Days like today exist to remind you that spring is not summer. Here in Evanston it is wet and rainy and altogether cool and unpleasant. Think then of the folks in Bologna right now. Sunny. Warmer. Full of gelato. *sigh* With that in mind, here’s a Fusenews that is occasionally drenched in a bit of sweet Italian ennui. Lift your glass to warmer days!
First up, the big news out of Bologna is the winner of the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award, which is the biggest monetary award in children’s literature, coming in at a cool $550,000. The winner this year is Wolf Erlbruch of Germany. Even if you don’t know his name, you may know his books. The most famous, by far, is his rather sweet picture book about death called Duck, Death and the Tulip. I often cite that one when I want to tell folks about how differently European countries treat subject like death in their picture books. But it turns out the guy was also behind The Story of the Little Mole Who Knew It Was None of His Business a.k.a. the mole with the poop on his head book. Again – different sensibilities at work there. Basically, if you were to mention only one author from another country who embodies a style that is Not American, it would be Erlbruch. And that’s fantastic. Well done you, sir.
“2nd Grade Teacher: So, because we saw the wig in the closet, we can infer that Miss Nelson was dressed up as Viola Swamp.
Me in 2nd Grade: CORRELATION DOES NOT IMPLY CAUSATION. Show me the receipts!”
That little exchange comes from the truly fantastic post I Want the Truth by R. Eric Thomas. In it, he tackles the lingering questions that remain long after he was read Miss Nelson is Missing in elementary school. If sentences like this one please you, “And they get this substitute teacher, out of nowhere, named Viola Swamp who looks like Lady Elaine Fairchild dressing up as Morticia Adams” then we are on the same page. I think James Marshall would have approved. Big time thanks to Marjorie Ingall for the link.
It’s time to get a head count. In We Are All in the Dumps With Jack and Guy, Maurice Sendak included a reference to the awfulness of Donald Trump. Now we learn that Sesame Street did the same thing? Holding out hope for an obscure Reading Rainbow out there where LeVar Burton kicks Donald in the shins. Come on, internet, don’t fail me now!
When I received my copy of Star-Crossed by Barbara Dee I was impressed. Anyone else notice that when middle grade books for kids deal with GLBTQ issues the jacket art feels sort of vague and formless? This cover had two girls dancing on it in a flirty way. Progress! And over at Nerdy Book Club, the author has already had to deal with school visits where she’s asked to talk . . . just not about her book.
It’s always a treat when Phil Nel puts pen to paper (metaphorically) and writes us a new article. In Public Books he has a new piece up called Refugee Stories for Young Readers. What I love about Phil’s writing is his ability to highlight an aspect of a book I might have been too hasty or distracted to notice myself. I’m now rethinking my earlier assumptions about The Journey by Francesca Sanna. Read his piece and you’re bound to find something new to appreciate.
This post is almost two years old, but I’ve only just discovered it in my travels. The work and lives of translators just fascinates me. Talk about a job that’s a true amalgamation of art and science. The linguistics just boggle the minds. At the 2015 Brooklyn Book Festival a panel spoke to the topic of “Translating Books for Youth“. Lyn Miller-Lachman reported on what went down and it makes for keen reading. For example, the Geronimo Stilton books (which are Italian) have limited the number of cheeses that can appear in the books in America to a mere three (American, Cheddar, and Swiss). Seek it out for yourself.
The African American Literature Book Club produces consistently fantastic newsletters on the latest books out with black content and creators. I use these newsletters when purchasing books for my library system, and I’m happy to report that they keep up when it comes to children’s books. For example, they regularly update their list of Top 120 Children’s Books stating that they’ve taken pains to not just include the well-known popular stuff but also that, “Some have become obscure over years, and some were independently published and never enjoyed a large platform to gain a significant audience.” There are definitely some in there that I’ve never heard of. Check it out!
Over in Bologna (I’m bookending the post today with it, it seems) JoAnn Jonas took a picture for me of countries being represented in the International Publishers Area. Since I’m not seeing some of the heavy hitters (no China, for example) I wonder what the difference is between the “International Publishers Area” and the rights floor. In any case, a little glimpse into what’s going down overseas.