Well sir, it’s a heckuva week. Book stuff is happening out the wazoo, but for a moment I’d like to concentrate on what else is going on in the wider children’s literary world. What say we Fusenews it up a bit, eh?
- Of course there’s no way to begin today without a hat tip to the late, great E.L. Konigsburg. The only person, I believe, to win both a Newbery Award and a Newbery Honor in their debut year. Top THAT one, folks! The New York Times pays tribute to one of our luminaries. We had managed to do pretty well in 2013 without losing one of our lights. Couldn’t last forever. Godspeed, Elaine.
- Speaking of deaths, I missed mentioning my sadness upon hearing of Roger Ebert’s passing. Jezebel put out a rather nice compilation of Roger Ebert’s Twenty Best Reviews. I wonder if folks ever do that for children’s book critics. Hm. In any case, amongst the reviews was this one for Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. It’s rather brilliant. See for yourself.
12. On the original Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory:
“Kids are not stupid. They are among the sharpest, cleverest, most eagle-eyed creatures on God’s Earth, and very little escapes their notice. You may not have observed that your neighbor is still using his snow tires in mid-July, but every four-year-old on the block has, and kids pay the same attention to detail when they go to the movies. They don’t miss a thing, and they have an instinctive contempt for shoddy and shabby work. I make this observation because nine out of ten children’s movies are stupid, witless, and display contempt for their audiences, and that’s why kids hate them….All of this is preface to a simple statement: Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory is probably the best film of its sort since The Wizard of Oz. It is everything that family movies usually claim to be, but aren’t: Delightful, funny, scary, exciting, and, most of all, a genuine work of imagination. Willy Wonka is such a surely and wonderfully spun fantasy that it works on all kinds of minds, and it is fascinating because, like all classic fantasy, it is fascinated with itself.” [January 1971
- New Blog Alert: Now I would like to brag about my system’s children’s librarians. They are uniquely talented individuals. Smart as all get out. One that I’ve always been particularly impressed with is Stephanie Whelan, a woman I trust more than anyone else when it comes to finding the best in children’s (not YA) science fiction and fantasy fare. Now Stephanie has conjured up one doozy of a blog on that very topic. It’s called Views From the Tesseract (nice, right?) and it looks at a lot of science fiction and fantasy specifically with side views of topics in the field. You’ll find posts with subjects like A Matter of Taste: Preferring One Genre Over Another, Five Fantasy Pet Peeves, and the fascinating delve into the world of Tom Swift in The Swift Proposal. Stephanie also has access to galleys so be sure to check out her early reviews for books like William Alexander’s Ghoulish Song and Sidekicked by John David Anderson (which I’m reading right now on her recommendation).
- Turns out that the Mental Floss piece 11 Book Sequels You Probably Didn’t Know Existed spends an inordinate amount of time looking at children’s books. Check it out for mentions of the 101 Dalmatians sequel (missed that one), the E.T. sequel The Book of the Green Planet (which, if memory serves, was illustrated long ago by David Wiesner and is the only book he no longer owns the art of), and more.
- Nice blogger mentions this week. Thanks to Sara O’Leary for mentioning my new website and to Jen Robinson’s for the nice review of Giant Dance Party. I appreciate it, guys! Plus Jen is the first review I’ve read that draws a connection between my book and the Hunger Games series. Few can say so much.
Speaking of reviews, I owe Travis Jonker a debt of gratitude for reviewing Marguerite Abouet’s Akissi. I read that book in the original French a year or two ago and was completely uncertain if it would ever see the light of day here in the States due to a final story that, quite frankly, DEFIES anything I’ve seen in children’s literature before. The kind of thing that makes Captain Underpants look tame. You have been warned. Great book, by the way. Let’s not lose sight of that.
- Not too long ago I spoke to a group of 6th graders at Bank Street College’s school about contemporary book jackets and how they’re marketed to kids. Only a portion of my talk was dedicated to race or gender. Fortunately, the kids have been thinking long and hard about it. Allie Bruce has posted twice about a covers project the kids have participated in. Be sure to check out race and then gender when you have a chance. Food for thought.
- What do Pinkalicious, A Ball for Daisy, and Square Cat all have in common? Read ‘em to your kids and you’ll be teaching them that consumerism is king. So sayeth a 196-page thesis called “Cultivating Little Consumers: How Picture Books Influence Materialism in Children”, as reported by The Guardian. And they might have gotten away with the premise to if they just hadn’t brought up I Want My Hat Back. Dude. Back away from the Klassen. Thanks to Zoe Toft (Playing By the Book) for the link.
- Required Reading of the Day: There are few authorial blogs out there even half as interesting as Nathan Hale’s. And when the guy gets a fact wrong in one of his books, he’ll do anything to set it right. Even if it means going to Kansas. Here’s how he put it:
We made a HUGE historical error, and we are going to fix it! We are going to learn why Kansas wasn’t a Confederate state–why it was a “Free State,” and how it happened. We are also going to visit Kansas on an official apology and correction trip. When we are finished, all Hazardous Tales readers will know how to correct their own copy of Big Bad Ironclad! Stay tuned!
You can see the official ceremony here, but be sure to read all the blog posts he drew to explain precisely why Kansas was a free state anyway. You can see Part One, Part Two, Part Three, Part Four, Part Five, and Part Six.
It’s not the holiday gift giving season, but if you know a librarian in need of a unique gift, I have your number.
Awesomesauce. Thanks to Marchek for the link.
I swear that every time my computer goes on the fritz I feel like I’m walking underwater for days on end while it’s in the shop. I can’t do email effectively, I can’t update Goodreads, I can’t do anything without feeling like it’s all fake until that little laptop is returned to my knees where it belongs. It’s a sickness, man. Not healthy in the least. But now that it’s back I can’t help but be thrilled! Woot and woo-hoo and other “woo” related forms of cheering. Now on to the news . . .
- First off, I’m pilfering this next link from the always amusing and informative Jennifer Schultz. Because I am a member of PEN here in New York I’ve been vaguely aware of the efforts to help New Orleans rebuild post-Katrina (the Children’s/Young Adult Book Authors Committee helped move an elementary school library from St. Joseph’s School in Greenwich Village, New York City, to the Martin Luther King Jr. School in New Orleans and have continued to aid that school ever since). The New Orleans public libraries themselves haven’t been on my radar as much. Jennifer filled me in on the matter:
“Yesterday’s Times-Picayune (New Orleans’s newspaper) had an excellent article about the rebirth of the New Orleans Public Library system, which was devastated by Hurricane Katrina. Ever since they started to rebuild the libraries, their motto has been “Building Back Better.” The NOPL libraries were okay—they’ve always had strong community programming, but there was a lot of room for improvement—but drastic improvements were never going to be in the city’s finances, until Katrina came and they had no choice but to literally start over with many of their libraries. They didn’t want to just rebuild what they had—they wanted to take this unusual and tragic opportunity to make a strong and community-oriented system for the city. They wanted to make them public transportation-friendly, since many residents rely on it, technologically savvy, environmentally-friendly—you name it. This is their website: http://nutrias.org/ (The nutria is a pest —they are great at destroying wetlands-and a source of humor in Louisiana-Louisianians can have a dark sense of humor. They had a rather colorful governor years ago who suggested that folks should hunt and eat the nutrias in order to cut down on their numbers, and they’ve been sort of a joke ever since. Nutria fur is marketed as “guilt free fur,” etc).”
Thank you, Jennifer! Fantastic info. I can’t wait for ALA to return and to get to see the city (and it’s libraries!) firsthand.
With Book Expo going full-blast in town and my library celebrating its Centennial all at the same time, blogging is possible but slightly more difficult than usual. I am amused to find that when I skip a day some folks worry that I might be in labor. Fear not. I’ll find a way to update the blog with that news, come hell or high water. Tonight, meanwhile, is also my final Kidlit Drink Night (at least for a while) so if you’d like to view my largess (or, rather, largeness) here are the details. Meanwhile, back at the ranch . . .
- So I go into the administrative office the other day to pick up my room’s checks and WHAM! Two gigantic Lego statues of Patience and Fortitude (the library lions) are just sitting there, chewing their cuds (or whatever it is Lego lions chew). I showed them to a class of second graders on a tour a day or so later (they’re on display in our main hall, if you’re curious) and one kid said that looking at them was like looking at a computer screen. He had a point. They’re mighty pixilated.
- Wow. That’s pretty cool. The organization Keshet (“a national organization working for the full inclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Jews in Jewish life”) is releasing posters of LGBT Jewish Heroes. One of the posters available? Leslea Newman of Heather Has Two Mommies and my favorite LGBT board books Mommy, Mama and Me and Daddy, Papa, and Me. Thanks to Marjorie Ingall for the link.
- Do you have what it takes to take on the Sixth Annual 48 Hour Book Challenge? I don’t want to hear your excuses! I want to see you reading. You’ve some time to prep so get those eyeball stalks limbered up.
- Recently I attended SLJ’s Day of Dialog (slooooow emerging blog post to come on the subject). The keynote speech was delivered by Katherine Paterson who began, much to my delight, with some praise of New Zealand children’s book superstar Margaret Mahy (who would be a superstar here if they just friggin’ republished The Changeover *coughcough*). Anyway, it seems she recently won in the picture book category of the 2011 New Zealand Children’s Book Awards. What would you like to bet me that someday they’ll rename those awards “The Mahys”? I give it ten years, tops.
Top o’ the Tuesday to you, gentle readers! After a delightful Memorial Day Weekend of doing very little (aside from watching somewhat strangely high statistics for my dinky little Saturday review) I am now working my final week at NYPL before the imminent arrival of a brand new Baby Bird. So let’s pack in the news items while we may, eh?
First off, big time thanks to everyone who showed up for the BEA Kidlit Drink Night. We raised excellent money for Reading is Fundamental and Rasco from RIF provided her own sweet thanks as well. Y’all are sweet and good and I appreciate you thoroughly.
And now the sad news. I’m sure that some of you may have heard that librarian, blogger, and 2012 debut author Bridget Zinn died of colon cancer at the age of 33. Tributes to her have been springing up all over the web and Liz at Tea Cozy has created a very impressive rundown on all the best Zinn links. I was sorry not to have known her better.
- I mentioned everything in my Day of Dialog rundown except the new books coming out. Until I get around to typing that up, why don’t you head on over to the PW post BEA 2011: A Bountiful Fall for Children’s Books. I’ve read some of those books, but a lot are unfamiliar to me. Get a glimpse of what the publishers think will be big (warning: may differ wildly from what librarians think will be big).
- I just can’t stop mentioning Candyland these days. One minute I’m talking about the Candyland movie. The next I’m insisting that you head over to The Scop where Jonathan Auxier talks up his favorite board game of all time: The Settlers of Catan. Sounds a bit like Risk except, as Jonathan says, “Risk is Candy Land in wingtips and a smoking jacket — a game of luck pretending to be a game of skill.” I’m just amazed that no one’s done a Risk movie yet. I mean, come on! We’re already shooting most of our films in New Zealand/Australia anyway. Clearly that’s where you’d have to set it.
- Sounds pretty standard at first. The online children’s book magazine Books for Keeps puts out a piece called Ten of the Best Dystopian Novels. You probably are, like myself, expecting them to cover the usual. Your Eva. Your Z for Zachariah. So it was with great pleasure that I noticed the #1 was The Wolves of Willoughby Chase. Wait . . . oh! Dystopian. Not post-apocalyptic. The other choices are just as fascinating (I always liked The Wind Singer).
Okey-doke. So today we begin with an addendum. I believe that it was not long ago that with the announcement of the new Printz Award blog Someday My Printz Will Come I mentioned its existence without acknowledging that there may have been another and previously existing Printz Award blog out there. Well slap my sides and call me sally, my fellow co-author on an upcoming Candlewick book Peter Sieruta (who’s post delves deep into that moment when as an adult reader you discover that you are older than the parents in a children’s book) points out that there was already a Printz blog out there of venerable character and infinite wit called Printz Picks. I can only claim ignorance, not being particularly familiar with the world of YA . . . but I think we all know that’s a bit of a cop out on my part. Mea culpa, Peter. I shall now read every entry on that blog to make suitable amends.
- I do know enough about YA to concede that this news is big news, though. Also, how amazing is it that her editor told her to rewrite it from scratch? Now THAT is editing, my friends! Well played, Kathy Dawson. Well played, indeed.
- Trend Alert: Well, it had to happen eventually. I’ve been rendered obsolete. Back in the day when I started visiting publisher previews and blogging about them I admit that I felt pretty clever about the whole thing. No one else was blogging them, after all. Here we had a brand new untapped resource for interesting blog fodder. And from 2006 until today I was still one of the very few bloggers to do this. It took roughly five years before a publisher thought to themselves, “Hey . . . Betsy’s not the only blogger in town, is she?” No she is not. So it is that Simon & Schuster has taken what I am regarding as the logical next step. They’ve engaged the group Buzzing Bloggers (seen here: http://twitter.com/#!/buzzingbloggers) to round up a group of NYC parental, toy, and gift bloggers for their very own preview, sans librarians. I was invited to both the blogger preview (complete with childcare services) and the librarian preview (not so much) this season. I am unable to go to either of them, sadly. That’s okay, though. I suspect that this is one preview that will be getting plenty o’ coverage. Don’t be surprised if other publishers begin to follow suit.
- Speaking of which, I attended a Penguin preview the other day that I need to write up. Until then, some of you may be interested to know that there will be a new edition of that old Tam Lin takeoff Fire & Hemlock by Diana Wynne Jones on the horizon. As editor Sharyn November tweets, “Yes — Spring 2012, along w/ A TALE OF TIME CITY and DOGSBODY, all w/ stellar introductions. These will be the definitive editions.” You heard it here.