What is JacketFlap

  • JacketFlap connects you to the work of more than 200,000 authors, illustrators, publishers and other creators of books for Children and Young Adults. The site is updated daily with information about every book, author, illustrator, and publisher in the children's / young adult book industry. Members include published authors and illustrators, librarians, agents, editors, publicists, booksellers, publishers and fans.
    Join now (it's free).

Sort Blog Posts

Sort Posts by:

  • in
    from   

Suggest a Blog

Enter a Blog's Feed URL below and click Submit:

Most Commented Posts

In the past 7 days

Recent Posts

(tagged with 'lane smith')

Recent Comments

JacketFlap Sponsors

Spread the word about books.
Put this Widget on your blog!
  • Powered by JacketFlap.com

Are you a book Publisher?
Learn about Widgets now!

Advertise on JacketFlap

MyJacketFlap Blogs

  • Login or Register for free to create your own customized page of blog posts from your favorite blogs. You can also add blogs by clicking the "Add to MyJacketFlap" links next to the blog name in each post.

Blog Posts by Date

Click days in this calendar to see posts by day or month
<<July 2016>>
SuMoTuWeThFrSa
     0102
03040506070809
10111213141516
17181920212223
24252627282930
31      
new posts in all blogs
Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: lane smith, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 25 of 47
1. Does Lane Smith's RETURN TO AUGIE HOBBLE tell us anything about his THERE IS A TRIBE OF KIDS?

A reader who was following the conversations about Lane Smith's There Is A Tribe of Kids wrote to ask me if I'd read his Return to Augie Hobble. Here's the synopsis:

Augie Hobble lives in a fairy tale―or at least Fairy Tale Place, the down-on-its-luck amusement park managed by his father. Yet his life is turning into a nightmare: he's failed creative arts and has to take summer school, the girl he has a crush on won't acknowledge him, and Hogg Wills and the school bullies won't leave him alone. Worse, a succession of mysterious, possibly paranormal, events have him convinced that he's turning into a werewolf. At least Augie has his notebook and his best friend Britt to confide in―until the unthinkable happens and Augie's life is turned upside down, and those mysterious, possibly paranormal, events take on a different meaning.
The synopsis doesn't say, but as I started reading about the book, I learned that it is set in New Mexico, which could (for me) be a plus. It could be a plus for kids in New Mexico, too, including Native kids.

But, the person who wrote to me told me that Return to Augie Hobble has some Native content in it, so I started reading the book itself, wondering what I'd find.

Scattered throughout are illustrations of one kind of another, all done by Smith. In chapter four, the main character, Augie, is out after dark in the woods nearby and has a fight with a wolf-like creature. The next morning Augie feels like his face has tiny splinters on it. He uses his moms razor to shave them off. As the illustration on the next page tells us, he's got bits of toilet paper on his chin and neck because he's nicked himself with that razor.

Augie gets to work early, so is sitting in the break area reading a comic, waiting for his shift to start. Moze, another employee arrives. Augie gets up, but (p. 68-69):
He [Moze] pushes me back down. He calls me an Indian. I ask why and he says cause my face is under "Heap big TP." I say that doesn't even make sense so he hits me in the arm and says, "Teeeee Peeeeeee. Toilet paper, twerp." He goes, "Woo, woo, woo," and does a lame version of an Indian dance with an imaginary tomahawk. I say that's not very PC. He says "PC, Mac, who cares?" and hits me again. 
Interesting, isn't it? Let's look at that passage, in light of the discussions of his There Is a Tribe of Kids. The discussions are about some of the illustrations in the final pages of the book. Here's three:


Some wonder if Smith meant to depict kids playing Indian. Some say these kids aren't playing Indian. Smith hasn't responded (as far as I know) to any of the discussions. Some wonder if--as he drew the illustrations--he was aware that they could be interpreted as kids playing Indian. That wondering presumes that he is aware of the decades long critical writings of stereotyping, and in this case, stereotyping of Native peoples.

With Return to Augie Hobble, we know--without a doubt--that he does, in fact, know about issues of stereotyping.

How should we interpret that passage in Return to Augie Hobble?

Amongst the recent threads in writers' networks, is that if a writer is going to create a character who stereotypes someone, there ought to be some way (preferably immediately) for a reader to discern that it is a stereotype. One method is to have a bad-guy-character make the stereotypical remarks, because with them being delivered by a bad-guy, readers know they're not-good-remarks.

Does Smith do that successfully? I'll copy that passage here, for convenience (so you don't have to scroll back up):
He pushes me back down. He calls me an Indian. I ask why and he says cause my face is under "Heap big TP." I say that doesn't even make sense so he hits me in the arm and says, "Teeeee Peeeeeee. Toilet paper, twerp." He goes, "Woo, woo, woo," and does a lame version of an Indian dance with an imaginary tomahawk. I say that's not very PC. He says "PC, Mac, who cares?" and hits me again. 
In the passage above, it is Moze (a bad guy character) who is speaking. From "hits me again" the narrative leaves this whole Indian thing behind as they talk about other things.

I find the passage confusing. It feels like there's something missing between "Toilet paper, twerp." and "He goes, "woo, woo, woo," and does a lame version of an Indian dance with an imaginary tomahawk." What do you think? Is something missing there?

Confusion aside, I think the passage doesn't do what, I assume, Smith meant it to do. Moze is delivering remarks in that humorous style Smith is praised for using.  Will kids pick up on his message (assuming he meant to use Moze to teach kids that dancing around that way is not ok)? Or, does his "PC, Mac" get in the way of that understanding? With "PC, Mac" the focus is on computers, not stereotypes. That kind of word play is a big reason people like Smith's writing.

Back when I taught children's literature at the University of Illinois, I selected Smith's The True Story of the Three Little Pigs as a required reading. It is a terrific way to teach kids about differing points of view. When I think about that book, I know that Smith understands different points of view and how they matter.

I think it fair to say Lane Smith is a master at conveying the importance of that all important point of view. As his Augie Hobble tells us, he's aware of problems with the ways that Native peoples are depicted. That is part of why I find his There Is a Tribe of Kids disappointing.

What are you thoughts? Knowing he is aware of issues of stereotyping, what do you make of what he did in There Is a Tribe of Kids? And, does what he did in Augie Hobble work?

__________

From time to time I curate a set of links about a particular book or discussion. I'm doing that below, for There Is a Tribe of Kids. The links are arranged chronologically by date on which they were posted/published. If you know of ones I ought to add, please let me know. I will insert it below (as you'll see, I'm noting the date on which I add it to the list in parenthesis).

Sam Bloom's Reviewing While White: There Is a Tribe of Kids posted on July 8, 2016 (added to this list on July 21, 2016).

Debbie Reese's Reading While White reviews Lane Smith's THERE IS A TRIBE OF KIDS posted on July 9, 2016 (added to this list on July 21, 2016).

Debbie Reese's Lane Smith's new picture book: THERE IS A TRIBE OF KIDS (plus a response to Rosanne Parry) posted on July 14, 2016 (added to this list on July 21, 2016).

Roxanne Feldman's A Tribe of Kindred Souls: A Closer Look at a Double Spread in Lane Smith's THERE IS A TRIBE OF KIDS posted on July 17, 2016 (added to this list on July 21, 2016).

Roger Sutton's Tribal Trials posted on July 18, 2016 (added to this list on July 21, 2016).

Elizabeth Bird's There Is a Tribe of Kids: The Current Debate posted on July 19, 2016 (added to this list on July 21, 2016).

0 Comments on Does Lane Smith's RETURN TO AUGIE HOBBLE tell us anything about his THERE IS A TRIBE OF KIDS? as of 7/21/2016 12:35:00 PM
Add a Comment
2. There Is a Tribe of Kids: The Current Debate

TribeKidsThis year, in 2016, a conversation has sprung up around the picture book There Is a Tribe of Kids by Lane Smith.  The discussion has occurred primarily on blogs and listservs with the occasional mention on Twitter.  I would like to summarize the points here and explain what’s going on, since, unlike A Fine Dessert and A Birthday Cake for George Washington, I suspect this debate may likely remain within the children’s literature sphere and not branch out into the larger media.  That means that of my readership, perhaps only a small percentage is aware of what’s going on.

Here then are the facts about what’s gone down with There Is a Tribe of Kids, as we know it today.

Published by Roaring Brook Press, an imprint of Macmillan, the book was released this year on May 3rd.  Due to the fact that the author was Lane Smith, it got a serious publicity push.  Smith hadn’t written and illustrated a picture book in this illustration style since his Caldecott Honor winning Grandpa Green, so hopes were undoubtedly high on the part of the publisher.

The book garnered five starred reviews (if we count Shelf Awareness).  On May 5th a review appeared in The New York Times by picture book author and blogger Minh Lê in which he made the following statement:

“Acceptance finally comes with the discovery of a diverse group of other leaf-clad children, kindred spirits who form their own “tribe of kids.” Within the confines of the book, this is a heartwarming finale. Unfortunately, for me the juxtaposition of the word “tribe” with the woodland utopia conjured uncomfortable associations. For example, in the final scene, as the child describes his journey to his new friends, he wears feathers in his hair to re-enact his stint among an “unkindness of ravens.” It’s a whimsical visual in isolation, but some readers may detect something ill-advised, if not sadly familiar, in its echoes of the longstanding trope in children’s literature that uses Native imagery or “playing Indian” to signify wildness, especially since the word “tribe” is so central to this often captivating book.”

Months passed.  On July 8th Sam Bloom wrote about his similar concerns on the site Reading While White.  It led to about 128 comments and counting.  This was followed up with two different blog posts by Debbie Reese at American Indians in Children’s LiteratureThe first was posted on July 9th.  After it came out there was some discussion on the child_lit listserv.  This led to a response by author Rosanne Parry where she defended the book. Debbie’s second response came on July 14th in direct response to Parry’s.  Roxane Feldmann offered her own two cents at her fairrosa blog, which also offers a good encapsulation of the debate.

Meanwhile, on the listservs, discussions have raged at both child_lit and alsc-l though the conversation changed slightly on both sites.  For example, on child_lit folks were finding themselves compared to Trump.  On alsc-l the topic turned to collection development in libraries and where this book fits in when librarians decide not to buy it for their systems.

And yet, for all the discussion, the wider world has been left largely unawares.  As of this post the book has only one critical review on Amazon, and that’s from a grandmother who thinks the title is too advanced for children to comprehend. On Goodreads it has 510 ratings and 125 Reviews, but few if any mention this debate.  It’s too early in the season for Calling Caldecott to discuss it seriously.  So in many ways the book discussion is contained entirely within a very small area online.

And that would be that.

My opinion then?  Hm.

Well, the fact of the matter is that I’m far more interested in the discussion surrounding the book than the book itself.  I’m particularly interested in how different opinions are being treated by both parties.

Because of the nature of the disagreement over the title, the book is currently garnering comparisons to A Fine Dessert and its subsequent criticisms.  And as with A Fine Dessert I included it in my Spring Caldecott prediction post and removed it for my Summer prediction post.  Why the removal this time?  Because at this point it’s clear that this book is going to be the Caldecott committee’s most interesting point of debate and with 2016 such a shockingly strong Caldecott year (it’s kind of frightening how strong it is) it’s entirely likely that the book isn’t going to go very far.  For my part, I didn’t notice the implication of the word “tribe” on an early read and would have missed it entirely if Minh hadn’t written his article.

I’ll say this much.  It takes guts to write about this topic.  No one likes to be the subject of flame wars and in-fighting.  In our current age of social media, blogging has changed significantly.  There was a time before the rise of Twitter when it took a little longer for blog posts to catch fire.  Now bloggers watch what they say with great trepidation.  The people I’ve mentioned above are brave, all of them, whether you agree with them or not.

I have read every opinion, comment, and question about this book that I could get my hands on.  I see the concerns at work here.  I don’t agree with some of the critics.  I agree with some of the others, or at least can see their point of view.  More than anything, I’m interested in hearing a wide range of opinions, both pro and con.  In the end, I suspect that the discussion may die down and then reignite as we get closer to the award season.  When that happens, I’ll watch the new debates with equal interest.

Share

11 Comments on There Is a Tribe of Kids: The Current Debate, last added: 7/21/2016
Display Comments Add a Comment
3. Debbie--have you seen Lane Smith's AUGIE HOBBLE?

A reader who saw my review of Lane Smith's There Is a Tribe of Kids wrote to ask if I've read his Return to Augie Hobble. It got starred reviews from Booklist, and Publishers Weekly, and Kirkus... Published in 2015 by Roaring Book Press, here's the synopsis:

Augie Hobble lives in a fairy tale―or at least Fairy Tale Place, the down-on-its-luck amusement park managed by his father. Yet his life is turning into a nightmare: he's failed creative arts and has to take summer school, the girl he has a crush on won't acknowledge him, and Hogg Wills and the school bullies won't leave him alone. Worse, a succession of mysterious, possibly paranormal, events have him convinced that he's turning into a werewolf. At least Augie has his notebook and his best friend Britt to confide in―until the unthinkable happens and Augie's life is turned upside down, and those mysterious, possibly paranormal, events take on a different meaning.

I was at the local library this afternoon and got a copy. As soon as I can, I'll be back with a review. It is getting bumped up on my list because it is set in New Mexico... Read the rest of this post

0 Comments on Debbie--have you seen Lane Smith's AUGIE HOBBLE? as of 7/15/2016 5:03:00 PM
Add a Comment
4. Kid Sheriff and the Terrible Toads

KidSheriff-500x389As I sit here typing, I am staring at a poster for last year’s Caldecott winner, Brian Floca’s Locomotive. Would the committee that honored that wonderful book have given the time of day to the utter silliness that is Kid Sheriff and the Terrible Toads?

Of course, I have no idea. Anyway: new year, new committee. (That’s one of the best things about these book committees — they are new each year.) January will be filled with reading and rereading; making notes and formulating arguments; looking over the list of nominated books and reading over the written support for each book. When they see Kid Sheriff and the Terrible Toads on the list (for I cannot imagine a Caldecott world that does not include this book on its list), some members will scratch their heads and utter the words I often uttered when I served on the committee: “What the heck? Who nominated this? Now I have to read it again???” Yes, you do, fellow members! Bwahahaha.

And here is why someone (or maybe several someones) will nominate this book.

1. It’s so dang funny. COME ON! Look at that cover. Here we have a little white-clad hombre named Ryan. His foot rests on a tortoise. Ryan seems to be pondering hard about something. Look closer at him. His belt buckle sports a dinosaur. And, to the left, we see three dudes (the Toad brothers) staring at him, evil intent in their eyes. Well, most of their eyes. The middle guy, whose teeth are loosely sprinkled across his gums, has an eye patch. And — ewwwww — his ear is half-bitten off. The bottom dude has a gunshot hole through his hat, and the top guy has a righteous scar on his nose.

2. Use of color. Have you ever seen so much brown in your whole life? The end pages and every illustration is chockablock full of brown. Because of All That Brown, the eye easily notices the occasional guy in white riding a tortoise or the whitish cow being kissed by outlaws or the red tongue of an outlaw insulting Mayor McMuffin.

(COME ON — I just typed that a cow was being kissed by outlaws and someone was riding a tortoise! And the mayor is named McMuffin?! You know you want this book! Right now.)

3. Use of line. With all that brown going on, Lane Smith is going to have some artistic magic up his sleeve. He does. You know he does. First the town is awash in vertical lines. The mayor’s pants are decorated with straight lines; even his round ample belly is made up of straight vertical lines. The most dramatic scene, where the sheriff is measuring for the jail, uses shape and line to extend the story. The legs of the Toad brothers menace the page with their size and sharp angles while our hero measures the jail door.

It’s not until the varmints have been tricked into entering the jail that those vertical lines disappear as we see hats being thrown into the air and townspeople dancing. Oh, and some lady in a ginormous pink bonnet has her fist raised.

4. The humor. Nuff said. Having the sheriff come into town on a tortoise taking two full page-turns is genius. (“Give him a minute.”) Making the boy’s only area of expertise dinosaurs will make any kid laugh. Out loud. For real. Every single spread has funny stuff going on. Slow down. Look.

Will this be enough to catch the eye of the committee? Yes. Will that translate into votes for the book? That is a whole ‘nother thang. Will the committee love talking about this? What do you think?

 

Share

The post Kid Sheriff and the Terrible Toads appeared first on The Horn Book.

0 Comments on Kid Sheriff and the Terrible Toads as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
5. Illustration Inspiration: Stephanie Graegin, Illustrator of Peace is an Offering

Stephanie Graegin spent her childhood drawing and collecting fauna. These days, she lives in Brooklyn, is still drawing, and has managed to keep her animal collection down to one orange cat.

Add a Comment
6. Five Family Favorites with Kim T. Griswell, Author of Rufus Goes to the Sea

My five kids are grown now (four boys and one girl), and most of them have children of their own. ... The list got longer and longer and soon it was tough to choose, but these five came out on top.

Add a Comment
7. Gifts for Grandparents: Bond Over a Book with Your Grandchildren

Reading books together is an incredibly easy and, not to mention, enjoyable way to be present and engaged with kids.

Add a Comment
8. Reading While White review's Lane Smith's THERE IS A TRIBE OF KIDS

Several months ago I saw the cover of Lane Smith's There Is a Tribe of Kids and wondered about his use of the word tribe. Most people see the word "tribe" and think of a group of people who they view as primitive, or exotic, or primal, or... you get the picture, right? If not, open another browser window and do an image search of the word tribe. Did you do it? If yes, you saw a lot of photographs of people of color and of Native peoples, too.

In the last few weeks, I got an email from someone asking me if I'd written about that word. The person writing didn't mention Smith's There Is a Tribe of Kids but may have been asking themselves the same question Sam Bloom did when he read the book. I haven't yet had a chance to look for Smith's book.

Yesterday, Sam's review of There Is a Tribe of Kids went up at Reading While White. I highly recommend you head over there and see what he has to say. On one page of the book, the kids are shown playing in a forest... and they've got leaves stuck into their hair in ways that suggest they're playing Indian. Here's that page:



Sam isn't the only one to notice that problem. He pointed to the review in the New York Times Book Review, where the reviewer wrote that this kind of play signifies wildness.

And, Sam notes that the book has gotten several starred reviews from the major children's literature review journals--journals that librarians use to purchase books. Those starred reviews will mean it is likely to be in your local library. That image, however, means There Is a Tribe of Kids is going into AICL's Foul Among the Good gallery.

Do read Sam's review, and the comment thread, too. I am especially taken with Pat's comment. She used a phrase (I'll put it in bold font) that appeals to me: "An informed reading means giving up the position of innocence that White readers enjoy when other cultures' are represented in service of an engaging story."

Sam's post and the comment thread give us a peek at what goes on behind the scenes in book reviewing. In his review, Sam wondered if the book is getting starred reviews because people like Lane Smith's work overall. Roger Sutton replied that Horn Book didn't give it a starred review, but that their discussion of the book itself included the playing Indian part that Sam's review is about, but that "the reviewer and the editors differed" with Sam's assessment, so, Horn Book recommended the book.

Roger and I have disagreed on playing Indian over and over again. Horn Book gives that activity a pass because Horn Book views it as an "extra literary" concern. Intrigued? You can read one of the more recent discussions we had: Are we doing it white?

Pat's comment is perfect. Far too many people don't want to give up their position of innocence. Playing Indian is just too much fun (they say) and it isn't racist (they insist), or inappropriate (they argue)... Indeed, some say that sort of thing honors Native peoples.

It doesn't honor anyone. It is inappropriate.

My guess is that Lane Smith didn't know it is a problem. His editor, Simon Boughton, apparently didn't know, either. If you know Smith or Boughton, I hope you ask them to think critically about playing Indian. There Is a Tribe of Kids, published by Macmillan, came out in May of 2016.

0 Comments on Reading While White review's Lane Smith's THERE IS A TRIBE OF KIDS as of 7/13/2016 4:51:00 AM
Add a Comment
9. Lane Smith's new picture book: There Is a TRIBE of KIDS (plus a response to Rosanne Parry)

I love word play. Lane Smith's book is getting a lot of love for its word play, but I'm tagging his book as Not Recommended.

Here's the cover of his new book, There Is a Tribe of Kids. The blue creature to the left is meant to be a young mountain goat, or, a kid (that is the term for a baby goat). We follow the child on the right as we read There Is a TRIBE of KIDS. That child is a kid, too, of course, which tells us that Smith is doing some word play in the book. See the two sticks coming out of the child's head? See the stance the child is in? That child is playing at being a goat kid.


Note that two words in the book title are in capital letters. They go together. That's a pattern that Smith uses throughout the book, and as a former elementary school teacher, it is kind of detail that I'd love to point out to kids.

BUT.

Smith's error is using the word TRIBE on the final pages of the book, to refer to children who are playing, adorned in various ways with leaves. I'm getting ahead of myself, though. Let's go back to the opening pages.

On the title page the child is with three kids (goats) as an adult goat looks down on them from atop a rock. On the next page, the three kids climb the rock, leaving the child alone. The child stands upright and walks away from the rock, discarding the horns.

Beneath that illustration are the words "There WAS a TRIBE of KIDS." The three kids the child was with are part of a tribe (tribe is another word for herd), but since they've left him behind, Smith uses the past tense (was).

Beneath that sentence is an illustration of the child looking across the page at a penguin. The child is shown in the same pose the penguin is in. On the next page the child is shown in the same pose as four penguins (see the illustration to the right). As we saw with the goats, the penguins leave (they go into the water and the child follows), and the text is "There was a COLONY of PENGUINS."

In the water, the child is in the midst of jellyfish. In a series of illustrations, we see the child's leaf shirt float up and then into a balloon shape, which are the shapes of jellyfish as they swim.

That's the pattern of the book. The child is with a group of some kind, and while with that group, the child's leaf clothing or body positioning emulates that group.

On some pages, the child is just shown with the group. On one page, the child sits atop a whale. A raven picks the child up off the whale's back and flies with other ravens; the raven opens its beak and for an instant the child is flying but then drops to the ground and lands on a pile of boulders. The child plays on the boulders (holding his body like one), falls headfirst into some flowering plants, and when the child is upright again, the child has leaf arms and leaf ears and a flower atop its head. The child finds elephants and then, those leaf ears are like elephant ears.

As we get to the end of the story, the child is near the ocean, which has a bed of clams. The child uses one as a bed. In the morning the child wakes, alone, abandons the leaf shirt and follows a trail of shells and finds "a TRIBE of KIDS" playing beneath and on the branches of a massive tree. There are 28 children. What are they playing? They've all got leaves on, in some way.

Here are the ones with a leaf/leaves on their heads. Coupled with the word TRIBE on that page, it looks to me like they're dressed up to play Indian. They aren't doing anything active.










But, writer Rosanne Parry disagrees with Sam, and with me, too, but she didn't reference me at her post, A Tribe of Book Reviewers.  My guess is that she thinks her blog post title is clever. It isn't. She thinks that Sam Bloom (see his review at Reading While White) should have
"been willing to look a little deeper, beyond just the immediate Oh no! we are insulting Native Americans again, as we have done so often in the past."
When I read that line in italics, I was incensed. She's being quite dismissive of criticism of stereotyping, bias, appropriation---all those things that white writers, including her, have done. A few years ago, I reviewed Parry's Written In Stone. There's a lot wrong with that book. She wrote to me privately to talk about my review, but I preferred the conversation to be public so that others could follow and learn from it. Many did. Parry did not. Indeed, Parry's resistance was remarkable. She was so sure that she was right to make up traditional Native stories, and right to make up petroglyphs and assign them meaning, and right to write that story because the Native kids she taught--she told us--wanted her to write a story about them. Sheesh! White savior to the rescue!

Parry had a lot more to say about Smith's There Is a Tribe of Kids...

She acknowledged that tribe is a loaded word, but says that she:
"didn't immediately make the leap to Native American tribes because there are no tribes in North America who dress in garments made of leaves. Plant fibers woven into cloth, yes. Dance costumes made of pale yellow grasses, yes. But broad-leafed green plans arranged around the body as a short cloak? No."
Are you rolling your eyes? Are you flipping out at her use of "costumes"? You should be. She likes to talk about the Native kids she taught in Washington. Does she think they wore costumes?! There's more. She read through the book and
"didn't see a single reference, even an oblique one, to a Native American tribe or any tribal activity of North America. No hunting, no fishing, no fires, no tomahawks, no archery, no totem poles, no teepees, no drums, no horses, no canoes."
Again: are you rolling your eyes? Or, maybe, grinding your teeth? Or laughing at how stupid this all sounds? Or---are you reading it and thinking she's making good points? All those reactions are possible, given the widespread ignorance out there about Native people! Some get it, while others are oblivious. Parry goes on, telling us the way the kids are playing is more like the Green Man,
"an ancient mythological figure associated with the Celtic tribes." 
Oh! The kids are playing Green Man. Not Indian! (I'm being sarcastic). Parry isn't done yet, though... She tells us that the children playing on those final pages are of different colored skin tones, making the book:
"one of the most racially inclusive books on our bookstore shelves this year. Not only that, it's a racially inclusive book that isn't about slavery or civil rights or westward expansion, which often cast Black and Native American characters as victims."
Oh, yay (again, I'm being sarcastic). Then she tells us that the kids are:
"arranging shells, playing ball, swinging, sliding, climbing, dancing, running, hiding, napping" 
and that none of those actions are
"a mockery of Native Americans. If they were wearing fringed buckskins or button blankets or powwow dance costumes or had painted faces or were brandishing bows and arrows, that would be an entirely different story."
Oh. I see. (More sarcasm from me; I can't not be sarcastic about her words, and this is the fourth or fifth time I'm reading them!) There's that use of costume again. From a white woman who professes love for the Native kids she taught. She tells us that what she sees in Smith's illustrations are depictions of how kids play, and asks
"Who are we to shame them by saying this is playing Indian?"
Shame. That word is getting used a lot in children's literature discussions last year and this one, too. Us Native and people of color are being mean, shaming writers and now--Parry tells us--the way that kids play.

Sigh. Yes, some of the kids are sliding. And some are playing ball, etc. But look at the illustrations I shared above. What are we to make of them? They're not active in any way. They're just there, wearing their leaf feathers, holding staffs, standing, sitting, jewelry dangling from neck/wrist/ears... What about them?

Parry offers workshops on how to get things right. If you're a writer, avoid her. I wish I could say she's clueless, but I think she is being deliberately obtuse. She'll lead you to think your problematic story of appropriation is ok. It won't be.

I acknowledge that I'm clearly incensed with her and I anticipate lot of people coming to her defense. Parry and others (as Sam Bloom noted, There Is a Tribe of Kids is getting starred reviews) don't see--and refuse to see--the problems in the book. That's where we are in 2016.


0 Comments on Lane Smith's new picture book: There Is a TRIBE of KIDS (plus a response to Rosanne Parry) as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
10. Grandpa Green

by Lane Smith   Roaring Brook Press  2011   A boy fondly remembers his great-grandfather through the topiary garden he has built over the years.   There's something missing here, something I can't quite put my finger on. Or maybe something off. We have a boy, ostensibly the main character, going through the garden and explaining the meaning behind all the various animals and objects his

1 Comments on Grandpa Green, last added: 11/18/2011
Display Comments Add a Comment
11. Out of Everywhere Into Here

What do you give a newborn boy,
With eyes that twinkle full of joy?
A bundle of books just his size,
Full of wonder, love and surprise.

Click the links below for reviews of four board books "for now and to grow on." Or scroll down the page!

This New Baby by Teddy Jam
It's a Little Book by Lane Smith
A Box of Bugs by David Carter
You Are My Cupcake by Joyce Wan

0 Comments on Out of Everywhere Into Here as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
12. It's a Little Book

Written & illustrated by Lane Smith
$7.99 (board book), ages 4-8, 24 pages

A baby donkey tries to guess what a book is for and comes up with adorably silly uses in this pint-size companion to Lane Smith's gem It's a Book.

Instead of facing off over reading formats (the donkey's laptop verses the gorilla's book), as they did in last year's book, the two discuss the purpose of books as only babies would:

Plunked down on the floor, with their legs straight in front of them, as if they just lost their balance and tipped over, neither of them quite talking it over and both blurting out their thoughts.

The donkey's ears are perked up and he's trying to imagine what a book could be. The gorilla, a burly little guy with a tiny hat, is blankly watching him, as if didn't occur to him that he could help sort things out.

Every time the donkey guesses what the baby's gorilla's book is for and acts that idea out (as if he were playing charades), the gorilla dismisses his suggestion with a matter-of-fact, "No."

First, the donkey tastes the book, then he opens it over his brow like a hat, props it on his legs like a laptop and sticks it in his mouth to make a beak.

Soon he's making it flap in the air like bird, riding it like a saddle, rigging it up to be a roof for his building of blocks, and even trying it out as a pillow. Ugh, definitely not a pillow.

Of course none of these guesses are correct, and by the end of Smith's book, the taciturn gorilla finally spills what the book is really for.

"It's for reading…It's a book silly!" Gorilla tells him, then opens it up for both to share.

Lane's repartee between the donkey and gorilla is spare and hilarious, and made all the more funny because it's played out in the same way that babies play: alongside each other without a lot of interaction. 

0 Comments on It's a Little Book as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
13. Caldecott Medal, 2012

By Bianca Schulze, The Children’s Book Review
Published: January 23, 2012

Medal Winner

Honor Book

Honor Book

Honor Book

“The Caldecott Medal was named in honor of nineteenth-century English illustrator Randolph Caldecott. It is awarded annually by the Association for Library Service to Children, a division of the American Library Association, to the artist of the most distinguished American picture book for children.” ~ALSC

©2012 The Childrens Book Review. All Rights Reserved.

.

Add a Comment
14. “The Book Itself Is Changed.”

50 Book Pledge | Book #13: Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann

Excerpt from It's a Book by Lane Smith.

On Monday, February 13, 2012, Seth Godin published a piece entitled “The End of Paper Changes Everything“ for The Domino Project. The premise of the piece was that “[n]ot just a few things, but everything about the book and the book business is transformed by the end of paper.” In fact, Godin boldly declared “the book itself is changed.” He’s absolutely right.

My definition of a book has always revolved around its tangible form. To me, a book is made up of a cover, title, paper, weight. But that’s not going to be the case for much longer. The birth of the e-book forces us to answer Godin’s contentious question: “What makes something a book?”

If we take away a book’s physicality, then what we’re left with is its foundation. The parts that make up a book’s substance. A book will now be defined by its characters, plot, themes, setting, message. Perhaps, a book will become what it was always meant to be: A story.

However, this leads us to yet another conundrum: If a book isn’t bound by the restrictions of its physical form, does that mean its storytelling potential is limitless. You tell me.


0 Comments on “The Book Itself Is Changed.” as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
15. Children’s Choice Book Awards Finalists Unveiled for 2012

The 2012 finalists for the Children’s Choice Book Awards have been revealed. Kids can vote from March 14th to May 3rd.

The winners will be announced live at the Children’s Choice Book Awards gala on May 7th. Nominees have been divided into four groups classified by different school grades.

In the Author of the Year category, middle-grade fiction writers dominate. The nominees include Diary of a Wimpy Kid 6: Cabin Fever by Jeff Kinney, Inheritance by Christopher Paolini, Middle School, The Worst Years of My Life by James Patterson, The Son of Neptune by Rick Riordan and Dork Diaries 3: Tales from a Not-So-Talented Pop Star by Rachel Renée Russell.

continued…

New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.

Add a Comment
16. Top 100 Picture Books #91: The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales by Jon Scieszka, illustrated by Lane Smith

#91 The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales by Jon Scieszka, illustrated by Lane Smith (1992)
21 points

I found this when I was in high school (I have much younger siblings, which was probably how I was getting access to picture books in those days) and laughed so much I took it in to share with my friends at school. There we were, a bunch of high schoolers backstage at musical rehearsals, reading a picture book aloud to each other and snorfling a lot. My favorite Scieszka. – Amy M. Weir

Never met a kid who didn’t love this book. – Becky Fyolek

And the man of cheese stank takes a hit!  A big hit, it seems.  Down from #36 on the previous poll he sinks down down down to #91.  How to account for this?  One might wonder if the Stinky Cheese Man now has so many imitators that he’s near forgotten today.  A generation of writers is cropping up who grew up on Scieszka and Lane’s classic.  Klassen and Barnett.  Rex and Brown.  Little Stinky Cheese Man is still here, but will he continue to fall in the future?  That’s the question.

I think my encapsulation of The Stinky Cheese Man is best said by people other than myself.  Read this Jon Scieszka article from the Horn Book about design for starters.

And here’s a plot synopsis from Amazon: “If geese had graves, Mother Goose would be rolling in hers. The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales retells–and wreaks havoc on–the allegories we all thought we knew by heart. In these irreverent variations on well-known themes, the ugly duckling grows up to be an ugly duck, and the princess who kisses the frog wins only a mouthful of amphibian slime. The Stinky Cheese Man deconstructs not only the tradition of the fairy tale but also the entire notion of a book. Our naughty narrator, Jack, makes a mockery of the title page, the table of contents, and even the endpaper by shuffling, scoffing, and generally paying no mind to structure. Characters slide in and out of tales; Cinderella rebuffs Rumpelstiltskin, and the Giant at the top of the beanstalk snacks on the Little Red Hen. There are no lessons to be learned or morals to take to heart–just good, sarcastic fun that smart-alecks of all ages will love.”

What’s funny to me is that back in the day Publishers Weekly was NOT  charmed, “Grade-school irreverence abounds in this compendium of (extremely brief) fractured fairy tales, which might well be subtitled ‘All Things Gross and Giddy.’ . . . The collaborators’ hijinks are evident in every aspect of the book, from endpapers to copyright notice. However, the zaniness and deadpan delivery that have distinguished their previous work may strike some as overdone here. This book’s tone is often frenzied; its rather specialized humor, delivered with the rapid-fire pacing of a string of one-liners, at times seems almost mean-spirited.”

Didn’t really matter since it got a Caldecott anyway.

Booklist was a little more positive with its, “Every part of the book bears the loving, goofy stamp of its creators, and while their humor won’t appeal to everyone, their endeavors will still attract a hefty following of readers–from 9 to 99.”

Kirkus liked it a bit more still: “Parodic humor here runs riot…irrepressibly zany fun!” (parodic?)

And School Library Journal followed all this up with, “Clearly, it is necessary to be familiar with the original folktales to understand

4 Comments on Top 100 Picture Books #91: The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales by Jon Scieszka, illustrated by Lane Smith, last added: 5/16/2012
Display Comments Add a Comment
17. Top 100 Picture Books #35: The True Story of the Three Little Pigs by Jon Scieszka, illustrated by Lane Smith

#35 The True Story of the Three Little Pigs by Jon Scieszka, illustrated by Lane Smith (1989)
51 points

I remember when this book was the hit of the third grade. Everyone passed it around and read it and we all were cracking up. Fractured fairy tales in the hands of the skilled Jon Scieszka makes for fun reading! – Sarah

Rocky and Bullwinkle would have been proud.  The fractured fairy tale is never so fractured as when it springs newborn from the mouth of the ultimate unreliable narrator.  Consider it the book that brought us our Scieszka and our Lane.  Though you might think that their Stinky Cheese Man would make it higher on the list, this is certainly not the case.

The synopsis from my old review: “As A. Wolf puts it, the whole thing was just a big misunderstanding. One of those events that get blown way out of proportion. See, it’s like this… the wolf was just looking to borrow a cup of sugar for his poor bed-ridden granny. He wanted to make a cake for her, but finding himself lacking the necessary ingredients he went to his nearest neighbor to borrow some. Now here’s where it all went higgledy-piggledy. The pig (living in a straw home) didn’t answer the door and the wolf had a bad cold. By pure bad luck he accidentally sneezed the home down and, in effect, killed the pig. Thinking it a bad idea to waste pork, the wolf ate the pig and decided to try another neighbor. And so it went until he got to the brick house and was shortly, thereafter, arrested. And all for the want of a cup of sugar.”

According to 100 Best Books for Children, Jon and Lane sort of did the thing you’re told not to do when creating a picture book.  Under normal circumstances you’re supposed to come in with your portfolio (if you’re an artist) or you text (if you’re an author) and the publisher pairs you up with somebody.  In this particular case, Smith and Scieszka met in a zoo (please hold all appropriate comments until I finish) and when Lane went in to show his portfolio to editor Regina Hayes he showed her Smith’s manuscript as well.  Batta bing, batta boom, instant fame, glory, and rocket ships to the moon.  As Scieszka himself said of the book in a Puffin interview, “Our first book, The True Story of the Three Little Pigs sold thirty bazillion copies in eight languages.”  Sounds ’bout right.

Fun Fact: The Norton Anthology of Children’s Literature gets the title of this book wrong.  No, really!  It does.  Check out page 875.  Granted it’s just the small goof of calling this The Story of the Three Little Pigs rather than The True Story of the Three Little Pigs, but I think the inclusion of the “True” in the title is necessary.  Nay!  Imperative.  They almost make up for the gaff by finishing his bio by saying, “critics have called Scieszka’s work ‘postmodern’  Children call it funny.”  Good save, Norton me pal.  We’ll let you off the hook this time.

  • Strangely enough you can read the full text here, if you’ve half a mind to.  Sans pictures, though.
  • Thinking about it, I saw Scieszka talk about this book briefly in a recent B&N video.  In it he says: “I get a lot of mail from Kindergartners.  Actually a lot of it addressed to A. Wolf saying, ‘Dear Mr. Wolf.  You were bad.  You should be in jail.’  Which I t

    0 Comments on Top 100 Picture Books #35: The True Story of the Three Little Pigs by Jon Scieszka, illustrated by Lane Smith as of 1/1/1900
    Add a Comment
18. Lane Smith

Please take a look at these beautiful illustrations from Lane Smith's new book Abe Lincoln's Dream.
Lane is being honored tonight by the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art.


0 Comments on Lane Smith as of 9/20/2012 10:16:00 AM
Add a Comment
19. Illustration Inspiration: Bob Shea

Bob Shea has written and illustrated over a dozen picture books including the popular Dinosaur vs. Bedtime and the cult favorite Big Plans illustrated by Lane Smith.

Add a Comment
20. What’s Your Favorite Animal?, by Eric Carle | Book Review

In Eric Carle’s What’s Your Favorite Animal, he collaborates with fourteen renowned children’s book artists to create mini storybooks about a favorite animal.

Add a Comment
21. ‘The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs’ Turns 25

The True Story of the Three Little PigsThis year marks the 25th anniversary of The True Story of the Three Little Pigs. Viking Children’s Books, an imprint of Penguin Young Readers Group, first published this book back in October 1989.

Author Jon Scieszka and illustrator Lane Smith’s parody picture book was inspired by a classic fable. In honor of this occasion, we’ve put together a list of three ideas on how fans can celebrate.

(more…)

New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.

Add a Comment
22. Lulu and the Brontosaurus

by Judith Viorst   illustrations by Lane Smith   Atheneum 2010   Lulu is the sort of girl who won't take no for an answer when she demands a dinosaur for her birthday so she goes out to find one on her her own. Hilarity Mild amusement ensues, with a whiff of forced nostalgia.   Lulu, an only child, is spoiled to the point that she has never heard the word 'no' before. So when she announces for

0 Comments on Lulu and the Brontosaurus as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
23. 2011 Children’s Choice Book Awards

By Bianca Schulze, The Children’s Book Review
Published: March 25, 2010

May 2-8, 2011, is Children’s Book Week. Each year, during this week, The Children’s Book Council hosts the Children’s Choice Book Awards. These are the best awards because the children are given a voice! I highly recommend checking out the thirty books that have been nominated for the six categories: k-2nd, 3rd-4th, 5th-6th, Teens, and author of the year. Then, along with your kids or classroom, go and vote for their favorite(s)—you have until April 29. The winners will be announced on May 2 at the Children’s Choice Book Awards Gala.

This year’s Children’s Choice Book Award finalists are as follows:

Kindergarten to Second Grade Book of the Year


Shark vs. Train

by Chris Barton (Author), Tom Lichtenheld (Illustrator)

Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers; 1 edition (April 1, 2010)

Publisher’s synopsis: Shark VS. Train! WHO WILL WIN?!

If you think Superman vs. Batman would be an exciting matchup, wait until you see Shark vs. Train. In this hilarious and wacky picture book, Shark and Train egg each other on for one competition after another, including burping, bowling, Ping Pong, piano playing, pie eating, and many more! Who do YOU think will win, Shark or Train?

Add this book to your collection: Shark vs. Train

How Rocket Learned to Read

by Tad Hills

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade; 1 edition (July 27, 2010)

Publisher’s synopsis: Learn to read with this New York Times-bestselling picture book, starring an irresistible dog named Rocket and his teacher, a little yellow bird. Follow along as Rocket masters the alphabet, sounds out words, and finally . . . learns to read all on his own!

With a story that makes reading fun—and wil

Add a Comment
24. Grandpa Green by Lane Smith

Add this book to your collection: Grandpa Green

Have you read this book? Rate it:
Note: There is a rating embedded within this post, please visit this post to rate it.

©2011 The Childrens Book Review. All Rights Reserved.

.

Add a Comment
25. It’s a Little Book by Lane Smith

Add this book to your collection: It’s a Little Book

Have you read this book? Rate it:
Note: There is a rating embedded within this post, please visit this post to rate it.

©2011 The Childrens Book Review. All Rights Reserved.

.

Add a Comment

View Next 21 Posts