Those of you familiar with the Jackson 5 song I’ve referenced in my title are probably now throwing virtual rotten fruit in my general direction. Still, I can’t say it isn’t accurate. This weekend I am pleased to be a speaker at the SCBWI Indiana conference in Zionsville, IN. I haven’t been back in Indiana since my last college reunion in 2010. It’ll be good for me to fill the lungs with some pure uncut Midwestern air once more. A gal need to fill up before heading back into the NYC fray. While you read this I may be zooming up into the clouds above, so enjoy some ephemera in my absence.
- Sure. On the one hand Spain’s reading net, highlighted by Boing Boing this week, looks AMAZING. But while it may work well for Spanish children, you just know that our kids would be leaping and jumping all over that thing within seconds. Plus, there appears to be a gigantic hole in it that’s just asking for trouble. Or maybe that’s how you get in. That would make sense.
- Views From the Tesseract has reached its 100th post and as a result Stephanie came up with What Stories Have Taught Me in 100 Small Lessons. It’s nice without being sentimental. Plus, if you’re in the market for good quotes from children’s books, this here’s the place to go for your one stop shopping!
- My l’il sis is at it again. This time she came up with a way to create comic book shoes. I cannot help but think that this might be possible with old Advanced Readers Copies. Or YA craft programs. Yeah. I think you can tell that the next time I go to the Newbery/Caldecott Banquet I’m recruiting Kate to help me with my outfit. She made one shoe superheroes and one supervillains.
For the record, she also did a post on how to make a hollow book. If you read it, just remember that the world is FULL of extra Harry Potter 7s. One or two less isn’t gonna hurt anything.
- And while we’re feeling crafty, Delightful Children’s Books has come up with such a good idea: a Bookish Advent Calendar. Genius! I may have to steal this idea myself. If I do, though, I’d better get cracking. Start placing holds now. December is practically nigh!
- On the more serious side of things, Marjorie Ingall writes great posts no matter where she is, but it’s her titles that consistently blow me away. At the blog Modern Loss (a site for “navigating your life after a death”) Marjorie wrote 5 Kids Books That Go There: The best of the ‘talking to kids about death’ genre (drumroll, please). It’s a strong five. I’m trying to think what I might add. This year’s Missing Mommy by Rebecca Cobb, maybe. That book ripped my heart from my chest and danced a tarantella on the remains.
- *sigh* Well, if nothing else, this clarifies for me who exactly “McKenna” is and why folks keep asking me to buy her books. And Saige, for that matter. Alexandra Petri writes a rather amusing piece on what has happened to American Girl.
I’m far less upset about the fact that they’re turning What Does the Fox Say? into a picture book. For one thing, I’m weirdly thrilled that the Norwegian YouTube hit sensation has a Norwegian illustrator. And one that clearly has a sense of humor. Hey! Whatever it takes to get some new names from overseas into the American market. At the very least, I want to see it (though I’m fairly certain it is NOT the first picture book to be based on a YouTube sensation). Thanks to Playing By the Book and Matt for the info.
Today, I show something I may have shown before. It’s lithographs of famous books where the text from the story makes up the image itself. Here are some examples:
A Christmas Carol
Alice in Wonderland
A Little Princess
Thanks to Marci for the link!
Howdy-do, folks. Today I am off to the Yonkers Library to participate in a Charles Dickens panel with some experts in the field. Why me? I don’t precisely know but I’m honored to be asked. Plus the train ride will allow me to read my new Lemony Snicket book (this would be the children’s literature equivalent of bold as you please name dropping).
First up, some nepotism, uncut. The resident husband has a tendency to be brilliant (not that I’m biased or anything). Recent evidence of this can be found on editor Cheryl Klein’s podcast Narrative Breakdown – Creative Writing, Screenwriting,Young Adult Lit, TV shows and More. With partner-in-crime James Monohan, the two of them have a habit of talking about writing in all its many forms. Mr. Bird appears on the episode called “Scene Construction 1 > Character Expectations and Tactics” on 9/8/12 which was described as, “what may be our most ambitious episode yet.” In related news, Mr. Bird has restarted his blog Cockeyed Caravan in all its wild advisory glory. I just like this picture he came up with when talking about the roles individuals play in teams:
- Wow. This post outlining how creating a book trailer meets Common Core Standards is fantastic. Many thanks indeed to Joyce Valenza for the link!
- In case you weren’t aware of it, the Onion A.V. Club has decided that young adult literature is interesting enough to highlight on occasion (articles equating it with chick lit and meritless copyright suits notwithstanding). In the series YA Why? they split their time evenly between new hot titles and older fare. Stay for the new stuff but eschew the looks back in time. Odds are whatever title you see there, the Fine Lines column by Lizzie Skurnick did it better.
- “…the critic is someone who, when his knowledge, operated on by his taste in the presence of some new example of the genre he’s interested in…hungers to make sense of that new thing, to analyze it, interpret it, make it mean something.” Flatterer. As an aspiring book critic of children’s fare, I was much taken with the Darryl Campbell Millions article Is This Book Bad, Or Is It Just Me? The Anatomy of Book Reviews which seeks to not only summarize in brief the spats and spits in the adult literary criticism world (a fine and fancy recap if ever there was one) then goes so far as to define the four classical elements of literary appraisal (“Reaction. Summary. Aesthetic and historical appraisal”). This one is your required reading of the day. Many thanks to Marjorie Ingall (who will be part of the literary criticism panel at this year’s KidLitCon) for the link.
- List this one under Good Folks Doing Stuff You Should Know About. Now tell me everything you know about The Foundation for Children’s Books. Not to worry. If you don’t live in Boston you might not have heard about them. I’m a New Yorker but I know all too well the good works of the Bostonians, and this organization is particularly keen since they “bring acclaimed children’s book authors and illustrators into underserved K-8 schools in Boston for visits and workshops focused on writing and illustration.” Folks like Barbara O’Connor, Grace Lin, Mitali Perkins, Bryan Collier, and many many more. From what I hear, this year they’re hoping to expand their work in six schools, increase the number of donated books they bring to each school, and start a “Books for Breakfast” professional development series in Boston classrooms where they focus on particular “libraries” of new books–for example, “great non-fiction for 4th and 5th graders,” and then donate the books that they highlight to those classrooms. FYI!!
- Movie news time! As you may know I tend to get my heads up from Cynopsis Kids. This week they threw out a little piece of info that I almost missed. I was reading up on future children’s movie projects when the title Happy Smekday floated past. Happy what now? Apparently I missed Adam Rex’s June post that mentioned that an official announcement had been made about a True Meaning of Smekday movie from Dreamworks Animation. More to the point the press release (and IMDB page) report that it will star Jim Parsons and Rihanna. Which . . . is perfect. Blooming bloody perfect. Clearly J.Lo will be played by Parsons and Tip by Rihanna. I’m a little floored. Mind you, the description of the film that they provide is a bit ugh. “In Happy Smekday! an alien race invades Earth and uses it as a hideout from their mortal enemy. When one lowly alien accidentally notifies the enemies of his whereabouts, he is forced to go on the run with a teenage girl. The two become unlikely buddies and embark on a comical globe-trotting adventure to right his wrongs, in which our alien hero learns what it really means to be human.” As I recall J.Lo discovers “what it really means to be human” insofar as it means taking road trips and wearing a sheet over his head. Ah well. All I ask is that they include my favorite line in the book when he looks at Tip’s car and says with sweet condescension “Oh. It rolls”.
There’s other book news on the horizon too, so look lively. Cynopsis Kids has been busy. To wit:
- “Universal looks to Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci to produce its feature film adaptation of author Dugald A. Steer’s popular kid’s book series Dragonology (12 books so far), per Heat Vision. Kurtzman and Orci have a first look deal with Universal under their banner K/O Paper Products Dragonology is part of that agreement. Dragonology was to be written by Leonard Hartman who will now serve as an executive producer. A new writer has not yet been named. Kurtzman and Orci, who wrote and produced Star Trek 2, are also set to write and executive produce the Amazing Spider-Man movie sequel.”
And very very exciting news:
- FilmNation Entertainment acquires the feature film rights to the popular kid’s book A Tale Dark & Grimm by author Adam Gidwitz. FilmNation is partnering with Marissa McMahon of Kamala Films to finance the development and produce the live-action movie with FilmNation Entertainment’s Aaron Ryder and Karen Lunder. Jon Gunn (Mercy Streets, My Date with Drew) and John W. Mann (Mercy Streets) will pen the screenplay. Based on some of the more gruesome Grimm Brother’s stories, A Tale Dark & Grimm follows the adventures of two unsuspecting kids who hold the key to breaking out of the dark ages. McMahon explains, “Gidwitz’s A Tale Dark & Grimm is a smart, addictive, and hilariously gruesome narrative that turns familiar fairy tales on their head, much to the delight of both children and parents.” FilmNation recently completed filming on the new teen-targeted comedy Premature, which they are producing from writer/director Dan Beers.”
Not so sure about the whole “hold the key to breaking out of the dark ages” part (and you know the devil is totally going to get cut) but still good news for the author. Have no idea how they’ll do it, though. I mean, there is a LOT of blood in that book.
It came out a couple months ago but I never linked to it. You’d do well to discover this great Flavorwire post on 10 Wonderful Libraries Repurposed from Unused Structures (though really, how can you link to one jail and not mention the greatest courthouse-to-library conversion of all time, the Jefferson Market Branch?). Here’s a converted railcar to library:
And if you liked that be sure to read the follow up post on 10 Awesome Bookstores Repurposed from Unused Structures. Big thanks to Mike Lewis for the links!
You folks have been awfully good about my recent shoddy blogging, so I tip my hat in your general direction. Jules of 7-Imp and I are putting the final touches on our book for Candlewick editing-wise and, as you might imagine, it eats up large swaths of time like an irate and hungry badger. There is no situation in which a badger cannot be used as an example. True fact.
In other news, there’s an author/illustrator out there that I happen to like very much. His name is Aaron Zenz and over the years he has startled me time and again with the relative brilliance of his creativity. If he wasn’t making multiple inspired pieces for the Re-Seussification Project then his kids were contributing to the stellar Boogie Woogie blog. Well, Aaron and Co. are some of my favorite folks so when I saw the Friends of Zenz page asking to help ‘em out in the midst of some pretty upsetting surgery, you can bet I jumped on board. If you’ve a minute, you can too. They’re swell folks.
So I got to meet J.K. Rowling the other day. Yup. The woman who basically set me on the path of children’s librarianship in the first place via her books and I up and met her. You see the good Dan Blank had tickets and one of those tickets happened to have my name on it. So I got to see her speak with Ann Patchett about this adult novel of hers The Casual Vacancy (a title I’m certain she stole from the notes of Lemony Snicket) and then I stood in a long line and got my copy signed. The conversation between us is as follows:
J.K. Rowling: Thanks for coming.
Betsy Bird: Guh.
Many thanks to Dan for the opportunity. He’s blogged about the experience here and just so you writer folks know, he’s doing another session of his author platform course starting Oct 31, with a free webinar. The course features Jane Friedman, Richard Nash, Colleen Lindsay, Kathleen Schmidt, Joanna Penn and Jeff Goins as guest speakers. Info on the session is here and the webinar is here.
“COMIC LEGEND: There was a Winnie the Pooh comic strip where the characters acted a lot more aggressively than most Winnie the Pooh fans are used to.
Thus we find the strangest and maybe most engaging link of the day. Apparently there was a Winnie-the-Pooh syndicated comic strip out there for a while that contained the Disneyfied Pooh and friends. And apparently it was written by some seriously odd souls. How else to explain some of these downright weird inclusions? Comic Book Legends Revealed explains more (you’ll have to scroll down a little but they’re worth finding). This one’s my favorite:
And speaking of bears . . . how do you get kids interested in the political process? Have ‘em vote for bears, of course! The West Linn Public Library had an inspired idea. They’re holding a bear election through election day on November 6 and, as they explained it to me:
“inviting kids (and adults) to vote for their favorite bear from children’s literature: Pooh, Paddington, Mama Berenstain, or Corduroy. We have also gotten staff involved by asking them to volunteer to be bear campaign managers. The response from staff and patrons has been tremendous! Our campaign managers have embraced their roles beyond my wildest dreams by designing posters, stickers, bookmarks, and games to support their bear.We are having so much fun that I thought I would share with other libraries. I have even created a campaign video for my candidate, Mama Bear—here is that link: http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=vb.153513568034372&type=2“ Love it! I suppose I’m a staunch Pooh supporter thanks to my job, but it’s tough. Paddington comes in at a close second in my heart.
Okay, let’s do the Me Stuff all in one fell swoop today. First off, I made a reading list for NYC’s New Victory Theater to accompany their upcoming shows. Check it out here. I never properly thanked Miss Kathleen at Mental Floss for including me in the 24 Library-Centric Sites We Love round-up, to say nothing of the compliments regarding my video with Travis Jonker. Thanks to Maureen Petry for the links! I’m speaking at a Joan Aiken event tonight so enjoy this piece written by Lizza Aiken, Joan’s daughter, entitled Voices: The magical mysteries of children’s literature. I was interviewed at the blog The Children’s Book Review as part of their ongoing librarian series. And the Children’s Media Association blog gave me what could well be the most flattering spotlight I’ve received in my long internet life. Whew!
There was a Bibliography-Off between Judy Blume and one of my favorite comics Patton Oswalt not long ago. As Jezebel described it, “The only thing that could really be better than this (for a Sunday, anyway) is if Calvin and Hobbes were real and they spoke at a TED Talk about the vividness of a small child’s imagination.” I just wish S.E. Hinton had heeded Patton’s call to give him a hand. She’s on Twitter all the time, y’know. Thanks to Marjorie Ingall for the link!
Maybe you can’t see Phil Nel speaking in my library tomorrow about Crockett Johnson. If not, here’s the next best thing.
All right. Enough with the books. Let’s look at some up-to-date movie news directly from Cynopsis Kids. First up:
“Nickelodeon begins production this month on its new original comedy/caper TV movie, Swindle, which will star a bevy of the network’s stars including Jennette McCurdy (iCarly), Noah Crawford (How to Rock, You Gotta See This), Noah Munck (iCarly), Ariana Grande (Victorious), Chris O’Neal (How to Rock, You Gotta See This) and Ciara Bravo (Big Time Rush). Based on the popular kids book of the same name by Gordon Korman, the movie will be shot in Vancouver Canada. The movie is set to begin airing in 2014 on Nickelodeon’s 40+ international channels across Europe, Latin America, Asia and Australia. The story begins when an evil collector cons Griffin (Crawford) out of a million dollar baseball card that could have saved his best friend’s (O’Neal) home, he teams a ragtag group of his classmates (Grande, McCurdy, Munck and Bravo) to take down the swindler. Directed by Jonathan Judge (Big Time Rush, Fred 3), Swindle is written by Bill Motz (Brandy & Mr. Whiskers) & Bob Roth (Lion King 2), Eric Freiser (Road to Ruin) and Adam Rifkin (Small Soliders, Mousehunt). Marjorie Cohn (Big Time Movie, Rags), Lauren Levine (Bridge to Terabithia, Best Player), Loris Lunsford, Karen Glass and Paul Barry serve as executive producers. Scott McAboy’s Pacific Bay Entertainment is producing.”
“Toronto-based Radical Sheep Productions (Stella and Sam, Yub Yubs, The Big Comfy Couch) acquires the rights to the graphic novel series Fangbone! Third-Grade Barbarian, by author/illustrator Michael Rex (Goodnight Goon, The Runaway Mummy). Under the deal Radical Sheep will develop a K6-11 aimed animated series based on Fangbone! The story revolves around Fangbone, a nine-year-old barbarian warrior from Skullbania who winds up in third grade at Eastwood Elementary in order to save his native land from the evildoer Venomous Drool. With the help of his new pal Bill, a lovable, average, goofy kid, Fangbone outwits his enemies while discovering the modern world.”
Sometimes the title sells it alone: Children’s Author Illustrator Elisha Cooper Gives Lecture on “Inappropriate” Children’s Books.
New Blog Alert: The election’s coming up and everyone’s getting ready. With that in mind, did you know that there’s a blog out there solely dedicated to talking about political children’s books? Kid Lit About Politics it’s called. One for the radar.
New Blog Alert II: For that matter did you know there was a mother-son blog out there (adult mother and son!) called crossreferencing: a hereditary blog? Yep. There you can find Sarah and Mark Flowers as they, “discuss YA Literature and Librarianship from our dual perspectives.” It’s pretty cool.
New Blog Alert III: Tis the season. This third new blog is actual that of The Junior Library Guild called Shelf Life. It’s currently doing a wonderful job of discussing current issues and hot books. Of particular note is the post Save [Books of Wonder] and Save Your Soul. Couldn’t have put it better myself.
Have you ever watched the movie Matilda and thought to yourself, Whatever happened to child actress Mara Wilson? Thank god for the internet, eh? Thanks to Brita for the link.
On a serious note there is a lovely memory of Peter Sieruta up at the blog Archives and Special Collections. It happens to include what may be the first picture of Peter to ever make it to the world wide web. God, I miss that guy.
The Onion’s A.V. Club has been a bit lazy in their looks at children’s and YA literature but this recent post on 2012 graphic novels is well worth reading. Many thanks to Eric Carpenter for the link!
Just knowing that Gabi Swiatkowska has a blog where she displays art like the pieces below is enough to make my life complete.
Thanks to Jane Curley for the link.
Oh, why not. Let’s just start with what is undoubtedly the best thing ever. Last weekend I had the pleasure of attending the 90-Second Newbery and James Kennedy, the author and organizer, was clever enough to know how to start things off. It seems that Aaron Zenz and his Boogie Woogie kids have made another video. And darned if it isn’t even better than their previous (genius) efforts. I liked it so much I’m including the Making Of film as well.
Those of you already familiar with the PBS Digital Studio’s remixes of Mr. Rogers, Julia Child, and Bob Ross (boy is that catchy) know that no one is safe when it comes to classic public television. They did a nice job with LeVar here too. It’s fun to watch based on his shifting facial hair alone.
Seems to me that LeVar Burton had his way of recommending books. Iron Guy Carl of Boys Rock, Boys Read has a different method: Scare them away with a PSA. Works for me!
Now here we have a movie coming out based on a YA novel I never read. I did listen to the Read It and Weep podcast episode about it, but now I suppose that was insufficient. I dunno. The creepy kiddo looks interesting but I may just hold out for The Last Apprentice film that’s coming out soon anyway.
Thanks to bookshelves of doom for the link.
Oksey-doksey. New publishing model time. It happens. Seems Rebecca Emberley and Deidre Randall are creating a new “hybrid children’s book imprint” called two little birds (something about that name just speaks to me). They’re pairing a picture book in print form with an app of the same title and publishing them simultaneously. The first book is the sure-fire winner The Itsy-Bitsy Spider, catchy song in tow.
You can learn more about their Kickstarter campaign here and read the article about it here.
Author Alan Silberberg has a different method of bringing videos and books together. He animates his thoughts on writerly advice. Like so:
Sweet screams never sounded so right.
Finally, the off-topic video (I did well this week, didn’t I? – she said like an eager puppy). Normally I’d eschew something as tawdry as a Gangnam Style parody, but . . . but . . . there are literary references! And for once the idea of looking like you’re riding a tiny pony makes odd sense.
Thanks to Jeanne Birdsall for the link.
In a weird way, Twitter sort of made my Fusenews posts this side of obsolete. If you want cool things to see online it’s often just a case of knowing whom to follow. And yet I love my little Fusenews. Pressed as I am for time today, let’s pretend that these are little tweets:
Pinterest continues to remain a strange elusive creation that I have a hard time wrapping my head around. Fortunately sometimes it will do something like post images from William Steig’s Agony in the Kindergarten (circa 195o) and all at once everything is clear. Thanks to Alex Penfold for the link.
And while you’re looking at vast numbers of images, why not look at this collection of international children’s art. Purdy. Thanks to Warren Truitt for the link.
Adrienne says, “I Can’t Imagine There Was Ever a Time in Which This Version of Little Red Riding Hood Wasn’t Creepy.” I don’t quite know what she means since I haven’t yet seen the . . . GAAAAAHHHHH!!!
- I want a new Leslie Connor middle grade novel for kids and I want it now now now now now. (This is called “baiting the universe” and should only be attempted under the strictest of circumstances.)
- Was anyone else aware that Thomas Locker died this year, or just BookMoot? First I’ve heard of it. Shoot.
- As per usual, the best round-up of the year is happening at Chicken Spaghetti. If you want to see every last Best Of list printed for 2012 books, seek ye no further.
- Speaking of Best Of lists, I am not usually flummoxed by the books folks pick. I like to think that on the children’s side I see almost everything. So imagine my flummoxing when I check out the 100 Scope Notes Top 20 Children’s Books of 2012 and find that #20 is a book I have NEVER heard of before!?! I am tongue-tied, stopped, and otherwise befuddled. You win this round, Jonker, but I shall have my revenge!!
- The Bookbug children’s bookstore in Kalamazoo, Michigan does many things right. But most recently they managed to make this remarkable little fellow:
Don’t try to buy him for your holiday shopping, though. Apparently to make it you need to get “many different packages of legos from several different vendors.” Worth it.
- You know how weird it was when they redid Spiderman with an all-new cast? Yup. Well, hold onto your hats, folks. A children’s book is getting yet another reworking as well. From Cynopsis Kids:
Columbia looks to Zach Helm (Stranger Than Fiction, Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium, which he also directed, and the upcoming The Secret Life of Walter Mitty) to write a new big screen adaptation of Jumanji, based on Chris van Allsburg’s 1981 book of the same name, per THR. Matt Tolmach (The Amazing Spider-Man) will produce the new Jumanji movie. Joe Johnston directed the 1995 feature film incarnation of Jumanji, which starred Robin Williams and Kirsten Dunst.
There is a giant swing installation somewhere in New York City right now. You walk in, you sit, and you swing.
I may have missed the Columbus Circle installation but by gum I am finding this one! Thanks to Crooked House for the heads up.
I apologize for the recent radio silence, folks. There’s something goofy in the state of Fuse 8. For one thing, I can’t seem to comment on my own posts. Most peculiar. I will assume that this is just a passing fancy of the blog and that all will be well and good from this day forward. Onward then!
This year, as some of you may know, I eschewed plastering myself with fake tattoos in favor of instead impaling myself with Shrinky Dinks at the Newbery/Caldecott Banquet. Shrinky Dinks: The classy choice. I did this because I was tired of picking clumps of multicolored skin off of my arms in airports, but if we want to get to the real reason behind the reason I can sum it up in three words: Becky Quiroga Curtis. More specifically, Becky Quiroga Curtis, the Children’s Book Buyer and Event Coordinator of Books & Books (also known as one of the only reasons to visit Miami). This is a woman who takes her love of children’s books and turns it hardcore. Oh, you think you love picture books? Really? Enough to have them tattooed onto your arm?!?! Just one arm, mind you. In any case, you can see how she convinces artists to draw on her arm here and you can see a feature on her at the Scholastic blog On Our Minds here and an older PW article on her here. You can also enjoy a slew of posts showing the tattoos if you follow the Becky’s Arm tag. Hard. Core.
- By the way, folk. A bunch of you signed up to get cool PDFs of my Top 100 polls, yes? You may be wondering where the heck those PDFs are, yes? Well fear not. I have it from on high that they are almost done, looking good, and you should see them within the next week or so. Stay tuned, faithful readers!
- On the One Hand: The recent news that Down a Dark Hall by Lois Duncan is being turned into a film is fantastic and I am very excited indeed.
- On the Other Hand: The book is being turned into a screenplay by . . . . Stephenie Meyer. Hubba wha?
- So I was looking at the very cool Spring 2013 Sneak Preview provided by PW, which offers a glimpse of some of the upcoming books next year. Fun stuff. And as I look I note several things of interest. The most notable is by far the fact that Yuyi Morales has a book coming out called Niño Wrestles the World that features a kid dressed as a Mexican wrestler . . . I’m beyond thrilled. Oh, and then there’s this little picture book coming out with Greenwillow called, um, Giant Dance Party. And who is it by? Well let’s see here. . . could it be by me? I do believe it could be. *smile*