.

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20688. "Out Of The Way Peck!"


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20689. chels: christmasblogger: Penguin falls down resulting in best...



chels:

christmasblogger:

Penguin falls down resulting in best sound ever [x]

I wish I had a chorus of penguins to coo (?) at me when I slip on the ice. It’s happened a few times this week, and the only sounds I get are me cursing and the gods laughing maniacally. 



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20690. Excerpt: In Search of a Lost Avant-Garde

9780226173818

 

An excerpt from In Search of a Lost Avant-Garde: An Anthropologist Investigates the Contemporary Art Museum

by Matti Bunzl

***

“JEFF KOONS <3 CHICAGO”

I’m sitting in the conference room on the fifth floor of the MCA, the administrative nerve center which is off limits to the public. It is late January and the temperatures have just plunged to near zero. But the museum staff is bustling with activity. With four months to go until the opening of the big Jeff Koons show, all hands are on deck. And there is a little bit of panic. Deadlines for the exhibit layout and catalogue are looming, and the artist has been hard to pin down. Everyone at the MCA knows why. Koons, who commands a studio that makes Warhol’s Factory look like a little workshop, is in colossal demand. For the MCA, the show has top priority. But for Koons, it is just one among many. In 2008 alone, he will have major exhibits in Berlin, New York, and Paris. The presentation at the Neue Nationalgalerie is pretty straightforward. Less so New York, where Koons is scheduled to take over the roof of the Metropolitan Museum, one of the city’s premiere art destinations. But it may well be the French outing that most preoccupies the artist. With an invitation to present his work at Versailles, the stakes could not be higher. Indeed, when the show opens in the fall, the photos of Koons’s work at the Rococo palace, shockingly incongruous yet oddly at home, go around the world.

But on this morning, there is good news to share. As the marketing department reports, Koons has approved the publicity strategy for the MCA show. Most everyone in the group of curators, museum educators, and development staffers breathes a sigh of relief, not unlike the response of Don Draper’s team after a successful pitch. Mad Men, which made its widely hailed debut only a few months earlier, is on my mind, in fact. Sure, there is no smoking and drinking at the MCA. But the challenge faced by the museum is a lot like that of the fictional Sterling Cooper: how to take a product and fit it with an indelible essence, a singularity of feeling. Jeff Koons is hardly as generic as floor cleaner or facial cream. But given his ubiquity across the global art scene, the MCA presentation still needs a hook, something that can give it the luster of uniqueness.

Koons has history in Chicago, and that turns out to be the key. Yes, he may have been born and raised in Pennsylvania, graduated from the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore, and settled in New York, where, after working as a commodities trader, he became a professional artist. But in between, for one year in the mid‑1970s, Koons lived and studied in Chicago, taking courses at the School of the Art Institute and serving as an assistant to painter Ed Paschke. Enough to imagine the MCA show as a homecoming, and the second one at that. The first, it now appears, was the 1988 exhibit, which had paved his way to superstardom and cemented an enduring relationship between artist and city. No one in the room can be certain how Koons actually feels about his old stomping grounds. But the slogan stands: Jeff Koons Chicago.

 ***

It’s a few weeks later. The group is back on the fifth floor. The mood is determined. On the agenda for today is the ad campaign. It will be a “communications blitz,” one of the staffers on the marketing team says. It will start with postcards sent to museum members urging them to save the date of the opening. “We need to communicate that it will be a real happening!”

“Koons is like a rock star,” someone seconds, “and we need to treat him like that.” Apparently, Justin Timberlake stopped by the MCA a few weeks ago, causing pandemonium among the school groups that happened to be touring the museum at the time. “Koons is just like that!” one of the marketers enthuses. “No, he’s not,” I’m thinking to myself. But for what seems like an endless few seconds, no one has the heart to burst the bubble. Finally, someone conjectures that, Koons’s art‑star status notwithstanding, people might not know what he looks like. It is suggested that the postcard feature a face shot.

The graphics for the ad campaign and catalogue cover are central to the conversation. We look at mockups, and the marketers share their excitement about the splashy images. There is much oohing and aahing. But, then, a minor hiccup. A curator notes that one of the pieces depicted in the copy will not actually be in the show, the loan request having been refused. Another image presents an issue as well. That piece will be on display, but it belongs to another museum. Maybe it, too, should be purged. No one is overly concerned, though. Given a virtually inexhaustible inventory of snazziness, Koons’s oeuvre is certain to throw up excellent replacements.

Splashy images would also be the focal point of an advertorial the marketing department is considering for a Conde Nast publication. Such a piece, to be run in eitherVanity Fair or Architectural Digest, would be written by the MCA but laid out in the magazine’s style. It would complement the more conventional press strategies, like articles in local newspapers, and would be on message. This, as signs from the real world indicate that Koons may, in fact, truly like Chicago. He wants to attend a Bulls game with his kids while in town. From the standpoint of marketing, it’s a golden opportunity. “This artist likes Chicago sports,” one staffer gushes, something people would be “pleasantly surprised by.” The narrative that emerges is that of the local boy who made good. Indeed, when the official marketing copy arrives a few weeks later, it features sentences like these: “The kid who went to art school in Chicago and loved surrealism, dada, and Ed Paschke and the imagists—that kid made it big.”

 ***

A few weeks later still, back in the conference room on the fifth floor. Today’s topic: tie‑ins and merchandizing. Some of it is very straightforward, including a proposed relationship with Art Chicago, the local art fair. Other ideas are more outlandish, like a possible connection to The Incredible Hulk. The superhero movie, based on the Marvel Comics and starring Edward Norton, is set to open in mid‑June, and the staff member pitching the idea seems to be half joking. But as I look around the room, there are a lot of nods. The show, after all, will feature several pieces from Koons’s Hulk Elvis series, large paintings that juxtapose the cartoon character with such Americana as the Liberty Bell.

More concrete is a tie‑in with Macy’s. This past fall, a large balloon version of Koons’sRabbit made its debut in New York’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. For the MCA show, it could make a trip to Chicago, where it would be displayed at the Macy’s store in the Loop. I’m wondering if that might be a risky move. After all, the company is considered something of an interloper in the city, having taken over Marshall Field’s beloved flagship store in 2006. But the marketers are ecstatic about the opportunity. “This will really leverage the promotional aspects,” one of them exclaims. The word that keeps coming up is “cross‑marketing,” and I take away that Jeff Koons stuff might soon be everywhere.

Stuff, in fact, is what really gets the group going today. Koons, it turns out, is a veritable merchandizing machine, which means that a lot of things can be sold in conjunction with the show. The list of products bearing his art ranges from the affordably populist ( beach towels from Target) to the high‑end luxurious (designs by Stella McCartney). But the news gets even better. Koons has given the MCA permission to manufacture a whole new line of T‑shirts featuring Rabbit. We pass around production samples, and everyone agrees that the baby tees, in light blue and pink, are too cute for words.

Then it’s time for the food. As early as January, I heard about plans to delight museum patrons with Koons‑themed cuisine. Initially, there was some talk of cheesecake, but more recently, the word in the hallways has been cookies. Turns out, it’s a go. Koons just approved three separate designs. We’re back to oohing and aahing, when one of the marketers suggests that some of the cookies could be signed and sold as a limited edition. Another joke, I think. But he goes on, noting that some people would choose not to eat the cookies so they could sell them at Sotheby’s in a couple of decades. The atmosphere is jocund. So when one of the curators points out that worms would be crawling out of the cookies by then, it’s all taken as part of the general levity.

 ***

The concept of marketing is quite new to contemporary art museums. In the good old days, it was simply not seen as a necessity. Giving avantgarde art a place was the objective, which meant that institutions catered to a small group of cognoscenti and worried little about attracting the general public. All this changed once the spiral of growth started churning. Larger museums required larger audiences, not just to cover ever‑increasing overhead but to validate contemporary art museums’ reinvention as major civic players.

The MCA is paradigmatic. Until the late 1970s, there was no marketing operation per se. What little advertising was done ran under the rubric of “public relations,” which was itself subsumed under “programming.” Public relations became a freestanding unit in the 1980s, and by the end of the decade marketing was officially added to its agenda. But it was not until the move into the new building in 1996 that a stand‑alone marketing department was added to the institution’s roster. The department made its presence felt immediately. Right away, its half dozen members began issuing a glossy magazine, initially called Flux and later renamed MCAMag, MCA Magazine, and eventually MCA Chicago. A few years later, a sprightly e‑news enterprise followed, keyed to the ever‑expanding website.

But marketing is much more pervasive in the contemporary art museum. Just before I arrive at the MCA, for example, its marketing department spearheads the museum’s fortieth‑anniversary celebration, a forty‑day extravaganza with numerous events and free admission. Some of the first meetings I attend at the institution are the postmortems, where the marketers take a lead in tallying the successes and failures of the initiative. There is much talk of “incentivizing membership.” Branding, too, is emphasized, particularly the ongoing need to “establish the museum’s point of view” by defining the contemporary. The latter is especially pressing in light of the imminent opening of the Art Institute’s Modern Wing. But the key word that recurs is gateway. The MCA, the marketers consistently argue, needs shows that appeal to “new and broader audiences” and signal that all Chicagoans are “welcome at the museum.”

Jeff Koons is their big hope for 2008. In a handout prepared for a meeting in February, they explain why: “Jeff Koons is by far one of the (if not the) most well known living artists today.” With the recent sale of Hanging Heart making “news even in InTouch Weekly” and his participation in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, he “is doing what no artist has done since Andy Warhol.” He is becoming part of the “mainstream.” Even more importantly, “the art itself helps to make this a gateway.” The “images of pop culture icons and infl atable children’s toys democratize the art experience. Even the most novice of art viewers feel entitled to react to his work.”

With this, the marketing department takes a leading role in the preparations for the Koons show. Its members help organize and run the weekly meetings coordinating the museum‑wide efforts and rally the troops when morale is down. This is done corporate‑style, as in an exercise in which staffers go around the table to share what excites them personally about Jeff Koons. The curators can be conspicuously silent when marketing talk dominates the agenda. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t any tensions.

 ***

I’m having lunch with one of the curators. We’re sitting on the cafeteria side of Puck’s at the MCA, the vast, high‑ceilinged restaurant on the museum’s main exhibition floor. The conversation circles around a loaded topic, the frustrations with the marketing department. “I understand where they’re coming from,” she tells me, only to add that they may not “believe in the same things I do.” I ask for specifics and get a torrent that boils down to this: The curator sees the MCA as a space for adventure and experimentation where visitors encounter a contemporary culture they don’t already know. What marketing wants to do, she says, is to give people a pleasant experience amidst items they already like. “If they had their way, it would be Warhol all the time.” Individual viewpoints vary, of course. But I’m hearing similar things from other members of the curatorial department. Marketing, they tell me, can be fecklessly populist and insufficiently attuned to the intricacies of contemporary art and artists.

The feelings are mutual, or, to be more accurate, inverted. To the marketers, the curatorial department sometimes comes off as elitist and quixotic. When its members talk about some of the art they want to show, one of them tells me, it can “just sound crazy.” “Sometimes,” she continues, “I don’t even know what they are doing.” Even more exasperating, however, is the curators’ seeming disinterest in growing the museum’s audience. “They never think about how to attract more viewers” is a complaint I hear on more than one occasion.

If there is a convergence of views, it is only that the other side has too much power and influence.

***

For a while, I think that the fretting might be personal. Every institution, after all, breeds animosities, petty and otherwise, and the ever‑receptive anthropologist would seem to be the perfect outlet. But I am struck that the grievances are never ad hominem. The MCA’s employees, in fact, seem to genuinely like and respect one another. This is not surprising. The museum, after all, is a nonprofit whose staffers, no matter how “corporate” in orientation, could pursue eminently more lucrative careers elsewhere. The resulting feeling is that “we are all in this together,” a sentiment I hear expressed with equal regularity and conviction.

What, then, is it between curation and marketing? Over time, I come to see the tensions as intrinsic to the quest of bringing contemporary art to ever‑larger audiences. The issue, in other words, is structural.

 ***

When marketers look at contemporary art, they see a formidable challenge. Here is a product the general public knows little about, finds largely incomprehensible, and, occasionally, experiences as outright scary. This is as far as one can be from, say, introducing a new kind of soap. There, the relevance and purpose of the generic product are already well established, leaving marketers to work the magic of brand association. Maybe the campaign is all about fragrance or vitality or sex appeal—what it won’t be about is how soap itself is good for you.

Much of the marketing in the domain of high culture works in this very manner. When Chicago’s Lyric Opera advertises its new season, for example, it can safely assume that folks have a pretty accurate sense of the genre. What’s more, there is little need to justify the basic merits of the undertaking. Most people don’t go to the opera. But even those who find it boring or tedious are likely to accede to its edifying nature.

The same holds true for universal museums. In Chicago, that would be the Art Institute, whose holdings span the globe and reach from antiquity to the present. Marketing has relevance there, too. But much like at the Lyric, the value of the product is readily understood. So is its basic nature, particularly when it can take the form of such widely recognized icons as Georges Seurat’s La Grande Jatte or Grant Wood’s American Gothic.

At its most elemental, the marketing of a museum is orchestrated on the marquees at its entrance. With this in mind, the Art Institute’s advertising strategy is clear. It is the uncontested classics that get top billing, whether they are culled from the museum’s unparalleled collection or make an appearance as part of a traveling show. Mounted between the ornate columns at the majestic Michigan Avenue entrance, a typical tripartite display, as the one from April 2007, looks like this: In the middle, bright red type on a blue banner advertises Cézanne to Picasso, a major show on the art dealer Ambroise Vollard, co‑organized by the Art Institute and fresh from its stop at the Metropolitan Museum in New York. On the left, a bisected flag adds to the theme with apples by Cézanne and Picasso’s The Old Guitarist, one of the museum’s best‑loved treasures. On the right, finally, a streamer with an ornately decorated plate—horse, rider, birds, and plants—publicizes Perpetual Glory, an exhibit of medieval Islamic ceramics. A couple of months down the road, the billboards announce a show of prints and drawings collected by prominent Chicago families, an exhibit on courtly art from West Africa, and free evening admission on Thursdays and Fridays. A little later still, it is an exhibit of sixteenth‑and seventeenth‑century drawings, a display of European tapestries, and the Art Institute’s logo.

What’s not on the Art Institute marquees is contemporary art. Sure, a canonized living master like my good friend Jasper Johns can make an occasional appearance. But the edgy fare served up by the museum’s contemporary department is absent. Nothing announces William Pope.L in 2007, Mario Ybarra Jr. in 2008, or Monica Bonvicini in 2009. The contemporary art market may be booming, but the Art Institute’s marketers assume that the general public cares only so much.

Their colleagues at the MCA don’t have that option. Tasked with marketing a contemporary art museum to an ever‑expanding audience, they have to find ways to engage the general public in their rarefied institution. It is an act of identification. “Often I, myself, don’t understand the art in the museum at first,” one marketer tells me, “but that gives me an advantage. I get where our audience is coming from.”

The issue goes far beyond marquees, then, although they are its perfect representation. For what’s at stake is the public imaginary of contemporary art. This is where marketing and curation are at loggerheads. The two departments ultimately seek to tell fundamentally different stories about the MCA and its contents. For the curators, the museum is a space for the new and therefore potentially difficult. For the marketers, that is precisely the problem. “People tend to spend leisure time doing something that is guaranteed to be a good use of their time,” they implore their colleagues. “That often means sticking with the familiar.” And so the stage is set for an uneasy dance, a perpetual pas de deux in which the partners are chained together while wearing repelling magnets.

***

To read more about In Search of a Lost Avant-Garde, click here.

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20691. Tuck Everlasting: 40th Anniversary Blog Tour #Tuck40th

I miss many things about being a classroom teacher. I miss the camaraderie with the students, the collegiality with the staff, and the sense that what I’m doing really matters. I miss the… Continue reading

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20692. ABC, easy as 123

Who says ABC books are just for babies? Why can’t you mix up some colors using just your finger, no paint? The following concept books defy conventions — and expectations.

tullet_mix it upIn Mix It Up!, Hervé Tullet follows the same format as in his hugely entertaining Press Here, but this time the play is focused on colors and what happens when you mix them. Children are directed to press on color splotches or to shake or tilt the book to make the colors “mix” or “run.” Turn the pages to see the results. For example, “If you rub the two colors [red and blue] together really hard…then what happens?” (Page-turn: purple!) Lots of fun, with no messy cleanup. (Chronicle/Handprint, 2–5 years)

carter_b is for boxThat bright, friendly cube from David A. Carter’s The Happy Little Yellow Box: A Pop-Up Book of Opposites is back in B Is for Box: The Happy Little Yellow Box. This time it’s taking a trip through the alphabet, encouraging children to use pull-tabs, lift-the-flaps, and other interactive features every step of the way. The white text and chalklike drawings on black backgrounds introduce multiple upper- and lowercase letters per page. The bold color contrasts and carefully engineered surprises make for a high-energy alphabet book. (Little Simon, 2–5 years)

jeffers_once-upon-an-alphabetEach letter of the alphabet gets its own little four-page story in Oliver Jeffers’s Once Upon an Alphabet. The tales are clever, silly, and thought-provoking; some of them overlap, with characters making their way in and out of one another’s stories. Jeffers’s loose-lined illustrations include lots of visual humor that will appeal to older children who already know their ABCs but can still appreciate a good alphabet book. (Philomel, 5–8 years)

ramstein_before afterThe wordless Before After by Anne-Margot Ramstein and Matthias Arégui presents before-and-after sequences: night to day, acorn to oak tree, etc. As the book progresses, some of the sequences become longer (sheep to wool to knitting to sweater), as simple transitions make way for more complex or philosophical ones. Clean, subdued-palette digital illustrations help pave the way for thoughtful discussion. (Candlewick, 5–8 years)

From the February 2015 issue of Notes from the Horn Book.

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20693. Jamie Oliver May Sell Stake in Publishing Business

British celebrity chef Jamie Oliver has reportedly hired bankers to help sell a stake in his publishing business.

The Naked Chef, as he is known, has authored more than a dozen cookbooks and starred in even more television series. Oliver could potentially raise more than $75 million if he sells a minority stake in his publishing division, claim reports. The Telegraph UK has the scoop:

A spokesman for Jamie Oliver Group told Sky News: “Like any well run private company, we regularly review our funding policy and requirements.

“All options, including bringing on board an external investor, are considered in order to position the group to take best advantage of the clear market opportunities that lie ahead.”

Mr Oliver has hired US investment bank Raine to oversee the sale, which would not include the restaurant business and its Jamie’s Italian chain of more than 30 sites.

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20694. Five questions for Lucy Cousins

lucycousinsIf you know any little girls named Maisy (or Tallulah; or, for that matter, any little boys named Cyril), chances are good that it’s because of Lucy Cousins. Her indomitable little-girl-mouse is beloved by toddlers and their grownups the world over, making Cousins one proud mama.

1. Your latest Maisy book — Count with Maisy, Cheep, Cheep, Cheep! (Candlewick, 2–5 years) — is a large-format, lift-the-flap book. You’ve also done Maisy board books, hardcovers, cloth books, Maisy First Science and Arts-and-Crafts books, books with stickers, etc., etc. How do you decide? Does form follow content?

LC: I like to try out any new ideas for Maisy that I can think of. Maybe it’s because she is quite a graphic character, she seems to work well in many different formats. Because the age range for Maisy is so wide, from a young baby who is just grasping things and looking intently to a child who enjoys stories and details, it means there is such a variety of book styles to create. A chunky book is great for a tiny child who might put the book in the mouth and drop it on the floor, whereas an older child will enjoy sitting quietly and studying the pictures and following a story. Whatever the age, I like there to be a choice of Maisy books, some just for fun, some for learning, some for stories. So I aim to create pictures and ideas or stories that are relevant to the format of the book.

2. You’ve introduced American children to some unusual-to-them names (Maisy, for one; also Tallulah, which is very cute to hear toddlers try to say!). How do you name your characters?

LC: I find naming characters a very difficult thing. I have a few dictionaries of names, which are usually for naming babies, and initially go through all the names starting with the same letter as the animal I’m trying to name. Or I think of names that sound nice phonetically. When I named Maisy, the name was familiar, but only really used by people of my grandparents’ generation. I just loved the sound of it, a soft and friendly name. Now it has become quite a popular name, and I sometimes meet children called Maisy and Tallulah when I am signing books. I was quite excited when my son came home after his first term at university and told us that his new girlfriend’s name is… Tallulah!

cousins_count with maisy cheep cheep cheep3. You’re well known for your work in those bright, bold colors. Have you done work in other styles, or using different media?

LC: I developed my style of illustration using bright blocks of color and a bold black outline while I was studying at art college. It feels very comfortable and natural to paint like that, so I enjoy mostly working in that style. Occasionally I have tried a slightly different approach. For example, my book I’m the Best (Candlewick, 2–5 years) was created with colored inks and a chunky graphite pencil. In the early days of Maisy, I had quite a lot of creative input into the developing of the TV series and merchandising, and I enjoyed working in those different mediums. I love doing creative things for fun, almost anything, from pottery to photography to knitting. But life has been so busy bringing up my four children and creating my books, that I haven’t had much time for experimenting.

4. Maisy is a toddler icon. Do you hear much from nostalgic ten-year-olds?

LC: Yes, it’s always lovely to hear memories of people enjoying Maisy. Especially from six-foot-tall teenage friends of my children. Parents sometimes tell me heartwarming stories about how a Maisy book has been very special to their child during a difficult time, like a hospital visit, or starting a new nursery school. I work in a solitary way, for weeks and months on my books, and sometimes it can be quite a struggle, so it means a lot when I hear about a child who loves Maisy.

5. Following Hello Kitty-gate, do you think of your character as a girl-sized mouse? Or a mouse-shaped girl? Or neither?

LC: I have to say that it is not something I think about, or am inclined to try and understand. For me, she is just Maisy, in Maisy’s world, and it’s completely separate from our world. When I did the very first drawing of Maisy about twenty-five years ago, I could picture her character and her world, and it’s always seemed to me that it’s best not to question that vision. If I start to think about why she is a mouse who behaves like a child, has no parents or family, can do things only adults can do, and is completely independent, it all seems rather confusing. Even her sex is rather ambiguous to me. She is officially a female, but that is a very unimportant part of who she is. She likes wearing trousers and mucking out pigs as much as dancing and baking.  So, Maisy is just Maisy. Simple.

From the February 2015 issue of Notes from the Horn Book.

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20695. The Amazing World Of Alan Class

 

Terry Hooper-Scharf

Paperback, 
24 Pages
 Black & white
A4
Price: £5.00
Marvel, Timely, Atlas, Charlton, ACG, MLJ/Archie Dennis the Menace (US) -one man published them all. Alan Class. Who? Class is legendary for bringing black and white reprints of US comics to a country starved of the medium thanks to a certain war! 
 
From 1959-1989 Suspence, Sinister, Astounding and Uncanny gave us a comic fix for a few pennies. Learn more about the man and how Class Comics came about in the long awaited print version of Terry Hooper's exclusive interview! 
 
And remember these links if you are interested!
 
 
And (whuich seriously needs up-dating)

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20696. The Winner’s Crime: review

Note: there are some spoilers for the previous book in the series. If The Winner’s Curse was about Kestrel beginning to understand the importance of the role she plays in Herrani-Valorian relations, The Winner’s Crime is where she takes matters into her own hands. There were already signs this would happen, particularly in sacrificing her own freedom at the end of the previous book in order to ensure Arin’s, but here you see the promise of her nature fulfilled. She is in an unthinkable position–separated from both her father and the boy she loves, cast as villain for accepting a union with the Valorian prince, and seemingly powerless in her gilded cage. But Kestrel is a young woman of intelligence, reason, and compassion, one who finds a way to further the cause she believes in, even though the odds are not in her favor…and even now that those she loved... Read more »

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20697. Dessert in a Glass

Experiment Study

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20698. Snapshot Monday

I got this idea from Jill of the OWL.  Just a quick snapshot of what I am reading today.

It's rought when you go from reading a book you LOVED to a few that you are not quite as into.  So, I have ended up reading a few books.  I am going to finish these three before I start anything new (all three are ebooks so these cover images came from GoodReads):



This one is darling.  I LOVE the voice of Hazel Wong and know that I will enjoy it all the way through.  I started it last October but tabled it when I realized the publication date was so far out.  Glad to get back into it though.  So cute!







I am not loving this one as much as I did Bossypants by Tina Fey, but am determined to finish it out because I don't hate it either.




I was so excited to get right into this one after finishing Seraphina, but the other two I am reading loom kind of large so I haven't been reading this one as much due to that fact.  I need to get a little more caught up!

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20699. Liz And Jen

 
Liz & Jen
Terry Hooper-Scharf  & Ben R. Dilworth
Paperback
A4
Black & white
21 pages
Price: £5.00
Originally drawn back in the 1980s, this story of the coming out of two life long friends has never been properly published.....especially as "right on" Fleetway/Egmont chickened out!
 
Up-dated for 2011 with story and pencils by Terry Hooper and inks by Ben R. Dilworthand this edition includes the "alternative" version of the strip.  Makes for interesting reading decades later!

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20700. Cassandra Clare to Work With 3 Young Adult Novelists On a New Novella Series

Welcome to Shadowhunter AcademyCassandra Clare will collaborate with three fellow young adult novelists, Sarah Rees Brennan, Maureen Johnson, and Robin Wasserman. The four writers will be working on a new novella series called Tales From The Shadowhunter Academy (similar to The Bane Chronicles short story collection).

According to Clare’s blog post, each of the ten novellas will come out on a monthly basis as eBooks. Once all ten novellas have been digitally published, they will be compiled in a print book.

Margaret K. McElderry Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing, will release the first one, entitled Welcome to Shadowhunter Academy, on February 17th. Clare announced on her Facebook page that Devon Bostick, an actor on The 100 television series, has signed on to narrate the audiobook edition of this book.

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