Sometimes it feels like we always lose some of the best ones at the end of the year. Two obituaries popped up this season. First, on Christmas Day the great author/illustrator Simms Taback died of pancreatic cancer. Kay Winters reported that, “The good news is he got to go to Israel and London before he died, which had been dreams of his, and there was a retrospective of his work at the museum in Ventura in December which many of his old friends from the publishing world came to see. The retrospective will run through February.” Author/publisher Harriet Ziefert offered her own memories of the great man in her piece Remembering Simms Taback. It’s a really wonderful tribute to an old friend. I include here a shot of the very first McDonald’s Happy Meal. The artist who designed it? You guessed it.
- Across the sea and not long thereafter Ronald Searle died at the fine old age of 91 in his home in southern France. The Guardian offers a fine obituary to him here, and I think someone out there would do well to write an article comparing the two artists and their vastly different if strangely complementary styles. In Mr. Searle’s memory I offer up this fantastic interview with him from last year:
- In the midst of all that sad news, we have happier tidings to report. As you have no doubt heard by now the Children’s Literary Gods have heard my pleas and granted me my dearest wish. Walter Dean Myers is now our new National Ambassador of Young People’s Literature. Brava. That’ll last us a good two years right there. Now to set about planning for the next one. Lemmesee, lemmesee, lemmesee . . .
- The other good news is that the Cybils shortlists (shortlists for the only literary awards chosen by children and YA literary bloggers) were released with all the pomp and circumstance such a requirement deserves. I was very pleased to see that two of my suggestions (Hildegard Sings in Book Apps and Icefall in Fantasy & Science Fiction) made the final cut. Woot! Now the final judges will read all five and select the best of the best. Rowr.
- Hey, who knew that Grace Lin was pregnant? Am I the last? Well for a fun time read The Cake We Made and The Cake We Bought. Makes for a nice little series, it does. And huge congrats to Grace!!
- The Ezra Jack Keats Awards are no longer going to be decided in my hallowed marble halls. *sigh* I’m not really complaining but I will say that it was awfully convenient to have the Keats folks on hand. However, I can’t quibble with the new location. The de Grummond collection is one of the finest in the nation and it simply makes sense to do the deciding there. *sigh*
- Well, it worked with Frog & Toad. My one stipulation is that there absolutely must be a song called “Poot Poot”. I’m dead serious about this. And if sounds like “Shipoopi” from The Music Man, all the better.
- Don’t assume that this next link will be a quick read. When Salon asked for the best and worst book to screen adaptations for kids and teens (the piece was clearly written before Tintin sank like a lead weight in the box office) a vast variety of authors and illustrators offered their opinions on the matter. I’m a bit peeved that they keep calling these “young adult” stories (Hugo? Really?) but the comments are fascinating.
- Speaking of Hugo, not everyone in the world was a fan of that film. I confess that I found the first half dull as day old dishwater. The second half picked up for me but not enough to make up for the first. Matt was even less impressed, but far more eloquent about what didn’t work than I.
I’m sure there must be something better than these scientific answers to the mysteries of children’s literature but if so I don’t know what it would be. Sophie Brookover directed my attention to this piece and then solicited other mysteries from readers. Amongst some of the suggestions included “the unlikelihood of Old Brown *not* eating Squirrel Nutkin as soon as he started his offensive capering about” and Adrienne Furness’s thoughts on “Why are the eggs and ham green?”
- Harper Collins? Baby? Baby, I love you. You know that right? But let’s be honest here. When you took Alvin Schwartz’s Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark and re-illustrated them with Brett Helquist, that had to be just about the lousiest decision in the known universe. I didn’t mind when I first heard about it since I figured it would be nice to have a tame version of the tales for squeamish parents but that was BEFORE I figured out that you’d pull the original Stephen Gammell illustrated books from publication. Hubba wha? Baby, you know that’s a terrible decision, right? There’s a reason these books have been continually in print for thirty years, and it isn’t because of Schwartz’s innocuous urban legend-like storytelling. The credit goes entirely to Gammell. Here, let Mark set you straight with his piece Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark: Gammell Vs. Helquist. You’ll come around HC, baby. I know you will. And when you go back to Gammell it’ll be the right thing to do. Thanks to Tristan Elwell for the link.
- Aww. It’s like a late Christmas present, it is.
- The male librarians are up to something. Something good. One the one hand you have Travis Jonker and his 50/50 Challenge: Support Indie Booksellers. On the other you have Mr. Schu and Colby Sharp co-hosting the Newbery Medal Reading Challenge (or #nerdbery). That, in turn, inspired the Caldecott Challenge or (#nerdcott). Someone should do one of these challenges and write up their experiences in an amusing fashion in a blog. Then sell that blog as a book after the fact. Just my two cents.
- Daily Image:
Honestly, you just can’t go wrong with book sculptures like this one.
Thanks to Meredith Arwady for the link.