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A Fuse #8 Production
Inside A Fuse #8 Production

Fusenews: Everyone’s Interviewing But Me (and I’m okay with that)

This is apt.  So I’m currently reading Melissa Anelli’s Harry, A History: The True Story of a Boy Wizard, His Fans, and Life Inside the Harry Potter Phenomenon (due out in November, I believe).  Anelli is perhaps best known for her HP fansite The Leaky Cauldron and let me tell you, there is no odder feeling in the world than picking up a book only to realize you know some of the characters inside.  Anywho, my perusal of this tome is apt considering this little news item plucked from the headlines.  I never quite know what news to announce in conjunction with my children’s room, but since the story Scholastic Announces "The Tales of Beedle the Bard" Launch Plans for December 4, 2008 was followed up with the tagline "Essay Contest With Magical Grand Prize Trip to Edinburgh and Tickets to Children’s Tea Party With J.K. Rowling; One of Only Seven Original Copies of ‘The Tales of Beedle the Bard’ to Be Displayed at The New York Public Library", I guess I can confess.  We’re getting one of the seven original copies of The Tales of Beedle the Bard in my children’s room not long after we open to the public.  What’s that?  When do we open?  To quote Joey Pigza, can I get back to you on that?  Ms. Anelli: I expect to see you there.  Thanks to John for the link.

It would take great tides and turns to make me get back to zapping random men with the title of Hot Men of Children’s Literature once more.  That said, if I ever do revive the franchise (can a series be a franchise if it doesn’t make any money?) then the first fella on the list will be none other than Sergio Ruzzier.  And while I assume that you all read Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast with your daily breakfast, there is a slight chance that you have missed their interview with this most charming of artists.  Complete honesty up front: I was the one who suggested to them that Mr. Ruzzier would make for an excellent interview, but they had already been considering him prior to my hints.  Here is one of the images from the talk.  I was also pleased to hear that like Daniel Handler (a.k.a. Lemony Snicket) Mr. Ruzzier shares a fine appreciation for Dino Buzzati’s The Bears’ Famous Invasion of Sicily.  Connections, connections.

From Cynopsis Kids:

Cartoon Network teams with Worldwide Biggies Inc. to develop author Barry Yourgaru’s non-fiction kid’s horror book series NASTYbook as a mixed live-action/CGI TV movie for Cartoon Network.  The deal also includes a range of web content that based on the horror stories.  Other TV movies currently on Cartoon Network’s development slate includes Tiger’s Apprentice, comic book titles Firebreather (animated), The Vanishers (live-action), Mice Templar (Animated) and the sequel to the live-action Ben 10 movie.


Sometimes when my book karma is good, Candlewick Press will send me a delicious box of priceless literary goodies.  Almost everything they create is half a sneeze away from godliness (*cough* Newbery winners *cough*) but recently I got a little book that has been garnering a funny amount of buzz.  It doesn’t sound like much right off the bat;  Swords: An Artist’s Devotion.  You would think it would be a one trick pony for the sword-loving set, would you not?  Yet more and more I’ve heard people just cooing and gooing over this book.  Now I am pleased to see that its author (and "former video-game artist"?) Ben Boos was interviewed recently over at the Omnivoracious blog.  I’m quite fond of the Omnivoracious blog, having met its creators not too long ago.  They’re always full of great links (like the fact that Puffin in the U.K. will be publishing new Moomin books soon). In any case, this is definitely a book worth watching.  Perhaps it is even Sibert worthy . . .?

We’ll never run out of topics as long as we keep talking about ourselves.  From The Atlantic‘s piece Why I Blog:

No columnist or reporter or novelist will have his minute shifts or constant small contradictions exposed as mercilessly as a blogger’s are. A columnist can ignore or duck a subject less noticeably than a blogger committing thoughts to pixels several times a day. A reporter can wait—must wait—until every source has confirmed. A novelist can spend months or years before committing words to the world. For bloggers, the deadline is always now. Blogging is therefore to writing what extreme sports are to athletics: more free-form, more accident-prone, less formal, more alive. It is, in many ways, writing out loud.

Anyone that can equate what I do with extreme sports clearly hasn’t seen me attempt to run.  I look like a flounder in gym shorts.  Thanks to Monica for the link.

My daily email reading and replying is an odd bag.  Aside from fielding requests to review books on Amazon (roughly 95% of my in-box) I’ll sometimes meet folks from approximate, if not distant, walks of life.  In point of fact a cartoonist is not too dissimilar from a children’s illustrator.  There is crossover there, not to mention the fact that much of the literature I myself read as a child consisted of Garfield, For Better or Worse, Bloom County, Calvin & Hobbes, and Doonesbury comic collections.  So when cartoonist Mark Heath let me know about his "cartoon engine" I was curious.  Turns out, the man has created a website not too different (if less complex) than J.K. Rowling’s messy desk site.  In the upper right hand corner is a little engine, a testament to the man’s steampunk leanings.  Said he, "My fanciful idea is that teachers with computers could have their kids play around with the machine, generating random keyword matches, then writing poems, stories, even cartoons around them (though I’d discourage the later, since I have enough competition.) My wife was a teacher, and it occurred to me that using the machine as an idea generator might inspire a few kids."  Could well be.  And a fun and creative idea for any illustrator looking to make their site more child-friendly, certainly.

Daily Image:

Leila Roy at bookshelves of doom is attempting yet again to rid you of your hard earned cash.  This time, I think she’s found a sure-fire winner.

T’ain’t mean if it’s true.  I dare you to wear this to a Twilight conference.  I double dog dare ya.

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About Elizabeth Bird

Elizabeth Bird is currently the Collection Development Manager of the Evanston Public Library system and a former Materials Specialist for New York Public Library. She has served on Newbery, written for Horn Book, and has done other lovely little things that she'd love to tell you about but that she's sure you'd find more interesting to hear of in person. Her opinions are her own and do not reflect those of EPL, SLJ, or any of the other acronyms you might be able to name. Follow her on Twitter: @fuseeight.

Comments

  1. Glad to see that Swords: An Artist’s Devotion is gettin’ talked about. I can’t keep a copy of it in the library, the kids love it so. (And me as well. Who wouldn’t love a book with an entire spread labeled simply, “Ninja Swords”?)

  2. Betsy, it seems like your blog focus has shifted somewhat since landing under the SLJ banner. I used to find more titles I hadn’t already heard of in your reviews at the old site. Now it seems like many of the books you choose to highlight are already being buzzed. Do you think your selections have become more mainstream? Also, I’m wondering: have you ever kept track of how many of the titles you highlight are books you saw at publisher previews or events? It used to appear that you went and found great little books and now it seems they are finding you. Do you think that’s true? Maybe it’s just the insider-y asides that give me that impression. For example — I agree that many Candlewick books are phenomenal. But it seems odd to hear a reviewer so predisposed to adore a particular publisher’s books. Perhaps I am the naive one — maybe this is always how it works and you are just telling it like it is. My questions are in no way meant to cast aspersions on your assessment of the books you review. I’m just curious about book clout — how it’s earned, how it’s used.

  3. Hi Hope. It’s a legitimate question, so here’s the deal. I used to have a lot more time to review books in the course of a given week. Usually I could work in 4-5 reviews, and during my peak I was able to do one every single day. These days I’m too swamped to maintain that level of reviewing. What with my reviews, my Fusenews, the continual reporting I have to do, and then my other work like professional reviewing, the book I’m working on, reading, and my email… well, I’m lucky to get 3 in a week. Since that’s the case I have to be pickier and just do the books that I think are particularly good. Often they have been buzzed elsewhere but since I refuse to read reviews before I’ve written my own I’m not always aware of this fact. I work off of friend and co-worker recommendations (to say nothing of Goodreads). Be that as it may be, I do try to make a conscious effort to read titles from smaller presses and lesser known authors. You will note that one of my books reviewed recently was a Marshall Cavendish title about Yoga. Not exactly well known. And my attendance at librarian previews actually hurts the books’ chances of being reviewed on my site since if I mention the book here I feel as if I’ve already covered that ground and I move on. I make exceptions in this case for titles that are potential award winners. And now with the end of the year coming up I’m trying to work in more potential Newbery/Caldecott winners before 2009 comes and I no longer allow myself to review 08 titles. As for the Candlewick example, I sure do like their books but how many have I reviewed this year? 2-3 tops. If I’m cooing about an author/illustrator/publisher it’s usually because I don’t want to bother reviewing them but I still like their work. But you make some very good points and my insidery nature is something I have to constantly fight against. I don’t want to become the rah-rah whooptie-doo “reviewer” who adores every tom, dick, and harry title to cross my plate. More books are being sent to me by big publishers, it is true, but more books are also being sent to me by small presses, independent authors, and individual marketing folks who need a leg up. Keeping an eye on myself is all that I can do, and sometimes it isn’t enough. That’s why I have sharp-eyed readers like you to keep me on my toes. Great question. I should probably turn it into a blog post at some point.

  4. Oh! One more thing. I work off of this crazy algorithm that goes popular book/lesser known book/popular book/lesser known book. This applies to the picture book category, the middle grade category, and the graphic novel/non-fiction/poetry category. Problem is, these individual categories sometimes overlap in odd ways, which leaves me with a bunch of well-known titles on my site for a week, depending on where they fall. It’s not an excuse, but it’s part of the reason you’ll sometimes read me and find that you recognize everything I’m talking about. Plus, at the end of the year I’m playing catch-up with all the books I missed reviewing earlier. Weird how we work, eh?

  5. ZOMG I saw a early version of the sword book at a Candlewick table at IRA convention last spring – I had no idea it was out already – AMAZING!
    Thanks for reminding me…

  6. Thanks for the thoughtful answer, Betsy. I thought of two things after I posted. 1. It’s quite possible that I am reading more online reviews, etc. so I may be catching buzz I previously missed. 2. You probably don’t think of the publisher preview round-ups as reviews, and I get that. Your reviews are much more detailed, thorough, and critical. As a reader, though, your preview round-ups are just as enticing/effective as many other sources’ reviews, so I (and likely others) experience them as reviews, nonetheless. And re: the Candlewick remark– if all your reviews have your name on them, that’s what you see is what you get and a remark about loving Candlewick books seems reasonable — one could count the reviews, as you noted, and see no bias. But I was assuming you might review anonymously elsewhere as many librarians do, so the remark gave me pause. I was interested/pleased to hear your algorithm. I hope you don’t feel nitpicked to death by my questions. I just like transparency and you’ve been good to indulge me.

  7. No, I totally understand! And I like people to keep an eye on me or else I get lazy and complacent. One more detail I forgot to mention before is the fact that I’ve been doing less reviews of books published in the distant future. I figured that if people wanted to purchase the book they might want it sooner rather than later. That means I lose out on the early-buzz, though, so I’ve tried alternating old and new with mixed results. Good point on the Candlewick comment, though. I don’t love everything they do (china bunnies come to mind) and I should be more careful about ladling out the praise. Thanks!