Follow This Blog: RSS feed
A Fuse #8 Production
Inside A Fuse #8 Production

Fusenews: Areas of my expertise

Well, folks, wish me luck. Today I give my presentation to the good people of Hamline University, and we’ll see whether or not they find my talk too short, too long, or too nerve-wracked (the smart money’s riding on the last). The weather, as it happens, is perfectly perfect here. I am, however, a little unnerved when folks continually make eye-contact. Don’t they know that eye-contact is a dangerous habit that can lead to death, disease, and dysentery? Or is that just in NYC? Moving on . . . .

  • The other day I was recommended a middle grade novel I had not heard much about called A Tale Dark and Grimm by Adam Gidwitz. The cover did nothing to make my heart pitter-pat any faster (it’s sort of using a faux David Frankland silhouette technique) and the title? Haven’t we done enough fairy tales? But then I saw the blurbs inside. Laura Amy Schlitz? She doesn’t blurb anything. Jack Zipes? One of the best children’s literary academic scholars out there. So I gave it a read, and you should too considering how hard I fell for it. We’ve got ourselves a new amazing debut author, folks. Salon ran a fun article on blurbing as well, that you might enjoy. It’s called Beware of blurbs and makes a lot of sense. Still and all, had I not seen the blurbs (and gotten a personal recommendation from Monica Edinger) I might have missed the book altogether. They do have their uses. Thanks to @neilhimself for the link.
  • Says author Philip Womack, “When I started to write children’s books, most people would nod sagely and opine, ‘they’re the hardest audience to write for – very picky, children’. This is a cliché which is almost monstrously wrong. The vast majority of children (and by “children”, I mean anybody in those prepubescent years who has yet to make the leap to Jane Eyre and Great Expectations) have the literary sensibility of a dead snail and will read any old rubbish.” As opposed to adults who are all discerning in their tastes, I suppose. Womack then goes on to equate Stephenie Meyer to J.K. Rowling, which may explain why this article goes by the subtitle how to write a children’s best-seller, and yet the author is, himself, a relative unknown. Ah well. When I say that I just sound like the snarky commentors. Thanks to 100 Scope Notes for the link
  • You can take the girl out of Kalamazoo but you can’t take the Kalamazoo out of the girl (Kalamazoo, in this case, being a town and not a dreadful disease with a catchy name). Little did I know that author/artist Mark Crilley was a Fine Arts major at Kalamazoo College. That and other interesting facts about the man come up in his recent spotlight piece at Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast. Later he goes on to say, “For whatever reason, I just don’t seem to show up on people’s radars as an illustrator for hire. The happy exception was Little, Brown’s recent re-issue of Oliver Butterworth’s The Enormous Egg. Joe Monti brought me in to provide new illustrations for this classic, and I really had a ball with it.” Is this edition still available for purchase? If so, I need some paperback editions in my children’s room pronto! Many thanks for the info, Jules!
  • Fuse #8 Pop Quiz: Who is the only celebrity outside of children’s literature to link to this blog? If you said “John Hodgman because your friend Davin wrote a report about beating him at Scrabble” then you are correct! It was my sole brush with fame, and it was vicarious. Had you told me that Mo Willems was buddies with Mr. Hodgman as well I would have sputtered a bit then remembered that Willems has strange comedy ties entirely of his own. Check out the interesting Extra Dinner Doodles post he put up recently featuring fun flights of the chalk from the aforementioned Hodgman to folks like Peter Sis.
  • Reading blogs without any consistency gives one the impression of periodically blacking out while online. There are gaps that you must fill in. I haven’t been reading my EA (Editorial Anonymous) much lately because of work-related nuttiness (this is what we call in the business a dishwater weak excuse) so I missed the fact that the blog had started interviewing authors. Folks like Shannon Hale, Adam Rex, and Deborah Wiles. Huh. She’s mixing it up these days, I see. Interesting.
  • Speaking of anonymous things, not only does Cheryl Klein’s post on One Way to Stand Up Against Whitewashing make for interesting reading and discussion, but I’ve also fallen deeply in love with her stance on Anonymous commenters. In times of controversial topics, I may have to adopt her policy. It makes quite a bit of sense.
  • The blog Literary Asylum has highlighted a periodical for kids I didn’t even know existed. Crow Toes Quarterly is an ezine and mag with a limited print run that runs stories for kids with a penchant for the dark Snicket/Gaimanesque books out there. Why have you not heard of it before? Possibly because it is Canadian. But if you happen to be looking for something to get your prepubescent Goth nephews and nieces this holiday season, a subscription would probably not be out of place. But read the Literary Asylum piece first, just to make sure.
  • Even if you wouldn’t define yourself as a Baum fan, you would probably find the post The Twin Tin Woodmen of Oz post on Hungry Tiger Talk more than a little interesting. It presents a blow by blow comparison of two different illustrated editions, with a great deal of discussion made about the individual changes. Thanks to J.L. Bell for the link.
  • Daily Image:

It miffs my hide when folks call librarians “information specialists” sometimes. Still, if you would like to call me by the following term, I’m okay with that.

Reminds me of when George on Seinfeld would fake being an architect. Thanks to BB-Blog for the link!

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. Note that John Hodgman refers to himself as “a minor celebrity.”

  2. Re the cover of A TALE DARK AND GRIMM, the cover of my first professional book (the hot title FANTASY LITERATURE IN THE CLASSROOM), has a similar silhouette that seemed very Rackham-like to me. A default fairy tale look evidently.

  3. re: George on Seinfeld … don’t miss Maureen Dowd’s column in the NYT today – very funny back story on the Steinbrenner presence on Seinfeld.

  4. Connie, love it! I vividly remember poor fictional George working for the Yankees as well as larger-than-life Steinbrenner in his glory days.

  5. In regards to Womack’s article, I would say that the way in which children are picky is that they won’t put up with long, self-indulgent passages of description or of characters’ thoughts and feelings. They expect the plot to move forward.

    It worries me a little how much this writer deprecates his chosen audience, however humorously. I think authors should respect their readers, especially kids!

  6. Anne Ursu says

    We loved having you at Hamline, Betsy. Your talk was engaging and informative, and your presence is so wonderful up there. Thank you for coming!

  7. Thanks for your kind words about my “Seven Impossible Things” spotlight! Yes, the new version of “The Enormous” is still available (I ordered a box just the other day). Thanks again for the mention!


  8. The Enormous *Egg* — clearly I need more coffee! 🙂

  9. Tale Dark and Grimm not yet out for the general public (until November 10!)

    I suggested it for my library, and will wait impatiently.