- Oh, thank the high heavens. Good news, folks. The celebrities have arrived to show us how to write books with darker themes. Thank goodness they’re here! Until now the field of children’s literature was just an unending vista of sunshine and daisies. But thanks to the combined efforts of Evangeline Lilly (“I look around me and I see a lot of young people who are very entitled and who are very confused when life isn’t perfect. I think that often comes from some of the messaging we receive as children from our stories, but that’s really not life and especially not on the playground”) and Bruce Springsteen (“Bruce Springsteen on Outlaw Pete and Not Sheltering Kids From the Realities of Life“) we can finally stop handing our children consistently sweet and innocent . . . hey. Psst. You there. Sit down. You too. And I don’t even want to talk about you. All youse guys. You’re ruining my moment. Stop being so doggone subversive! You don’t want to prove the singer and the elf wrong, do you? They’re famous. They know what they’re talking about.*
- Kudos to Sarah Seltzer and her Flavorwire piece Please, let’s not extend the literary genre wars to kids books. Written as a response to Rebecca Mead’s recent New Yorker piece pooh-poohing Percy Jackson (and could you find a more innocuous thing to pooh-pooh if you tried?) it contains the phrase, “Burn, I guess?” which I shall now appropriate and work into at least one conversation today.
- Publishers. Love ’em or hate ’em, we need ’em. Hence the piece Save the book publisher. Hard to argue the man’s points.
“Thousands of illustrations, books, comics, graphic novels, animations, products, paintings and more will be on view. In addition, a Children’s Reading Room within the gallery will hold hundreds of children’s books by SVA alumni.” What’s that, you say? It’s only the description of the upcoming We Tell Stories exhibition of work by more than 250 alumni of the School of Visual Art’s MFA Illustration as Visual Essay program. Jules Danielson alerted me to this event and can’t go (seriously, someone just send her to New York City already – she deserves it!) but those of us in NYC can certainly try.
Lolly Robinson speaks truths bloggers may not like to hear. It’s not specifically blogger-related either. It’s just an issue we all have to deal with these days. Can you really and truly be critical of a children’s book if you’re buds with that particular author or illustrator? Lolly weighs in and her thought process winds around until she ends with, “What would happen if EVERY picture book had a YouTube video revealing the details of its creation?” Spoiler Alert: It would be fantastic. Meantime, I’ll just say that she’s speaking in the piece as a Horn Book reviewer and not a blogger. Bloggers, for the most part, are not held to the standards of a Kirkus or a Horn Book. We have no editors. We are judge, jury, and executioner (at times) all in one. As such, you take every blogger with a grain of salt, just as you take every professional review with a similarly sized, if somewhat different, salt grain as well. And for my part, I review so few books these days that my selection simply consists of those titles I think deserve particular attention or are deserving of criticism. In fact, I’ve got a rip-roaring critical review on the horizon . . . but I shall say no more.
- The Best Books lists have begun with a mad sprint. On the one hand you had PW’s Best Books of 2014. The middle grade fiction category is particularly remarkable. Then you have the New York Times Best Illustrated list. Now just as that Lolly article talked about, I’m buds with two of the jurors who were on that committee. So I can inquire with calm patience and certainty WHAT THE HECK WERE YOU GUYS THINKING WHEN YOU DIDN’T INCLUDE LINDBERGH?!? *ahem* That was awkward. Good show, blokes. Nice list. Moving on.
- By the way, Travis Jonker’s analysis of the NY Times Best Illustrated books and how well they do Caldecott-wise upset a lot of my expectations. I did NOT see those stats coming. Fascinating!
- In the words of the great Jan Thomas, can you make a scary face? Cause I can. So can Kate Milford, Jonathan Auxier, and Aaron Starmer for that matter.
- Here’s my dirty little secret. I have never, not a single day of my life, bingewatched a single show. Maybe I indulged in a few too many Northern Exposure‘s when I was young, but that’s it. However, upon hearing that A Series of Unfortunate Events is slated to be an all-new Netflix series, this record I hold may have to change. This interview with Handler about the show is worth reading, particularly when the subject of casting comes up. Sez he, “As Count Olaf, James Mason. In 1949. You can see why my involvement may or may not be welcome.” Thanks to Kate for the news.
- The old book smell. Want to know its chemical composition? Darn tootin’ you do! Thanks to Mike Lewis for the link.
Halloween has come and gone but one thing remains clear. The folks at FirstBook DC? They won it. They won Halloween.
If this picture means nothing to you then go here and read up.
*As you might imagine, Bruce is far less to blame here than Ms. Lilly. He didn’t seek out the picture book writing life and says nothing detrimental about the state of children’s literature today. It’s the article writer I probably have more of a beef with.