Poor Dennis Abrams of Publishing Perspectives
! He was given the task of interviewing me, and it was one of those days when I was talking too fast about, well, everything. That Dennis was able to create this beautiful profile
for Publishing Perspectives
says much about his talent for deep listening and fine cohesion. I am grateful, and I am so looking forward to the Publishing Perspectives Children's Book Conference
, to be held on May 31st at the Scholastic Headquarters in New York City, where I'll be joining Peter Brown
, John Rocco, and Raina Telgemeier on a panel Dennis moderates. Earlier in the day, conference participants will meet Pamela Paul, Jenny Brown, Roger Sutton, David Levithan, Ken Wright, Rosemary Stimola, and Erica Rand Silverman, among others.
I hope to find some of you there. And, again, thank you, Dennis.
The laptop of my infinite sadness continues to remain broken which wrecks a certain special kind of havoc with my gray cells. To distract myself, I plunge headlong into the silliest news of the week. Let’s see if there’s anything here to console a battered Bird brain (something tells me that didn’t come out sounding quite right…).
- The best news of the day is that Matthew Kirby was the recent winner of the Edgar Award for Best Mystery in the juvenile category for his fabuloso book Icefall. My sole regret is that it did not also win an Agatha Award for “traditional mystery” in the style of Agatha Christie. Seems to me it was a shoo-in. I mean, can you think of any other children’s book last year that had such clear elements of And Then There Were None? Nope. In any case, Rocco interviews the two winners (the YA category went to Dandi Daley Mackall) here and here.
- It’s so nice when you find a series on Facebook and then discover it has a website or blog equivalent in the “real world” (howsoever you choose to define that term). The Underground New York Public Library name may sound like it’s a reference to our one and only underground library (the Andrew Heiskell branch, in case you were curious) but it’s actually a street photography site showing what New Yorkers read on the subways. Various Hunger Games titles have made appearances as has Black Heart by Holly Black and some other YA/kid titles. Just a quick word of warning, though. It’s oddly engaging. You may find yourself flipping through the pages for hours.
- A reprint of Roger Sutton’s 2010 Ezra Jack Keats Lecture from April 2011 has made its way online. What Hath Harry Wrought? puts the Harry Potter phenomenon in perspective now that we’ve some distance. And though I shudder to think that Love You Forever should get any credit for anything ever (growl grumble snarl raspberry) what Roger has to say here is worthy of discussion.
- And in my totally-not-surprised-about-this department… From Cynopsis Kids:
“Fox Animation acquires the feature film rights to the kid’s book The Hero’s Guide to Saving your Kingdom, per THR. A fairy tale mashup by first-time author by Christopher Healy and featuring illustrations by Todd Harris, revolves around the four princes from Cinderella, Snow White, Rapunzel and Sleeping Beauty. Chernin Entertainment (Rise of Planet of the Apes) is set to produce the movie. Walden Pond Press/HarperCollins Children’s Books release The Hero’s Guide to Saving Your Kingdom (432 pages) today.”
If y’all haven’t read The Hero’s Guide to Saving Your King
The kidlitosphere was hopping this weekend with news, reviews, and commentary. Here are some of the gems we uncovered while reading through our blogroll:
- Lee Wind at I’m Here, I’m Queer. What the Hell Do I Read? went to the SCBWI Conference in Los Angeles and shared some of his favorite quotes. I loved this one from Donna Jo Napoli: “Any civilization is built on empathy. If dreadful things happen to you, you learn empathy. …And for the protected child …the safest way for them to develop empathy is through a book.” Yes.
- Oh, Roger. We adore you. Thanks so much for sharing your criticisms thoughts on the strike-through trend.
- Sarah’s YA Movie News posts on her blog GreenBeanTeenQueen are some of my favorites! She mentions the Hunger Games movie stills many of us have seen – I’m not a fan, I have to admit. Katniss and Peeta are fighting for their lives so why do they look so pretty and stagnant? And what do you make of the upcoming Snow White movies?
- Chicken Spaghetti shares a great list of picture books about New York. I’d also love to add SUBWAY by Christoph Niemann, which is one of my recent favorites that captures the energy and vitality of New York’s iconic subway system.
- Kiersten White’s blog is one of my favorite things – she is just completely charming and hilarious and silly. Sure, her book PARANORMALCY just got a director…but what Kiersten is really excited about is Saved by the Bell’s Mr. Belding tweeting about it! I would be too. I mean, it’s Saved by the Bell!
- It’s been all over the web but, just in case you haven’t seen it, these minimalist posters of children’s stories from Flavorwire are a must-see. Do you have a favorite? This is mine:
In his essay "Go Big or Go Home," reprinted in A FAMILY OF READERS: THE BOOK LOVER'S GUIDE TO CHILDREN'S AND YOUNG ADULT LITERATURE
(Candlewick 2010), Roger Sutton opines that "what reluctant [boy] readers don't want are books filled with interpersonal emotional drama...It's not that boy readers are afraid of emotions, exactly, it's that they want to feel them in service to high stakes...Boys like to think Big."
I was thinking about this in context of Robins I, II, and III.
Robin I, you will recall, was Dick Grayson. Robin III was Tim Drake.
Both Dick Grayson Robin and Tim Drake Robin are much loved by the fandom and are among the most popular characters in the DC Universe.
Robin II was Jason Todd, whom the fandom voted to kill off.
Let me address this in context of Tim Drake-Robin and Jason Todd-Robin -- both started off having to fill the shoes of Dick Grayson, but one is liked and the other, really, really not.
I think most of it goes back to Roger's statement above. Tim Drake-Robin is not insensitive -- he is concerned about his girlfriend's safety and is sometimes miffed by Batman's treatment of him and others. He, like all the Robins, is an orphan. But his emotions serve higher stakes -- the fight against evil and his ambition to become the next Batman.
Even better, he is smart, funny, likeable, can use computers, and can kick butt when necessary. He came to be Robin by figuring out that Bruce Wayne is Batman and is the leader of his generation of superheroes, a position that no one questions.
In contrast, Jason Todd's tenure as Robin was filled with overwrought emoting and Sturm und Drang
. Granted, when Bruce Wayne is your "father," a certain amount of this is justified (Dick Grayson Robin rebelled rather memorably on several occasions), but there are limits.
Now, even boy readers want a character to have emotional depth, but at some point "interpersonal emotional drama" becomes off-putting melodrama and self-indulgent navel-gazing. As exemplified in A Death in the Family
, Jason Todd-Robin was pointlessly reckless, and endlessly and annoyingly self-absorbed and whiny.
To me, this is the kiss of death for any protagonist but particularly for a boy protagonist who is supposed to appeal to boy readers.
A collection of our favorite authors and illustrators sat down to help us tell the story of First Book:
The Story of First Book from First Book on Vimeo.
He also calls me a boozin' blogger: Read Roger's take on the SLJ cover controversy is at Step Away from the Bar, Ladies. (Bonus points because as the former lawyer in the group, I did step away from the bar!)
Roger also shows a cover that a Horn Book subscriber objected to. While its from a few years ago, it just goes to show some of the narrowness that Teri Lesesne rants about at Professor Nana.
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© Elizabeth Burns of A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy
And in case you missed it, there's a simply swell interview with Roger Sutton on Seven Impossible Things up and running. Apparently he could take down Seamus Heaney in a bar fight. Who knew?
Once upon a time I was on the 2007 Newbery committee and it was a lovely time. But I was a blogger and I liked to write reviews of potential contenders so as to post them on my site. ALSC, as it turned out, had not had to contend with this issue before. So it is with great pleasure that I turn your attention to a recent School Library Journal article Should Members of Book Award Committees Be Allowed to Blog? All sorts of hotsy-totsy topics come up in it. Roger Sutton's threat to quit the Caldecott committee if he couldn't blog. What happened when someone thought that Nina Lindsay was on the 2007 and not the 2008 committee. The final decision . . .
Let us all exhale a sigh of relief then. As Mr. Sutton said, "calmer heads have prevailed."
Now to go repost all my review from 2006. Oog.
Thanks to Educating Alice for the link.
It's become a bit of a problem. I used to write these online reviews, sans blog, that didn't get all that much attention. And with the exception of one YA author who shall remain nameless (he knows who he is) I never received so much as a peep of complaint from any writer over my words.
Times have changed. I've moved up in the world to this sweet library in the heart of Manhattan. I've grown accustomed to the fact that authors are going to come to my town and that I'm located a scant block or so from their editors. They say hello. We chat. It's all very pleasant. Then I sit down with one of their books, find it blah or (worse) notso hotso and therein lies my dilemma. Do I write a negative review and end up dealing with a sticky situation or be honest and deal with the consequences?
You know who's currently playing the world's smallest violin for me right now? Roger Sutton. Roger's for honesty, man. We can't go about watering down our reviews willy-nilly just because, boo-hoo, some poor author's going to feel bad somewhere. NEVER! Says he, "The author-reviewer relationship is unavoidably adversarial: one is judging the other. To have it otherwise means we should just all go work in publicity." That's a mighty good point. After all, I'm not exactly getting paid here.
I was recently blurbed on an author's website as liking a book when what I had written was a brief "What I'm Reading Now" mention saying that it was good "thus far." And the "thus", suffice it to say, didn't extend all that far after all. I'll end up writing the review anyway, of course. If I don't feel good about it, that's fine. Reviewing isn't all sunshine, kittens, and roses after all. I appreciate a healthy kick in the pants to remind me of this once in a while.
Digest /v. dɪˈdʒɛst, daɪ-; n. ˈdaɪdʒɛst/ Pronunciation Key - Show Spelled Pronunciation[v. di-jest, dahy-; n. dahy-jest]:
1.to convert (food) in the alimentary canal into absorbable form for assimilation into the system.
2.to condense, abridge, or summarize.
3. to plunk together in a veritable hodgepodge.
4. to give the author of a particular blog the excuse she needs to work the word "hodgepodge" into one of her postings.
Here are some trinkets and tidbits of an especially shiny nature that I've not had time to properly digest this week. Between this and that my brain is not working to its full capacity. Fortunately that means that the brains of others work where mine has ground to a rusty dusty halt.
Less excuses. More postings.
First on the list is Roger Sutton. You all know Roger. Editor of Horn Book. Bearer of the sacred throat vinculum. This week, he mentioned
that the Horn-Book Globe Book Awards committee is beginning their deliberations and you are invited to offer your bets on who the winners might be. So exciting! I side with the commenter that suggested that A Drowned Maiden's Hair
finally get its due. Roger also done went and linked to the article Circle of Cliches
via The Daily Telegraph
. I'll have to speak more on this later this week. It talks about the words or phrases reviewers love far too much. I know that for my part there are certain comfort turns of phrase that I'll reuse more often than I really should. Give the piece a glance alongside Roger's response
Thanks to Children's Illustration
we got a glimpse of some remarkable movie posters from back in the day. Blogger Michael Sporn also offered this great bit of info:
Through Aug. 1, the Posteritati Movie Poster Gallery (239 Centre St.) lets New Yorkers escape into the past with a collection of art from fantasy films ranging from 1937’s “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” to modern-day favorites like “Raiders of the Lost Ark” and “The Incredibles.”
Gallery hours are Tuesday - Saturday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Sundays, noon to 6 p.m.
If that means I get to see posters like this 1960 Czech image of Dumbo then I'm in.
Those of you in town for Book Expo might want to consider making a side trip.The Longstockings
may have a lock on the Pippi blog name, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't shoot on over to the excelsior file to read David Elzey's view
from an adult perspective of Sweden's hitherto best-known redhead. Great opening sentence too. "Pippi scared me when I was young."
If the webcomic Questionable Content
is unknown to you, watch and learn. This one
goes out to all the librarians out there. I've never heard the term "shush" sounds so very very dirty.
And because of Mo Willems
I now know that Jon Scieszka has a new website
. It's very nice. I'm particularly fond of the map that shows Population That Wishes They Were Reading Scieszka Books
. The one thing I would change? I want that big scary picture of Jon at the top to say "Gleep" unexpectedly and without warning. Is that too much to ask?
Finally, I've been memed. I'll meme it right back tomorrow. Cross my heart.
And another reason you need to read The Horn Book cover-to-cover.
Here he talks about the American Girl catalog as "toy porn":
Don't miss the very interesting comments on this post.