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A Fuse #8 Production
Inside A Fuse #8 Production

Fusenews: We Would Have Also Accepted “Fast Food Fairies”

AntheaBellI know we Americans don’t talk a lot about the translation of children’s literature for a variety of reasons. Even so, I had hoped it would be bigger news when translator Anthea Bell died recently. Though she did not work exclusively with children’s books, she was probably personally responsible for one of the most successful translation blockbusters in recent memory. Do you recall the rise of Cornelia Funke? After Harry Potter started hitting it big, so too did Funke’s titles. And though they never hit the same level as Rowling’s, for a time they were massively successful. Even more interesting, they were German books translated, and Ms. Bell was the translator in question. She passed away last week but her work lives on. Read the marvelous Guardian obituary of her work (and her incredible ability to translate humor) here.


 

Now while I might bemoan the fact that Americans don’t think much about translations, I’m still a Yank through and through. My proof? The fact that I care bupkiss about Enid Blyton. A rather interesting piece on BookRiot laments our Blytonless state, is confused that we don’t love The Gruffalo more, and then proceeds to list the books that don’t seem to crossover between Australia, Britain, and the States. Some of it is dead on (Penny Pollard? Selby? The Rainbow Serpent?). Some is dead wrong (Mem Fox isn’t quite as big in America as in Australia but we know her books pretty dang well just the same). It’s funny she doesn’t mention Dr. Suess not appearing across the seas. Maybe he actually made a strong impression in Australia (as opposed to England).


 

BrerRabbitRetoldNot too long ago Michael B. Jordan was quoted in a Vanity Fair profile saying that black people don’t have their own mythology or folklore. This is not a universally shared opinion, to put it mildly. In response, the site Nylon decided to write a post called 7 Black Folklore Books Everyone Should Read. And at least two of the books included are children’s books. Can you guess which ones?

Read Brightly always looks like one of those sites that only truck in the fluffy bunny mentality of children’s literature. Nothing could be farther from the truth, and I was well impressed with their recent list of books that introduce Iranian culture and history to kids. It’s part of their Read Globally series and I’ve been surprised and pleased by their choices so far.


 

Next up, this one’s tricky. When you read the title The Children’s Classic That Secretly Brought Existentialist Philosophy Into American Homes, what’s your guess on the answer to this mysterious “classic”? I know that The Girl Who Owned a City is all about the Ayn Rand, but that’s not existentialist. Could it be a picture book? Harold and the Purple Crayon, perhaps? No the answer is a lot more surprising and, quite frankly, well thought out.


 

You know, I wasn’t even aware that the Society of Illustrators had a Lifetime Achievement Award. And yet they have been handing them out since 2005. Each year they give one award to a living illustrator of children’s books, and one to a deceased. I approve of how they began (they gave one to Maurice Sendak and one to Trina Schart Hyman in their first year). This year they went to Wanda Gag and Paul O. Zelinsky. That, combined with the man’s recent honoring at the Eric Carle Awards, is proof positive that he’s having a banner year.


 

DonaldGoldenCrayonIt may strike you a little odd that a scholar of no less statue than the great Phil Nel would engage in an in-depth interview with not only the publisher of the brand new parody title Donald and the Golden Crayon (just in time for Crockett Johnson’s 112th birthday) but with the author as well. Those of us who have seen enough political picture books to last us until the end of our days could have just written the title off entirely, but Phil, being Phil, turns the conversation towards satire, whether or not the book is indeed “apolitical” (as its publisher claims to believe), and the true identity of the author (I have my guesses as to who it might be, but mum’s the word).


 

Today’s Tuesday. Do you know what that means? It’s means it’s STEM Tuesday, buckos. What does that mean? Well, basically if you’re a fan of middle grade books, and you’d like some recommendations for middle grade STEM titles, www.STEMTuesday.com might be a pretty good bed. It even comes with its own bright and shiny little podcast. Now how are you going to beat that combo?


 

Did you miss the Bank Street College of Education’s annual BookFest celebration? Have no fear then, pretty kitties. The whole thing was recorded in full and you can find it here:


 

I suffer from pronounced blogger envy sometimes. Normally this is directed at Travis Jonker because the guy is bloody talented at coming up with amazing blog post ideas consistently (and worse still, he does it so well!). Another blog I watch like a little green-eyed monster is the ShelfTalker blog at PW. I think it may be just a little older than my site, and has been through many different authors over the years. Recently Kenny Brechner (who has done some really good posts, as of late) did a piece that delighted me so much I’m actually linking it here: Guessing the New Rainbow Fairies Theme. In his bookstore the employees try to figure out the new theme each season. I think they’re really onto something with the Activism Fairies. I’d buy those books. Heck, I’d even read them!


 

Daily Image:

Though it isn’t out until April (I’m going to hope that’s why B&T hasn’t made it available for pre-order quite yet and that in time they will) I was delighted to see that Professor Ebony Elizabeth Thomas’s book The Dark Fantastic: Race and the Imagination from Harry Potter to The Hunger Games was recently announced. Check out this cover:

DarkFantastic

And here’s the description from the publisher’s website:

Reveals the diversity crisis in children’s and young adult media as not only a lack of representation, but a lack of imagination

Stories provide portals into other worlds, both real and imagined. The promise of escape draws people from all backgrounds to speculative fiction, but when people of color seek passageways into the fantastic, the doors are often barred. This problem lies not only with children’s publishing, but also with the television and film executives tasked with adapting these stories into a visual world. When characters of color do appear, they are often marginalized or subjected to violence, reinforcing for audiences that not all lives matter.

The Dark Fantastic is an engaging and provocative exploration of race in popular youth and young adult speculative fiction. Grounded in her experiences as YA novelist, fanfiction writer, and scholar of education, Thomas considers four black girl protagonists from some of the most popular stories of the early 21st century: Bonnie Bennett from the CW’s The Vampire Diaries, Rue from Suzanne Collins’s The Hunger Games, Gwen from the BBC’s Merlin, and Angelina Johnson from J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter. Analyzing their narratives and audience reactions to them reveals how these characters mirror the violence against black and brown people in our own world.

In response, Thomas uncovers and builds upon a tradition of fantasy and radical imagination in Black feminism and Afrofuturism to reveal new possibilities. Through fanfiction and other modes of counter-storytelling, young people of color have reinvisioned fantastic worlds that reflect their own experiences, their own lives. As Thomas powerfully asserts, “we dark girls deserve more, because we are more.”

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About Elizabeth Bird

Elizabeth Bird is currently the Collection Development Manager of the Evanston Public Library system and a former Materials Specialist for New York Public Library. She has served on Newbery, written for Horn Book, and has done other lovely little things that she'd love to tell you about but that she's sure you'd find more interesting to hear of in person. Her opinions are her own and do not reflect those of EPL, SLJ, or any of the other acronyms you might be able to name. Follow her on Twitter: @fuseeight.

Comments

  1. Many years ago I was an email moderator for a discussion about translation between Anthea Bell and Doris Orgel. Their discussion was fascinating, and Anthea Bell was a treasure. She wrote the most gracious emails and sent me a gift of her translation of Stefan Zweig’s memoir, “The World of Yesterday.” She also sent a photo of her cats in the garden. I went to Cambridge to visit my niece and wanted to get in touch with Bell, who lived there, but was too shy. I wish I hadn’t been!

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