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A Fuse #8 Production
Inside A Fuse #8 Production

Fusenews: Out-Niffenegger Niffenegger

First my husband recommended Kate Milford’s new book The Boneshaker as having vast film potential. Then I reviewed it myself. But yesterday, however, Matt said to me, "She doesn’t need us anymore". BoingBoing has reviewed the book, thereby guaranteeing it a brilliant debut. You’ve hit the big time, Kate! And in a bit of perfect timing, if you’re curious about the title and would like to give it a look, Kidsmomo is having a Boneshaker giveaway. It’s a twofold giveaway. Kids can enter to get just a copy of the book. Adults can enter to win a classroom set (which is to say, 30 copies!). Enter freely and see what all the fuss is about.

  • Now have you noticed how interesting books are getting these days?  They’re trying new things.  Things not seen before.  Filling the pages chock full of interesting details and elements, the like of which I’ve not noticed before.  Example A: The paperback edition of Savvy by Ingrid Law.  Nice book.  So glad to see they kept the original cover (and the new sparkly pbk is a beaut).  Now look in the back of the book.  There you will find testimonials from the Newbery committee members that gave the book a Newbery Honor.  Howzabout them apples?  I’ve never seen anything like it before.  I’ve seen Award acceptance speeches included in the backs of certain books (you can find an edition of Sylvester and the Magic Pebble, for example, that does exactly that).  But I suspect that to get these quotes the publisher went up to each and every Newbery member and asked them for a blurb.  Remarkable.

  • So that’s one trend.  Another one: Including interviews conducted on blogs in the back of certain books.  Recently I was alerted to the fact that this interview Little Willow conducted with author Holly Schindler was included in the back of A Blue So Dark.  Flux is on top of their game.  And this is not the first time it’s happened either.  When Leila Roy interviewed A.S. King for her Dust of 100 Dogs, Flux also included that in the back of the book as well.  It seems that Flux believes that a good interview is a good interview, regardless of whether the medium is electronic or print.  I hope to see more of the same in the future.

  • Well, the Summer Blog Blast Tour has officially ended thanks, in no small part, to the efforts of one Colleen Mondor of Chasing Ray.  You can check out Colleen’s fantastic round-up of all the authors interviewed, as well as catchy select quotes from each (she has an ear for them).  Missed someone the first time around?  Catch ’em the second.

  • Sharpen your brains, children.  If you’ve a stack of books just waiting to be read and they happen to be of the children’s or YA variety, now’s your chance to grind your reading competition under your spiky heel (I am assuming that you have spiky heels simply because that’s what you look best in).  MotherReader’s 48 Hour Book Challenge is nigh.  As of last year, she’s tying the readathon into a charitable cause ($1 per read to a school, etc.) and there will be fabulous prizes as well.  Plus there’s a brand new Twitter component.  So that should be fun.  Enjoy!

  • One of my favorite books of 2010 is making its way to the silver screen.  Frank Cottrell Boyce makes a habit of adapting his books into movies (as with Millions).  Now he’s tackling his own Cosmic, that charming little nugget about a kid who looks like an adult and finds himself hurtling through outer space (by accident, of course).  I would watch that film.  Thanks to Mitali Perkins for the link.

  • Those of us who can’t draw may find ourselves often staring at the folks who can in the insane hope that maybe their talents will drift off them and onto us, imbuing us with an ability to create life out of ink.  Alas, it doesn’t work that way.  So I was particularly interested in a Ward Jenkins blog post about The Question of Versatility and what it means for the artist.  Are you better off showing a range of styles or having one distinctive way of presenting yourself and your art?  As an example, Ward whips out the fantastic Mel Crawford with a look at some of his more eye-popping Little Golden Books.  Oh!  And while you’re over there, Ward just redesigned his magnificent website .  Boy his art is amazing.  I have a print of his Bookgirl sketch in my own home, y’know.

  • When I conduct a panel I’m often asked if it will be filmed, taped, recorded, and otherwise captured for posterity.  And usually, though not always, the answer is no.  No, the best I can do is hope that some intrepid soul felt inclined to record my jibber jabbing in some manner.  The Afterword recently did just that by recapping my PEN panel conducted with Ed Young, Janne Teller, David Almond, and Francisco X. Stork.  The next best thing to being there.

  • New blogSSSS alert!  With all the blogs out there talking about children’s literature, it’s nice when folks specialize.  Then if some patron comes up to me and wants current recommended books on such n’ such a topic I can get them some titles and then recommend the blog for further reading.  So heads up, children’s librarians and booksellers!  Should you have someone in the market for historical fiction, the new blog The Fourth Musketeer describes itself as focusing, "on reviews of historical fiction for kids and teens, from picture books to YA novels."  Horror more your bent?  I tell you, I once had a small child in my library around the age of four or five.  He would come up to the reference desk and ask, "Do you have any scary books?"  Being just four or five I had to make sure they were scary, but not too scary.  The result would be about an hour’s worth of grabbing every possible title off of my shelves for him.  How much easier it would have been to know about a blog that covers "scary books" for kids.  Kinderscares (byline: Horror in literature for children . . . of the night") delivers just that.  A nice array of the scaresome.  Put it on your radar.

  • In other new blogs news come two newbies that really take the time to get to know their authors and illustrators.  We Too Were Children, Mr. Barrie takes a long hard look at adult authors who would occasionally attempt to write for kids.  The posts thus far are stunning.  Virginia WoolfJames JoyceSeveral on Chinua Achebe.  And the art of Richard Erdoes is just eye-popping (reminding me, not a little, of the art in that aforementioned Ward Jenkins post).  This blog is a special find.  Another great one?  From the Mixed-Up Files.  There, blogger Jennifer Bertman takes readers inside the workspaces of various authors and illustrators.  The one on Diane deGroat almost made me swallow my tongue, it was so luscious.  There’s definitely a sense of sly spying when you read these.  As for Ms. Bertman herself, I liked this description of what she is up to: "Currently I’m revising a middle grade mystery that I like to think of as The Westing Game meets Goonies at a cocktail party thrown by Edgar Allan Poe."  I would read that book.

  • And finally, two last new blogs for the book-minded.  First up, it’s a blog entirely for early readers.  TOON Books has started the Benny and Penny and Their Friends site ("A blog for kids").  There are activities and coloring pages.  It’s cute.  And there aren’t many emerging reader blogs out there, I will admit.  In other news, author Seymour Simon, he of the original young reader non-fiction titles, has started a blog of his very own.  There’s some great information on teacher guides there right now.  Groovy.

  • Libraries will do whatever they can to get some extra dough these days.  One solution?  Fun auctions.  The Evanston Public Library is offering a range of great prizes for folks who wish to help them out.  I’m particularly taken with the idea of Outings With Authors.  It doesn’t cost them hardly anything and if they’ve a famous local author (like Audrey Niffenegger) willing to help out, why not offer dinner with them?  Everyone’s favorite James Kennedy is also up for bid saying, " Face it: you can’t afford to have dinner with Audrey Niffenegger. But I, James Kennedy, the author of The Order of Odd-Fish, will pretend to be Audrey Niffenegger.  I promise it will be just as good. In fact, better!  I’ll out-Niffenegger Niffenegger!"  So make note, oh library systems feeling the pinch.  Your local authors need you.  Why not have them show it in a similar fashion.  Sidenote: I like the motto of the site, "Bidding For Good".

  • Imagine a world tour of children’s bookstores.  The best around.  Over at We Heart Books, Katie and Lou ask the following: "In the comments of this post, nominate a bookshop to be included on the itinerary of a world tour of the most amazing children’s bookshops. Include the address and website, and a short description or review of it – your reasons for the nomination. If you know of a good child-friendly cafe or restaurant nearby, feel free to mention that too, and we’ll include it on the itinerary, all this travelling is going to be hungry work…"  I’ve already taken the liberty of suggesting my own little beloved children’s bookstore Bookbug in Kalamazoo.  Feel free to suggest your own.  They’ve a pretty nice list for starters going on.

There’s a book out there that deserves a re-illustrating.  James Preller has highlighted a picture book on his blog that came out thirty-eight years ago and is still, to this day, probably one of the only good books on this subject for kids even now.  William’s Doll by Charlotte Zolotow can only be described as groundbreaking.  The only problem is the pictures.  As I recall, Free to Be You and Me animated the book with new images that worked much better in the context of the story.  But since we periodically publish classic children’s books with new artists, why not this book?  It’s still in print to this day, after all.  People are constantly requesting it from my own library system.  And if you go onto James Preller’s site, you’ll see the text hasn’t aged so much as a jot.  I’ve a new mission in life.  Let’s get this puppy back onto bookstore shelves with new images.  I nominate Barbara McClintock for the job. 

  • In other news, I wrote a review in this past Sunday’s New York Times.  Woot!

  • So I’m with the Harper Collins folks the other day and the Greenwillow crew starts asking me if I’ve seen their blog that day.  It’s a sad fact that blog writers are not always the most regular blog readers.  I confessed that I had not, and they suggested I take a look.  Right now they have a Greenwillow Trivia Contest going on.  The problem is that the commenters have been complaining that it’s too hard.  "Piffle", says I.  "I’m sure I’ll breeze right through it.  What with my having read Dear Genius and all."  Oh, laws.  Not even close.  I mean, it’s entrancing, but I’d be hard pressed on some of these.  The only answer I know with complete certainty is #3 (I didn’t know it was a Greenwillow book, though).  I’ve a fair guess on #4 and a shot in the dark at #8.  But #5???  With that one I am utterly utterly baffled. 

  • There’s lots of news on the Diary of a Wimpy Kid front this week.  First, the release date (and the cover color) of the newest Wimpy book is announced (I found out here).  Second, I heard this report from Cynopsis Kids:

"Not so wimpy!  Fox 2000 is set to release the Diary of a Wimpy Kid movie sequel, Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules, on March 25, 2011, per Variety .  Produced by Nina Jacobson and Bradford Simpson, with a script by the writing due Gabe Sachs and Jeff Judah, the new movie is based on the second book in author Jeff Kinney’s book series.  No word just yet on who will direct and which cast members will return."

  • Daily Image:

If Jim’s Pancakes have taught me anything, and they’ve taught me a lot, it is that my pancake making skills are sorely lacking.  Check these out:

That last one is called the Easy to Make Giraffe Pancake.   Um… well, sure.  If you are used to making planes and ferris wheels, I suspect anything two-dimensional would feel like a piece of (pan)cake.  It even has its own instructional YouTube video.  No children’s literary characters yet (except a kind of Snow White that’s more Disney than anything else) but I live in hope.  I wanna see a Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus pancake!  Thanks to BB-Blog 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. James Kennedy says:

    Thanks for mentioning my Niffenegger scheme, Betsy! Endgame: Niffenegger herself puts in the winning bid. It’ll be Niffenegger vs. Niffenegger in an epic Niffeneggerdammerung.

    Congratulations on the NYTimes piece!

  2. Kate Coombs says:

    Having read the Boingboing review of The Boneshaker, I will add that it is written by no less a luminary than Cory Doctorow!

  3. Karen Wang says:

    Thanks for the link to our Boneshaker Sweepstakes at! Although let’s face it, we can’t compare to Jim’s Pancakes. That stuff is friggin’ amazing.

  4. I am totally making a pigeon pancake tomorrow.

  5. Shelagh says:

    Kids who are obsessed with the scary can be tricky to please…I hope our blog will help anybody who’s ever been asked where the scary stories are!

    Thanks for the link!

    Shelagh (from KinderScares!)

  6. Thanks for the Greenwillow link, that trivia contest is fascinating and wicked hard.

  7. Thanks Elizabeth for the link and for your nomination – and for introducing me to a place called Kalamazoo! That rivals Australia’s Wooloomooloo!!

  8. Fuse #8 says:

    . . . .

    There’s a Wooloomooloo? How have I lived so long on this planet and not known that? World, you are charged to produce a book called “From Kalamazoo to Wooloomooloo.” And . . . go.

  9. Thanks for the mention, Elizabeth! Glad you enjoyed my discussion about versatility of artists. And the link to my site? Yay! Thank you so much.

  10. Little Willow says:

    Thank you for linking to the interview.
    Congrats on the NYT review! I love SMILE.