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, children's literature
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, treasure island
, wind in the willows
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For over 100 years Oxford World’s Classics have brought readers closer to the world’s finest writers and their works. Making available popular favourites as well as lesser-known books, the series has grown to 700 titles – from the 4,000 year-old myths of Mesopotamia to the twentieth-century’s greatest novels. Yet many of our readers first acquainted themselves with an Oxford World’s Classic as a child. In the below videos, Peter Hunt, who was responsible for setting up the first course in children’s literature in the UK, reintroduces us to The Secret Garden, The Wind in the Willows, and Treasure Island.
The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
Click here to view the embedded video.
The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame
Click here to view the embedded video.
Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson
Click here to view the embedded video.
Peter Hunt was the first specialist in Children’s Literature to be appointed full Professor of English in a British university. Peter Hunt has written or edited eighteen books on the subject of children’s literature, including An Introduction to Children’s Literature (OUP, 1994) and has edited Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, The Wind in the Willows, Treasure Island and The Secret Garden for Oxford World’s Classics.
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One of the panels at KidlitCon was all about blogging the backlist - that is, older books. We often get caught up in the bright shiny new sparkly books out there, and forget what great books have been published already. Whether these books are four years old or forty, there's a kid out there who hasn't read it yet, and that's why they still deserve to be talked about. Too, if they are forty years old, it's an education to go back and look at them with 21st century eyes.
Over at her Fire Escape, Mitali Perkins is picking up this idea and running with it, by way of what she calls a Cuci Mata reading of classic children's books, to see how they read to our eyes. First on the docket: Emily of Deep Valley by Maud Hart Lovelace. If this is an old favorite, or you've never picked it up, stop on by to join the fun.
And of course, I don't need to remind you that most of these marvelous older books are available at your local library.
This post is a continuation of the conversation
I started a couple of weeks ago.
I recently happened upon this iPad App called My Little Big Book (above shows main title screen). This App basically houses many children's books now in the public domain. It's easy to use, intuitive, and it's basically a children's writers' & illustrators' history lesson in an app. Check out these screenshots...
Here is the first screen after the title screen (above). This supplies an index of the books available. You can also search by Category. (See the menu strip at the bottom).
When you click on a book, you will be greeted with this screen (above). You have options to read the book, add to your 'bookshelf', or download the book. You will need to download the book to view it offline. (I am not sure what the "add to my bookshelf" option provides for you, and the user must create an account in order to do this.) On the lower portion of this screen, there is also an option to see other books from same author, which is really helpful.
When you view the actual book, what you will be seeing is what looks like actual scanned pages from the books (see above). It's fun to see the artwork and design from these books in their original form. In one of the books I looked at, I came across a library marking that dated back to 1905!
This is a really neat App which provides a lot of value, and the most amazing thing of all is that it is FREE.
This app is very useful for moms of youngsters, those who make their career in children's entertainment, publishing and educational.
There is an option to upload your own book into the system as well. This could be very useful promotional option for and small publishers, writers, and illustrators! With 30,000 downloads thus far, I have high hopes that this App will only improve and continue to grow stronger.http://www.mylittlebigbook.comhttp://blog.mylittlebigbook.com/
Lo, in those days, Persnickety Snark
sent out a command. And she spake thusly: "Thou shalt gather thy top ten YA books of all time, and thou shalt send them unto me. Eleven shalt thou not gather, neither shalt thou gather nine, excepting that it be on the way to ten. Twelve is right out."
And then did the Bibliovore wail, and gnash her teeth, and tear her hair, for it was a grievously difficult command. But finally it was done, and sent in, and hopefully, the Internet shall see it and know that it is good.
1. The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton
- I'd heard about this book for years, but never read it. When I finally picked it up, I thought, It can't be that good. Nothing can be that good. OH BUT IT IS. Bobby and Suzy can just go suck their malts, because this is real life--doing your best with what you've got, which frankly ain't much, and navigating the unholy mess that is the adult world, where people hate each other or love each other for the way they comb their hair.
2. Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret by Judy Blume
- Okay, this one's a little young. But I think that older teens can still read it, because it takes the biggest questions about growing up and looks at them head-on. Who is God? Who am I? Am I really ready for this grown-up stuff? And best of all? Blume gives us no answers, just the reassurance that it's OK to ask the questions.
3. A Ring of Endless Light by Madeleine L'Engle
- Another Big Question book. Why do people die? And how is it possible to live with joy knowing that it will all end someday?
4. Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
- The high school ostracism, the slow reveal of What Really Happened, the healing through art . . . another book that couldn't possibly be as good as people say it is, and yet it is.
5. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
- Just like the Outsiders, this is about doing what nobody ever have to do and facing what nobody should ever have to face, and coming out the other side. (BTW? TEAM PEETA.)
6. The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things by Carolyn Mackler
- Being yourself when yourself isn't good enough for your family takes a special kind of courage. I especially loved that she didn't lose any weight but got buff instead. Kick-boxing girls FTW!
7. The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot
- Actually, the whole series, with all its tangle of embarassments, false starts, mistakes in love, and the agonizing process of constantly redefining friendships, relationships, and self. Which proves that just because you're a princess doesn't make your life perfect. Far from it.
8. Story of a Girl by Sara Zarr
- The slut/stud dichotomy, the fracture of family, the daddy's little girl syndro
From the Detroit News, an article that asks, "What are the books that really changed your life?" and answers, "Probably a children's book." Further quotage
It's not that children's books are pure entertainment, innocent of any didactic goal — what grown-ups enviously call "Reading for Fun." On the contrary, the reading we do as children may be more serious than any reading we'll ever do again. Books for children and young people are unashamedly prescriptive: They're written, at least in part, to teach us what the world is like, how people are, and how we should behave — as my colleague Megan Kelso (The Squirrel Mother) puts it, "How to be a human being."
He waxes a bit rhapsodic about the Wholesome Lessons for the Kiddies in children's books, but I think he's got some points in there. And of course, it's nice to see some respect for the literature.
Fine, okay, I know V-Day isn't until Saturday. But you should still be prepared with this list of teen romances from Donna Freitas. Display time!
I am a sop from way back. I was reading historical romance novels at twelve (and still do, in between kids and teen books), and that made me quite the conneisseur of (fictional) relationships. I've read a lot of teen books with romantic subplots, but it takes something special to make me smile and say, "Yeah, they're meant for each other." They've got to be good, strong, imperfect characters who make each other better. Here are some of my personal favorites.
Eugenides and Attolia - The Queen of Attolia (The Queen's Thief, Book 2) by Megan Whalen Turner (And there's a scene in the sequel that is quite frankly Made of Hot.)
Harry and Corlath - The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley
Will and Kate - Perfect You by Elizabeth Scott
Katsa and Po - Graceling by Kristin Cashore
George and Beatrice - The Princess and the Hound by Mette Ivie Harrison
And if you love the sweet, sweet mush as I do but get annoyed at the less-than-satisfying "romances" in the teen section, there's a new blogger out there in bloglandia doing the work for us. Ana over at Young Adult Romance Reviews not only features teen books with love stories, but breaks it down for those who love the romance. How much is there? How physical is it? How satisfying is it? (As a romance, you sick puppy!) She seems to be posting pretty steadily, and I hope she keeps it up.
Anyway, that's it for me. What are some of your favorite romantic books?
. . . to the silver screen, anyway. Did that freak you out? I'll admit it, a little shiver went down my spine.
I vividly remember reading that series around the age of twelve or thirteen. For some reason, the thing that sticks in my head was that not only were people mind-controlled (by means of a mesh cap applied by the Tripods in the early teen years), but even the uncapped kids were brainwashed into believing that the cap was a rite of passage, a sign of adulthood. Talk about efficient control of the masses. Yikes.
Found this one on the Child_Lit listserv: A Girl in Full from Haaretz-Israel News--an article on Pippi Longstocking, there known as Bilbi.
I initially thought, "Oh, how interesting, Pippi in translation." (Forgetting, of course, in my US-centric fashion, that Pippi is already in translation, having been written originally in Swedish. D'oh.) Then I got to readin'.
"You have all the elements that create a hit," says Prof. Adir Cohen, an expert in children's literature from the Department of Education at the University of Haifa. "There is imagination, effusive humor, the breaching of frameworks, readable language and characters that readers can identify with. The nonconformism is marvelous, and so are the swipes at sacred cows, such as school and the police."
It's a fantastic article about one of the wildest kids in children's lit. While I was prepared for an account of how Pippi affected one particular country and culture, I realized that just as her appeal is universal, so are her effects. It's long, but you won't be sorry you read it.
I'm always interested to see what today's whizbang children's writers loved when they were kids, and apparently I'm not alone. (For proof, look no further than the recent renaissance of The Little White Horse after J.K. Rowling pointed to it as her favorite childhood read.) Recently, some of Britain's top children's authors each picked their own Top Seven list. As the article writer notes:
Children's laureates Quentin Blake, Anne Fine, Michael Morpurgo, Jacqueline Wilson and Michael Rosen each selected seven books but have favoured the classics over the modern era. Only five of the 35 books selected were published during the last 20 years.
We could argue all day about why that is, but I couldn't help noticing that some of the titles were new even to me. Hooray, more books to read!
If there's a poll to be done, trust Betsy Bird to take it on. Her latest project is the top 100 chapter books of all time. That link goes to numbers 100-90, but she's added links to the rest of the list at the bottom.
I meant to post about this while the poll was open, but kept putting it off until--oops!--it was closed. So I'm linking to the results. What do you think? Agree or disagree? For my money, the best part is reading the snippets that other people sent in with their favorites. Although I have to say that her inclusion of all the various covers and trailers from movie adaptations is pretty cool as well.
It's a rule of the internet - you give us a list, we'll give you a meme. Another rule is that if it exists, there is a fetish community for it, but this post has nothing to do with that.
This one's based on Betsy Bird's top 100 children's books of all time and has been bouncing happily around the kidlitosphere since Betsy announced the number one book on Monday morning. It's very simple, bold the ones you've read. I'm going to go one further and star the ones that I read as a kid. Of course, it being me, I have to provide color commentary.
100. The Egypt Game - Snyder (1967) *
99. The Indian in the Cupboard - Banks (1980) *
98. Children of Green Knowe - Boston (1954)
97. The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane - DiCamillo (2006)
96. The Witches - Dahl (1983) *
95. Pippi Longstocking - Lindgren (1950) *
94. Swallows and Amazons - Ransome (1930)
93. Caddie Woodlawn - Brink (1935) *
92. Ella Enchanted - Levine (1997)
91. Sideways Stories from Wayside School - Sachar (1978) *
I still remember, vividly, the kid who got the potato tattoo. Potato! Tattoo!!
90. Sarah, Plain and Tall - MacLachlan (1985) *
89. Ramona and Her Father - Cleary (1977)*
88. The High King - Alexander (1968)
I don't actually remember if I did or not. Ugh. Isn't that awful?
87. The View from Saturday - Konigsburg (1996)
86. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets - Rowling (1999)
85. On the Banks of Plum Creek - Wilder (1937) *
84. The Little White Horse - Goudge (1946)
83. The Thief - Turner (1997)
I remember reading this for the first time and going, "Hey, MWT can't do that in first person! But she DID. And it was AWESOME."
82. The Book of Three - Alexander (1964)
81. Where the Mountain Meets the Moon - Lin (2009)
Loved it. Reviewed it. Smirked at my own perspicacity. Then had to spell-check perspicacity.
80. The Graveyard Book - Gaiman (2008)
79. All-of-a-Kind-Family - Taylor (1951)*
78. Johnny Tremain - Forbes (1943)*
77. The City of Ember - DuPrau (2003)
76. Out of the Dust - Hesse (1997)
75. Love That Dog - Creech (2001)
74. The Borrowers - Norton (1953)*
73. My Side of the Mountain - George (1959)
72. My Father's Dragon - Gannett (1948)*
71. The Bad Beginning - Snicket (1999)
70. Betsy-Tacy - Lovelace (1940)
69. The Mysterious Benedict Society - Stewart ( 2007)
68. Walk Two Moons - Creech (1994)
67. Jeremy Thatcher, Dragon Hatcher - Coville (1991)*
66. Henry Huggins - Cleary (1950)*
65. Ballet Shoes - Streatfeild (1936)*
64. A Long Way from Chicago - Peck (1998)
63. Gone-Away Lake - Enright (1957)
62. The Secret of the Old Clock - Keene (1959)*
61. Stargirl - Spinelli (2000)
60. The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle - Avi (1990)
59. Inkheart - Funke (2003)
58. The Wolves of Willoughby Chase - Aiken (1962)*
I still remember figuring out the secret of a secondary character and going, "Oh! OH!" I love that feeling.
57. Ramona Quimby, Age 8 - Cleary (1981)*
56. Number the Stars - Lowry (1989)*
55. The Great Gilly Hopkins - Paterson (1978)
54. The BFG - Dahl (1982)*
53. Wind in the Willows - Grahame (1908)
I tried! Honestly, I did!
52. The Invention of Hugo Cabret (2007)
51. The Saturdays - Enright (1941)
50. Island of the Blue Dolphins - O'Dell (1960)*
49. Frindle - Clements (1996)
48. The Penderwicks - Birdsall (2005)
47. Bud, Not Buddy - Curtis (1999)
Look what I found growing in the garden. Scrabbling about in a pile of old pots while potting on tomato plants, a real printer's pie of miscellaneous type I picked up over a decade ago. Left in the garden five years ago when we moved here and promptly forgotten. Poor old bits, they were covered in rust (so not lead, but steel?)
I felt as guilty as if I'd left a kitten in the rain, especially as I had bought some bits and bobs of type from eBay when I was feeling a bit flush. I seem to have an almost complete lovely font, the one near the bottom of the picture. Only one of each, so limited printing use. I don't know what font it is, any type geeks out there? (edit - thanks Sue, it was indeed Windsor Antique D Bold - Font Head of the month award to you!) (further edit - No it wasn't! There has been some last minute contention and further investigation is needed...) Sue W, (who wonderfully has dusted off her wood engraving equipment and started printing again too) found a page about removing rust with tea. Well the least I could do was give them a cuppa after five years weathering it in the garden, so they went into a bowl of Co-op's finest and steeped for three days. It actually almost worked, and every time I changed it more debris floated off - amazing. But they needed some more in depth cleaning, so I've been going at them with wire wool, old toothbrush, white spirit and an awl, to prise out the crud.
A gorgeous decorative font, perfect for borders. S'cuse the grubby nails, I am a bit unpresentable in the hand department with one thing and another.
This little lot took about two hours to scrub up. I can't get the last rust stains off, if anyone knows a UK product which does this effectively, I'd be glad to know.
Finally got my mojo back with the printing after the trials and errors of the other day. This lot worked really well, using a normal card stock - the linen effect of the pink sets was very pretty but not well suited to taking ink. My little lino block is getting quite flattened and cracked in places, I might get away with another batch, before it goes completely wonky. I've decided to turn them into little cards, for Etsy, (resurrected project number three hundred and seventy three). I'm starting to get the hang of bouncing from one thing to another, something I couldn't have done a few years ago. And it's such fun - which is how it should be.
Really? Has it been that long?
Check out this article over at TheStar.com, web presence of the Toronto Star.
I liked the part where Toronto Public Library's Leslie McGrath compares Anne to one of her predecessors, Elsie Dinsmore.
"Elsie was famous for her pietistic priggishness. She was born good, lives a good life and never changes ... She had conventional good looks, an angelic face.
[Anne is] quite a departure. She's a skinny, angular child. She was freckled at a time when ladies tried to keep a porcelain complexion and red hair wasn't admired. It was seen as a mark of a flaring temper."
Also check out the sidebar for notable smart and spirited girls since Anne, including Pippi Longstocking, Harriet the Spy, and Hermione Granger.
Where ya been, Bibliovore?
Sick, working, cleaning the Pit of Despair, otherwise known as my apartment, reading . . .
Actually, this post is something I've been musing over for awhile now. About a week ago, a girl asked me to recommend something good to read. I discovered that she'd never read A Wrinkle in Time (gasp!) and took her over to the shelf. I pulled it down, opened my mouth to start my spiel, and realized I had no quick-and-dirty booktalk for A Wrinkle in Time and could not pull it out of my behind, where such things generally reside.
I mumbled something about Meg's dad and the witches and handed it to the girl, who fortunately knows and trusts me and took it without batting a lash.
For those non-library geeks out there, a booktalk is a short spiel about the book, designed to interest a TV-and-Game-Boy-addled kid, who's staring at you with the gimlet eye of, This better entertain me, 'cuz you know I have other options. In the army of librarians, it's the rifle--not nearly as flashy as the cannon or the bomb, but it targets the individual and (hopefully) gets the job done with a minimum of fuss.
For some reason, I find it terribly difficult to booktalk my favorite books--especially the ones I read as a child. Maybe it's because I'm too close? I want to talk about gawky, ugly Meg, with her braces and her spectacles and her tough shell that hides nougat (and an unfortunate tendency to scream and clutch, but what the hey, the book's nearly fifty years old). But getting to know Meg is not the plot of the book. It's something wonderful that happens during the plot. You have to hook 'em with something, and much as I love Meg, the chance to meet her probably not going to be that something.
I ran into the same problem with the novels of Jane Austen. You want to talk about Mr. Darcy and Captain Wentworth, swoon, swoon, but you know that the teenager in front of you is not interested in guys who wear cravats, whatever the hell those are. So you talk about the dueling lovers, or how Elizabeth needs to marry rich but won't take just anybody, thanks very much. With the other book, you talk about Anne, who screwed it up nine years ago and is now afraid it's too late to un-screw it.
Some books flat-out don't have a plot, but you love them anyway. How do you sell that?
The trouble is that, "Oh, just read it," only works if the kid does know and trust you, and that doesn't happen very often.
Maybe I am too close to these books. I have to get in my mental time machine, step way back, and look at the book as if this is the first time I have ever touched it, and I'm giving it a chapter to hook me before I go on to something else.
"This is Meg Murray. A year ago, her dad disappeared, and now everybody says he dumped her mom and ran off. She knows that's not true. One night, she meets a really weird old lady named Mrs. Whatsit, who's going to help her find her dad. Trouble is, he's a lot farther away than Kansas."
Well . . . it worked this time.
But does anybody else look at this pic from the Astronomy Picture of the Day blog and think of Madeleine L'Engle's Echthroi? No? How 'bout this one?
I am assured that the dark splodges are caused by the presence of something (dust and molecular gas) rather than the absence of things. Still. Yikes.
I come across so many neat little anecdotes and tidbits from the world of kidlit--from news, from other bloggers--that I find myself doing mini-posts that are really nothing more than a link and some sort of comment, often snarky. So this week, I'm experimenting with a collective post.
- Daphne over at The Longstockings relates what happened when, during a Q&A session at her old high school, a teacher basically asked her when she was going to start writing real books and leave the kidlit behind. It will make you happy in your heart. Thanks to Lisa Chellman's blog for pointing the way.
- More proof that villains have all the fun: Narnia's White Witch and Peter Pan's Captain Hook were named the scariest bad guys in children's literature in a British survey by Penguin books. They polled adults, so it's weighted toward classic baddies, but He Who Must Not Be Named did make the list.
- Confession time: I'm not a fan of James Patterson's novels. But I might be a fan of his website, ReadKiddoRead. It includes booklists broken down by age, author interviews, and a community area for parents. Good show, Patterson. Thanks to Cheryl Rainfield for the link.
- In the I-Laughed-Myself-Into-Hiccups category: I couldn't tell which girl this Twilight doll was supposed to be. Finally, I just clicked through--and found out it was Edward. Pattinson, you might want to have a discussion with those marketing guys. Go see the rest, but make sure you don't have anything in your mouth when you do. Bookshelves of Doom, natch.
- I'm soooo tempted not to say anything about this, but I will. Readergirlz is giving away 25 sets of Ellen Emerson White's The President's Daughter quartet. Yeah, I said 25. Yowza. Drop on by and enter your bad self. Thanks again to Bookshelves of Doom.
- David Lubar is being his usual serious and humorless self, and offering an extremely valuable service to 99.99% of children's and YA authors during this awards season. Go see what it is.
- One of the most neato-keen covers of the year was Ingrid Law's Savvy, with its blazing sunset reflecting off swirling clouds. Turns out Mother Nature was there first. Drop on by the Astronomy Picture of the Day for a surprisingly familiar photo and a scientific-like explanation.
Okay, what do you think? Should I bundle together, like a cable company? Or go back to mini-posts?
Over at the Guardian, Tim Martin discusses the possibility of a children's literature canon. He offers some title suggestions, but I wonder whether we need one at all.
There are always the books we believe every kid should read, but that tends to fluctuate wildly from person to person. Some of us can't stand the idea that a child hasn't read The Secret Garden, and others believe it's a requirement for graduating elementary school that a kid reads Charlotte's Web.
This is a subject that comes up every now and then. The only benefit I can see is that a canon might lend the study of children's lit some respect in academic circles. On the other hand, maybe not. Canon is becoming something of a dirty word in literary criticism these days.
What do you think?