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<<October 2016>>
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1. Fusenews: All I remember is it had a blue cover


How does Horn Book not have a “weird stuff” room?

I can’t believe I forgot to tell you that I was a guest on the Horn Book Podcast recently.  To be a guest has been a dream of mine ever since I listened to its first episode.  Hearing the banter between Roger Sutton and Siân Gaetano fills my heart with gladness.  Oddly, in my episode I was there sans Roger.  I’m also only half joking when I say my ultimate goal is to supplant him in all things.  Many thanks to the excellent Siân who not only is smart, witty, and very good at keeping the conversation moving at a sharp clip, but who is also adept at subtly pointing out when you’ve moved too far from the microphone.  Oh, and the topic?  Religion.  Cause that’s how I roll.  Apparently.


This is so cool.  A recent online New Yorker article called City of Women discussed the fact that in New York City an overwhelming number of street, subway, and place names are named after men.  That’s not particular to NYC, of course.  The whole country pretty much acts the same way, but in the five boroughs it feels particularly egregious since everything’s so close together.  The article has some nice details, like this:

“A recent essay by Allison Meier notes that there are only five statues of named women in New York City: Joan of Arc, Golda Meir, Gertrude Stein, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Har­riet Tubman, the last four added in the past third of a century. Until 1984, there was only one, the medieval Joan in Riverside Park, installed in 1915. Before that, only men were commemorated in the statuary of New York City.”

In response to all this, a subway map with place names of women rather than men was created.  I spy with my little eye such children’s literature tributes as Margaret Wise Brown and Edwidge Danticat (I know she’s most adult, but I’m counting her anyway) amongst others.


And in case you missed it, there’s another online New Yorker piece I urge you to seek out.  Adam Gidwitz appears to be everywhere these days, thanks in large part to a massive publicity push on the part of Penguin Random House to get The Inquisitor’s Tale some proper monetary and critical attention.  This includes The New Yorker where his piece What Makes a Children’s Book Good? will make you think and learn and grow.  Plus it mentions Dinotopia which no one EVER mentions anymore.  Isn’t that weird?  For how popular it was?  Note to Self: Write blog post called “The Dinotopia Conspiracy”.




It’s British, but I’m sure it would only take a couple tweaks to make this good for the American market.  A market that is very very very hungry for books of this sort.  This year alone we’ve seen at least three picture books on the subject.  Now it’s time for something a little older and we have NOTHING at this precise moment in time that would suit us as well as this.


Okay, this is an interesting one.  You’ve heard of literary children’s periodicals.  You’ve heard of films and television shows for kids based on books.  Now let us consider the children’s literary podcast.  Of an original book, no less!  There is one out there, and it’s called “The Alien Adventures of Finn Caspian”.  A self-described sci-fi podcast for kids, the show is heavily influenced by and referential to children’s literature.  For all your budding science fiction fans out there then.


Honestly, I rather adored this next one.  Artist Paints Humorous Book Covers Based on Foggy Memories.  Every children’s librarian that has ever been faced with an adult patron trying to remember a book from their youth (“There was this kid and he said he feet had brains of their own and they kept making him do stuff, and . . . .”) should read and appreciate this.  My personal favorite:



Travis Jonker can do anything.  He can scale mighty mountains.  He can cross burning desert sands.  He can sail into the worst of storms.  At least I assume he can since he just about kills it with his blog.  Check out one of his latest and coolest pieces: A Geisel Award Infographic.  Travis!  Teach me your ways!


It is good to remember that even when this crazy world has let you down, #TrumpDrSeuss can spring up and make everything at least a little more ludicrous.


Oh!  This is fun.  Look what I’m up to later this month:

foundation65If you’re interested in watching this panel and you live in the Chicago area, come on by!  It’s free to the public and just look at that line-up.  Nice, right?


Do you fantasize about the perfect Little Free Library?  Have you personally figured out a way to combat all its design problems?  Do you think you might hold the key to the world’s most perfect one?  Then you might want to submit to Chronicle’s Little Free Library Design Competition.  The rules are simple. You just write out a 200-word description of your project and include an image of a sketch, rendering, model, or completed piece with that description.  All submissions are due by 11/11, though, so good luck!


Will Elena Ferrante’s New Picture Book Terrify Children?  If not then at the very least that Wall Street Journal headline is bound to terrify adults. Thanks to Jules and Travis for the link.


Lee and Low shared eight of their titles that offer alternative viewpoints to historical moments that traditionally have been taught to kids only one way.  A very good idea for a post, shared fittingly on Indigenous People’s Day.


Daily Image:

In case you’ve been stumped coming up with an original Halloween costume, I saw this one last year and just figured I’d hold onto it until I could share it with you.  Voila.



8 Comments on Fusenews: All I remember is it had a blue cover, last added: 10/17/2016
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2. Fusenews: Giant Brick Party

Sweet little Friday is upon us.  Let us celebrate the rapid approach of the weekend with ridiculousness.  And that particular item I have in spades.


SecretsofStoryFirst off, I’m so pleased and proud and delighted to inform you that my husband of the Cockeyed Caravan blog has written a book.  And what a book!  Published by Writer’s Digest, it’s called The Secrets of Story: Innovative Tools for Perfecting Your Fiction and Captivating Readers.  I like to call it Save the Cat meets Joseph Campbell.  Best of all, we’re going to have a lovely release party for it on Friday, November 4th at 6:30 at the Bookends and Beginnings bookstore in Evanston, IL and YOU ARE ALL INVITED!!  I’ll even bake something.  Not sure what.  Something.  All information can be found here.


Now that’s a good title.  From Publisher’s Weekly: Trenton Lee Stewart Accidentally Starts a Mystery on Goodreads.  Don’t you hate it when that happens?  But this is actually a very sweet tale (and not a bad idea for someone to think up).  Check it out.


Horn Book has a new parenting blog, did you see?  Called Family Reading, they’ve so far had posts on newborns who hate to read, reading on the spectrum (Ferdinand the Bull as on the spectrum makes quite a bit of sense, when you think about it), and crafts inspired by picture books.  Beware that last link, though.  Its author’s kinda crazy.


The site Atlas Obscura has a new book out, but that doesn’t mean they’ve stopped updating their site or anything.  As proof, you simply have to read their recent post, A Guide to the Real-Life Homes of the Heroes of Children’s Literature.  It’s cool.  I was worried from the description that it would be all-white-kids, all-the-time, and that’s definitely the bulk of it.  But Kindred, Tar Beach, The House on Mango Street, and a couple others make it on there.  It also gets a bit loosey goosey with the term “children’s literature”.  Holden Caulfield?  Maybe not so much.  Thanks to Matt for the link.

The Good News: Folio Magazine nominated this blog for an Eddie Digital Award.  Woohoo!  Yay, team!

The Weird News: I’m nominated in the “Column / Blog – Government / Public Sector / Education” category (not too weird) alongside fellow nominees Everyday EMS of EMS1.com, PoliceOne.com – Be Advised…  of PoliceOne.com, and strategy+business specifically the piece “Why China’s Stock Market Crisis Spread” of PwC Strategy& LLC (significantly peculiar).

Hey, folks.  Today the film The Great Gilly Hopkins will open in select theaters and on demand.  Don’t know if there’s a theater showing it near you?  Then here’s a handy dandy chart where you can see if it’s anywhere near you.  Behold:

Atlanta Plaza Theater 2 Atlanta, GA
Charlotte AMC Concord Mills 24 IMAX Concord Mills, NC
Chicago AMC Streets of Woodfield 20 IMAX Schaumburg, IL
Cleveland Atlas Diamond Centre Cinemas 16 Mentor, OH
Dallas AMC Mesquite 30 IMAX Mesquite, TX
Denver AMC Westminster Promenade 24 IMAX Westminster, CO
Houston Premiere Renaissance 15 Houston, TX
Kansas City Cinetopia Overland Park 18 & GXL Overland Park, KS
Los Angeles AMC Orange 30 IMAX & ETX Orange, CA
Los Angeles Laemmle Monica Film Center 6 Santa Monica, CA
Minneapolis Mall of America 14 Bloomington, MN
New York Pavilion 9 Brooklyn, NY
New York Carmel Movieplex 8 Carmel, NY
New York AMC Loews 19th Street East 6 New York, NY
New York Cinema Village 3 New York, NY
Orlando Rialto Theatre 8 The Villages, FL
Palm Springs Tristone Cinemas Palm Desert 10 Palm Desert, CA
Philadelphia AMC Neshaminy 24 IMAX Bensalem, PA
Phoenix AMC Arizona Center 24 Phoenix, AZ
Salt Lake City Megaplex 20 at The District IMAX South Jordan, UT
Seattle Varsity 3 Theatres Seattle, WA
Wash. DC AMC Loews Rio Cinemas 18 IMAX Gaithersburg, MD

Good stuff.


Daily Image:

Neat! Travis Jonker discovered this site where you can Brickify (turn into LEGOs) any image. He had a fun post where you could guess his brickified covers. I decided to do my own books out of curiosity.  The results:




Is it bad to say that I kinda like some of these more?  Thanks to 100 Scope Notes for the link.


5 Comments on Fusenews: Giant Brick Party, last added: 10/13/2016
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3. Fusenews: Dem-o-gorgon or Dem-a-gorgon?

Morning, poppins!

Yesterday, for the first time in a long while, I submitted a Video Sunday for your approval.  Trouble is, I may have failed to mention one of the most fascinating videos out there with a tie-in to books for kids, so I’d like to rectify the situation today.

kidpresidentThe title of the article read, ‘Last Week Tonight’: John Oliver Turned a 20-Year-Old Kids’ Book with ‘Startling Parallels’ to Trump into a Bestseller.  Naturally I tried figuring out what book they were talking about but I was coming up short.  Turns out it’s good old The Kid Who Ran for President by Dan Gutman.  That’s a title that is consistently on New York City public school reading lists every single year.  Wouldn’t be surprised a jot if that’s how Last Week Tonight‘s writing staff heard about it (some of them must have kids).  Glad to see it getting a bit of attention here and there. I won’t give away which candidate the “startling parallels” refer to (kidding!).  Thanks to PW Children’s Bookshelf for the link.

A Gene Luen Yang comic piece for the New York Times simply called Glare of Disdain?  Don’t mind if I do!

Horn Book came out with their 2015-2016 Yearbook Superlatives post once more.  Fun bit.  I wonder if they collect them throughout the year as they do their reading.

Tis the battle of the smarty-pants!  Who did it better?  Adam Rex and Christian Robinson at Horn Book or Jory John and Bob Shea at Kirkus?  The choice is yours (though Christian Robinson probably sweeps the deck with his magnificent “Black people are magic” line).

See how I’m going from a Horn Book post to a Horn Book / Kirkus post to a Kirkus review?  That’s why they pay me the big bucks, folks.  In any case, usually when I post a review on this blog I like to link the books mentioned in the review to Kirkus.  Why?  Because they’re the review journal that has the most free archived older children’s book reviews online.  Generally this is a good plan but once in a while it throws me for a loop.  For example, a reviewer of the original Nate the Great back in 1972 had serious problems with the title.  Your homework for the day is to read the review and then figure out what precisely the “stereotype” the book was faulty of conveying really was.  I’ve read this review about ten times and I’m still baffled.  Any ideas?

winniepooh01-768x512So I worked at NYPL for a number of years (11 in total).  Of those, I spent about five or six of them working in close proximity to the original Winnie-the-Pooh toys.  And in all that time I never knew them to look as good as they do right now.  Oo la la!  Goggle at that restored Kanga!  And a Piglet where his skin ISN’T falling off his body?  I don’t even know the guy now.  No word on whether or not the restoration yielded more information on the music box in Pooh’s tummy (or if it’s even still there).  Still, they look great (and appear to have a whole new display area too!).  Thanks to Sharyn November for the link.

Did you know that Cricket Media (which runs Cricket Magazine as well as other periodicals) has a blog?  I tell you this partly because I’m trying to contact someone at their Chicago location and so far my efforts have been for naught.  A little help?

Did you know there was a children’s book award for science fiction?  Yup. “The Golden Duck Awards, which are designed to encourage science fiction literature for children, have been given annually since 1992.”  And as far as I can tell, they may still be going on.  Check out their site here to see for yourself.  You can suggest books from the previous year too, so have at it, peoples.

So I give up.  Slate?  You win.  You do good posts on children’s books.  I was wrong to doubt you.  That post about how your son loves “bad guys” so you read him Tomi Ungerer’s The Three RobbersThat’s good stuff.  And the piece on how terrible the U.S. is at translating children’s books?  Also excellent.  To say nothing of all the other excellent posts you’ve come up with and researched well.  I doff my cap.  Your pop-up blog is a rousing success.  Well done you.

Question: How often has a documentary been made about a nonfiction children’s picture book about a true subject?  Once at least.

Saw this next one on the old listservs and figured it might be of use to someone:

I just wanted to pass along an opportunity that I’m hoping that you’ll hope promote for ALSC. Every year, we give away four $600 stipends for ALSC members to attend Annual for the first time. Applications are open now and are being accepted up to October 1, 2016. For 2017, Penguin Random House is including one ticket for each winner to the Newbery-Caldecott-Wilder Banquet. Here is some more information.

Daily Image:

Because I just cannot stop with the Stranger Things.  This one came via my friend Marci.  Look closely enough and you’ll see Will hiding in the Upside Down.


Thanks to Marci Morimoto for the link.


9 Comments on Fusenews: Dem-o-gorgon or Dem-a-gorgon?, last added: 9/7/2016
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4. Fusenews: Born and raised in South Detroit . . .

This blog has spoiled me beyond all hope or recognition.  Over the years I’ve used it to find nannies, to get books re-published, and now it has solved a mystery that lay dormant for years.  Back in November of 2009 I decided I wanted to track down a book from my childhood.  Writing stumpers into the internet ether is usually rather pointless and the post Thanksgiving: The Ernestine Mystery was no exception.  So imagine my surprise when reader Desiree Preston wrote me the following note this week:

“Speaking of happy childhood memories, I was able to track down what is for sure the book I was looking for when I read you article at http://blogs.slj.com/afuse8production/2009/11/26/thanksgiving-the-ernestine-mystery/#comment-4765. I don’t know if it is really the one you were looking for, but I thought I’d let you know. It is called Good Old Ernie by Jerry Mallett. Shout out to my second grade teacher, Judy Gomoluch, who is still good friends with my fourth grade teacher Mary Kain, and saw and answered my Facebook post.”

Could this be true?  Jerry Mallett?  So I tracked down the cover and lo and behold  . . .


That’s it, people.  I can’t believe it.  After seven years the mystery is solved.  Let that be a lesson to you, kids.  DON’T STOP BELIEVING! HOLD ONTO THAT FEEEEEEEELING . . . .


So what else is going on in the wild and wonderful world of children’s literature?  Well, since I’m already talking about Thanksgiving, it’s not much of a stretch to mention Christmas as well.  Now has anyone else noticed that there are a LOT of Nutcracker books out in 2016?  I honestly think I’ve seen five different picture book versions of the story, all from different publishers.  Now I’ve heard something that may interest my Chicago readers.  Brian Selznick has recently been working on some fun new projects, including a Chicago related ballet.  According to him . . .

“I’m writing the story for the new version of The Nutcracker (to be set during the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair) at the Joffrey choreographed by Christopher Wheeldon. It premieres this December! I think it’s going to be good…http://joffrey.org/nutcrackerbios.”

One glimpse at the folks behind it (Basil Twist! Christopher Wheeldon!) and I don’t merely “think” it’s going to be good.  I know it’s going to be good.  Sendak (the only other children’s book illustrator I know who had a hand in a reinterpretation of The Nutcracker) would be proud.  Hat tip to Brian for the tip.


Now let’s double back to NYC, since I’m sure there are folks in that neck of the woods that would like a little children’s literature-related fun.  Interested in a book festival that’ll get you out of the city?  Why not try The Warwick Children’s Book Festival?  As it was sold to me . . .

“Apple- and pumpkin-picking, farm markets, lovely shops, galleries and restaurants downtown…lots to enjoy for families looking for a fun afternoon on a holiday weekend.  And among other illustrious authors and illustrators such as Wendell Minor, Jane Yolen, Ame Dyckman, Brian Karas, Roxane Orgill, one of your Boston Globe/Horn Book 2016 award winners, will be there with Jazz Day!  And…the Festival is presented by Albert Wisner Public Library, winner of the Best Small Library in America 2016 award conferred by Library Journal!  We’re excited to invite everyone from the NY Metro Area to discover our festival, our library and our town.”

Go in my stead, gentle readers.  Go in my stead.


I’ll linger just a tad longer in the NYC area since to my infinite delight I found that the irascible, entirely delightful Brooklyn librarian Rita Meade has just been named a “Celebrity Librarian” and one of The Brooklyn 100.  Go, Rita, Go!


melodyprimaryNow I’ll hike back over to the Midwest again.  Maybe I’ll stop in Detroit on the way.  Why?  Because in a bit of absolutely fascinating news we’ve learned the the newest American Girl is Melody Ellison, a child of early ’60s Detroit.  Mental Floss also had this to say about the gal:

A six-member advisory board worked to craft her portrayal and included prominent members of the NAACP, history professors, and the President and CEO of the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History in Detroit. Along with author Denise Lewis Patrick, they worked together to ensure Melody’s story was as true to life as possible—including her hair. The texture of the doll’s locks was changed multiple times to reflect the era.

“In the late ’60s, the majority of African-Americans did have straight hair,” Juanita Moore, President and CEO of the Wright Museum, said to the Detroit Free Press. “It may not have been bone straight, but it was straightened.”

Thanks to PW Children’s Bookshelf for the news.


No doubt you’ve heard it elsewhere by now, but the saddest information of the week was that Llama Llama’s mama, Anna Dewdney, died recently.  I don’t think my family owns any full runs of picture book series . . . with the exception of the Llama Llama books.  There’s a lovely obit for her in PW worth looking on.  She will be missed.


Turn now to happy news.  They’ve announced the speakers for the upcoming ALSC Mini Institute, which will occur before the ALA Midwinter Conference in January.  Behold the speakers for yourself, then sign up.


Me stuff.  The very kind Suzanne Slade interviewed me about my picture book Giant Dance Party at the blog Picture Book Builders.  Woohoo!  Still in print, baby!


Pop Goes the Page at Princeton is still up to their usual tricks.  Today they’re wowing us with their tribute to Alice in Wonderland.  Try not to keen too mournfully when you realize you missed a chance to hear Leonard Marcus talk about the book’s relationship to surrealism.


Daily Image:

Not much on the roster today, so why don’t I just send you off with a picture of me reading the latest John Patrick Green graphic novel Hippotomister to my kids?  They adore it, by the way.  So two thumbs up from 2-year-olds and 5-year-olds equally over here.



3 Comments on Fusenews: Born and raised in South Detroit . . ., last added: 9/13/2016
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5. Fusenews: “You have no power over me”

Fast fast, like lightning, fast!  It’s a Fusenews round-up of epic quickie proportions!


SnowyDayFirst up, my buddy Warren Truitt used to work with me in the Central Children’s Room of New York Public Library.  Then he moved to Alabama.  He’s kept busy, since that time with a long-term personal project.  This one man machine is intent on setting up every single child in every single preschool in Lee Col, AL with three books that they can take home as their own.  To do that, he has set up a very specific registry.  If you want to help him out go to this Amazon wishlist and buy him one or more of the books on this list.  This is a straight up good cause with direct results.  Make yourself feel good about yourself today.


In other news, I have been mistakenly complimented.  Cece Bell, the marvelous creator behind such books as El Deafo and the Rabbit and Robot easy book series wrote a post recently in which she wrote the following:

“After El Deafo came out, … Betsy Bird pointed out that the first book in the series (Rabbit & Robot: The Sleepover) seemed autobiographical to her. (She was right in some ways—I had initially modeled Rabbit on someone else, but while working on the book realized that the high-strung, anxious Rabbit is pretty darn close to me.) Betsy used her crazy-good comp-lit skills and suggested that my personal connection to the book went even further. She pointed out that while Rabbit might represent me (I’m a rabbit in El Deafo, after all), perhaps the problem-solving Robot might represent the Phonic Ear, my clunky hearing aid from elementary school. I think Betsy was right! Robot drives Rabbit crazy but ultimately helps him out; my Phonic Ear drove me crazy, but ultimately helped me out. A lot.)”

She goes on to explain how the newest book in the series follows in this vein, though she didn’t intend it to do so.  Now, you know me.  I’m vanity incarnate.  I like taking credit for things, but this?  I can’t take credit for this.  In point of fact it was my genius husband who actually came up with the Rabbit & Robot = El Deafo connection.  So I thank you, Cece, but in truth it is Matt Bird who deserves this honor.  I am but his humble vessel, parlaying his theories into the universe.


storm-reidSeems like every day we’re getting more and more information about the upcoming Wrinkle in Time movie.  It’s being directed by Ava DuVernay.  This is good.  Oprah will star in some capacity.  Let the Oprah as winged centaur fan art begin!  Still good news.  Mindy Kaling and Reese Witherspoon may be involved somehow.  Better and better.  And lastly, Storm Reid (seen here) will be Meg.  Perfect!  Right age and everything.  BUT, and this is a big but, there is still one way they can mess everything up.  MEG. MUST. WEAR. GLASSES.  If Meg is not wearing glasses in this movie then I am checking out.  Harriet the Spy didn’t wear glasses in that Rosie O’Donnell film and Meg didn’t wear glasses the last time they filmed this.  Team Glasses, that’s me.  Let’s see what happens.  Thanks to Laurie Gwen Shapiro for the link.


Anyone else notice that there’s been a distinct increase in the number of articles praising translated books for kids and asking for more out there?  Bookriot just came out with 100 Great Translated Kids Books From Around the World.  I am not familiar with this M. Lynx Qualey but this is top notch writing.  Hooray, #WorldKidLit Month!


New Blog Alert: In my travels I just found a new blog via a recent New York Times Book Review.  New to me anyway.  Apparently this woman’s been doing this since 2012.  Meet Catherine Hong.  She works on magazines.  She blogs at www.mrslittle.com.  And she writes on interesting topics with interesting titles.  Here’s a smattering of what I mean:

Read that last one if nothing else.  This is my kind of woman (to quote Animal from The Muppet Show)!


The National Book Award longlists were announced this week, people!  And guess what?  There’s a nice equal smattering of YA and children’s literature on the list.  Hooray!  Some years it’s all YA with just one children’s book squeezing in there.  This year there are SIX children’s books, just slightly tipping in favor of younger readers.  I’ve read five of them.  See if you can guess which one I haven’t read.  It’s not as obvious as you might think.


And now, your daily reminder that David Foster Wallace once taught Mac Barnett.  I will repeat.  The author of Infinite Jest taught the author of Extra Yarn.  I’m just going to sit and process that for a while.  Carry on.


Hey!  Look over there!  At the Horn Book Podcast (I listen to all the episodes – I’m such a junkie) Jules Danielson was on and she said many smart things.  Many!  Go listen to her and feel smart while doing so.


Confession: I was just going to coast today, since I’d technically already submitted my four blog posts for the week (Sundays totally counts).  Then Travis Jonker goes and does THREE brilliant posts in. a. row.  This will not stand.  I can’t compete with that.  First he predicted the upcoming New York Times Best Illustrated books for 2016.  Then he did a piece called Who Has Published the Most New York Times Best Illustrated Books in the Last Decade (the answer may surprise you . . . but won’t) and then he followed that up with The Failed Political Campaigns of Children’s Book Characters.  I was particularly keen on the last of these because just two days ago I interviewed Aaron Reynolds about President Squid for this new show I’m doing.  I recommend that if you don’t want to listen to my big face, skip to about 18:30 where you can experience the most enjoyable sensation of watching a really good author/performer read his book aloud.  The voice of President Squid here is fantastic.

Another New Blog Alert: Did you know that the Horn Book has created a new blog?  Designed specifically to aid families that like to read together, the Family Reading Blog just started.  Check it out!

Did I ever tell you about the time I dug through the library equivalent of the last scene of Raiders of the Lost Ark to try to find Pura Belpré’s puppets for a Leonard Marcus exhibit?  That was fun.  In any case, please check out this article How NYC’s First Puerto Rican Librarian Brought Spanish to the Shelves.  I don’t think they mention it in the piece but there’s actually a great picture book about her called The Storyteller’s Candle/La Velita de los Cuentos.  Check it out if you’ve a chance!

You could do a lot of things with your day today. For my part, I suggest that you read The Paris Review article What We Talk About When We Talk About Ill-Fitting Doll Suits. If nothing else, read the captions on the photographs. They’ll get you through your day. Thanks to Sara O’Leary for the link.


By the way, remember Jules Danielson?  Are you aware of the role she played recently in getting 100 authors and illustrators to contribute beautifully painted piggy banks to help bookseller Stephanie Appell pay for her cancer treatments?   Well the piggies got made and they are gorgeous.  Really beautifully done.  Wouldn’t you like to own one?


Of course you would!  So here are the details then:

How You Can Participate (And Bid on the Piggies!)

  • If you’re in Nashville, join us for the BANK ON BOOKSELLERS party on Sunday, September 25, from 5:30-7:30 p.m. to view all the piggies and get the bidding started! The party is open to the public. A $10 donation is requested at the door.
  • No matter where you are, you can see all the piggies and bid online via BiddingOwl beginning at 6:30 p.m. on Sunday, September 25, 2016, through 8 p.m. on Friday, September 30. 
  • Spread the word: share this post and tag it #BankOnBooksellers!


Meanwhile, in New York City, Gallery Nucleus is hosting a Labyrinth 30th Anniversary Tribute Exhibition tomorrow (September 17th) from 7-10 p.m. called “Through Dangers Untold”. I would go.

Two great tastes that taste great together: First Book and Lee & Low.  Now these two powerhouses have combined.  LEE & LOW Partners with First Book and NEA Foundation to Expand New Visions Award.  Just in case you were feeling depressed about the state of the world today.


Daily Image:

If anyone has any additional information about this book that somehow never got published, I’d love to hear it.


Check out the plot description: “Years before Sarah entered the Labyrinth, a young boy named Jareth faced his own incredible journey in a desperate attempt to rescue his true love from the clutches of the wicked and beautiful Goblin Queen. Archaia and the Jim Henson Company and proud to present an original prequel to Jim Henson’s classic fantasy film.”  Only they didn’t because the book never happened.  Mysterious.  Reminds me of that old fan theory about the movie too.


2 Comments on Fusenews: “You have no power over me”, last added: 9/19/2016
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6. Fusenews

Happy Fusenews day to you, guv’nor.  In today’s episode we tip our hat to a post last week that is probably my most popular of all time.  Who knew knitting needles could be such lightning rods?  In any case, on with the newz!


boywhodrewHow old is the picture book biography as we know it today?  Recently I’ve been thinking long and hard about what its purpose is, as well as its limitations.  Jacqueline Davies has thought longer and harder in some ways, though, since her recent post Writers and the Real Estate Market takes a very personal look at the choices she made when she wrote The Boy Who Drew Birds.  She makes some remarkably interesting points about content and format.


Boy, it must be hard.  Every year, without fail, Marjorie Ingall (Mamaleh Knows Best) scours the publishing world for great Jewish-centric books for kids.  The pickings are almost always slim, but once in a while you get some really good biographies. Picture book biographies (I sense a theme to today’s post) no less.  The first is of the current Ruth Bader Ginsberg bio in the piece Teaching Kids the Value of Dissent and the other Rich Michelson’s most recent bio in Leonard Nimoy’s Fascinating Life.  Great books.  Great write-ups.


Librarians.  We have one of those professions where it’s pretty clear that whenever we appear in the news, 50% of the time it’s not about something good.  Case in point, the recent news about a thrifty library cataloger who donated $4 million to his employer after his death.  His employer, however, was a university library.  So, naturally, $1 million of that is going to a football scoreboard.  Some folks are less than entirely pleased with that development.


I mentioned it last week but I’m mentioning it again today because it’s a darn good cause.  If you don’t know about why authors and illustrators alike (as well as celebs like Al Roker and Nicole Kidman) are painting piggy banks for auction, you should fill yourself in here.  A good cause and you get art.  The bidding just started yesterday, so don’t be left behind. And I know I won’t get it, but this is my own personal favorite piggy:



I already read this four years ago, but with the recent passing of Gene Wilder I saw it included in a Chronicle Books newsletter and just couldn’t resist putting it up again.  It’s Gene Wilder’s handwritten notes on the changes he’d prefer to the Willy Wonka costume he was initially given.  Ole blue eyes himself.


Daily Image:

Maurice Sendak was initially going to design that old movie Return to Oz?!?  Apparently it never happened but he did create a publicity poster for the ad campaign.  Not that it really looks like any of the characters in the movie (I’m working on a couple theories on who the guy on the far right is) but in terms of the book Ozma of Oz, it’s not terrible.


Many many thanks to J.L. Bell at Oz and Ends for this image.  Yet another old post from 2012.  I’m having that kind of a day.


3 Comments on Fusenews, last added: 9/26/2016
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7. Fusenews: In my next life I’m coming back as a “Rotraut”

A lot to say and so little time to say it.  Let’s get started!


LittlePrincessToday, if you are at all feeling blue, I suggest you read The Toast piece Jaya Catches Up: A Little Princess which is a killer breakdown of what is inarguably a problematic book.  The Marie Antoinette portions are particularly choice.


Next, the 2016 Hans Christian Andersen Award Winners were announced. What does that mean for you? It means you should be boning up on your international children’s book knowledge, of course.  Commit the names “Rotraut Susanne Berner of Germany” (who won for Illustration) and Cao Wenxuan of China (who won for Writing)” to memory. For more info on the books and the winners, go here.


If you were speaking to the man on the street (or woman, or child, or what have you) and they said, “Boy, those children’s books took the hardest left turn a series ever took”, what series would you assume the person was speaking about?  Here is your answer and it’s a heckuva amusing post to boot.


Seven Impossible Things features Gareth Hinds.  And all is right with the universe.


Lonely_Doll_CoverOh. In a weird way this makes sense.  They’re turning The Secret Life of the Lonely Doll, the biography of Dare Wright, creator of the Lonely Doll book series, in to a film with Naomi Watts and Jessica Lange.  You know what that means, don’t you?  Lonely Doll fever is poised to sweep the nation.  Be wary. Be warned.  And buy stock in frilly underwear.


Remember when J.K Rowling said she had this “political fairytale” that was going to be her next non-Harry Potter children’s book?  Looks like it’s kaputski.  Which is to say, about 30 years after Ms. Rowling’s death someone will pull it out of that drawer and publish it anyway.  So it goes.


This next one’s roundabout three years old but I only just found it.  The mom from the Cat in the Hat finally speaks.  Quite frankly, I always found that polka-dotted dress of hers rather fetching (to say nothing of her keen shoes) but that may just be me.


If you had the great good fortune to see the NYPL exhibit The ABC of It then you would have noticed one section was dedicated to a fascinating array of Soviet children’s art.  I remember helping curator Leonard Marcus locate these books (of which NYPL owns a goodly number) and he picked and chose the best amongst them.  But where did they originate?  Having recently finished M.T. Anderson’s Symphony for the City of the Dead, I took the little bit of context I’d acquired and applied it to this fabulous piece on tygertale called Revolutionary Russian Children’s Books. Now I’m just beginning to understand. Thanks to Phil Nel (I’m pretty sure) for the link.


Growing up my mom had a machine in the attic that could type out braille.  I don’t know why we owned it but I liked it a lot. Braille children’s books available in a mass market context have always been difficult to obtain, though.  With this in mind, I’m very pleased to see DK is now releasing a braille board book series.  Wow.  Way to go, DK!


All right.  My four-year-old is upstairs asleep and in her room are all my Harry Potter books.  Otherwise I would check this myself.  You see, they just released the first look of the new Jim Kay illustrated Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.  And I am staring and staring at this cover and I need your help.  Look at the cover right here:


Am I crazy or is that car chock full of Weaselys?  And doesn’t Harry drive to Hogwarts with just Ron?  At least that’s what the old British cover told me:


So . . . huh?  [Note: Interestingly the Buzzfeed article has plenty of comments but no one is pointing this out so I may just be completely and utterly wrong about everything]


In other news, the Andre Norton Award for Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy longlist was just released.  Frances Hardinge made the cut!!!  Wooty woot woot woot!!

Seriously Wicked, Tina Connolly (Tor Teen)
Court of Fives, Kate Elliott (Little, Brown)
Cuckoo Song, Frances Hardinge (Macmillan UK 5/14; Amulet)
Archivist Wasp, Nicole Kornher-Stace (Big Mouth House)
Zeroboxer, Fonda Lee (Flux)
Shadowshaper, Daniel José Older (Levine)
Bone Gap, Laura Ruby (Balzer + Bray)
Nimona, Noelle Stevenson (HarperTeen)
Updraft, Fran Wilde (Tor)


Oh, I absolutely love this. Children’s art.  Not art for children, mind you, but art by children and its ramifications when studying history.  Again, I think I have Phil Nel to thank for this one.  He finds all the good stuff.

Daily Image:

The Make Way for Ducklings statues are nothing new (nor are they the only ducklings as my old post on all the public children’s literature statues in America attests).  Nor is it new to put hats on them.  That said, this recent yarnbombing goes above and beyond the call of duty.  That’s some seriously good knitting!


Read more about them here.


12 Comments on Fusenews: In my next life I’m coming back as a “Rotraut”, last added: 4/14/2016
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8. Fusenews: I wouldn’t waste my time riding a bike

Hokey dokey.  Too much stuff here to cover very well, but try we shall.  Hold on to your hats, folks!  It’s gonna be a bumpy ride.


saltFirst off, you know how I was talking the other day about constructing the ideal educator website of children’s literature resources?  Well, this might have to be one of said resources I’d include.  Called Uncover the Past, the site is dedicated to “helping library and education professionals teach history through children’s literature!”  The booklists are particularly interesting.
Thanks to Rebecca Redinger for the link.


Next up, one for the “how cute is this?” files.  I don’t know why the idea of Mary Blair tableware isn’t commonplace, but so far this is the first place I’ve seen it done properly.  Blair, as you may recall, worked as a Disney animator for years before becoming a children’s book illustrator.Take the survey and you might win a set of your very own.


Mmm.  Process.  Sweet, delicious process.  What’s better than watching an Art Director explain how they came up with a YA cover?  Watching an Art Director explain how they came up with a YA cover after considering LOADS of alternatives.  Chad Beckerman shows us how The Haters came to be.  I don’t usually do YA, but in this special case I am making an exception.  You bet I am.


auctionOo.  Auction. Now normally one wouldn’t have the money for such a thing, but this one’s special.  What we’re talking about here is a Refugee Benefit Auction, created by authors Shannon Hale and Mette Ivie Harrison.  100% of the proceeds go to Lifting Hands International, a charity that gets life-saving supplies directly to refugee camps.  As for the things you could get, they’re pretty fantastic.  My personal favorite?  A pole dance (or fan dance, they’re easy) performed by Shannon Hale and Daniel Handler.  “Negligible nudity assured”.  Oddly, this item has yet to secure an initial bid.  Would someone like to lend me $10,000?


The Fictional Book Characters Who Sparked Our Sexual Awakenings. Meh. None of these ranked in my book, but it’s interesting to see the fellers other gals were into.  And, happily, it reminded me of one of my favorite Toast pieces of all time: Things I’ve Learned About Heterosexual Female Desire From Decades Of Reading.


I think I’m the last one to link to the Alexander London piece Our Stories Are As Unlimited As Our Selves or Why I Came Out as a Gay Children’s Book Author.  A great piece and one that ties in nicely with the GLBTQ chapter of Wild Things.  Should we ever update that book, this is going in.


UndergroundAbductorOo!  Eisner Award nominees.  Love that stuff, I do.  And check it out!  Not only is Nathan Hale nominated in the Best Publication for Kids category (for The Underground Abductor, naturally) but he’s also in the Best Writer / Artist category as well.  He is the ONLY children’s book creator in that category, by the way.  Regardless of whether or not he wins, that is significant.


Travis Jonker. He comes up with so many good ideas.  Have you seen his Endangered Series, uh, series?  Well, it’s a great idea.  Series that once were strong but now are waning are given a close examination.  Cam Jansen was the latest to fall under scrutiny.  I suspect The Kids of the Polk Street School already hit the dust, but if not then this would be an ideal candidate for a future post.


Wow.  Two thumbs up to the ALSC board for voting to cancel the National Institute in Charlotte, North Carolina.  American Libraries Magazine has the scoop.  Thanks to Jules Danielson for the link.


How on this good green earth did I miss Rick Riordan’s letter to kids who are faced with the dire prospect of being shown one of the Percy Jackson movies in school?  I’ve seen authors dislike their books’ adaptations before, but nothing quite matches this.  Thanks to Monica Edinger for the link.


“With such a huge international variety of books and illustrators on display in Bologna, are there differences in illustration styles among individual countries?” Yep. Moving on.  Oh, wait . . . no, let’s dwell on this idea a bit longer.  Four German children’s book publishers were asked this question and they gave their responses.  The thing is, here in the States we’re seeing some remarkably high quality German children’s book fare on a regular basis and it’s GREAT!  I’d love this question to be regularly posed with folks from other countries as well.


The site Brightly has had a couple good articles up lately.  I liked 8 Surprising Facts About Your Local Librarian not the least because I knew the librarians quoted.  NYC pride!


Daily Image:

I almost never do images of books here for the Daily Image since it’s sort of a case of bringing coals to Newcastle.  But then I saw that one of my greatest picture readalouds, one of my core books, a title I’ve loved for years, is getting a sequel.  At long long last I have an answer for those kids who have been asking me, “Is there a sequel with the tractor?”


Yes, children.  Yes there is.  And life is good.


6 Comments on Fusenews: I wouldn’t waste my time riding a bike, last added: 4/28/2016
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9. Fusenews: The occasional “unruly pleasure”

I’ve done it again.  Delayed my Fusenews too long and now this post is going to overflow with too much good stuff.  Forewarned is forearmed, as they say.

HallmarkMe stuff for the start. And in fact, there just so much Me Stuff today that I’m just going to cram it all into this little paragraph here and be done with it. To begin, for the very first time my book Wild Things: Acts of Mischief in Chidren’s Literature (co-written with Jules Danielson and Peter Sieruta) was cited in an article. Notably, a piece in The Atlantic entitled Frog and Toad and the Self.  Woot!  In other news I’m judging a brand new picture book award. It’s the Hallmark Great Stories Award. Did you or someone you know produce a picture book in 2016 on the topic of “togetherness and community”? Well $10,000 smackers could be yours. In terms of seeing me talk, I’m reading my picture book (and more) at the Printer’s Row Lit Fest on June 11th.  If you’re in the Chicago area and ever wanted to see me in blue furry leg warmers, now your chance has come here.  Finally, during Book Expo I managed to coerce Hyperion Books into handing me three of their most delicious authors (Shannon Hale, Dean Hale, and Eoin Colfer) so that I could feed them to WGN Radio.  You can hear our talk here, if you like.  And check out how cute we all are:


Colfer, for what it is worth, is exceedingly comfortable.  I highly recommend that should you see him you just glom onto him for long periods of time.  Like a sticky burr.  He also apparently has an Artemis Fowl movie in the works (for real this time!) and you’ll never guess who the director might be.

This is interesting. Not too long ago children’s book author C. Alex London wrote a piece for BuzzFeed called Why I Came Out As a Gay Children’s Book Author.  It got a lot of attention and praise.  Then, earlier this month, Pseudonymous Bosch wrote a kind of companion piece in the New York Times Book Review. Also Known As tackles not just his reasons for a nom de plume (skillfully avoiding any and all mentions of Lemony Snicket, I could not help but notice) but also how this relates to his life as a gay children’s book author.

Hey, full credit to The New Yorker  for this great recentish piece on weeding a collection and the glory that is Awful Library Books.  My sole regret is that I never let them know when I weeded this guy:


The copyright page said 1994, but I think we know better.  Thanks to Don Citarella for the link.

Cool. The publisher Lee & Low has just released the winner of the New Visions Writing Contest, now in its third year.  Congrats to Supriya Kelkar for her win!

New Podcast Alert: With podcasting being so popular these days, I do regret that my sole foray into the form has pretty much disappeared from the face of the globe. Fortunately there are talented folks to listen to instead, including the folks at Loud in the Library. Teacher librarians Chris Patrick and Tracy Chrenka from Grand Rapids, MI (homestate pride!) get the big names, from picture books illustrators to YA writers. Listen up!

New Blog Alert: The press release from SLJ sounded simple. “SLJ is pleased to welcome The Classroom Bookshelf to our blog network. In its sixth year, the Bookshelf features a weekly post about a recently published children’s book, including a lesson plan and related resources.” Then I made a mistake. I decided to look at the site. Jaw hit floor at a fast and furious rate leaving a dent in the linoleum. Contributors Randy Heller, Mary Ann Cappiello, Grace Enriquez, Katie Cunningham, and Erika Thulin Dawes (all professors at Lesley University’s outstanding school of ed.), I salute you. If I ever stop writing my own reviews, you’ll know why.



This one’s just for the New Yorkers. I’m sure you already saw this New Yorker paean to the Mid-Manhattan library, but just in case you didn’t it’s here, “unruly pleasures” and all.

For whatever reason, PW Children’s Bookshelf always goes to my “Promotions” folder on Gmail, so I assume they already mentioned this article. Just in case they didn’t, though, I sort of love that The Atlantic (second time mentioned today!) wrote an ode to Sideways Stories from Wayside School. Thanks to Kate for the link.

Now some Bookshare info.  The idea of providing free ebooks for kids with print disabilities is a good one.  And, as it happens, not a new one.  Bookshare, an online accessible library, just added its 400,000th title to its collection and boy are they proud.  Free for all U.S. students with qualifying print disabilities and U.S. schools, they’ve a blog you might want to read, and they service kids with blindness, low vision, dyslexia, and physical disabilities.

Daily Image:

You probably heard that Neil Patrick Harris will be playing Count Olaf in the upcoming Netflix series of A Series of Unfortunate Events.  Now we have photographic proof.


I wonder if Brett Helquist ever marvels at how much power his art has had over these various cinematic incarnations.  The lack of socks is a particularly accurate touch.



1 Comments on Fusenews: The occasional “unruly pleasure”, last added: 5/24/2016
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10. Fusenews: Of shoes and ships and sealing wax, of Garbage Pail Kids and kings . . .

Happy Monday to you!  You want the goods?  I’ve got the goods.  Or, at the very least, a smattering of interesting ephemera.  Let’s do this thing.


BostonGlobeHornBookFirst and foremost, you may have noticed the Boston Globe-Horn Book Awards were announced.  The BGHB Awards are some of the strangest in the biz since they encompass the nonexistent publishing year that extends from May to June.  How are we to use such an award?  No cash benefit is included.  And traditionally it has been seen as either a litmus test for future book awards or as a way of rectifying past sins / confirming past awards.  This year it’s a bit of a mix of both.  Both 2015 and 2016 titles appear on the list.  You can see the full smattering in full here or watch a video of the announcement here.  And, for what it’s worth, I served on the committee this year, so if you’ve a beef to beef, lay it on me.


Since this news item appeared on Huffington Post I’m not sure if it is in any way true.  If not, it’s still a lovely thought.  According to HP, the cover artist of Sweet Valley High takes commissions.  Just let that one sink in a little.  I’m not interested, though.  Call me when the cover artist of Baby-Sitters Club starts doing the same.


It’s odd that I haven’t linked to this before, but a search of my archives yields nothing.  Very well.  Whether or not you were aware of it, The Toast has The Giving Tree in their Children’s Stories Made Horrific series.  Shooting fish in a barrel, you say?  Not by half.  It’s not a new piece.  Came out three years ago, as far as I can tell.  And yet . . . it’s perfect.  The latest in the series, by the way, was a Frog and Toad tale.  Sublime.


This Week in Broadway: Tuck Everlasting is out. Wimpy Kid is in.


In other news vaguely related to theater, Lin Manuel-Miranda is slated to star in a 2018 Mary Poppins musical sequel.  And no, not on stage.  On the silver screen.  This, naturally, led to the child_lit listserv postulating over how this could be possible since P.L. Travers had a pretty strong posthumous grip on the rest of the Mary Poppins rights.


So I worked for New York Public Library for eleven years.  Eleven years can be a lot of time. During my tenure I observed the very great highs and very low lows of the system.  I like to think I knew it pretty well.  Now here’s a secret about NYPL: They’re bloody awful at telling you about all the cool stuff they have going on.  Always have been.  For example, I’m tooling about the NYPL site the other day when I see this picture.


I stare at it.  I squint at it.  And finally I cannot help but come to a single solitary conclusion . . . that’s my old boss!  There.  On the left.  Isn’t that Frank Collerius, branch manager of the Jefferson Market Branch in Greenwich Village?  Yup.  The Librarian Is In Podcast seeks to simply talk “about books, culture, and what to read next.”  Frank co-hosts with RA librarian Gwen Glazer and they’re top notch. I haven’t made my way through all of them yet.  I’m particularly interested in the BookOps episode since that’s where I used to work.  And look!  I had no idea that Shola at the Schomburg was on Sesame Street.



Howdy, libraries.  How’s that STEM programming coming along?  Care for some inspiration?  Then take a gander at the blog STEM in Libraries where “a team of librarians with a passion for creating fun and engaging STEM programs for library patrons of all ages,” have so far created fifty-seven different STEM program ideas.


A helpful reader passed this on to me, so I pass it on to you: “The latest New Yorker magazine, dated June 6 and 13, may be of interest to you, if you haven’t yet seen it. It’s the Fiction issue, and in it are some essays by 5 authors, each subtitled “Childhood Reading”…with memories of the books, articles, package labels, events from their childhoods that shaped their idea of what reading is and can be. Having read a couple of these so far, I thought of you, and decided to mention them to you, in case you don’t regularly look at the New Yorker, and might not see them.”  Thanks to Fran Landt for the link.


In other NYPL news, I miss desperately being a part of the 100 Titles for Reading and Sharing committee.  Fortunately, the folks on the committee recently confessed to the books they’re finding particularly good.  So many I haven’t see yet.  To the library!


Daily Image:

You know who won the Best Bookmark Left in a Library Book Award the other day?  That’s right.  This guy.  Check it out:


Sure beats finding bacon.  I was forbidden to own these guys as a kid, so I’ve placed this little fellow in a prominent place on my desk.  Who wants to bet money that some executive somewhere is trying to figure out how to bring these back?  Let’s see . . . the last time they were made they were illustrated by Art Spiegelman.  So if Pulitzer Prize winners are the only people who can draw them, my vote for the 21st artist goes to  . . . ah . . . wait a minute.  Maus is the only graphic novel to ever win a Pulitzer?!?


8 Comments on Fusenews: Of shoes and ships and sealing wax, of Garbage Pail Kids and kings . . ., last added: 6/6/2016
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11. Fusenews: Trotsky, Harriet the Spy, A.A. Milne and More

Farm copyYou know what’s even better than serving on an award committee?  Having someone else write about it.  As I’ve mentioned in the past, I was on the judging committee for this year’s Boston Globe-Horn Book Awards alongside Chair Joanna Rudge Long and Roxanne Feldman.  It was Roxanne who reported on our discussion, and even took photos of where we met (Joanna’s gorgeous Vermont farmhouse), what we ate, and more.  There is also a particularly goofy shot of me that is impressive because even without knowing that there was a camera pointed in my direction, I seem to have made a silly face.  I am nothing if not talented in that respect.

Speaking of listening in on committees and their discussions, ALA is next week (she said, eyeing her unfinished Newbery/Caldecott Banquet outfit nervously) and that means you have a chance to sit and listen to one particular committee talk the talkety talk.  I am referring, of course, to the ALA Notables Committee.  This year they’ve released the list of books on their discussion list online for your perusal.  A lot of goodies there, as well as room for a lot of books I hope they get to eventually.


I was very sad to hear about the passing of Lois Duncan. Like many of you, she was a staple of my youth.  When Jules Danielson, Peter Sieruta, and I were writing our book Wild Things: Acts of Mischief in Children’s Literature we initially had a section, written by Peter, on why Lois stopped writing suspense novels for teens.  It’s a sad story but one that always made me admire her deeply.  She was hugely talented and will be missed.

BloodRedSpeaking of Wild Things, recently I was sent a YA galley by Marcus Sedgwick called Blood Red, Snow White.  But lest you believe it to be a YA retelling of the old Snow White / Rose Red fairytale, it ain’t.  Instead, it’s about how Arthur Ransome (he of Swallows and Amazons) got mixed up with Trotsky’s secretary and a whole lotta Bolsheviks.  What does this have to do with Wild Things?  This was yet ANOTHER rejected tale from our book.  Read the full story here on our website where we even take care to mention Sedgwick’s book (it originally was published overseas in 2007).


As I’ve mentioned before, my library hosts a pair of falcons each year directly across from the window above my desk.  I’ve watched five eggs laid, three hatch, and the babies get named and banded.  This week the little not-so-fuzzyheads are learning to fly.  It’s terrifying.  Far better that I read this older Chicago Tribune article on the banding ceremony.  They were so cute when they were fuzzy.  *sigh*


In other news, Harriet the Spy’s house is for sale.  Apparently.


Sharon Levin on the child_lit listserv had a rather fascinating little announcement up recently.  As she told it, she’d always had difficulty finding a really fast way to catalog her personal library.  Cause let’s face it – scanning every single barcode takes time.  Then she found a new app and . . . well, I’ll let her tell it:

“Shelfie is a free app for iOS and Android (www.shelfie.com) where you can take a picture of your bookshelf and the app will automatically recognize your book spines and generate a catalog of your library. In addition, the team behind the app has made deals with over 1400 publishers (including HarperCollins, Macmillan, and Hachette) to let you download discounted (usually around 80% off) or free ebook or audiobook edition of your paper books (right now these publisher deals cover about 25% of the books on an “average” shelf). The app also lets you browse other readers’ shelves. Shelfie will also give you personalized book recommendations based on how readers with similar taste in books to you organize the books on their shelves. The founder of Shelfie is named Peter Hudson and he’d love to hear any suggestions about how he can make the app better. Peter’s email is peter.hudson@shelfie.com.

Thanks to Sharon Levin for the heads up.


I leave NYPL and its delightful Winnie-the-Pooh toys and what happens?  The world goes goofy for the story of A.A. Milne and Christopher Robin.  Now we just found out that Domhnall Gleeson (a.k.a. Bill Weasley in the Harry Potter films) has just been cast as Milne in an upcoming bio-pic.  Will wonders never cease?

Double TroubleAre you familiar with the works of Atinuke?  An extraordinary storyteller, her Anna Hibiscus books are among my favorite early chapter books of all time.  They do, however, occasionally catch flack of saying they take place in “Africa” rather than a specific country. Recently, K.T. Horning explained on Monica Edinger’s recent post Diversity Window, Mirror, or Neither that Atinuke did this on purpose so that kids in Africa could imagine the stories as taking place in their own countries.  That makes perfect sense.  The ensuing discussion in Monica’s post is respectful, interesting, and with a variety of different viewpoints, all worth reading.  In short, the kind of talk a blogger hopes for when he or she writes something.  Well done, Monica.


Big time congrats to the nominees for the Neustadt Prize.  It’s a whopping $10,000 given to a children’s author given on the basis of literary merit.  It may be the only children’s award originating in America that is also international.  Fingers crossed for all the people nominated!


Hooray!  The Children’s Book Council has released their annual Building a Home Library list.  I love these.  The choices are always very carefully done and perfect for clueless parents.


In other CBC news, I got this little press release, and it’s worth looking at:

“For the second consecutive year, the Children’s Book Council has partnered with The unPrison Project — a 501(c)3 nonprofit dedicated to empowering and mentoring women in prison — to create brand-new libraries of books for incarcerated mothers to read with their babies at prison nurseries. Fourteen of the CBC’s member publishers answered the call by donating copies of over 35 hand-picked titles for children ages 0-18 months for each library. The books will be hand-delivered and organized in the nurseries by Deborah Jiang-Stein, founder of The unPrison Project and author of Prison Baby. Jiang-Stein was born in prison to a heroin-addicted mother, and has made it her mission to empower and mentor women and girls in prison.”


You know who’s cool?  That gal I mentioned earlier.  Julie Danielson.  She’s something else.  For example, while many of us might just say we were interested in James Marshall, she’s actually in the process of researching him.  She even received the James Marshall Fellowship from The University of Connecticut’s Archives & Special Collections at the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center. As a result she spent a week looking through the James Marshall Papers there. Their sole stipulation?  Write a blog post about it.  So up at the University’s site you’ll find the piece Finding the Artist in His Art: A Week With the James Marshall Papers. Special Bonus: Rare images you won’t find anywhere else.


Daily Image:

I take no credit to this.  I only discovered it on Twitter thanks to Christine Hertz of Burlington, VT.  It may constitute the greatest summer reading idea I’ve seen in a very long time.  Public libraries, please feel free to adopt this:



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12. Fusenews: Worth it, if only for the clock

Hi, folks. Haven’t done one of these in a while. Let’s see what there is to see.


If I’m feeling nostalgic for NYC this week there’s little wonder.  Whether it’s an article on many library branches’ secret apartments (I visited 8-10 of them in my day and someday a clever photographer should do a series on them) or New York Magazine’s (justifiable) kvetching over the new Donnell, it’s like I’m there again.


Speaking of kvetching, this article about My Little Free Library War is amusing. When I was leaving the aforementioned NYC I found I had too many books.  The solution?  Daily trips to the local Little Free Library.  I’d fill them up one day and then come back the next with more.  I don’t care what anyone did with them.  That box was like Mary Poppins’ carpetbag.



Waldo’s cool with it. He doesn’t mind sharing the spotlight.

As for my current town, how cute is this?  Our downtown is doing a Where’s Waldo / Where’s Warhol scavenger hunt.  It all begins at the wonderful bookstore Bookends and Beginnings and goes from there.


This next piece is fantastic and I’ve never seen anything quite like it before.  A British children’s literature blogger comes to America.  Walks into a Barnes and Noble.  Immediately she is struck by the massive differences between how a major British chain (like Waterstones) sells children’s books vs. how and American chain (B&N) does it.  She writes up the differences in the post Picture book differences between the main bookshop chains in the US and UK – Paeony Lewis.  What struck me as particularly interesting is the emphasis the author makes on how American bookstores don’t promote and sell paperbacks to the same degree that the British stores do.  As a result, our books are more expensive.  What are the greater repercussions of this?  Fantastic read.


I got the following message from ALA last week and figured this was a good place to share.  Ahem:

Now is the Best Time to Help Dr. Carla Hayden Become Librarian of Congress
The American Library Association (ALA) is urging the library community to contact their U.S. senators (before they adjourn next week) to encourage them to confirm Dr. Carla Hayden to become the next Librarian of Congress. This is the first time in more than 60 years that a librarian is poised to take on this role. ALA offers these talking points. Visit the ALA Legislative Action Center to email your senators, contact them on Twitter, or for information on calling your senators.


There’s been a lot of talk about Ms. J.K. Rowling in the news lately.  Specifically, in terms of the international magic schools she’s been introducing.  I feel inadequate to speak about them, and fortunately I don’t have to. Monica Edinger has written a great piece called J.K. Rowling’s Unfortunate Attempts at Globalization.  A lot of people have focused solely and squarely on the references to Native Americans in the American school.  Monica sheds additional light on the African, Japanese, and Brazilian ones, for which I am VERY grateful.


By the way, having problems with J.K. Rowling in this vein is hardly new.  You can read Farah Mendelsohn’s academic paper Crowning the King: Harry Potter and the Construction of Authority from 2001 right now, if you like.


By the way, if you missed Jules Danielson’s interview with Evan Turk over at Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast, turn right around, leave this blog, and go over there.  The art . . . the art . . .


DaddyFaceFor a while there I enjoyed a little Reading Too Much Into Picture Books series before my Fuse 8 TV interviews.  Very much along the same lines is the recent Salon piece Pat the Bunny Is Kind of Twisted and Other Lessons I Learned from Picture Books.  It’s not the same three tropes garbled over and over again.  There’s a lot of smart stuff being said here.  Enjoy!


Wait, what . . . The Mazza Museum has a summer conference?  Why was I not informed?  *clap clap* My chariot!  The first day is July 18th.  There’s still time!


There are many reasons to listen to the NYPL podcast The Librarian Is In.  Reason #24601: Check out this simply adorable photograph of a young Lois Duncan.


Hey there!  What Nibling just won herself a 2016 South Asia Book Award?  Would that be Mitali Perkins for her absolutely fantastic Tiger Boy?  Dang right it would!  Go, Mitali, go!


Because my day job requires me to keep up with adult literature I read a lot of Publishers Weekly (that sounded like a very earnest television or radio ad for PW, by the way).  The other day I was reading its articles on what Brexit is going to mean for the literary world, and I briefly toyed with the notion of doing a blog post on what it would mean for the children’s literary world.  I decided not to pursue this idea since I know next to nothing about the topic and while that normally wouldn’t stop me, Phil Nel did it best anyway.  Check out his piece Children’s Lit VS Brexit.


Curious about the Boston Globe-Horn Book Award?  Want to know more about it?  Interested in reading an interview with a woman who would visit Anne Carroll Moore in the library as a child?  You can get all that and more with this interview with this year’s BGHB committee chair Joanna Rudge Long.


LadyElaine2Um… so this one has nothing to do with children’s books and everything to do with my own childhood.  Basically, if you’ve been waiting for an article to justify Lady Elaine Fairchilde as the feminist icon she truly was, your prayers have been answered. Extra Bonus: Check out the perhaps indeed legit comment from Lady Aberline.  Or read my piece on the new Lady Elaine.  Clearly this is a trope in my life.


Just want to give a shout-out to Christine Inzer, the self-published teen graphic novelist whose book Halfway Home was reviewed here in 2014.  Christine got herself a real publisher and her new book just earned a stellar review from Publishers Weekly.  Yay, Christine!


New Podcast Alert: In case you are unfamiliar with it, The Writing Barn is the brainchild of Owner & Creative Director, Bethany Hegedus, and offers writers “ways of deepening their process and perfecting their craft, whether they travel cross-town or across the country to our retreat and workshop venue”. Now Bethany has created Porchlight, a podcast that interviews the Barn’s guests as well as folks in the world at large.  You know I’ll be listening.


Daily Image:

Best. Library. Clock. Ever.


Seriously, I want to do this with picture books.  If not in my library then in my home. I should solicit the right titles, though.  Hmmm…

Suggestions welcome.


6 Comments on Fusenews: Worth it, if only for the clock, last added: 7/15/2016
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13. Fusenews: Though I See The Pigeon as More of a King George Type

HamiltonHere’s the thing about Minh Lê. He doesn’t blog terribly often, but when it does it just sort of explodes like an atom bomb on the scene.  His Hamilton starring Elephant and Piggie . . . sheer brilliance.  I’m just mad I didn’t think of it myself (not that I could ever have paired the text and art as well as he has).  The best thing you’ll read today.

Translation?  An art.  I once heard that the reason the French are as crazy as they are about Edgar Allan Poe is that his translator (Stéphane Mallarmé?) improved upon the original English.  Monica Edinger thinks about translation in the context of Struwwelpeter (love that stuff) and links to a Guardian article you’d do well to notice.

Yesterday my family and I returned from our annual trip to the Stratford Shakespeare Festival in Stratford, ON.  While there, my five-year-old saw her very first play; a killer production of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe done with puppetry akin to War Horse.  I guess I’ve had C.S. Lewis on the brain anyway, though, since I saw these adorable dioramas of famous scenes in books.  Here’s the Wardrobe one:


When phys.org wrote a piece about book deserts (places where children lack access to books) there was a lot to pick apart.  Looking through it, I found fascinating the part that said, “While online book sales have grown in recent years, three out of four children’s books are still bought in brick and mortar stores,” as well as, “dollar stores were the most common place to buy children’s books.”  Dollar stores.  I know that bookstores, aside from being difficult to find in low-income areas, contain books too pricey for most people to afford (see a recent comparison between British and American chain bookstores here), but it never occurred to me that dollar stores would be the obvious next step.  If I were a forward thinking self-published author, that’s where I’d concentrate on getting my books.  If the money evened out, of course.  And speaking of books that are affordable for all people . . .


GrumpyCatGood morning, class!  I trust you are well rested this morning. Now, when we last met we were reading Leonard Marcus’s Golden Legacy: The Story of Golden Books.  Your homework today is to consider the newest Little Golden Book on the market The Little Grumpy Cat That Wouldn’t.  Place within the context of the Golden Books’ past how converting a YouTube sensation into a Golden Book both supports and/or undermines their historical legacy.  Extra credit if you’ve worked into your report the work of illustrator Steph Laberis and the history of animators contributing to the Golden Books of previous decades.  Papers are due in one week.  No extensions.

We can’t seem to get her to interview the Newbery and Caldecott winners, but I think Ellen is getting some definite points for personally moving forward with a screen adaptation of Ursula Vernon’s truly delightful Castle Hangnail.  Those of you looking for charming younger middle grade fantasy, this book is a delight.  You have been warned.  Thanks to PW Children’s Bookshelf.

Best title and photo ever:

Riverdale Turns Archie Comics Into a Teenage Noir Soap Opera, and It’s Way Too Much Fun


I don’t care if it isn’t any good.  This alone gives balm to my soul.

Travis over at 100 Scope Notes has continued his thought process on the role of critical reviews on blogs.  He asks if it is the nature of reviewing to want to think a book is better or worse than it actually is because both of these reactions fall within the “zone of enthusiasm” (be it positive or critical enthusiasm).  I’m chewing on this one for a while.  You can too.

I lived in Morningside Heights in NYC for about five years and Harlem for six.  While there, I was always a bit shocked that there wasn’t a major museum there dedicated to the art and history of Harlem (the Schomburg Library and The Studio Museum in Harlem do what they can but we need something much bigger).  This isn’t that, but it’s on the right track.  Ms. Renée Watson (not to be confused with Rachel Renee Watson) has started an Indiegogo campaign to lease and renovate the brownstone where Langston Hughes lived and create an arts community there.  It’s not specifically about children’s literature, but this is a worthy cause.

Daily Image:

If I have learned anything in this life it is that every fake sounding profession out there is actually real.  Take opera singing.  When my friend since 7th grade, Meredith Arwady, decided to be an opera singer I had no idea that this was a legitimate profession.  Now she’s stabbing Placido Domingo in her spare time.  She’s also hugely generous.  Check out her most recent present to me, purchased in Stockholm.  It is a t-shirt, procured at a photography museum, of none other than Astrid Lindgren.


When I get my new author photo, I want it to look like THAT.  Thanks, Mimi!


1 Comments on Fusenews: Though I See The Pigeon as More of a King George Type, last added: 8/2/2016
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14. Fusenews: My Weirdest Childhood Mystery Is Solved

SecretsofStoryA little nepotism to go with your coffee this morning? Don’t mind if I do!  As you may know, my husband Matt Bird has a book coming out this spring that is a culmination of his blog’s breakdown of what makes a good story.  Called The Secrets of Story: Innovative Tools for Perfecting Your Fiction and Captivating Readers (Writers’ Digest, 2017), Matt takes his Ultimate Story Checklist and makes it easy, accessible, and invaluable.  I’ve mentioned all this before. What’s new is that he’s now doing something that I’m personally incapable of.  Folks sometimes ask me if I ever do manuscript consultations. I don’t, but there’s a good reason for that: I’m lousy at them. Maybe not lousy, but I’m no editor and that’s the truth.  Matt, however, is fantastic at them. Now he’s offering his services to folks who are interested.  Children’s books, YA, scripts, adult novels, you name it.  Dude’s got mad skills.  And I say that as someone who can’t do the same.


All right.  ‘Nuff of that.  Let’s instead remember that the new school year is nearly upon us.  My daughter is about to step out the door and start Kindergarten for the very first time.  As such, I’ve been watching the new Kindergarten books of 2016 with a closer eye than usual. And as luck would have it, the Chicago Tribune came ah-calling recently.  Check out my favorites of the season in their piece Bumper crop of first-day-of-school books.


OA.call.2016AND THE WINNER of the 2016 Society of Illustrators Gold Medal for Original Art goes to . . . . b.b. cronin for his book The Lost House (Penguin Random House/ Viking Children’s Books).  Hm?  What’s that?  You haven’t read it yet?  Well let me confess something to you . . . neither had I!  I’ve seen it in my To Be Read pile, but as God is my witness I thought it was a reprint of an older title.  Now it looks like I’m going to have to move it up in the ranks.  Whoops!  See the winners in full right here.


Folks ask me, what do you miss the most about New York?  It’s been a year since I left The Big Apple, my home of approximately 13 years.  I miss a lot of things.  My friends.  That sense of satisfaction you get around 6 p.m. on a workday, just sitting in Bryant Park with a good book and an iced chai latte.  And, of course, the exhibits in town.  I just heard about the Pratt Manhattan Gallery’s The Picture Book Re-Imagined: The Children’s Book Legacy of Pratt Institute and the Bank Street College of Education.  There’s even some ACM (Anne Carroll Moore) on show!  Check out this explanation of the exhibit with photographs galore.  Envious.  So envious.


tripp_feetChildhood Mystery Solved: I’m pretty sure I’ve zeroed in on the location of Hitler.  How’s that again?  Well, here’s the thing.  When I was a kid I was read a fair number of books.  Some stuck in my cranium.  Others didn’t.  One that did was a book that I recall because it was a collection of poems and nursery rhymes.  In one spread it showed the devil and some of his compatriots.  Amongst them was a bird with the head of Adolf Hitler.  I am not making this up.  My mother would sometimes show it to me and explain who it was and why Hitler was bad (or at least that’s my memory).  Years later I tracked down what I thought was the book (A Great Big Ugly Man Came Up and Tied His Horse to Me by Wally Tripp) only to find that while it did have a devil in it, there was no Hitler.  It was a pretty weird thing to make up, though, so I never lost hope.  Then, just the other day, I saw this:


Okay.  It isn’t Hitler. But I remember this image perfectly (turns out gigantic Napoleons also have a way of sticking in your brain).  I am now convinced that I have relocated the book with that weird Hitler bird.  Maybe.  In the meantime, I’m beginning to believe that Wally Tripp is one of the great forgotten gems of the American children’s literary world.  He did win a Boston Globe-Horn Book Award, after all.  That ain’t small potatoes.  Read more about him here.


New Magazine Alert: And I owe Julie Danielson the credit for locating this one. Called Illustoria, a new periodical is said to be, “a magazine for children that embraces the same values as the current slow-food and maker-culture trends of today, ‘a return to craftsmanship, an appreciation of quality, a celebration of curiosity, creativity, and also the people behind the scenes’.”  This sounds interesting in and of itself, but it also sounds familiar on some level.  I’m reminded of the Arts & Craft movement that occurred in America and Europe between 1880 and 1910 as a direct response to the industrial revolution. We seem to be experiencing something similar in the face of the digital revolution.  Food for thought.  In any case, learn more about Illustoria here.


I like Booklist.  Honest I do. But how long are they going to make us pay to read their articles online?  For example, in a recent edition I was very taken with Daniel Kraus’s funny, smart, and highly informative consideration of the Choose Your Own Adventure phenomenon.  In fact, I’ve never read such an interesting breakdown of the series, its popularity when I was a kid, and its fate.  Here’s the link to the article, but I hope you have a Booklist subscription ’cause that’s the only way you’ll be able to read it.


Tiny desk contest!  Not here, of course. There.  Where Marc Tyler Nobleman hangs out.  Seems he’s having a Guess the Kidlit Desk Contest.  The rules are simple.  You guess which author has which desk (and there are 18 in each subcontest).  Get ’em right, win a prize.  If nothing else, it’s a fascinating glimpse into the desk of the creative mind.  Most are far too clean and tidy, though.  I think I like this one the best:



Snapchat.  It is a thing.  I do not know much (read: anything) about.  What I do know, though, is that Travis Jonker just used it for the best. thing. ever.  Doubt me if you dare.


This just in, in the press release files from the Children’s Book Council:

We are thrilled to announce that acclaimed illustrator Christian Robinson has agreed to design the 2017 Children’s Book Week poster commemorating the 98th annual Children’s Book Week, to take place on May 1-7, 2017. Robinson is the artist behind such beloved picture books as Gaston by Kelly DiPucchio and Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Peña, for which he received a Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor and a Caldecott Honor.


Daily Image:

The representative from Illinois would like to raise an objection.  Behold, a brilliant book:


In this book, kids are encouraged to make their own dollhouses out of cardboard boxes.  There are even instructions placed under the dustjacket for that very purpose.  As the mother of a girl who is basically a human Maker Station, I recognized instantly the fact that this would be her kind of book.  I brought it home and I don’t think 20 minutes went by before she started construction on her own dollhouse.  After it was finished (after a fashion) I went online to find out if the publisher or author had a site where kids cold post pictures of their personalized dollhouses.  All I found was this promotional video.  It’s cute, but why is the mom doing so much of the work?  In any case, I would like to propose to either Giselle Potter or Schwartz & Wade that they create such a site.  In lieu of that, here’s my 5-year-old’s newest dollhouse.



And, might I note, crumpled up toilet paper really does look like popcorn.  Who knew?


9 Comments on Fusenews: My Weirdest Childhood Mystery Is Solved, last added: 8/24/2016
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15. Fusenews: Anagnorisis, Masks of the Oculate Being, and More . . .

  • DearMrPotterMorning, folks. I’ve been looking to expand my knowledge beyond just children’s literature, so I figured a good podcast would be the best way to go.  After reading Bustle’s 11 literary podcasts to get your bookish fix throughout the day I settled on Books on the Nightstand as the closest thing out there to a Pop Culture Happy Hour of books alone.  Yet even at that moment I couldn’t escape the world of kidlit.  The aforementioned Bustle piece also recommended a podcast called Dear Mr. Potter, described as “an extremely close read of J. K. Rowling’s series, starting with book number one. Host Alistair invites comments and thoughts from readers as he dissects each chapter, (there are live YouTube and Twitter chats before the audio is archived for the podcast) and is able to do some bang-up accents of beloved characters like Professor McGonagall and Hagrid.”  Well, shoot.  That sounds good too.
  • Speaking of podcasts, you heard about The Yarn, right?  That would be the podcast started by Travis Jonker and Colby Sharp that follows a single book through its creators and helpers.  Having finished Season One, our intrepid heroes had a Kickstarter, met their goal, and are now soliciting ideas for Season Two.  Might want to toss in your two cents or so.  Such an opportunity may not arise again.
  • So I say “Proust Questionnaire: Kidlit Edition“, and you say, “Come again?” And I repeat, “Proust Questionnaire: Kidlit Edition”, and you say, “I’m sorry, but you’re just putting a bunch of random words and names together higglety-pigglety.” At which point I direct you to Marc Tyler Nobleman and his interview series. The questions are not too dissimilar from the 7-Impossible Things interview questions, which in turn were cribbed from Inside the Actor’s Studio, (though I forget where they got them before that). For my part, I read the ones up so far and I am now entranced by Jonathan Auxier’s use of the word, “anagnorisis”. Proust would approve.
  • The Bloggess likes us, we the librarians.  We could have guessed that but it’s nice to have your suspicions confirmed from time to time.
  • Kidlit TV: It’s not just videos!  Case in point, a recent interview with my beloved co-author Jules Danielson in which she says very kind things about myself and my fellow Niblings.  She is a bit too kind when she says that, “Betsy never whines or feels sorry for herself.”  This is the advantage, dear children, of co-writing a book with someone in another state.  They will not see you whine or kvetch in person, thereby leading them to believe that you are better than you are.  Learn from my example.
  • As ever, Pop Goes the Page takes the concept of activities in a children’s library (or, in some cases, a museum) to an entirely new level.  Good for getting the creative juices flowing.
  • And now it’s time for another edition of Cool Stuff on the Internet You Didn’t Know and Weren’t Likely to Find By Browsing.  Today, the Kerlan Collection!  You may have heard of it.  It’s that enormously cool children’s book collection hosted by the University of Minnesota.  Cool, right?  You may even have known that the doyenne of the collection is Lisa Von Drasek, who cut her teeth at the Bank Street College of Education’s children’s library for years n’ years.  Now she’s given us a pretty dang cool online exhibit series tie-in and if you happen to know a teacher in need of, oh say, primary sources and picture book nonfiction titles, direct them to the Balloons Over Broadway site.  Explore the links on the left-hand side of the page.  You won’t regret the decision.
  • Here in Evanston, October will bring The First Annual Storytelling Festival.  A too little lauded art that can be sublime or painful beyond belief, the festival will be quite a bit of the former, and very little of the latter.  If you’re in the area, come by!
  • We all know from Mister Seahorse by Eric Carle that it’s the daddy seahorses that shoulders the bulk of the parenting responsibilities in the wild.  Now travel with me over to Portland, Oregon where the husband of a buddy of mine just started Seahorses, “Portland’s first dad and baby store.”  I helped them come up with some of the good daddy/kid picture books they’re selling there.  If you’re an author in the area with a daddy/child title to your name, consider contacting them.  They’re good people.
  • Lucky, Baltimorians.  You get to host Kidlitcon this year.  I would go but my October is pure insanity, travel-wise.  You go and write it up for me, so I don’t feel like I’m missing anything.  I don’t mind.  Really.
  •  Daily Image:

And finally, this is precisely what you think it is.


Yep. Goodnight Goodnight, Construction Site PJs.  Awesome?  You betcha.


3 Comments on Fusenews: Anagnorisis, Masks of the Oculate Being, and More . . ., last added: 9/2/2015
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16. Fusenews: Saving the Second Penny

The problem with this Fusenews feature is that if I don’t do them regularly then the news out there builds up, builds up, builds up, until there’s so much of it out there that I’m almost embarrassed to do anything with it.  Such is the case today!  And, as per usual, I’ll say that I’m just going to type these pieces up very fast, when in truth it’s pretty much going to be the same kind of thing I always do.  Truth!  Let’s do it.

  • I highly recommend that each and every last one of you guys move to Illinois.  The people here are so freakishly nice it’s amazing!  Case in point, SCBWI-IL and The Center of Teaching Through Children’s Books are pairing up to have me talk to a whole bunch o’ folks on the evening of October 7th.  Isn’t that kind of them?  If you live in the area, please come by.  I like to blather and while doing it in my own head is fine, it’s much nicer when there’s a healthy number of other people out there to absorb the blow.


  • SoulOctopusIn case you missed it the National Book Awards Longlist for Young People’s Literature was released last week.  A very YA-centric list indeed with only two clear cut books for kids.  Yet look in other categories and you’ll find that children’s authors do not relegate themselves solely to the children’s category.  For example, in the adult nonfiction section you’ll see that our beloved Sy Montgomery has been nominated for The Soul of an Octopus.


  • New Blog Alert: Reading While White.  You might argue that that is the unspoken title of most children’s literature blogs, but in this case they’re acknowledging the fact freely and commenting on what that means all the while.  There are some fascinating pieces on there already, so if you’re anything like me you’re checking it daily.  Ooo, I just love folks that aren’t afraid to touch on potentially controversial topics for the sake of making the conversation at large a richer experience.


  • In a particularly unfunny move, The Roald Dahl Estate has closed down the beloved Roald Dahl Funny Prize that was the brainchild of Michael Rosen.  Why?  There are hems and haws to sort through here but I think the key lies in the part where they say that in conjunction with next year’s centenary celebration, “the estate would be focusing on a new children’s book prize to be launched in the US.”  So clearly they didn’t want two Roald Dahl prizes out there.  One wonders if this mysterious prize in the US will also be for humor.  I suspect not, but I’d be awfully interested if any of you have further details on the mater.


  • If you were once again faithfully checking your Iowa Review this season (ho ho) you might have seen three interesting things.  #1 – It contains a “portfolio” all about children’s books this month.  #2 – The cover is by Shaun Tan.  #3 – Phil Nel’s piece A Manifesto of Children’s Literature; or Reading Harold as a Teenager is free for viewing online.  I should note that the actual issue also has pieces by Jeanne Birdsall (yay!), Mr. Tan, and Kevin Brockmeier, so get thee to an academic library!  Stat!


  • I don’t do much in the way of Instagram myself, but even without knowing it I can acknowledge that this Buzzfeed piece on what would happen if Hogwarts characters had it was rather inspired.  Thanks to Travis Jonker for the link.


  • my-friend-rabbit-tattooYou ever hear the one about the bookseller who would get artists to draw their best beloved picture book characters on her arms and then she’d tattoo them there?  Yes?  Well, I hadn’t heard about her for a couple of years so I decided to check in.  And lo and behold, one of my new neighbors here in the Chicago area, Eric Rohmann, was the creator of her latest tat.


  • If someone asked you to suggest a children’s book that they hadn’t read but should, what would you choose?  It helps if the person asking is British and wasn’t practically required by law, like those of us here in the States, to read certain books in the U.S. kidlit cannon.  My suggestion was actually Half Magic by Edward Eager.  See some of the others here.


  • Wowzer. Children’s authors have power. Don’t believe me?  See what Marc Tyler Nobleman pulled off with DC Entertainment. Well done, sir!


  • Speaking of superheroes, two years ago Ingrid Sundberg drew a whole host of children’s and YA authors as spandex-wearing, high-flying, incredibles.  It’s still fun to look at today here.


  • Me Stuff (Part Deux): It’s a little old but I was interviewed by Joanna Marple not too long ago.  There’s some good stuff there, like shots of the dream office I aspire towards (hat tip to Junko Yokota, though).


  • I feel a bit sad that I never read Lois Lowry’s Anastasia books when I was a kid.  I think I would have related to them (or at least to her glasses which originally rivaled mine in terms of width and girth).  How I missed these books I’ll never know.  Now I’m reading all about the changes being made to the newly re-released series.  Some make sense but others (changing Anastasia, Ask Your Analyst to Anastasia Off Her Rocker) don’t make a lick of sense.  I get that “analyst” is not a common term these days. I care not.  The term “off your rocker” is, after all, no less dated.


  • Daily Image:

There are fans and then there are fans.  And best beloved is the author or illustrator who meets a fan who knows, really knows, how to quilt.  Ms. Sibby Elizabeth Falk showed this to Jane Yolen recently.  It’s Owl Moon like you’ve never seen it before:



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17. Fusenews: In and out of the loop I go

  • PeanutsTributeI mention to folks that in my new job I actually don’t work day-to-day with children’s books all that often anymore and they wonder how I’m coping.  As it happens, I’m just ducky.  Since my spare hours are just as chock full of kidlit as before, I honestly don’t feel like I’m missing too much.  I still read my reviews and get my galleys.  But occasionally something will be published and I’ll be hit by an overpowering wave of self-pity.  This week’s, “Why Didn’t I See That?!” kvetch-fest?  Peanuts: A Tribute to Charles M. Schulz by Charles M. Schulz, illustrated by Matt Groening, Raina Telgemeier, and Jeffrey Brown amongst MANY others. And it’s a 2015 title at that.  Waaaaaaaant.
  • Meanwhile, another very cool looking book was recently released.  Jules at the Kirkus version of 7-Imp has the skinny on The Complete Alice a.k.a. what you can get me for Christmas.
  • I think I could be happy if I just spent the rest of my life reading snarky reviews of that darn rabbit book. First there was Travis.  Then Roger.  And yes, I know that the more we talk about the bunny monstrosity the more time it will take before it goes away.  But we have such a lovely literary community there of mutual appreciation that when we are actually allowed to dislike something, it has a tendency to go to our heads.  Wascally wabbit.
  • Sure, they’re a mammoth publishing entity of massive production and countless staff but . . . awww. Look what Harper Collins did for Harold’s birthday.  Ain’t it sweet?

LforLibrarianHmm. Sounds good at first. The headline reads, “Tired of stereotypical characters in books for girls, this dad wrote his own.”  Then it shows a book of various professions helmed by women in an abecedarian fashion.  It’s no Rad American Women A to Z but it’ll do.  Except . . . when you get to “L”.  I don’t generally get all hot under the collar when folks stereotype my profession, but COME ON, MAN.  Shoot, it’s images like that that kept me out of the profession in the first place.

  • File this one away in the It Isn’t Just Me drawer.  Some of you may be aware that before I post an episode of Fuse #8 TV, a series where I interview authors and illustrators in a free and easy manner, I always begin with a bit of “Reading (Too Much Into) Picture Books”.  This is a series where I acknowledge (without actually saying outright) that when a parent reads a picture book too many times to a small child, they start to conjure up some pretty crazy theories about the text.  Well, thanks in large part to a recent New Yorker profile of Sandra Boynton by Ian Bogost, I see that I am not alone.  I’m actually in awe of his take on But Not the Hippopotamus.  The North America vs. Africa vs. Central America theory?  Brilliant!  By the way, my most ambitious re-interpretation will preface my Fuse #8 TV episode this coming Thursday.  Be prepared for a truly wacky one.
  • Okay. That’s it. No one’s allowed to quit their blogs anymore.  I like the blogs that I like.  I may not check them every day but I like the reliability of visiting them and seeing something new.  And I get very sad indeed when the best ones fall by the wayside.  I mean, let’s say someone walked up to you and asked, “What’s the best children’s literature blog where real kids review real books . . . and it’s fun to read?”  You would answer without hesitation (if you were me, that is), “Aaron Zenz’s Bookie Woogie blog, of course!”  Well, here’s the thing.  The blog?  It’s had a nice run.  Seven years worth, in fact.  And now it’s done.  Over.  Kaputski.  And we’re all just a little bit sadder today. *sigh*
  • Me Stuff: First off, I want to bow down low and thank profusely all the folks who came out for my joint SCBWI-IL/Center for Teaching through Children’s Books welcoming party last week.  It was, without a doubt, the BEST welcome party I have ever had, bar none.  I even signed someone’s cookie (that’s a first!).  If you live in the Chicago area and missed it, never fear.  You could come on out to EPL and see me present on the topic of picture books rather soon.  Yes, the very kind and talented Brian Wilson has allowed me to join him on his annual Best Picture Books Presentation.  I’ll get to talk about some of my too little lauded favorites of 2015, which is just a joy.  Finally, Chicago Magazine interviewed me recently.  They’re using the same photo from my Chicago Tribune interview, which is confusing, but the talk is entirely different.  It was awfully fun to do too.
  • FarmerWill1In my interview I actually mention The Guinness Book of World Records a fair amount.  Rather appropriate since I recently learned that the book Farmer Will Allen and the Growing Table has been selected by the Points of Light Foundation as the book to break Guinness World Record for the number of children being read to in a 24-hour period. Part of the Foundation’s “Read Across the Globe” initiative to raise awareness on the global literacy crisis, volunteers all over the world will read the book next Monday, October 19. Here’s a news article and a tv news report that say more about it.  Thanks to Philip Lee for the links.
  • Did you see?  They’re releasing Amazing Grace by Mary Hoffman.  Wouldn’t be particularly notable aside from the fact that it’s always nice to see diverse books back in print . . . except something’s a bit different from the last time it was printed.  Did you notice what it was?  Debbie Reese most certainly did.
  • In case you missed it (like me) there was a new brouhaha last week.  This time it involved author Meg Rosoff.  There’s a recap over at Reading While White which breaks it down.  Aren’t recaps great?  There should be more of them out there these days.
  • Each year I try to write a review of at least one self-published book.  It can be a tricky affair since so many of them make common missteps.  That’s why I really appreciated the ShelfTalker piece When a Self-Published Book Is Done Right.  There really are some great ones out there.  Finding them is often the struggle, but when they work, they work.
  • By the way, I just want to give a shout out to The Curious Reader Store over in Glen Rock, NJ.  My buddy Tucker Stone was recently there and he mentioned that they had a particular love for Wild Things there.  Thanks, guys (but particularly Sally)! We do appreciate it.
  • Daily Image:

The title of this piece is 15+ Book-Inspired Pieces Of Jewelry For Bookworms, which you’ll see is a bit of a stretch. Still and all, I do like these Labyrinth earrings:



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18. Fusenews: The Anti-Effacing Differencer

sleepingpuppy4Morning, folks.  Let’s see, let’s see.  After yesterday maybe it would be a good idea to do a post on rainbows and unicorns and cute little puppy dogs cavorting in the sun.  I’m a little exhausted after yesterday’s post so let’s just do a quickie Fusenews of wonderfullness instead.

  • Do you read Real Simple?  A familiar name might have snuck her way onto one of the pages.
  • Calling Caldecott addresses an issue that has always fascinated me. Why do some illustrators who have amazing illustrating chops never ever get Caldecotts?
  • Maybe 100 Scope Notes has the answer. In terms of publication dates, what month births the most Caldecotts? Travis Jonker finds the figures.  Be sure to read the statistics in the comments.  Truly we are living in the Age of Aquarius.

alma_logo_engIn case you missed it, 215 candidates from 59 countries are currently nominated for the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award 2016.  The Yanks are of particular interest.  There are the usual standbys and then there are folks like oral storyteller Anne Pellowski.  Wow!  Well done there.  I’m also going to check out Children’s Literature New England (CLNE) & The Examined Life (EXL), Friends of African Village Libraries (FAVL), and Room to Read. I’m feeling a bit embarrassed that it took this nomination to learn about their work.

  • By the way, a show of hands.  How many of you knew about The Arnold Adoff Poetry Awards, which “seek to recognize excellence in multicultural poetry for youth, for readers at the primary level, middle level, and teens”?  Be honest.  It’s new to me too.  But it’s out there and they could do with some proactive publishing houses, large and small, sending in their nominees.  If you fit the bill, tell your publisher today.  You have until December 1st.
  • An interesting Pew Survey finding that teens are reading more than adults these days.  They do not ascribe any particular reason for the YA surge.  We know it cannot exist in a void, however, so I’m just going to congratulate the YA librarians out there.  You guys are doing a stellar job.  Keep up the good work.
  • “Please Don’t Agree with Me: the Need for Disagreement in Debates About Literature for Young People.”  That talk?  Given by Christopher Myers recently and recapped by Phil Nel.  I’m particularly interested in the part where Chris says that agreement can efface difference, whereas “Disagreement recognizes an actual difference.”  I think we can safely say that no differences were effaced in the last two weeks at this site.
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And Shannon Hale goes for the fancy fingernail book release win!



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19. Fusenews: “He’s a person and people don’t eat people”

  • It’s funny how you can start something and never see how that thing might be used in the future.  When I created the Top 100 Picture Books Poll and the Top 100 Children’s Novels Poll back in the day, I figured they could be useful books insofar as they take the pulse of those books that mean the most to readers today.  Bookshare Communications recently alerted me to the fact that in conjunction with SLJ they had adapted the Picture Books list to a format that included image descriptions for the visually impaired.  Why do this?  They explain it this way:

“Imagine for a moment, however, that you can’t see the illustrations, nor can anyone describe them for you. Your reading and listening experience would certainly be incomplete. The Bookshare team decided to remedy this shortfall so young members could visualize the wild rumpus in Where the Wild Things Are and all the food devoured by The Very Hungry Caterpillar. In 2014, we embarked on a special project to create a collection of classic picture books containing original illustrations with complete image descriptions.”

I’m so pleased to have been a part of this, if only in the sense that I helped put together the list from my readers’ responses.  Thanks to Benetech for the heads up.

  • scarrypigsThough it could easily have devolved into a Buzzfeed list, the Dave Gilson thoughts on Richard Scarry’s odd attitudes towards his pig characters and their predilections for bacon and ham is well worth reading.  Says he, “The separate-and-unequal logic is also reflected in the unspoken taboos that surround meat eating in Busytown. People can only eat animals, and only animals can become meat. In other words, the Kenny Bear’s pigs will become bacon, but Mr. Pig will not. He can walk past the butcher’s counter secure in the knowledge that he won’t suddenly be stuffed into an oven with an apple in his mouth. He’s a person, and people don’t eat people.”  Thanks to Phil Nel for the link.
  • The Bologna Book Fair is in New York City?  Nope, but this might be the next best thing.  Publishers Weekly and the Bologna Children’s Book Fair are pairing together for a Global Kids Connect Conference on December 2nd.  From a publishing standpoint, this is very enticing.  Thanks to Deborah Topolski for the link.
  • Credit Travis Jonker.  I think he’s inadvertently the reason this happened at all.  Not too long ago the Kansas City Public Library and the Toronto Public Library got into an all time spine poetry slapdown Twitter feud . . . in a nice way.  You see, apparently The Kansas City Royals were playing The Toronto Blue Jays in the American League Championship Series and the libraries started tweeting spine poetry at one another.  Here’s an example:


You can read two different articles (and see a LOT of smack downs) here and here.  Thanks to Jill Skwerski for the link.

  • Things That I Know: (1) That there is a Children’s Book Guild of Washington D.C. (and they are lovely folks). (2) That there is an author by the name of Tonya Bolden (and she’s a lovely personage).
  • Things That I Did Not Know:  The Children’s Book Build of Washington D.C. is giving to Tonya Bolden their annual nonfiction award.  They have a nonfiction award?  Annually?  Best news I’ve heard all day.
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When I was pregnant with my two children I found myself inexplicably drawn to the films Alien and Aliens (which I suppose beats wanting to watch Rosemary’s Baby, but still…).  With these films fresh in my mind, I cannot help but think that this book (which you really can buy) is going to be the hit of the holiday season.  A picture book we can all get behind.




Thanks to Stephanie Whelan for the link!




1 Comments on Fusenews: “He’s a person and people don’t eat people”, last added: 11/18/2015
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20. Fusenews: Reader’s Advisory – Not Just for Librarians Anymore

  • readersadvisorycomicIn my current job I’ve become somewhat fascinated with what could easily be considered the key tool in a librarian’s toolbelt: Reader’s Advisory.  Patron asks you to recommend a book based on a set of preferences and you knock it out of the park.  That’s our job and we do it well.  Booksellers do it too, don’t get me wrong, but we have the advantage of an extensive backlist of out-of-print titles at our fingertips.  It’s taken a little while, but recently I noticed that a LOT of folks are getting in on the Reader’s Advisory game.  Companies like Bookish, Zoobean, SelectReads, certainly, and now?  An actual publishing company itself.  The Penguin Hotline is pretty much what it sounds like: A publishing house doing RA.  Says their site, “Tell us as much as you’d like about the reader you’re buying for this holiday season and our expert staffers will find you just the right books. You’ll get personalized recommendations from real Penguins! Every request is handled individually by one of our in-house editors, marketers, designers, salespeople, publicists, and more.”  And they actually do.  What all this says to me is that libraries need to double down on their RA skills.  Take some tips from Multnomah County’s My Librarian site for starters.  That idea is crazy good.  We could all learn a thing or two from it.
  • Monday, January 11th.  It’s almost a month away.  The happiest day of the year.  The day when they announce the Youth Media Awards, better known to the rest of the world as Newbery/Caldecott Day (and by “rest of the world” I mean “my brain”).  In preparation, I was pleased to see Monica Edinger’s thoughtful appraisal of the Newbery itself in the piece Thoughts on Newbery: The Nature of Distinguished.  In it, Monica talks quite a bit about Laura Amy Schlitz’s The Hired Girl, a book which (coincidentally) also showed up on Marjorie Ingall’s fantabulous Best Jewish Books 2015.  Seriously, if you need Hanukkah gifts for any kid of any age, your prayers have been answers.  For the rest of you, her voice is just so good.  Downright sublime, some might say.  Miss it and you’re missing out. (She also has stellar taste)
  • I’m not the first, second, third, or forty-fifth children’s literature enthusiast to link to this, but nonetheless I think the Atlas Obscura article C.S. Lewis’ Greatest Fiction: Convincing American Kids That They Would Like Turkish Delight is dead on.  I grew up thinking it would be akin to sugar powdered squares of chocolatey confectionary delight.  Then I went to London for foreign study and I and each of my classmates individually had to make the discovery that the stuff ain’t worth betraying much of anyone, let alone your blood kin.  Edmund should have held out for fudge.  Thanks to mom for the link.
  • Bookish (mentioned earlier) had a rather delightful encapsulation of fantastic literary-themed Christmas tree ornaments, just in case you’re scrambling to get something for that reader in your life.  My personal favorite (aside from the library lion a.k.a. Patience which I MUST have):


  • In other news, Yahoo News recently announced that a Tintin expert was just named as an official “professor of graphic fiction and comic art.”  Wouldn’t mind having one of these stateside as well.  Perhaps an expert in Pogo.  A gal can dream.
  • The resident 4-year-old is on a picture book biography kick right now, so on Saturday we went to the library’s bio section to find some new fare.  We ended up in the Lincoln section and lo and behold her eyes alit on that old d’Aulaire’s Caldecott Award version of the life of Abraham Lincoln.  I steered her clear, knowing its contents very well indeed.  I never thought of it as the d’Aulaires’ best work, and we took home the Judith St. George/Matt Faulkner Stand Tall, Abe Lincoln instead.  The d’Aulaire version had already been on my mind because of a recent PW announcement that a small publisher is bring the book back to the world.  Mind you, “they made minor modifications to the original art and text to reflect contemporary views about race politics and to reflect historical accuracy.”  Guess I’ll have to reserve judgement until I see it for myself.
  • Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness: Now with more indelible images that will haunt your nightmares until doomsday!  Don’t try to unsee it.  Don’t even bother.
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This week in our popular series Children’s Books from 1907, we take a look at a little number that just makes me inordinately happy.



I think you get the gist.  You may read the book in its entirety here.  Thanks to Mara Rockliff for the link.


6 Comments on Fusenews: Reader’s Advisory – Not Just for Librarians Anymore, last added: 12/7/2015
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21. Fusenews: The bumps on the tongue just add insult to injury

Good morning, campers!  Are we ironing out the last of the holiday season from our socks?  Are we eyeing our decorations with a jaded eye?  Well, wonderful news!  2016 is on the horizon and I bring you news of the peppy variety.  Packed deep in snow, no less, since I appear to be living in ice storm land at the moment.

  • ReadQuarterlyFirst up, I wrote a piece a year or two ago for a periodical and then never had it published.  All that has changed thanks to the delightful online children’s literature publication, The Read Quarterly.  My piece The Last Taboo: What Interactive Print Says About the Digital Revolution is available for your reading, whenever you’d like to give it a gander.
  • Two awards to celebrate today.  First up, you may be aware that over in Britain they did away with their beloved Roald Dahl Funny Book Prize.  Apparently there will be a new Dahl prize in the near future and they didn’t want to confuse it with this other one.  Fortunately, there’s a new funny lit prize and it’s called The Laugh Out Loud Award or, for short, The Lollies.  Michael Rosen is, as ever, involved.  Attention!  Britain?  The representative from Illinois would like to request that America be allowed Lollies of our own.  We could change the name slightly to The ROFLs, but that sounds slightly perverse when you say it out loud.  In any case, funny awards here, please.
  • The other award is the recent unveiling of the latest winners of the 2015 Arab American Book Award (sponsored by the  Arab American National Museum) given in the Children/Young Adult category.  The winner, I’m happy to say, is The Turtle of Oman by Naomi Shihab Nye (Greenwillow Press).  Honorable Mention was awarded to The Olive Tree by Elsa Marston and illustrated by Claire Ewart (Wisdom Tales Press).  Well done, one and all!
  • Insufficiently happy by today’s news thus far?  Okay.  Try this.  They’ve turned some of the Bad Kitty books into a play and you Bay Area lucky ducks get to see it.  Playwright Min Kahng, who also did a musical adaptation of Where the Mountain Meets the Moon amongst other things, is interviewed here.  As for Bad Kitty herself, I like her looks:


  • Brightly also came up with 2015’s Biggest Moments in Children’s and YA Literature.  A good list, though I would rewrite the title slightly to say instead that it’s more accurately “2015’s Biggest Controversy-Free Moments in Children’s and YA Literature”.  Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

BottleCapBoysA Rita Williams-Garcia book has people talking, but it may not be the book you first think of.  How many of you read her new picture book Bottle Cap Boys Dancing on Royal Street?  Well a recent article about the actual boys who dance the streets of New Orleans says that Rita’s book has gotten people to talking.  The subheading “Depicting happy children” sounds familiar in light of the conversations surrounding A Fine Dessert as well, though the context is different.

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I saw the new Star Wars movie, loved it, and was listening to a recent episode of the podcast Pop Culture Happy Hour when they mentioned the worst Star Wars merchandising in existence.  There are many items that could fit the bill (look up the Slave Leia perfume or the C3PO tape dispenser, if you doubt me) but the unqualified winner was so terrible sounding that I honestly didn’t believe that it existed.  This has nothing to do with children’s literature in any way, shape, or form.  I just wanted to give you a couple new nightmares tonight.  Ladies and gentlemen, the Jar Jar Binks lollipop.  Sharp-eyed spotters may be able to see why it may be considered far and away the worst marketing of all time.



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22. Fusenews: [Space Available for Title Here]

Morning, folks.  Here in the frozen tundra they call the Chicago area (a hot toddy to anyone who can explain to me why the wind blows TO the lake and not from it) we’re huddled in our homes dreaming of spring.  So while you shiver and shake (obviously this does not apply to you tropical climate denizens) warm yourself over some truly goofy links today.

  • Many things changed when I moved from NYC to Evanston.  My commute is shorter.  The air is clearer.  And I’ve actually joined two (count ’em) two online mom groups.  I had sort of heard of them before, but the idea of joining one for NYC moms was too daunting.  With that in mind, this 10 Little Monkeys parody called to me.  It speaks truth.  Thanks to brother-in-law Steve for the link.
  • BookDriveCrop.2e16d0ba.fill-735x490So, uh, what’d you do this week?  Did you start a campaign to collect #1000blackgirlbooks?  A woman by the name of Marley Dias did that.  Marley is also 11.  Marley is clearly going to rule the world someday and I welcome that day when it comes.  In the meantime, those authors and illustrators amongst you that have something to contribute, you might want to learn more.  The address on where to send the books appears at the end of the article. Thanks to mom for the link.
  • There are many places to go if you’re in the mood to see what precisely people are talking about when they discuss A Birthday Cake for George Washington.  I’ve very much enjoyed the comments on Read Roger’s recent post A Bumpy Ride.  Also enjoyable is Mitali Perkins’ blog where she considers what a different biography of Hercules might consist of.  Food for thought.
  • Look what Bob Staake’s next book looks like!! Look familiar?


Screen Shot 2016-01-21 at 10.45.54 PMEvery year USBBY (the United States Board on Books for Young People) creates a list of Outstanding International Books.  They recently released their 2016 Outstanding International Books and it’s well worth a gander.  If you feel that your knowledge of international children’s literature is lacking, boy are you in luck! The list is also available in bookmark form and as a Google Map form with annotations and cover art.  Looking at it, you get a real sense of which countries are producing the most interesting children’s book imports. Wouldn’t mind an uptick in the number of African nations and South America is fairing poorly.  I remember from my time visiting the Bologna Book Fair about 5 years ago the lack of South American books.  If I recall, they mostly import and translate titles.

  • They’re turning a YA novel into an opera.  Cool, right?  Let’s just go and see which one it’s gonna beeeeYAAAAAAAAHHHHH!!!!  THAT one?  They’re turning THAT novel into an opera?  The novel that takes huge bites out of my soul every evening since I read it?  THAT one?


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This is for you teachers and parents out there.  The V&A Museum has come up with this amazing design-your-own-wig feature on their website.  Informative and fun and kind of disgusting all at once.  What’s not to love?  Consider this my ode to Seuss.

Screen Shot 2016-01-21 at 10.41.57 PM

Many thanks to Alison Goodman for the link.


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23. Fusenews: “I was at dog church!”

  • First and foremost, this:


That would be Kadir Nelson’s tribute to the Schomburg Library in NYC. A couple things to note about it.  First, in an amazing bit of research you can see that he includes both the old Schomburg Library (now overrun with ivy) and the new Schomburg together at the bottom.  Second, the inclusion of Langston Hughes front and center is particularly clever since Langston is practically the first thing a person sees when they enter the building.  Or rather, Langston’s words which are embedded in the very floor.  I do miss the Schomburg. This brought all that back.

  • In all the talks we’ve heard from people about A FINE DESSERT and A BIRTHDAY CAKE FOR GEORGE WASHINGTON, I sometimes feel like we haven’t heard enough from the teachers about how they teach topics like slavery.  That’s why posts like Monica Edinger’s In the Classroom: Teaching About Slavery are so important.  If you read no other link today, read this one.
  • This one’s for the librarians.  Want to know all the different rates publishers charge libraries for ebooks?  A handy dandy chart explains all.
  • Travis Jonker knew not what he hath wrought when he posted about The Most Annoying Board Book Ever.  I know precisely what book he’s talking about (as does anyone else who has encountered it).  I never get rid of books, as my household will attest, but THAT book I gave away with a flourish when I moved.  I wasn’t going to use precious box space cluttering it up with that monstrosity.  One of the buttons that’s supposed to sound like snoring actually sounds like Darth Vader.  And believe you me, you do NOT want the unsettling feeling that Vader is lurking around your house.

Screen Shot 2016-02-18 at 10.22.02 PMSpeaking of radio, have you guys all heard James Kennedy (of 90-Second Newbery and The Order of Odd Fish fame) on Matthew Winner’s Let’s Get Busy podcast?  If you listen to no other interview on that show (and I include my own when I say that) listen to this one.  The two guys basically hit it out of the park right at the start when James mentions the plethora of The Call stories as they relate to ALA Award committees.  The dog church bit . . . seriously, you just have to listen.  And not just because an Oakland newspaper said of James that, “Between his wardrobe choices and excited mannerisms, he had the familiar air of Professor Gilderoy Lockhart in the Harry Potter film adaptations, only he was not a braggart.”  I always think of him as more a Xenophilius Lovegood type, but maybe that’s just the Rhys Ifans talking.

  • Man. I gotta apologize. Somebody somewhere alerted me to the Booktoss piece Say It With Me: Intersectionality and I’ve forgotten who they are.  Mea culpa.  In any case, this is a great piece of writing.  From Beyonce at the Superbowl to Ben Hatke’s Little Robot.  Not an easy connection, but Laura Jimenez manages it.  Kudos.
  • I think I failed to post this before, but Mike Lewis did a killer rundown of the CTTCB’s Social Media Institute in his piece Exiting the Echo Chamber.  I am, however, a little jealous at the title.  Wish I’d thought of it myself.
  • Why, yes.  I would like to attend a Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry exhibition at the Brooklyn Public Library.  However did you know?  But quick question: When did Wendell Minor illustrate the series?  It makes me happy but I want to see that work.
  • Things I’m Surprised More Publishers Don’t Do With Their Backlist: This. I guess it helps if you have a big recognizable name, but still. Now can we PLEASE discuss doing this with William’s Doll?  You want money?  I have money. (Fun Fact: I don’t have money – I just want to see it brought into the 21st century)
The tattered and faded stuffed animals--Pooh, Tigger, Kanga, Eeyore and Piglet--that inspired the children's tales of A.A. Milne sit in a glass case at a branch of the New York Public Library in New York, Thursday, February 5, 1998. New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani paid a visit to the animals Thurday to show his support for keeping them in the city.(AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)

Pooh and friends pre-2008

Though it contains an image of the original Winnie-the-Pooh toys that has to be more than eight years old (Donnell Library!), the Huffington Post article Christopher Robin Was Real, And Other Facts About Winnie-The-Pooh’s Author has some nice items in it.  Particularly point #2.  H.G. Wells?  Really?

  • Here’s another one for the librarians.  Booksellers too, as it happens.  According to a recent Nielsen Report, Social Omnivores And Book Placement Majorly Influence Children’s Book Buyership.  No surprises there.  What is surprising is that when it comes to selecting books, “The shelf has more influence than the promotional table, window display, bargain bin, etc. combined by a very wide margin.”.  Yep.  Your displays may look all kinds of pretty, but nothing beats good old fashioned shelving when it comes to checkouts/sales.  Who knew?  Thanks to Carl Schwanke for the link.
  • Word I Don’t Use Enough: Ostrobogulous. Disagree on peril of defining it (though this may help). Thanks to Phil Nel for the link.
  • “Where are the children’s books that celebrate working-class values and voices?” is not a question being asked by many folks here in America.  It is, however, being asked in The Guardian by Elen Caldecott.  And it is a question I would very much like us to start answering over here as well.
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Alison Morris, currently working as the Senior Director of Collection Development & Merchandising at First Book, is the cleverest crafty person I know.  Years ago she showed me how to make F&Gs into birdhouses.  Now she’s making classic children’s characters into marble magnets.


Want to make your own?  Instructions can be found here.  Cheers, Alison!


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24. Fusenews: Different cultures. Same battlefield.

  • LeapYearHappy Leap Day!  Unlike Leap Day William here I have no candy to bestow upon the weeping children of the world, but I do have some keen links.  First and foremost, this old newspaper article (possibly The New York Times) courtesy of Andrew Fairweather.  It’s a little difficult to read here but it says, “THE QUESTION: As a librarian, what was the most unusual request ever made of you?” Between the voracious pygmy pig, the nightingale being attacked and the primo embalmer, these are some good reference questions!


Thanks to Andrew Fairweather for the image.

  • Just in case you missed it, on Febrary 24th there was a great piece called “You Will Be Tokenized” in Brooklyn Magazine which moves heaven and earth to correct many misconceptions about working in the publishing industry today (monetary misconceptions amongst others).
  • I’m not one for wallpaper.

What’s that, you say?

You said there’s Carson Ellis wallpaper out there?


I’ll take three houses’ worth, thank you.

Thanks to Alison Morris for the link.

  • Speaking of PW, if you didn’t follow their recent link to this story on publishing children’s literature in Russia, you need to double back and do so. This is the kind of story I’d like to hear about more often.  International publishing is absolutely fascinating to me and we hear so little about it.
  • Read that article and then follow it up with a brief examination of the talk, “Brown Gold: African American Children’s Literature as a Genre of Resistance.”  In one case you have a government cracking down on precisely what children can and cannot read (“Between the ages of 6 and 12, children were allowed to learn about illness but not death”).  On the other you have an examination of children’s books by, “Alice Walker, bell hooks, W.E.B. DuBois, Nikki Giovanni, Maya Angelou and James Baldwin…”  The sole problem with this piece is that it doesn’t delve into Michelle Martin’s speech or link to a transcript.  Still, I love pairing the authoritarianism on the one hand and the resistance on the other. Different cultures.  Same battlefield.  Thanks to Phil Nel for the link.
  • Daily Image:

And finally, Boing Boing recently highlighted these shoes from Irregular Choices.  And though they may require taking out a loan on your home, I wouldn’t say no if you wanted to bequeath them to me in some manner.  I’m a size 9 1/2, in case you’re curious: Alice1Alice2Previous shoe-related posts may be found here.


9 Comments on Fusenews: Different cultures. Same battlefield., last added: 3/1/2016
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25. Fusenews: “Rich. Famous. That’s all I’ve got”

  • We’re diving right in today.  Check out this killer poster:


Now if you’re one of the lucky ducks living in NYC, or will be there on the date of 4/16, you now have your marching orders.  This is an event held at Bank Street College of Education and in wracking my brains I can’t think of anything more timely.  You can see the full listing of the events here.  Wish I were there.  Go in my stead, won’t you?


  • New Podcast Alert: This one sports a catchy moniker that will strike some of you as familiar.  Kidlit Drink Night (which would also make a good name for a band, a blog, or a dog) is the official podcast of one Amy Kurtz Skelding.  There’s a bit of YA cluttering up the works, but enough children’s stuff is present to make it worth your pretty while.  Do be so good as to check it out.

  • Hey!  Hey hey!  The Eric Carle Honorees were named, did you see?  And did you notice that amongst them Lee & Low Books was named an Angel?  Such fantastic news.  A strong year of nominees.


  • So Phil Nel shared something recently that I’d like you to note. There is apparently a Tumblr out there called Setup Wizard which consists of the, “Daily Accounts of a Muggle I.T. Guy working at Hogwarts.” Phil suggests reading them in order. I concur. Thanks to Phil for the link.


  • I have lots of favorite blogs, but Pop Goes the Page clearly belongs in the upper echelon.  Two posts by Dana Sheridan (the Education & Outreach Coordinator of the Cotsen Children’s Library at Princeton University) caught my eye recently.  Dana, as you will recall, is responsible for my little toilet paper tube profile picture on Twitter.  Well now she’s used her knowledge of all things cardboard to create the world’s most adorable subway system complete with Broadway posters.  In a different post Dana, in partnership with The Met Museum’s Nolen Library (the one for the kids), shows a killer display on taking care of your books.  It doesn’t necessarily sound interesting, until you see how they magnified a book eating buggy.

  • So the other day I’m talking up Evan Turk and his new book The Storyteller, as per usual, and I mention to a librarian that the guy not too long ago did some killer sketches of Chicago blues musicians.  Naturally she wanted to see what I was talking about.  After all, I practically live in Chicago these days, so if there’s a talented illustrator going about making Chi-town art, it’s well worth promoting.  I took her to Evan’s blog and there, beautiful as all get out, is the art.  Then I thought I might share it with you as well.  This is just a tiny smidgen of what he has up so go to his blog to see more. The sheer talent of it all floors me.





  • Do you know who is awesome?  Sharyn November, former Viking editor, is awesome.  So awesome, in fact, that she has her own brand of tea.  You can buy this tea, if you like.  I’ll put its description right here:

“sdn tea was created specifically for the punk goddess of children’s publishing, Sharyn November. This deity, who is all sharp angles, quick wit, and extraordinary fashion, is a fiery force of nature–literally and figuratively. She already has her own time zone, so it’s high time she has her own tea. This blend is strong and highly caffeinated. Almost impossibly fruity on the nose, it tastes of warm spice and goes extremely well with a piece of chocolate and a cigarette.”


  • Do school librarians yield higher test scores?  You may have always suspected that was the case but a recent study out of South Carolina now has some facts so that you can put your money where your mouth is.  Are you a school librarian in need of justifying your existence to your employer?  You can’t afford not to read this SLJ piece.


  • I dunno.  I get Neil Patrick Harris playing Count Olaf in the new Netflix series of A Series of Unfortunate Events.  That makes sense to me.  It’s Dr. Horrible without the songs.  Sure.  But Patrick Warburton as Snicket?  Last time we had Jude Law, and I’m pretty sure that was the right move to make.  Puddy as Lemony Snicket seems to lack the right panache.


  • In America we have our Newbery and Caldecott Medals.  In England it’s all about the Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Awards.  And unlike the States, they create shortlists.  Those shortlists have just been released for 2016 and (also unlike the States) they nominate books outside their nation.  So Canadians like Jon Klassen and Sydney Smith have a fighting chance.  I agree with Travis Jonker, though.  The alternate title for Sidewalk Flowers was a surprise.


  • On the old To Do list: Meet Jan Susina, the Illinois State English Professor who also happens to be an expert on children’s literature.  In a recent interview he produced this marvelous mention of Beatrix Potter: “Potter once said, ‘Although nature is not consciously wicked, it is always ruthless.’ Peter Rabbit is a survival story, not a cute bunny story.”  How perfectly that quote could have worked in Wild Things.  Ah well.  The entire interview is well worth your time, particularly his answer to the question, “What is the greatest secret in children’s literature?”  The answer will surprise you.  Thanks to Phil Nel for the link.


  • This Saturday I’ve a Children’s Literary Salon at 2:00.  Yet a couple months ago I hosted Jeff Garrett who spoke about his work with the Reforma Children in Crisis Project.  You can imagine how pleased I was to hear that ALSC will be donating $5,000 to the project as well.  Fantastic news.


  • Daily Image:

I was dumpster diving in the donation bin this week when an old book caught my eye.  Hate to say it, but this thing seriously disturbs me.  They just don’t make ’em like this anymore (phew!).


Run, girl, run!!  Or rather . . . skate, girl, skate!


1 Comments on Fusenews: “Rich. Famous. That’s all I’ve got”, last added: 3/23/2016
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