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I was out for a run the morning of the 4th when a squadron of Blue Angels came zooming across the sky in formation. The contrast between the Olmsted-ordered beauty of my surroundings (see above, near Ward’s Pond in Jamaica Plain) and the high-tech menace above made me feel like I was in The Giver. So then my thoughts wandered to Lois Lowry’s latest novel, Son, fourth and presumably last in what the publisher is now calling the Giver Quartet.
I like the book (it will be reviewed in the September issue of the Horn Book Magazine) but I do wonder about the wisdom (aesthetic if not commercial) of going to the same well too often. Any time I speak to an audience that includes library students, I plead with one of them to make a master’s thesis (do library school students still write master’s theses? Masters’ theses?) of the intersection of Newbery attention and sequel publication. There are tons of variables, including the fact that no fewer than five Newbery Medals have gone to books that were sequels to books that had previously won Newbery Honors. At least fifteen Newbery winners have spawned sequels, sometimes where you would expect (as with Susan Cooper’s ongoing Dark Is Rising series, or Cynthia’s Voigt’s further adventures of the Tillerman kids) but often where you would not, as with Julie of the Wolves or The Giver or Shiloh. None of these stories needed to keep going, and one thing I like about all those books is the way they end. Here’s hoping Dead End in Norvelt is true to its title.
If you’re coming to BEA, please join 2010 Boston Globe-Horn Book Award winner Rebecca Stead and me on Thursday as we announce the winners of the 2012 BGHB Awards, live with champagne, in the Librarians’ Lounge (booth #2148), 1:00PM, at the Javits Convention Center. If you can’t be there, we (fingers crossed and prayers sent aloft) will be showing a video of the announcement Thursday afternoon (threeish? fourish?) at www.hbook.com. All I’m gonna tell you NOW is that our judges did a GREAT job.
Barbara Bader’s “Cleveland and Pittsburgh Create a Profession” looks at a time when place really mattered and where you worked was far more allied to what you did than it is today. Certainly, you would learn from your distant colleagues via professional associations and journals, but change in librarianship happened building by building. Reading Bader’s account I’m struck by the concreteness of everything–Effie Power moving from Cleveland to Pittsburgh; Frances Olcott’s “Library Day” programs on summer playgrounds; William Howard Brett literally carving out space to make a children’s room. All of this still goes on, of course, but what will the ebook future hold? You can now go to library school from your home and check out books the same way. With public libraries currently so tied to geographically dependent funding, how will they fare as their physical location matters less and less?
Shaddup, that's Betsy on the right.
This coming Saturday, I’ll be introducing my old friend Betsy Hearne at the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art, where she will be delivering the Barbara Elleman Research Library Lecture. 25 bucks for lunch with Betsy and me at noon; the BERL lecture (hey Barbara–how’s it feel to be an acronym?) is at 2:00 PM and free with admission to the museum. Like Anne Carroll Moore, Bertha Mahony Miller, and Ellen Robillard O’Hara before her, Betsy Gould Hearne is a true three-named Great Lady Legend and you shouldn’t miss this chance to hear her speak.
Sometimes we really are our own worst enemy. Somebody take away this lady’s library card.
And has anyone read these Fifty Shades of Grey? How is it?
Simmons grads Kristin Cashore, Deborah Kaplan, Rebecca Rabinowitz, and Amy Stern recorded their living-room discussion of E. Lockhart’s The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks. Watch and learn. It’s making me remember the scene–also a living room– in 1978 where I had to present my senior thesis to all the other graduating English majors and our senior seminar professor, the late and great Beverle Houston, who asked “Who’s next? Roger? On Gertrude Stein? Perfect, who’s got some grass?” I, um, took a deep breath and began.
Kristin, by the way, will also be signing her new novel Bitterblue at the Harvard Book Store this Thursday, May 31st. (Doesn’t this May seem to have had like eleven weeks in it?)
photo by Lolly Robinson
Reigning (wait, is it incoming until he actually gets his mitts on the goods?) O’Dell and Newbery Medalist Jack Gantos stopped by the office last Friday for a bit of cake and champagne to celebrate the success of Dead End in Norvelt. (And to fortify himself for his daughter’s pajama party, which he was supervising that evening.) We were glad to learn he was already working on his Newbery speech, which is good because it’s due in less than a month.
Richard just sent me a link to Julie Bosman’s report in the NYT Arts Blog about the digitalization of Judy Blume:
“Beginning on Mar. 21, 13 of Ms. Blume’s books, including “Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret,” “Blubber” and “Starring Sally J. Freedman as Herself,” will go on sale, published by Random House Children’s Books. With their frank discussions of sex, class, divorce and puberty, Ms. Blume’s books carried a universal appeal among younger readers, but were often dismissed by librarians and teachers, keeping them on banned books lists for years.”
HOLD UP. Yes, Judy Blume books have generally been enjoyed more by children than by librarians, but the latter are responsible for “keeping them on the banned books lists for years” only in the sense that it is largely librarians who compile such lists, from actual book challenges, IN THEIR ATTEMPT TO STOP PEOPLE FROM BANNING BOOKS. Some credit where it’s due, please.
A non-hysterical newspaper article in the Boston Globe about whether parents should let their pre-teens see The Hunger Games or not. Katie is going to be reviewing the movie for us so look out for that. She’s already posted some read-alikes.
Has anyone seen Tomorrow, When the War Began? I don’t know if it got a theatrical release here but it’s on PPV. Should I watch?
I was reading in the PRINT edition of American Libraries about how all the cool kids can’t wait to use QR codes to access library programming via their smartphones. First: oh, sure. Second, who ever uses those things (or as Brian Kenney said on Facebook, “I think we should just donate a few examples to the Smithsonian and call it a day”)? Third, the article urges us to find out more about a library that is using them by instructing us to “click here for the details.” I want magic paper too!
The following books will receive starred reviews in the May/June issue of the Horn Book Magazine:
Animal Masquerade; by Marianne Dubuc; trans. from the French by Yvette Ghione (Kids Can)
Demolition; by Sally Sutton; illus. by Brian Lovelock (Candlewick)
The Drowned Cities; by Paolo Bacigalupi (Little, Brown)
Dying to Know You; by Aidan Chambers (Amulet/Abrams)
A Confusion of Princes; by Garth Nix (Harper/HarperCollins)
Code Name Verity; by Elizabeth Wein (Hyperion)
Forget-Me-Nots:Poems to Learn by Heart; selected by Mary Ann Hoberman; illus. by Michael Emberley (Tingley/Little, Brown)
The President’s Stuck in the Bathtub: Poems about the Presidents; by Susan Katz; illus. by Robert Neubecker (Clarion)
A Black Hole Is NOT a Hole; by Carolyn Cinami DeCristofano; illus. by Michael Carroll (Charlesbridge)
Here at the Horn Book we’ve gotten used to publishers sending us off-the-wall books. But this week even we were taken aback when we lifted the flap of a box and found this volume sitting on top of the stack:
As Bertha Mahony Miller might have said: WTF?
Was this a sequel to our newly-crowned Newbery? If so, how come we’d never heard any advance word about it? The confusion continued when we lifted out the next book:
Fortunately, we then found the paperwork that accompanied these books, sent by a new publisher, Hexwood Books. According to their press release:
Critics, librarians, and teachers love them.
Kids? Not so much.
As demonstrated by the popularity of Stephenie Meyer’s “Twilght” series, kids today want to read stories about sexy vampires…stories about fangs poised above the neck of a young innocent…stories about blood slowly seeping into the bodice of a white ruffled nightgown. Our new series, “Vamped-up Newberys” will satisfy both young people and their teachers – featuring the plots and characters of your favorite award-winning novels, slightly altered to include today’s most popular subject matter among young people: vampires!
The first five volumes in the series are based on the 2012 winner DEAD END IN NORVELT, last year’s winner MOON OVER MANIFEST, 2007’s THE HIGHER POWER OF LUCKY, JACOB HAVE I LOVED (1981) and that classic from 1945, JOHNNY TREMAIN.
Take a look at this series. Share the novels with a kid you love. Then tell us what you think. We’d love to hear from you!
Passing the volumes around the office, we began to compare the “Vamped-up” editions with the original books. Although a good 80% of the content – prose, characters, dialogue – is virtually identical between original and “altered” versions, each of the Hexwood Books has been modified to somehow include vampires.
Remember the sibling rivalry between Sara Louise and Caroline in Jacob Have I Loved? It’s still there, but now the sisters are feuding vampires:
Johnny Tremain is now a Revolutionary War lad with iron-enriched blood being fought over by two covens of beautiful and sexy vampires:
One: Ruta Sepetys will be speaking and signing her novel Between Shades of Gray tonight at Porter Square Books in Cambridge at 7:00PM.
Two: I am being interviewed by Emma Walton Hamilton tonight at 7:00PM EDT at the Children’s Book Hub. It’s a membership site, but you can listen for free by following this link. I’ll be talking about book reviewing, trends, and how I really feel about your blog.
Yesterday afternoon, my friend Kirk and I went to see Marilyn Horne give a masterclass at Harvard. The location was incidental, as the event was actually sponsored by Oberlin, where Horne is Distinguished Professor of Voice, and the four singers had all worked with her there. (Many thanks to Oberlin alum Elissa, who scored us the tickets.)
The masterclass took place in Harvard’s Paine Hall, whose interior walls are on three sides inscribed with the names of 26 composers, chosen when the hall was being finished in 1913-14. It’s all dead great European men from the 19th century and earlier. Some of the names have worn better than others. At one point, while guiding a young soprano through “Porgi, Amor,” Horne happened to glance up at the frieze of names and exclaimed “Couperin?! How did HE get up there?” And worse was to come when Horne noticed that her career stalwart Rossini was absent from the roster.
It made me wonder who the names on a children’s-book frieze would be, if we used a basic criteria of “dead but important and still singing to readers.” Let me take a stab at 26: Alcott, Andersen, Barrie, Baum, Bemelmans, Burnett, Carroll, Collodi, Grahame, Grimm, Keats, Kipling, L’Engle, Lewis, Lindgren, McCloskey, Milne, Perrault, Potter, Seuss, Spyri, Stevenson, Wilder, Twain, Travers, White. Hmm, all white and mostly male. Is that me, the canon, or both?
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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:
Checking a fact about Joan of Arc, I found myself on the Wikipedia garden path, cruising through various manifestations of the saint on stage and screen. That led me to The Miracle of the Bells starring Italian actress Alida Valli, who, it turns out, was once married to Oscar de Mejo, a painter who did a few deeply weird children’s picture books for HarperCollins in the 1980s.
I wonder if picture books can still be that weird. Even Chris Raschka has calmed down. There was (comparatively) a lot of money in picture book publishing back then, so publishers could afford to take more risks. I’m wondering where the risk-taking is today (you’d think YA, but you would be wrong) but am guessing that publishers would tell me that publishing itself is enough of a risk!
Proclaimers, it’s up to you.
Here’s somebody else who loves maps in books. The best of them help you keep track of where you are AND can serve as a memento of a story you’ve loved.
Horn Book alum Alvina Ling helps kick off the Children’s Book Council’s new blog CBC Diversity (And thank you, Shelftalker, for pointing me to it.)
The New York Times and I think alike about the temptations that beset iPad reading. And having acquired an iPhone this weekend, I don’t see my concentration getting any better.