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From Yahoo! News:
Benson wrote more than 130 books, including the 1940s Penny Parker mystery series, but she is best known for the Nancy Drew books that inspired and captivated generations of girls.
She wrote 23 of the 30 original Nancy Drew stories using the pseudonym Carolyn Keene. Paid $125 per book, she never collected any royalties.
Benson died in 2002 at 96 and left her home and possessions to her only daughter, Peggy Wirt, who died in January.
From Quill & Quire:
Toronto’s Liss Gallery will resemble Whoville this Saturday, with a special day of exhibitions dedicated to the art of Dr. Seuss creator Theodor Seuss Geisel.
From 1 to 3 p.m., there will be a children’s exhibition featuring celebrity readings of Dr. Seuss classics. A reception from 6 to 9 p.m. will highlight Geisel’s illustration collection and his “secret art,” which he created for personal enjoyment. Bill Dreyer, official curator of the collection, will provide some insight into the beloved author’s life and work.
...their 2013 100 Titles for Reading and Sharing List:
Nineteen Children's Librarians pored over a wealth of new releases throughout the year, often with the help of the children in their branches, and have selected a delicious sampling of stories for you to peruse. Enjoy this snapshot of the creativity and artistry to be found in books being published for preschoolers on up through sixth grade.
(via Betsy, naturally)
Jim Kay (A Monster Calls) has been tapped to give the Harry Potter series a makeover:
Who is your favourite character from the Harry Potter universe?
This is like trying to choose your favourite record, it changes all the time. I have a soft spot for Neville, particularly because of his awkwardness, but you have to admire Hermione, because she puts the hours in at the library, she's the cement really that holds it all together, well, it would be a different story without her. I want to know more about Severus, there's so much depth there. Visually, though, it has to be Hagrid; he's got a wonderful heart, clothed in an enormous, shabby body. Hagrid's hut is, for me, like an extension of his physique: it makes him a part of Hogwarts, but keeps him at a distance too.
More (including a picture of Hogwarts) here.
...has been announced.
The Fiction shortlist is:
Oliver and the Seawigs, by Philip Reeve, illustrated by Sarah McIntyre
Rooftoppers, by Katherine Rundell
Whale Boy, by Nicola Davies, illustrated by Joe McLaren
Click on through for the other lists.
...the Harry Potter edition.
PS. And yes, Neville was included. Thank goodness.
PPS. I hadn't realized that Daniel Radcliffe was only seventeen when he was on Extras. Somehow that makes his Jackassery-Unchained performance ALL THE MORE IMPRESSIVE.
Johnson City, NY (WBNG Binghamton) When Johnson City parent Jeannette Farr saw what her eight-year-old daughter was reading, she was shocked.
Illustrations of soldiers bombing villages, and terrorists kidnapping a girls father were just a few of the details Farr couldn't believe her third-grader was reading.
"It's scary. We don't have guns in our house, my kids don't see guns, my kids don't watch the news," Farr said.
Although each story has a positive message, Farr says the illustrations are too much.
"I was surprised at how graphic the photos were," she said.
She even suggested banning the books, at least for elementary school students.
Not that anyone is infallible, but SLJ suggests both books for grades 2-4 and Booklist suggests Nasreen for grades 2-4 and Basra for grades 3-5. Anyway. Yes, fine: if a parent chooses to not have guns in the house and to avoid the news, that's her choice, etc., etc. But to expect an entire classroom—an entire SCHOOL—to conform to one's own personal worldview is just ridiculous.
No one person is the center of the universe, and in the Heat of the Moment, I think we all tend to occasionally forget that.
The list, from Quill & Quire:
Namesake, by Sue MacLeod
Sorrow's Knot, by Erin Bow
The Night Before Christmas, written by Clement C. Moore, illustrated by Barbara Reid
Lasso the Wind: Aurelia’s Verses and other Poems, written by George Elliott Clarke, illustrated by Susan Tooke
The Great Bear Sea—Exploring the Marine Life of a Pacific Paradise, by Ian McAllister and Nicholas Read
...or is James Stevenson's The Night After Christmas, like, one of the weirdest, most semi-depressing Christmas stories ever?
(I just looked up The Little Match Girl, and even though she has that vision of a Christmas tree, apparently it's set on New Year's. So I'm not counting it.)
ANYWAY. The Night After Christmas.
A couple of toys get abandoned in the snow WITH THE GARBAGE, because they've been replaced by newer, shinier toys.
A dog named Chauncey rescues them and brings them to the boiler room where he appears to (<--I'll get back to that in a sec.) live.
Annie and Teddy hang out there for a few days, getting progressively more and more depressed (at first, Teddy is somewhat optimistic, but eventually he ends up down in the emotional abyss with Annie), and there is dialogue that will inspire EITHER laughter OR chest-stabbing OR maybe both? Example:
"What are you supposed to be?" said Annie.
"I am a toy computer," said Teddy.
"Ask me a question."
"How can you be so stupid?" said Annie.
BRUTAL, RIGHT?? Because, A) Teddy is so determined to not give up, B) WOW, MEAN on Annie's part, but C) also SO UNDERSTANDABLE on her part.
Anyway, eventually, Chauncey brings them to a school and leaves them outside just as the day is ending, and when the kids have scattered, Annie and Teddy are gone. So, happy ending for them.
And then, the last picture is of Chauncey sleeping in front of a food bowl with a red ribbon on it. So I guess he got adopted? Or he already had a family, and he was slumming it in the boiler room? Or something?
BUT SINCE HE'S SLEEPING, I'M CONCERNED THAT HE'S JUST DREAMING ABOUT THE BOWL, AND THAT HE'S STILL LIVING IN THE BOILER ROOM ALL ALONE.
I realize I have problems.
What about you, though? Depressing/disturbing Christmas stories: GO!
At the Guardian:
I am so glad that first-rate children's literature was there for my own children. I would not have wanted them – at 11, 12 or 13 – to confront the complexity and banality of evil. It's quite right that they wanted to read about worlds where evil was uniformly evil and good people were constantly good. In contrast, adulthood means learning that SS officers or drone pilots do go home and kiss their wives, without a thought of belonging to the "dark side".
Wow. If this essayist truly thinks—as opposed to deliberately writing clickbait, which is certainly possible—that children's and YA fiction depicts the world in black-and-white, then he can't be particularly well-versed in either category.
Well, I totally missed this kerfuffle!
From the Guardian:
It was all started by Richard Cooper (@RichardHCooper), a University of Kent graduate who was considering taking a creative writing course there. But he was troubled by a statement on their site.
"We love great literature," it said. "We are excited by writing that changes the reader, and ultimately – even if it is in a very small way – the world. We love writing that is full of ideas, but that is also playful, funny and affecting. You won't write mass-market thrillers or children's fiction on our programmes. You'll be encouraged to look deep inside yourself for your own truth and your own experiences, and also outside yourself at the contemporary world around you. Then you'll work out how to turn what you find into writing that has depth, risk and originality but is always compelling and readable."
*headdesk* *headdesk* *headdesk*
...in this year's American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression Holiday Children's Book Art Auction:
The Holiday Children’s Book Art Auction, which supports the free speech rights of kids, features many original works and high-quality prints by some of the leading artists and illustrators working in the book industry today, including Eric Carle, Chris Raschka, Judy Schachner, Bob Staake, Tom Lichtenheld, and Alexandra Boiger.
Click on through to see all of the items.
I love it when I'm watching a show and a kidlit or YA title gets mentioned... ESPECIALLY when it's totally out of the blue, like this moment from Workaholics (semi-NSFW, because Workaholics):
Video via Vulture, where they apparently actually watch shows when they air, rather than almost an entire year later. Imagine that!
So, what do you think?
Was this book written by Bar Code Tattoo-Suzanne Weyn?:
Relatedly, do your Christmas books circulate year-round?
Because holy cow, MINE DO.
See the other two at Open Culture.
There's a piece on Shel Silverstein up at mental_floss.
The whole thing's worth reading, but I especially got a kick out of this bit about The Giving Tree:
Those who branded Silverstein's work as unfit for children were certainly extremists, but that's not to say Uncle Shelby didn't have a dark side that could be a bit unnerving at times. There are hints of this even in The Giving Tree, which tells the story of a generous tree that repeatedly donates parts of itself to a needy boy until it's nothing more than a stump. Although the book is considered a classic today, after Silverstein finished it in 1960, it took him four years before he found anyone willing to publish it. Apparently, editors found it too depressing for kids and too simple for adults. It wasn't until his other titles started raking in the dough that Harper & Row was confident enough to give it a shot.
...and the prize for Young People's Literature went to Cynthia Kadohata, for The Thing About Luck.
See the rest of the winners & nominees here.
From the NYT:
I do this sort of on-the-fly editing all the time when reading to my 5-year-old. I call it “pinkwashing” after the scene in “Pinkalicious” in which the poor, discolored child must stomach horrible green vegetables as a cure for her unfortunate pinkness. She chokes down artichokes, gags on grapes and burps up brussels sprouts. The passage serves important narrative and stylistic functions, of course, but Emmett loves artichokes, grapes and brussels sprouts. He never complains about eating them, so rather than hint at a generation-long struggle against the tyranny of green veggies, I replace the negative verbs with positive ones. Pinkwashing.
To each their own.
Titles I've read from the Abrams Spring 2014 catalog:
Splintered, by A. G. Howard:
Like Carroll's Alice, much of the time that Alyssa is in Wonderland, things are out of her control. Unlike Carroll's Alice, though—and this is where my major difficulty with the book lies—Alyssa's loss of control can almost always be chalked up to one of the two guys in her life: Morpheus, a Wonderland denizen who has a penchant for fancy hats and a hookah, and Jeb, the aforementioned crush. She is bossed around, held against her will, lied to, and argued about as if she A) wasn't standing right there and B) someone with, you know, AN OPINION ABOUT HER OWN WELFARE.
A Soldier's Secret, by Marissa Moss: Apparently, I never wrote about this one. I liked it, though I thought it A) could have been tighter (then again, it did convey the long stretches of boredom that were so horrible for morale during the war), and B) at times, it felt like Moss was determined to cram in EVERY. SINGLE. FACT. she'd unearthed over the course of her research. And imagined endings tacked on to true-life stories tend to make me uncomfortable. Despite this complain-fest, I actually mostly enjoyed it. FOR REALS!
Shadow on the Mountain, by Margie Preus:
There's a wonderful balance between Espen's Resistance activities (along with the knowledge that if he's caught, his family will be punished for his actions); his younger sister's interest in his activities, which ultimately leads to her own direct involvement with the Resistance; the split that occurs within his peers between those who join the Resistance and those who join the Nazis; and his own coming of age and burgeoning romance.
The Peculiars, by Maureen Doyle McQuerry (AMAZINGLY different cover treatments, right? I love the long fingers on the paperback):
That said, it's always a relief to read about a heroine who is different from her peers in a way that really would make her life more difficult, rather than being too beautiful or too talented or too badass or too witty or too all-around awesome. (<--Come on, you know I'm right. I'm looking at you, The Selection.)
Titles I want to read from the same catalog:
The Night Gardener, by Jonathan Auxier: Um. The cover art is semi-terrifying, as is the excerpt in the catalog. And we all know how I like to scare the bejeebers out of myself.
Otherbound, by Corinne Duyvis: I just read a parallel universe book that I found PROFOUNDLY disappointing, so here's hoping that this one's a better fit? Because I do love me a good multiverse story. AND THIS ONE HAS A WICKED CREEPOLA TWIST: when the main character closes his eyes (I don't know if that means "BLINKS", or if it means "IS SLEEPING" or "KNOCKED UNCONSCIOUS"), he sees a different world through someone else's eyes... and then he learns how to CONTROL HER. Which she doesn't appreciate. So. It has potential.
High & Dry, by Sarah Skilton: MYSTERY! BLACKMAIL! A DRINKING PROBLEM! TEEN CRIME FICTION FTW!!
Lauren Myracle's TTYL, TTFN, and L8R, G8R: It's been ten years since this series started. TEN. YEARS. It's probably time for me to read them, eh?
...have been announced.
The winners in the Children's Literature -- Text category are:
Teresa Toten (Toronto), The Unlikely Hero of Room 13B (Doubleday Canada) The Unlikely Hero of Room 13B by Teresa Toten is a transformative, high-energy novel that vibrates with the creativity of both the writer and main character. Adam struggles with OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder) and a troubled family life. His group therapy becomes an unlikely source of love and friendship. A powerful story with brilliant language and unexpected moments of humour.
Geneviève Mativat (Laval), À l'ombre de la grande maison (Éditions Pierre Tisseyre) With À l'ombre de la grande maison, Geneviève Mativat gives us a novel about slavery, in an America that has yet to wage its true revolution - that of liberty and equality for all. In sober and effective prose, the author reveals her strong talents as a storyteller.
Click on through for the other categories!
From Writing Teen Novels:
I think that organising books by their intended age is ghettoization. It leads to further micro-classification that I just flat-out object to. In the local library in the city where I live now, two of my favourite authors, K.M. Peyton and Robert Westall, have their books split not just across two sections but across separate shelves labelled Horse Stories, Times Past, War, Supernatural, Family, and probably something else I’ve forgotten. When I first read Peyton’s books, I read them all because I found them next to each other on the same shelf. I’d never have gone looking for horse stories. I read them and I loved them because I loved that particular author. I think that breaking up books into this many categories creates narrow-minded readers. There is no incentive for the lover of ‘humour’ ever to look anywhere else for reading material than the limited ‘humour’ shelf. There is some very funny science fiction out there but they’ll never discover it.
Well, that's where cross-shelving comes in.
(I certainly understand her POV—and that's actually exactly why I dismantled the Newbery Section at my library and interfiled the books into their various larger sections—but libraries and bookstores have to take into account how their patrons look for books. And a lot lot lot of them want to browse through sections of readalikes. Anyway. Regardless of whether or not I agree, I do love reading about various readers' personal browsing/searching/shelving preferences.)
Titles I've read from Candlewick's Spring-Summer 2014 catalog:
The Freedom Maze, by Delia Sherman:
Descriptions of a working, pre-Civil War plantation; the relationships between slaves, and between slaves and their owners; the speech patterns and dialect; the depiction of a complicated religious and mythological belief system; from all of that and more, as I read, I was convinced that Delia Sherman must have done a boatload of research for this book*. That made the complete lack of infodumps all the more impressive: even when Sophie gets a crash-course in plantation life via some of the younger slaves, Sherman doesn't use that opportunity to give her readers a lecture—instead, she cuts away from the scene. I loved that.
Feral Nights, by Cynthia Leitich Smith: I adored the Tantalize quartet, and so I was so excited to find out about this spin-off series! It's set in the same universe, and it stars some of the same characters: Clyde the werepossum, human Aimee, and newcomer Yoshi, the super-sexy werecat brother of Ruby the suspected murderess (and also super-sexy) werecat.
As in the Tantalize books, Smith plays a LOT with the different traits and cultural relationships between the different species, and she includes LOADS of SF/F references. It's different in tone, though, more quirkfest-bananas (one word: WEREYETIS), and less end-of-the-world EPIC. Kind of like the Zeppo episode of Buffy, or the episode of Leverage where Parker is stuck at home with a broken leg, a comparison that is even more apt when you consider the fact that that action in this book is taking place at the same time as the action in Diabolical. (They work as stand-alones, though.)
Smith dosn't satirize herself in quite the same way as Buffy and Leverage did, though the end result is similar: ultimately, Clyde and Aimee level up from being sidekicks to heroes in their own right. Her books are always such a blast, and I can't wait to read the next one.
The Cydonian Pyramid, by Pete Hautman: As in The Obsidian Blade, the story rapidly bounces from time to time, place to place, character to character, timestream to timestream, and because of that alone, there will be plenty of readers who won't find it particularly enthralling. The jargon and occasional dialect will turn others off.
Personally, I loved the first book in the series, and so even though this one didn't do a whole lot for me emotionally (except for the section about Lah Lia's time in Hopewell, which felt more personal than the rest of the book), I'm still enjoying the series on a more intellectual level: basically, I'm curious about where Hautman's going with it, and I look forward to the inevitable final confrontation between Tucker and his father and Lah Lia and hers.
Personal Effects, by E.M. Kokie: ...apparently, I never wrote about this one. It's about Matt, who is grieving for his older brother, who was recently killed in Iraq. Matt's life is spiraling down—school, home, friends—and so he starts digging into his brother's life in an effort to find some closure. In so doing, he finds out that his brother was keeping some Rather Large Secrets: the big one being [SPOILER] that he was gay [END SPOILER].
It's a story that could have gone in any number of unimpressive directions—trite, preachy, insipid, black/white—but doesn't. Kokie doesn't shy away from Matt's less-than-politically-correct and sometimes less-than-empathetic feelings—and even when he's exhibiting them, he's still a sympathetic character because of all of the pain and confusion and anger he's feeling—and she always, always stays true to her character. It's a good one about the complexities of family and brotherhood and truth and bravery, and I'm kicking myself for not having gotten around to writing about it Way Back When.
Titles I want to read from the same catalog:
Weasels, by Elys Dolan, and Have You Seen My Dragon?, by Steve Light: Since I'm doing all of the ordering for the library, I have to pay closer attention to picture books now, too! And these two look way cool. I mean, HELLO, AWESOME--->
Timmy Failure: Mistakes Were Made & Timmy Failure: Now Look What You've Done, by Stephen Pastis: Kid Detective! Enough said.
Boy on the Edge, by Fridrick Erlings: Icelandic author! Setting: a home for troubled boys called the Home for Lesser Brethren. O.o
Feral Curse, by Cynthia Leitich Smith: As I said above, I ADORE THE TANTALIZE QUARTET, and I don't know how I managed to miss out on this spin-off series for so long. (I only read Feral Nights today! Apparently Feral Curse has a haunted carousel! HAUNTED! CAROUSEL!)
The Story of Buildings, by Patrick Dillon and Into the Unknown, by Stephen Ross: In both books, the illustrations are by Stephen Biesty, so these are obvious picks for fans of his Cross-sections books. (Of which I am one.)
The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender, by Leslye Walton: Magical realism is generally Not My Thing, but it looks like Candlewick is pushing this one hard. Which makes me curious.
Swim that Rock, by John Rocco & Jay Primiano: Did you ever see that movie Diggers? I feel like no one else did, even though it was quite good, and, like, EVERYONE was in it. Okay, by 'everyone', I mean Ken Marino and Paul Rudd and Maura Tierney. ANYWAY. This book ALSO deals with clamming and a family teetering on the brink of economic disaster. And I want to read it.
Breakfast Served Anytime, by Sarah Combs and The Chance You Won't Return, by Annie Cardi:
Two debut contemporaries. A coming-of-age story set in a Kentucky summer camp for geeks and a girl figuring out high school and first love... and a mother who thinks she's Amelia Earhart. SOLD AND SOLD.
The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf
, by Ambelin Kwaymullina. Another debut, this one from Australia, and by an author of indigenous descent. Sounds kind of like X-Men (people with varying extraordinary abilities) in a future militaristic world (heroine is captured by government and hooked up to a machine that will interrogate her to find the location of her people). Sounds tense and possibly upsetting, but I wouldn't cross the girl on the cover: she's got a seriously formidable look in her eye.
The Klaatu Terminus
, by Pete Hautman. This is my relationship with Pete Hautman: He writes it, I will read it.
Three Bird Summer
, by Sara St. Antoine. On one hand, "FAMILY MYSTERY". On the other, "POIGNANT". So I'm a little concerned that it might be a Crying Book. But my curiosity is piqued.
Girls Like Us
, by Gail Giles. Two graduates of their high school's special ed program enter the adult world. This is a story I haven't read before, it's one my extended family has a history with, and I'm SO THERE.
Candlewick, you are KILLING ME. WHY MUST YOU MAKE ME WANT TO READ ALL THE BOOKS?
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From the NYT:
Writing in The Horn Book, a journal of children’s literature, in 1985, Ms. Zolotow offered a brief for honesty in books for children about even the most difficult subjects.
“We are all the same,” she wrote, “except that adults have found ways to buffer themselves against the full-blown intensity of a child’s emotions.”
She added, “We are not different from the children we were — only more experienced, better able to disguise our feelings from others, if not ourselves.”
What with the death of Barbara Park a few days back, this is shaping up to be a sad month for childrens' literature.