- Great great article in the Bangor Daily News about an exhibit in Maine of Robert McCloskey’s paintings. Not his paintings for children’s books, mind you. These were done in his spare time between projects. His daughters Jane and Sally (the same Sal as Blueberries for Sal) put it together and the piece even has a sidebar on a separate exhibit of McCloskey’s illustrations and sketches for some of his children’s books. Best of all, there’s a mention at the end that a book about his life written by Jane is due out next February. Big time thanks to Jenny Schwartzberg for the link.
- Time for a little librarian speak. Excuse me while I pin my hair into a bun and practice my shushing technique. I kid. My shushing technique is without flaw. But I would like to discuss the matter of Baker & Taylor with you. If your library system is anything like my own, you probably order at least some of your books from Baker & Taylor. And maybe you’ve the ability to order paperbacks of series as well. And maybe, just maybe, you want a surefire way of bringing up a series without having to look at every possible book out there that contains the words “Katie” or “Kazoo” in the title. Well Abby (the) Librarian has found a searching technique that will aid you in this endeavor. This is kinda sorta invaluable to folks in our business. Cheers, Abby!
- In a similar librarian vein, those of you with MLIS degrees in your back pockets might want to check out the 100 Scope Notes piece Things Librarians Fancy. And those of you who are doing Save the Library related storytime and craft programs (hey man, it happens) might be interested in Elizabeth Dulemba’s Save the Library coloring pages. That woman has the illustration market cornered on coloring pages. Smart of her.
- Okay. Enough with the librarians. Children’s authors, it’s your turn now. Or potential children’s authors. Highlights Magazine has released a list of the kinds of submissions they’re looking for. Give it a gander and then hone your ability to simplify, simplify, simplify.
- What I Have Learned Today: That author Tanita Davis needs to start writing some middle grade novels so that I can start reading her. Seriously. I just went over to the Hunger Mountain (the VCFA Journal of the Arts) website and read her piece Reflected Faces. I like what I’ve seen there. Her essay discusses, amongst other things, the reluctance of some publishers to place dark-skinned faces on the covers of YA novels. Mitali Perkins discusses the same thing in the same issue in Teens Do Judge a Book by the Cover. At one point Mitali suggests getting any faces off of YA literature, period. I would argue that in the case of children’s novels (as opposed to teen) I’d actually like to see more covers like that of Sassy: Little Sister is Not My Name by Sharon Draper. Check this out:
You know what that is? That’s fun. I put this book out and I don’t have to sell it. This is partly (and I hate to say it, but it’s true) because we’re looking at a contemporary photograph of the heroine. How many contemporary characters that aren’t white get fun photographs of themselves on their middle grade novels? I can think of the Lisa Yee books and the Mike Lupica books right off the top of my head. My thinking is that if you know how to make a cover instantly appealing, kids will pick it up regardless of the race of the character. And I am not saying that photographs always = fun. All I’m saying is that this cover has zip and zazz and kids gravitate to it. Try putting this out on the top of your library bookshelves sometime. Don’t blink though. It walks off by itself.
- The time has come, the walrus said, to talk of many things. Like shoes and ships and sealing wax and Lisa Yee’s 75th (ish) Annual Bodacious Book Contest. Every year author Lisa Yee (she of the aforementioned fun covers) has a photo caption contest ah-going. This year is no different and the photo in question features one of my favorite fellows, Mr. Warburton. I hear lovely things about his partner in photo crime, Bob Boyle, as well. Animators. Gotta love ’em. In any case, give the pic a looksee and then tell Lisa what it should say. It’s like the New Yorker caption contest, only with 95% less shark-related images.
- Hey hey! Did you see the recent announcement of the Boston Globe-Horn Book Awards? God, I love those. The fact that we can get a big time series of awards in June is manna from heaven for me. I also love how crazy they can be. Not always, but often enough the awards will go to at least one out-of-the-blue wildcard. This year it’s the Picture Book winner I Know Here by Laurel Croza, illustrated by Matt James. Good news for Groundwood Books, of course. But out of the blue, to say the least. Said Eric Carpenter of the award on Read Roger, “When You Reach Me joins only Holes, Maniac Magee, The Westing Game and M.C. Higgins, The Great as winners of both the Newbery Medal and the Boston Globe-Horn Book Award.” And J.L. Bell had some additional thoughts on the inclusion of Smile. For my part, I’m disappointed not to see One Crazy Summer listed anywhere. With it’s early 2010 pub date it was certainly eligible. Growl.
- Good cause time. I got the following message from Diandra Mae. I think it’s worth noting here:
“An illustrator friend of mine, Kelly Light (http://prettygoodforagirl.blogspot.com/) began creating sketchcards in an effort to do something about the BP oil spill in the Gulf. She sold them on her blog, and 100% of the money goes to a couple of relief charities. She began to ask around to see if any of her kidlit and illustrator pals wanted to pitch in, and we did. She got such a fantastic response of those wanting to help, she had to create a blog just for the sketchcards and donations. The blog is called Ripple (http://ripplesketches.blogspot.com) already $360 has been raised for the International Bird Rescue Research Center (http://www.ibrrc.org/) and the Institute for Marine Mammal Studies (http://www.imms.org/). It’s a way for those of us who felt paralyzed by the enormity of the marine disaster to take action-a small action that will hopefully lead to a big impact. We call it the Ripple Effect. . . . Kelly’s had lots of people offering to contribute, but we really need to get the word out about the cards so we can get more people donating. Just ten dollars donated to either the IBRRC or the IMMC will get the donor an original, one of a kind 2×3 sketchcard signed by the artist. Many are by illustrators who work in the children’s publishing industry. There are a variety of styles and mediums. Details and pictures of the sketchcards are available on the Ripple blog. If there are any questions, they can be sent to Kelly at firstname.lastname@example.org (<-I’m not sure if the account is active yet) or email@example.com.”
- Your Required Reading for the Week: I should make this a regular feature. Maybe even a regular blog post. Mind you, not every week produces required reading. It’s only once in a while that I read something and think to myself, “Oh boy. That’s a keeper.” I’m sure most of you have already seen this, but if not then the Maureen Johnson Manifesto on why she is not a brand is a veritable wind tunnel of fresh air. I too have recently attended various functions that inform you that you are only as good as the brand you make of yourself. Now, I’m a blogger with a noun in my title. A noun and a number. Nouns and numbers make for good branding. I didn’t think in those terms when I created A Fuse #8 Production. Heck, I was just naming this blog after a faulty car part that turned my vehicle into Linda Blair. But almost by accident the blog has become its own brand. That’s fine since a blog is a thing and as long as a thing is a brand and not a person I’m okay with that. The idea of “the author as brand” or “the illustrator as brand” or even “the blogger as brand” makes the tiny hairs on the back of my neck stand at attention. So bravo, Ms. Maureen.
- Daily Image:
Hm. All kinds of art going on here today. I will resist the urge to put on my black beret and smoke clove cigarettes. Instead, I’ll direct your attention to this:
That would be an image of Jo March painted on the very pages of Little Women. Some librarians will feel an urge to cringe when they consider a book being drawn in like this. But the creator, one Matt Hinrichs, likes creating prints of classic literary characters printed on their own books. So far he just has Little Women, Anne of Green Gables, Huckleberry Finn, and Treasure Island. It would be cool if he did some folks still under copyright. Books like Elijah of Buxton or Donuthead or The Graveyard Book. That would be fun. But I’m a little obscure in my tastes, I know.