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A Fuse #8 Production
Inside A Fuse #8 Production

Fusenews: I Call It Mellow Yellow

  • The other day I linked to the Dianthe McBride SLJ piece about what book publishers should make more or less of.  A subsequent response has appeared on, of all things, MSN Cinemama by the great author Martha Brockenbrough.  Called Are We Letting Boys Become Book Bigots?, Ms. Brockenbrough takes issue with the idea that publishers should make more main characters boys so that more boys will read about them.  Amongst her arguments, "My guess is that most people would be embarrassed to admit they wouldn’t buy a book because the main character wasn’t white. Why we’re more comfortable denigrating books with female characters is a mystery."  Velvet Threads then made a response to the response, and had some excellent points as well.  She sees what Martha’s saying, "On the other hand, look at a YA (and particularly a children’s section) bookshelf in a bookshop, and do you know what I see? A whole lot of books that young men would probably really enjoy if it wasn’t for the PINK COVER. Or the headless girl splashed all over the cover of a book which is about female and male characters."  I noticed that myself when organizing our Summer Reading Books.  Pink pink pink.  And since I wasn’t a very pink-centric girl when young, I probably would have passed them over myself.  And then, to top it all off, Oz and Ends weighed in as well!  "McBride is apparently willing to spend her budget on new, unproven books with male protagonists because her male students tell her they can’t find anything interesting to read. Those are probably the same boys who stand in front of an open refrigerator complaining that they can’t find any food." So are we turning boys into book bigots?  Maybe so, but I can tell you that yesterday I had TWO boys in my library between the ages of 9-12 asking for Nancy Drew.  Take that as you may.  Thanks to Shaken & Stirred for the link.

  • Speaking of books that people mistakenly label boy fare… wanna see what the new Wimpy Kid cover looks like?  Voila!

I knew it would be yeller!  I knew it, I knew it, I knew it!

Designer Chad Beckerman gives you a peek at what it’s like behind the scenes of a publisher dealing with such a huge release.  Heck you can even see real time editing.  I’m excited, though one thing did catch my notice.  It’s Greg’s first summer adventure, right?  So pity about the October release date.  Not that it makes much of a difference (kids would buy this book if it was called Dairy of a Wimpy Kid: Greg Does Calculus) but it’s a pity the release didn’t coincidence with the beginning of summer itself.  Still, between getting a copy now or NEXT summer, I think I shall take now, please.  And by "now" I, of course, mean "October".

  • As seemingly random messages from reliable sources go, I didn’t see where this message was going at first:

This link is to a Washington Post story about drug cartels targeting Mexican Mormon communities (founded in the 1880s by Mormons who were fleeing persecution in the U.S.) with kidnappings and extortion. Down in paragraph 19 or so, one such Mexican Mormon explains why community leaders refused to pay ransom for a kidnapped 16-year-old. He says about the Mexican drug cartels, "If you give them a cookie, they’ll want a glass of milk." I don’t *think* this was a common expression before Laura Numeroff’s book came out. At least I don’t remember hearing it.

Well, I’ll be damned.  Thanks to Anna Hebner for the link.

  • Daily Image:

On the one hand, this recent post on Awful Library Books (the site where people submit pictures of the ancient tomes they’ve seen on circulating shelves) shows a book that is hopelessly out-of-date.  On the other hand, isn’t just the fact that it’s the boy pointing and looking like he might want to pursue an MLIS degree encouraging?  Or is he simply indicating to his little sis that she needs to stop walking the dog and get a job?

Thanks to Dan for the link.

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.


  1. teacherninja says:

    The “if you give them a cookie, they’ll want a glass of milk” line in reference to terrorists was used by Harrison Ford in Air Force One. I think he said it to the Vice President and mentioned that it was from reading to his daughter. It was kind of awesome.

  2. jenlibrarian says:

    On pinkness — yes, my teen son immediately surmised (about a YA book I held), “that book sucks. how do I know? it’s PINK, see, PINK.” And many of my 5th grade girl readers are sick of pink books. Not only that, they talk about them as a category, like, “it was one of those pink books.”

  3. martha bee says:

    Thanks for the shout-out, Betsy. It certainly has been a week for thinking about -isms and books. Here’s to readers finding books they love, no matter what.

  4. Mackenzie says:

    I can’t help but wonder why people run in terror away from a simple color. What’s wrong with pink? Oh, it’s not the color you say, but what it’s associated with. Girls! Ew! Gross! Not those horrible things! Those lesser beings! Keep your boys away from them. They might be……friends……can’t have that. It’s scary that noone seems to see the real message in all this (except Martha). I wish more people would have the courage to say, girls are good. Girls are great! Who cares if a girl want to be a lead in an adventure book, (boys domain, gasp) or walk around with a pink covered book. Who cares if a boy wants to read Nancy Drew? Or, gasp, Anne of Green Gables? It would be interesting to see publishers putting blue covers on the books. In a few years when blue is completely associated with girls, that color can be banished too.

  5. Picky Boy Eater--Reader says:

    Getting boys to read is not a question of simply changing the MC from a girl to a boy.

    The fact of the matter is the vast majority books (and underlying stories) written for children ages 10 and up are geared towards girls…period.

    The plot is a huge factor.
    Most of the stories these books tell–do not register with boys.

    If books were food, most boys would choose to eat at the steak house.
    So we need more steak houses.
    What we don’t need is being told to change our eating habits to eat Italian or Chinese food…or become a vegitarian…and if we refuse be labeled as racisists against Italians and Chinese.
    The logic used in some of the linked to articles was about that silly.

    By the way–I love the Chinese and Italian people–as well as their food.
    Can’t get enough of it!!!

    But the vegetarian stuff I can probably do without.

  6. I know a pink book guys love … Zen & The Art of M.M.

  7. Oh, Lord…this says a lot:

    “By the way–I love the Chinese and Italian people–as well as their food.
    Can’t get enough of it!!!”

  8. Ben Watson says:

    Big fan of Martha B. As a boy I read my sister’s Nancy Drew books, loved Ramona and Beezus, Harriet the Spy, tolerated Little House on the Prairie, and despised Jane Eyre. As a grown up boy (sorta) still despise Jane Austen… commence tar and feathering.

    My point? I guess I just liked good books and had my tastes, regardless of sex of character or author. Wouldn’t of read a pink-covered book unless I was in the bathroom and there was nothing, NOTHING else to read.

  9. My Boaz''s Ruth says:

    Instead of “girl” to me, pink screams “shallow”. why? Because 90% of the “Girls” section of clothes out there is some shade of pink. because if a toy company wants to point out their toy is something GIRLS can play with, they make it pink.

    As far as I know, any kid can play with any toy they want, yet the companies still think they need to paint it pink to point out it is for girls.

    (And yes, it is pretty obvious pink=girls when they have a regularly colored version and a pink version)

  10. Banners for escort says:

    Thanks for this article. It was certainly interesting to read it. I like everything that is connected to that matter. I hope to read more on that blog soon.

  11. Mike McQueen says:

    I hate to admit it, but I think publishers often look to the bottom line – money. Since most book buyers (librarians, teachers, and parents) are women, they will more likely buy things that appeal to them. I did it unconsciously the first few years as a librarian. As you may alre3ady know, I’m passionate about this topic; it inspired me to launch

  12. Philip Nel says:

    Thanks for the “Little Rebels” shout-out, Betsy! Lois Gould’s X: A Fabulous Child’s Story is a groundbreaking book, and is one of the books in Little Rebels that I hope might attract the interest of a publisher who would reprint the 1978 version (complete with all illustrations, instead of just some illustrations — as we were obliged to do in Little Rebels).