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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: Richard Michelson, Most Recent at Top [Help]
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1. Review of the Day: S is for Sea Glass by Richard Michelson

SforSeaGlass1 300x246 Review of the Day: S is for Sea Glass by Richard MichelsonS is for Sea Glass
By Richard Michelson
Illustrated by Doris Ettlinger
Sleeping Bear Press
ISBN: 978-1585368624
Ages 3-8
On shelves now

Every small publisher needs a staple. Something to keep them going through hard times. Years ago Sleeping Bear Press hit on the notion of writing books with the [letter] is for [word] format and they’ve kept up this abecedarian staple ever since. These are books that are fairly easy to dismiss, sight unseen. You assume you know what to expect. Never mind that they’ve a range of different subjects, authors, and illustrators. For the picture book snob, one glance at the title and you’re immediately dismissive. You think you know what to expect. And of course by “you” I really mean “me”. It was the fact that S is for Sea Glass was written by Richard Michelson that gave me pause. No fly-by-night poet he, I sat down with the book and was happy to find that my expectations weren’t just met but greatly exceeded. Chalk that up to my own personal prejudices then. In this book Michelson and artist Doris Ettlinger gracefully sit back and present to us a most thoughtful, meditative picture book on summer and sea and the relationship between the two. Absolutely lovely and original, this is a summer book of poetry worth remembering and revisiting year after year after year.

“A is for Angel” begins the book. Open it and here you’ll see a girl on her back in the sand. She swings her arms and legs up and down “Like I’m opening and closing a fairy-tale gate” creating sand angels behind her. Welcome to summer. To beaches and tides and those elements of the season a kid can’t wait to experience. Through poetry, Richard Michelson brings to life the little details that make a summer come alive. From doomed sand castles to morally superior seagulls to the child that dreams of someday living in a lighthouse so they’d never have to leave, Michelson places a good, firm finger on the pulse of the warmer months. Artist Doris Ettlinger accompanies him and brings to life not just the obvious moments of summertime but some of the softer more esoteric feelings conjured up by Michelson’s words. The result is a book that will almost smell to you of brine and surf, even in the coldest, frozen depths of the winter.

SforSeaGlass2 300x121 Review of the Day: S is for Sea Glass by Richard MichelsonWhat is the moment when a book flips that switch in your brain from “like” to “love”? It’s different for everyone. For some it might be a word or a phrase. For others a haunting image or illustration that conjures up a personal memory. In the case of S is for Sea Glass it was the poem “H is for Horizon”. It’s not out-and-out saying you need to contemplate the nature of infinity but it might well be suggesting it. After all, is there any point on the beach so wrought with possibility and promise? As Michelson writes, “If I travel the world or stay here on this beach, / The horizon will always be just beyond reach. / But it’s real as my dreams and it’s always nearby – / That magical line where the sea meets the sky.” Inculcating a kid in poetry that’s fun because the language is fun is as easy as the next Shel Silverstein poem. Inculcating a kid in poetry that’s fun because it expands your horizons (pun intended) and lets your mind wander free is much harder. Michelson manages it here.

The nice thing about the poems is that they aren’t the usual beach fare. Sure you’ll find the standard “O is for Ocean” or “W is for Wave” but Michelson has an impish quality to his selections. “E is for Empty Shells” isn’t just about the shells you find on the beach but also the fact that their innards have been consumed by YOU much of the time. “I is for Ice” isn’t about the cubes in a glass on a hot day but rather the strange and startling beauty of a beach in the blustery depths of winter. Some of the poems will take some practice to read aloud, so parents be ready. “B is for Boardwalk” for example eschews the regular ABAB rhyme scheme for something a little more visually exciting. “D is for Dog” in contrast contains both hard and soft rhymes. There are poems with AABB rhymes and even haikus like the one in “P is for Pail”. Michelson doesn’t distinguish or label the different types of poetry found here, so in terms of curricular ties that feels like a lost opportunity.

It’s always interesting to watch what a kid latches onto in a book like this. My 3-year-old has recently been on a beach books kick. We’d already exhausted Splash, Anna Hibiscus, Ladybug Girl at the Beach, Scaredy Squirrel at the Beach and many others when we came across S is for Sea Glass. My daughter enjoyed the poems, treating each one with equal interest, but the poem she kept going back to and appeared to be haunted by was “Q is for Quiet”. I suspect this may have a lot to do with the image in that book which also appears on the back cover. In it, a girl sleeps, half her hair dark, the other silver white in the moonlight. As she dreams a shoal of fish swim about her across the star strewn sky. Many’s the time we’ve read the book and just come to a dead stop at Q. No need to go further. She gets everything she needs out of this poem alone.

SforSeaGlass3 300x130 Review of the Day: S is for Sea Glass by Richard MichelsonCredit where credit is due to artist Doris Ettlinger then. I was aware of Ms. Ettlinger’s work thanks to books like The Orange Shoes (it tends to come up when patrons want picture books on class distinctions) and other books in the Sleeping Bear Press series. The sea appears to be particularly inspirational to Ms. Ettlinger, though. A strictly representational illustrator most of the time, here her watercolors find much to enjoy in the roaring pounding surf, the ice choked chill of a wintertime beach jaunt, the infinity of the deepest ocean, and that gray/brown gloomy beauty of a rained out beach. The “R is for Rain” sequence in particular is one of her loveliest. Credit too to “Y is for Year-Rounders” where seaside locals celebrate a town empty of tourists in the fall. In her version, Ettlinger conjures up a small town beach resort street at the end of the day, four family members and their dog just tiny black silhouettes against the blazing yellow of a setting sun.

When the weather warms and the leaves reappear on the trees, then it will be the time for families to pluck S is for Sea Glass from the topmost shelves of their bookcases for multiple reads by the seashore. We all do that, right? Keep our seasonal books apart from one another so that when the right time of year appears we’ve books ah-plenty to refer to? Well, if you haven’t before I recommend you start now with this one. Parents buy summery beach titles for their kids regardless of the quality. All the more reason the care and attention paid to “S is for Sea Glass” impresses. There are books a parent does not wish to read 100 times over to their offspring and there are books they wish they could read even more. This book falls into the latter category. A treat for eye and ear alike.

On shelves now.

Source: Final copy given by author for review.

Like This? Then Try:

Other Blog Reviews:

Misc: A discussion with Michelson about the book on MassLive.

Videos: A peek inside.

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2. Fusenews: At the sign of the big yellow fuse

  • Ain’t he just the sweetest thing?  Author/illustrator Aaron Zenz recently wrote just the loveliest ode to his four top favorite children’s literary blogs, and then went and created original art for each.  In my case he created this little Fuse guy (or possibly Fuse gal) based on the bright yellow Fuse you see at the beginnings of each of my posts (I put it there in lieu of my face because I can only look at myself so often before going stark raving mad).  This, I should point out, is not the first time a little Fuse person has been created for this blog.  Katherine Tillotson, an artist of outstanding ability (I’m biased but it also happens to be true) created not one but TWO little Fusemen in the past, both for separate birthdays.

I’m a fan.  So thank you Aaron and, once again, thank you Katherine.  Fusemen of the world unite!

  • *sniff sniff*  Smell that?  That’s the distinctive odor of a brouhaha brewing.  Sort of a combination of burnt hair, dead goldfish and patchouli.  And you wonder why I don’t cover YA books.  Sheesh!  One word: drama.  Seems that a YA blog called Story Siren plagiarized the work of others for her own blog posts.  Folks noticed and suddenly the internet was was heaping helpful of flames, burns, accusations, and other forms of tomfoolery.  For a sane and rational recap we turn to our own Liz Burns who gives us the run down in Today’s Blog Blow Up.  Ugly stuff.
  • And while we’re on the subject of YA (which I just said I don’t cover, and yet here we are), I thought we were done with whitewashing, folks.  So what’s up with this?  Harlequin Teen, you got some explaining to do.
  • In other news, book banning: It’s what’s for dinner.  Take a trip with me to The Annville-Cleona School District where a picture book fondly nicknamed by some as Where’s the Penis? is getting some heat.  If you’ve ever seen The Dirty Cowboy by Amy Timberlake, illustrated by Adam Rex, then you know that calling it “pornographic” works only if you are unaware of what the word “pornography” actually means.  I would like to offer a shout-out to librarian Anita Mentzer who has handled the whole situation with class and dignity.  You, madam, are the kind of children’s librarian others should aspire to be.  Well done.  And thanks to Erica Sevetson for the link.
  • We may not yet have an ALA accredited poetry award for a work of children’s literature but that doesn’t mean we can’t have a Poet Laureate or two instead.  Rich Michelson, gallery owner and

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3. Catch This Bus

Kittinger, Jo. S. Rosa’s Bus: The Ride to Civil Rights. Illus. by Steven Walker. Calkins Creek, 2010. Ages 6-9.

Many children’s books relate the story of Rosa Parks and her refusal to vacate her seat for a white man. This picture book, however, zooms in on the actual bus — #2867, which began its journey in 1948 on the assembly line in Michigan and ended up getting restored and displayed in the Henry Ford Museum in 2003. Kittinger keeps the story rolling along, undeterred by superfluous details. Walker’s colorful oil paintings, especially those of the bus, add to the kid appeal. After Rosa’s arrest, the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. led the bus boycott, which “went on and on. No dimes jingle-jangled in the coin box. Day after day, week after week, month after month, Bus #2357 rode down the street with plenty of empty seats.” After 382 days, the boycott ended with the Supreme Court ruling that outlawed race-based discrimination. Use this book to enhance children’s understanding of the Civil Rights Movement and their appreciation of the perseverance of those who participated. The bibliography provides noteworthy sources for those who want more details.

Shelton, Paula Young. Child of the Civil Rights Movement. Illus. by Raul Colon. Schwartz & Wade, 2009. Ages 5-9.

This first-time author is a daughter of Civil Rights leader Andrew Young and a first-grade teacher, experiences that enrich her engaging, child-friendly true story. Using simple, rhythmic language, she describes how her family moves from New York to Atlanta to work for the end of “Jim Crow, / where whites could / but blacks could not”). Famous leaders in the movement, including Martin Luther King, Jr., are not cast as distant gods but as folks who ate and laughed and prayed together. Colón’s soft-colored pencil-and-wash illustrations evoke the affection shared among the activists. Children will laugh upon learning of Shelton’s first protest: She sat on the floor and wailed when a Holiday Inn restaurant in Atlanta refused to serve her family.  One aspect that particularly recommends this book to children is its hopeful, positive tone, with its emphasis on community and respect. The story’s triumphant end shows Paula and her family joining the world-changing march from Selma to Montgomery. A brief bibliography and biographical notes provide additional information.

Other Recommended Titles for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

Michelson, Richard.  As Good as Anybody:Martin Luther King and Abraham Joshua Heschel’s Amazing March Toward Freedom. Illus. by Raul Colón. Knopf, 2008. Ages 6-10. Michelson provides an interesting perspective in this 2009 Sydney Taylor Book Award winner. He focuses on two peaceful heroes: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and an ally, Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel. Michelson invites readers to consider the parallels between the two leaders and their experiences. Both experienced hostility and prejudice in their homeland. Both overcame it with love, faith, and wisdom. Colón’s iIllustrations illuminate both the individual exper

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4. Fusenews: “Don’t Let the Pigeon Die Alone”

  • I hope you all took the time to notice the magnificent One Shot World Tour: City Living conducted by any number of our best bloggers in the biz.  I had every intention of participating and then lost my head.  Fortunately there are folks out there far more reliable than myself for this kind of thing.  From historical London to alternate London, from trees in Brooklyn to blackouts there, this thing was awesome.  Chasing Ray has the round-up.  Enjoy.
  • Well sir, the National Book Award was announced two days ago.  Once again a children’s book rather than a teen novel won.  Interestingly, that book was not Gary Schmidt’s fabulous Okay for Now but the rather awesome in its own right Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai(a title that to my mind win’s The 2011 When You Reach Me Award for Most Difficult Title to Remember).  Of course, Leila Roy called what would happen when someone won.  Doggone it.
  • Ah, Nancy Drew.  Folks just can’t stop talking about you, can they?  If they’re not speculating about what might be playing on your iPod then they’re sending you back in time to the Salem Witch Trials.  Buck up, kid.  It could be worse.  You could be Cherry Ames.
  • Re: Racism and colonialism in Pippi Longstocking, what she said.
  • Fun Fact: The American Folklore Society has an award.  It’s called The Aesop Prize and it’s awarded by the Children’s Folklore Section of the society.  This year the award went to Trickster: Native American Tales – A Graphic Collection, which I agree was extraordinary.  So naturally I was curious about what the previous winners had been.  Amusingly in 2010 the award went to Joha Makes a Wish by Eric A. Kimmel.  In 2009 it went to Dance, Nana, Dance (Baila, Nana, Baila) by Joe Hayes, and in 2008 it was Ain’t Nothing But a Man: My Quest to Find the Real John Henry by Scott Reynolds Nelson.  You can see the full list, and the many honorable mentions, here if you’re curious.  For that matter, if you’ve a children’s work of folklore published in 2011 or 2012 and you want it to be considered for this prize, check out the Prize Review Criteria.
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5. Video Sunday: Happy Easter!

Normally I don’t advertise author/illustrator contests and challenges but this one has something I like.  Namely, Rube Goldberg machines.  Actually, I also happen to like Lisa Graff.  And I happen to like her new book which I finished yesterday and includes the aforementioned Rube Goldberg thing.  The first to ever appear in a children’s book?  You decide.

Next up, I’ve heard the movie news but if we’re gonna do Hobbit then we’re doggone gonna do Hobbit.  Just maybe not the version you’ll be seeing in theaters soon.

Thanks to Hark! A Vagrant for the link.

Next up, grants plus The Eric Carle Museum plus copious Raul Colon?  There is nothing about this that I do not like.

Thanks to Sandy Soderberg for the link!

Now these days everyone’s talking about nonfiction.  Thanks to the Core Curriculum the subject is hot as hot can be and nonfiction’s been getting a real leg up.  I can’t tell you how many people have recently asked me if I knew any librarians that are specifically knowledgeable in the realm of elementary informational texts.  With that in mind, the interest in quality nonfiction has never been greater.  That’s why it’s nice to see new biographies out there, like the recent Twice As Good by Rich Michelson which tells the tale of William Powell.  But, as LeVar Burton might say, you don’t have to take my word for it.

And since we’re dealing with Easter here, it’s only fair that we end with bunnies.  Bunny bunny bunnies.  It was a toss-up between this, the bunny who eats the flower, and the bunnies in the cups.  In the end, I figured you go with the sure-fire crowd pleaser.

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6. Writers Against Racism: TWICE AS GOOD by Richard Michelson and Illustrated by Eric Velasquez

It was a pleasure to interview author and poet, Richard Michelson, whose latest and beautifully illustrated book, TWICE AS GOOD [Sleeping Bear Press, 2012], tells the amazing story of yet another courageous African American man. Please watch the following footage of the story and stay tuned for my interview with Richard.

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7. Vicarious Vexing: Oh No, Not Ghosts!

Oh No, Not Ghosts!Author: Richard Michelson
Illustrator: Adam McCauley
Published: 2006 Harcourt
ISBN: 0152051864 Chapters.ca Amazon.com

Whatever evolutionary requirement is served by the fiendish delight we derive from teasing — or terrifying — our siblings is served, without the damage, by this fabulous book. Its spooky, stylized illustrations and rhyming text are a great substitute for the terrorizing we don’t let our girls do.

Intro: Chris of Answers for Freelancers

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8. Interview with Richard Michelson

Richard MichelsonMark speaks with author, poet and gallery owner Richard Michelson about the genesis of his children’s illustration exhibit, the challenges of writing across cultural boundaries and his love of playing with words.

Books mentioned: Across The Alley (Finalist, 2006 National Jewish Book Award for Children’s Illustrated Books.)

Participate in the conversation by leaving a comment on this interview, or send an email to justonemorebook@gmail.com.

photo: www.rmichelson.com/RMichelson_Galleries.html

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9. Prejudice and Perfect Pitch: Across the Alley

Author: Richard Michelson (on JOMB) Illustrator: E. B. Lewis (on JOMB) Published: 2006 GP Putnam & Son ISBN: 0399239707 Chapters.ca Amazon.com Gorgeously illustrated and intimately told, this tale of friendship and understanding is an inspiring tribute to the distinctions and connections that define us. Tags:Across the Alley, baseball, childrens book, E.B.Lewis, music, Podcast, review, Richard Michelson, sport, violinAcross the Alley, baseball, childrens book, E.B.Lewis, music, Podcast, review, Richard Michelson, sport, violin

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10. A is for Abraham and an interview with Richard Michelson

Last month I read and reviewed A is for Abraham: A Jewish Family Alphabet. This special alphabet book looks at many aspects of Jewish life and I was delighted when the author, Richard Michelson, agreed to be interviewd.

Was A is for Abraham your idea or did the publisher suggest that you write it?
Why do you think a book of this kind is important?

I was contacted by the publisher about my interest in doing a Jewish Alphabet book, as part of their larger cultural alphabet series on March 1, 2006. I enthusiastically accepted the challenge. Though culturally Jewish, I did not grow up with a religious education of any kind. But I married a Methodist who felt strongly that children should be raised with a religious foundation. Jennifer converted to Judaism (going into labor while in the mikvah, but that is a different story), and it was her questioning me about Jewish traditions that made me realize how little I knew about my own history. I wanted to write a book that would have been both helpful to me at that time, and later to my children. I think it is important and empowering to teach kids (and adults) the long history and the reasons behind much of what they are learning about their heritage.

Did you write the poems in the book all in one go and then the prose, or did you mix it up?
At first I jotted some quick notes listing every Jewish subject I felt needed to be considered. Jewish Holidays; Famous Jews from the Patriarchs to contemporary Rabbis, artists, entertainers; Diaspora Judaism, Israel Judaism, Foods, Language. Religious beliefs, etc.-- And of course, within each category, the word choices were endless. Chanukah under C or H? Under M for Menorah, D for Dreidels, L for Latkes, G for Gelt, etc. The list got completely unwieldy, and I reached a state of total despair. But I worked for months writing individual verses, often using 3 or 4 words and concepts under each letter. I sent my editor a draft, but each letter seems crowded with info that didn’t necessarily connect to make a greater whole. It felt disorganized. Too much info was crammed into too small of a verse, and that the language was too complicated.

My wonderful editor's response: If someone said to list the 26 most important things to know about Jewish-American history/culture, is this the list you would give? Make sure all the topics for each letter are grouped together in the best way possible.

So I started a long rethinking process, which was much like putting together a puzzle: Grouping foods (kosher, etc.) under one letter; Literary Arts under another; Prayer under another. If one letter changed, I had to shift numerous other letters. It became addictive? I can’t tell you how many nights I fell asleep or woke up trying to fit the puzzle pieces together.Then, of course, I needed the right balance of serious and fun; Religious, cultural, and historical.

Finally I had to make the poetry simple enough for young children, and interesting enough rhythmically and conceptually for parents and older kids. After all the poems were written, the side bars allowed me to expand on the subject. I tried to boil down sophisticated ideas, and explain them as simply as possible within a specific given # of words to fit the book's format. More than two years later, my final draft was submitted.

Do you enjoy speaking to children in schools? If so why?
I am pleased to say that the book is selling well, and has been added to the essential PJ Library booklist; also the Jewish Book Council has sent me on tour to speak with kids at book festivals and schools around the country, where I have a lot of fun interacting with kids. Meeting the kids, and their families is an honor and more importantly, it is fun. The kids and I read together, we laugh, we discuss, and we have a great time. The enthusiasm of children, when they learn something new, or understand something for the first time, or think about something they'd not considered before, is wonderful to witness and be a part of. I get to be the good guy, and then, when they or I get tired and cranky, I get to leave them with their parents and teachers. What's not to like about school visits? Writing for and speaking to kids is a dream job.

Many of your books have a historical element to them. Why do you choose to write books of this kind? Is there a time in history that you are particularly interested in?
I write both fiction and non-fiction; I write for kids and for adults; and it all interests me equally. In fiction and poetry, I get to exercise my imagination, and in non-fiction (though it is also an imaginative undertaking in so far as I try to put myself in the mind of the individuals during their historical moment), I get to learn about what makes us who we are, which of course, helps me understand myself, and others, and where we might be going. I can't conceive of "specializing," and the past interest me as much as the future.

What do you think parents and teachers can do to encourage their children to read more books that are history based?
It is a constant challenge to see the world as if for the first time, or in a new light, and if a parent is truly interested in a subject, their enthusiasm will encourage their children. When my own children were in college, I always suggested that they choose their courses based on the teacher, more so than the subject. A good teacher is even more important for younger kids.

I write the books I write because something captures my attention, and I want to share that feeling or knowledge with others. It is creating a community, which is why Jews pray together in synagogue, or in a minyan. Plus I write because I am in love with words, and their possibilities. What a parent or teacher can do to encourage a love of history, is to choose the right books that make history fascinating; and to read the books themselves, or along with their children. How many times have you heard parents complain that their children aren't reading, or interested in learning, while they themselves are plopped in front of the TV.

What kinds of books did you like to read when you were a child?
Unfortunately, I did not read much as a child. I really fell in love with books, under the guidance of a wonderfully enthusiastic teacher in high school. I did not realize there was a whole world of children's books out there. So when my kids were young. I was reading the classics: Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, Vonnegut, Kafka, Singer, and these are the books I would read to my children at night. My daughter tells me now that I used to embarrass her by reading long passages Kafka's Metamorphosis to her and her 2nd grade friends when they came to our house for sleepovers. It wasn’t until my children were older that I discovered children’s literature. I had become social friends with writers/artists like Jane Yolen, Barry Moser, Maurice Sendak, and so I read their books, and I was astonished by the richness of their best work for children. Later, when my children brought friends home with them from college, I would insist on reading them passages from, for instance The Stupids. So I continued to embarrass them. Most readers move from children's books to "adult books," but great books are great regardless of the age they are supposedly geared toward, and the time in life you encounter them.

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11. Sydney Taylor Book Award Acceptance Speeches - Richard Michelson and Raul Colon

The talented and inspirational Richard Michelson and Raul Colon accept the Sydney Taylor Book Award for their book, As Good as Anybody: Martin Luther King and Abraham Joshua Heschel's Amazing March Toward Freedom.

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12. Planet Esme!


An impromptu discussion among Heidi Estrin, Mark Blevis of the Just One More Book podcast, author Richard Michelson and author/readiologist Esme Raji Codell during a party at the Planet Esme Book Room. Of seasonal interest: among other things, we discussed potential winners of the 2010 Sydney Taylor Book Award. We'll find out if we were right next month in January 2010!


Click the play button on this flash player to listen to the podcast now:

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Produced by: Feldman Children's Library at Congregation B'nai Israel
Supported in part by: Association of Jewish Libraries
Theme music: The Freilachmakers Klezmer String Band
Facebook fan page: facebook.com/bookoflifepodcast
Twitter: @bookoflifepod

Your feedback is appreciated! Please write to bookoflifepodcast@gmail.com or call our voicemail number

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13. Fusenews: The Opposite of Avatar

Wonka Opera.  Hard to say.  Harder still to see since the darn thing keeps closing.  NPR recently had a great story on the opera Golden Ticket, and the various trials it underwent in a bid to be seen by the masses.  The world premier is now going on at the Opera Theatre of St. Louis.  One of my best friends is the great up and coming contralto Meredith Arwady.  I’ll need to find a way to finagle her into that show.  Thanks to Marci for the link!

A couple weeks ago we started getting some strange requests in the Children’s Center.  Young men in their 20s and 30s were coming in asking for Michael Morpugo’s War Horse.  We only have a single circulating copy in the system, while the reference copy sits securely in our stacks.  After much blood, sweat, and tears that reference copy was located… only to disappear again a bit later.  But why did all these people want to see it?  Turns out, Steven Spielberg’s to blame.  As The Independent reports, Europe’s finest join up for ‘War Horse’.  A casting call went out in NYC as well, hence the hoards of folks looking for the book.  It’s out of print, but fear not librarians of the world.  By September it looks as if it will be reissued once more.  Or so sayeth Baker & Taylor.

  • When it comes to children’s literary illustration, no gallery does it like the R. Michelson Galleries.  Of course, this being the art world and all, Richard Michelson also exhibits other kinds of art.  At the moment he’s gearing up for an exhibit of Leonard Nimoy’s photography.  Rich sent me two links about the show (here and here) and then asked me, “Can you recognize the 7 children’s book writers/illustrators that participated in this photoshoot?”  Hoo boy.  I got one out of seven.  Should have gotten two too.  You’ll do better in this game if you have an inkling of what authors and illustrators reside in the Northampton, MA area of the world.  I wonder how many of you out there will beat my score.
  • Big N.D. Wilson news out this week.  According to Variety: “Mpower Pictures (‘The Stoning of Soraya M.’) and Beloved Pictures are teaming to co-produce C.S. Lewis’ fantasy novel ‘The Great Divorce.’   Veteran producer and Mpower CEO Steve McEveety will lead the production team. Childrens’ book author N.D. Wilson (‘Leepike Ridge,’ ‘100 Cupboards’) is attached to write…”  And SPEAKING of 100 Cupboards: “Three-year-old Beloved Pictures is developing ‘100 Cupboards,’ having acquired feature rights to the N.D. Wilson young-adult fantasy trilogy.”  Well played, Nate.  Well played indeed.  Thanks to Heather for the link.
  • You know, blogs are always doing these cute little book giveaway things which is fine.  But reporting on them?  Dull

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14. Review: Busing Brewster By Richard Michelson

By Phoebe Vreeland, The Children’s Book Review
Published: January 10, 2010

Busing Brewster

by Richard Michelson (Author), R. G. Roth (Illustrator)

Reading level: Ages 6-10

Hardcover: 32 pages

Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers (May 11, 2010)

Source: Publisher

Busing Brewster is a book about believing in one’s self, making friends across the barriers of race and the power of strong women in the lives of children—all themes that author Richard Michelson has written about before.  The subject of this recent book is desegregation busing in Boston during the 1970’s.  Michelson says he doesn’t aim at a particular reader, but relies upon the publisher to tell him what age his books are geared to.  Knopf has targeted this book at ages 6-10, proving that, even after children have learned to read, picture books are still relevant.  Michelson is a great believer in the value of visual literacy and a true spokesperson for picture books.  He considers book illustrations fine art and his art gallery in Northampton, Massachusetts recently hosted the 21st Annual Children’s Illustration Show.

As a child growing up in a fairly poor Brooklyn neighborhood, racial issues were important to Michelson and have stayed near to his heart.  His 2006, book Across the Alley tells of a friendship between a Jewish boy and his African-American neighbor.  In 2008, his book, As Good as Anybody, about the friendship between Martin Luther King, Jr. and Abraham Joshua Heschel—a Polish rabbi who joined the Selma march—received starred reviews and won the Sydney Taylor Award Gold Medal.

Busing Brewster is told from the perspective of a six year-old boy who, along with his older brother Bryan, will be bused to an all white school an hour away.  From the first page, Brewster’s challenges and support are neatly presented.  The chain link fence he must scale to enter the playground is juxtaposed against the arms of his brother Bryan who reaches to catch him.  The elements of family, community and familiarity are crucial.  Thankfully, Brewster flies beneath the radar of racism somewhat, protected by his age, his brother, and the fact that he can’t read yet. His mother views busing as an opportunity to support the potential she sees in her sons and is encouraged by Central’s facilities: a proper library, art and music classes and a swimming pool. Brewster is buoyed up by his mother’s optimism and goes to bed with anticipation.  His brother Bryan goes to bed beating his pillow, dreading rising early for the long bus ride and confronting the discrimination.

The next day, their bus is greeted by picketing adults and unwelcoming school children.  Brewster takes a drink from the fountain, a boy shoves him and a fight ensues when Bryan intervenes.  All three boys are sent to the library for a day of detention.  They soon befriend a white boy whom they call Freckle-face.  We see young Brewster’s ability to find similitude.  Freckle-face’s laugh reminds him of neighborhood friend Big Earl.  He imagines the librarian Miss O’Grady lo

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