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A Fuse #8 Production
Inside A Fuse #8 Production

Fuse 8 n’ Kate: Stevie by John Steptoe

Lists of “classic” picture books are often white white white, with the occasional racist inclusion. That’s why I’m always on the lookout for picture books from the past that could be deemed “classic” and come from a variety of different perspectives and voices. When it occurred to me the other day that we hadn’t done Stevie yet on this show, I was a little mad at myself. It wasn’t that we hadn’t done a Steptoe before (see: Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters) but this was the book that put the man on the map. And, as you will see, it became a huge deal.

Listen to the whole show here on Soundcloud or download it through iTunes, Stitcher, Google Play, PlayerFM, or your preferred method of podcast selection.

Show Notes:

  • Here is the editorial in Horn Book where Linda Sue Park points out that people have been doing the work to bring out children’s books from a wide range of points of view for decades.
  • Kate’s interpretation that Mrs. Mack has money is interesting. My view being that this is one of the very very rare picture books out there about the foster care system. I mean, name me two other picture books, if you can.
  • What are these horses they’re playing with on on the stoop? Like Kate says, it looks like they escaped off of a carousel or something.
  • Merriam-Webster defines “hobbledehoy” as “an awkward gawky youth.” Nailed it!
  • What are mickies and marshmallows in the park? A little help, folks.
  • The art of Georges Roualt had a huge influence on Steptoe when it came to this particular book. Compare and contrast.
  • You can read the kooky Kirkus review of the book here. What on EARTH is the only painting in the book doesn’t work?!?
  • As I mention, here is Gordon (Gordon with hair) on the Sesame Street episode from 1969 where he reads the book. Actor Matt Robinson’s reading is amazing. As far as I’m concerned he knocks it completely out of the park. I could watch this over and over all day.
  • And finally, here are the cookies I made for Kate from this marvelous book (out now!)
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.


  1. In my capacity as the Old Lady Who Once Worked at Harper & Row, I can tell you that I remember the day that John Steptoe came into the office with his portfolio. He showed it to Elizabeth Colchie, who saw prospective illustrators, and she quickly took John Steptoe into Ursula Nordstrom’s office. I think I remember the excitement shared among the three of them. I know it was a special day.

  2. Great episode! I’d never seen Stevie, but now I’ll have to track it down.

    According to this website (, a Mickie is a potato cooked in a bonfire. It’s charred on the outside, but still light and fluffy on the inside. This NY Times article ( describes them as a Depression-era recipe from Brooklyn.

    I love the detective work these old-timey books creates for your audience!


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