As you may have heard, last week author William Sleator passed away. I met him once during the Midwinter ALA Conference in Philadelphia. He was part of an Abrams brunch in which librarians munched on food and spoke to various authors. I was pleased to get Mr. Sleator’s autograph on a book for a friend and remember him as a nice guy. I also remember another fellow there who spoke to the occasional librarian but was by no means hounded by them. Since that brunch Jeff Kinney and his Diary of a Wimpy Kid books have gone on to fame and fortune but Mr. Sleator was big in his own way and his last book, The Phantom Limb, will be published this October by Amulet Books. A page in remembrance of Mr. Sleator is up here. If you’d like to leave a comment, please do.
- Speaking of ALA Conferences, when I attend one there’s nothing I like better than to slip into an ALA Notables meeting to watch the crew eviscerate the unworthy and laud the laudable. Now the ALSC blog informs us that “The 2012 Notable Children’s Books Committee invites ALSC members to suggest titles for consideration for our annual list of notable children’s books.” Awesome! If there are titles that you think are particularly worthy, please be so good as to visit the blog to find out how to nominate them. I’ve already a couple of my own favorites in mind . . .
- And if it’s “Best” lists you’re looking for, why not check out a new one compiled by the two most prominent young, male, web-savvy children’s librarians out there. You can probably already guess who they are, cantcha? Yes, Mr. Schu and Mr. Jonker have joined forces (when you say their names like that, don’t they sound like Batman villains?) and produced their Top 20 Children’s Books of 2010. A remarkable list, it pays homage to books I adored (The Night Fairy, Farm, etc.) though there will always inevitably be one or two you love that get missed (Hereville, man, Hereville!). Well worth checking out.
- Now it is time to brag. Because while I’m sure your moms are awesome and everything, only one mom won the Prairie Schooner Book Prize in Poetry for 2011. Yup. That would be mine. Her manuscript, A Mind Like This, will now be published by the University of Nebraska Press. Because, naturally, she’s one of our greatest living poets. Just sayin’.
- This one goes out to the librarians in the field. The Oxford University Press blog has revealed info on 120 years of census data on American librarians. There’s lots of fun info to be culled. Personally I like the fact that “Today, the marriage rate among librarians is the highest it has ever been with 62 percent of librarians married in 2009.” 62 percent is still not particularly high. Thanks to TYWKIWDBI and Aunt Judy for the link.
- I’m a fan of any person or article that can point out to me problems with contemporary depictions of literary heroines. For example, even before I read any of the Twilight books, a librarian I knew pointed out that Bella never eats anything without a man near her urging her to do so. Bleaugh! Likewise, I’d somehow missed how the film versions of Harry Potter have changed Hermione Granger’s personality. The Guardian‘s Sarah Jane Stratford, however, has a sharp eye in How Harry Potter’s Hermione suffered a very Hollywood fate. Says she, “in Deathly Hallows: Part One, when the snatcher Scabior pauses at the edge of the hidden encampment and sniffs, Hermione wobbles to Harry and Ron that he could smell her perfume. Perfume?! That’s just riddikulus. We’ve known since Goblet of Fire that when the occasion arises, Hermione can dress up and be a glamour queen. But on the run, living rough, hunting horcruxes, and facing the possibility of death at any moment, Hermione is not even going to pack perfume in her magical bag, let alone wear it.” Shoot. She’s dead on about that. There are other examples like this as well.
- From Cynopsis Kids:
Casting: Scholastic News Kids Press Corp, which includes about 50 reporters aged 10-14, is seeking applications for new kid reporters for the new school year. Scholastic is specifically looking for good writers with an interest in journalism. Those interested in the program can find more information and application criteria at www.scholastic.com/kidspress . Applications must be postmarked October 11, 2011.
- Reason #947 for why Screwy Decimal may well be my favorite children’s librarian blog. Observe.
- Ach. This is sad. In case you hadn’t heard, the delightful Laura Lutz will soon no longer be part of the Harper Collins publicity machine. This is sad, but Laura sounds like she’s going on to bigger and better things. In the meantime you can still enjoy her at The Page Turn where recently HC fully embraced the old Blank Meets Blank format. It inspired me to start making fake Blank Meets Blank ideas on Twitter for a while under the hashtag #wishicouldreadit.
- If you want to keep up with the real children’s literary news out there you could read me, but honestly I let a lot of stuff slip through the cracks. A better idea would be to read PW Children’s Bookshelf and Cynsations. Cynsations is created by author Cynthia Leitich Smith and is so exhaustive that I wonder how she has time to write her YA fiction. Recently she alerted me to the fabulous fact that, “Last Thursday, Lee was officially inducted into Guinness Word Records as the world’s most prolific anthologist of poetry for children (with more than 113 titles published).” Congrats and more to Lee! That is fantastic news! Now may we have an ALA award for children’s poetry? Please?
- Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast and Tim Egan? Now that’s just two great tastes that taste great together.
- In my business I occasionally get asked which children’s book is my favorite. To get a sense of how impossible that question is, let me equate it with pouring a maximum sized bag of M&Ms into a bowl and then asking, “Which one is your favorite?” That said, if a gun were produced (or, worse, you threatened to take away the aforementioned M&Ms) I suppose I would probably go with The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett. It is, to my mind, almost a perfect children’s novel. I remember being read it as a child and finding it interesting in spite of the fact that my edition was the 1949 J.B. Lippincott Company edition with paltry illustrations by Nora S. Unwin. My preferred edition these days is the gorgeous Inga Moore illustrated edition Candlewick produced. And now that it’s hitting 100 this summer, The Guardian takes a gander at The Secret Garden’s hidden depths.
- So. Librarians. Question for you here. How’s the Africa section of your nonfiction looking these days? Got lots of up-to-date books? Or is that section a sad historical remnant of the 1970s, hopelessly out-of-date and in need of new blood? If the latter, Mara Rockliff recently directed me to the Africa Access Review. Founded in 1989 to “help schools, public libraries, and parents improve the quality of their collections on Africa” the site features over 1000 annotations and reviews of children’s books written by university professors, librarians, and teachers most of whom have lived in Africa and have graduate degrees in African Studies. In other words, get yourself some materials funding and go wild. Thanks to Mara Rockliff for the link.
- “It is fairly well known that Theodor Geisel (“Dr. Seuss”) often used art and storytelling as political and social commentary, but no one has attempted to interpret his work through the lens of sociological/criminological theory.” Uh, yeah. You’ve got me there. Thus is a great wrong righted by the Angela D. West article Horton the Elephant is a Criminal: Using Dr. Seuss to Teach Social Process, Conflict, and Labeling Theory in the October 2005 edition of the Journal of Criminal Justice Education. And the world turns a little more slowly. Thanks to Pamela Paul for the link.
- Also from Cynopsis Kids:
Fox sets the release date for its 3D animated feature film Leafmen for May 17, 2013, per Heat Vision. Chris Wedge (Ice Age, Robots) is directing the action/adventure movie, which is based on the picture book The Leaf Men and the Brave Good Bugs by author/illustrator/producer/production designer William Joyce (George Shrinks, Rolie Polie Olie, A Day with Wilbur Robinson). Joyce is also co-directing DreamWorks Animation’s CG animated movie Rise of the Guardians, a movie that is based on his upcoming new picture book series The Guardians of Childhood.
- Daily Image:
Today’s photo is small but on target. Apparently embedded in the carpet at the new Gungahlin Public Library in Canberra (Australia no less) is this quote.
Thanks to the Australian Library and Information Association for the pic.