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A Fuse #8 Production
Inside A Fuse #8 Production

Fusenews: He’s the greatest secret agent in the world

In this modern day and age a gal has to have a couple of jobs to keep her head above water.  With that in mind, I’ve found that two of my primary sources of income have in and of themselves, and of their own volition, hired new bosses.  At New York Public Library we welcome Dr. Anthony Marx, our new President, and a former President of Amherst College (you can see him checking out a book from our Children’s Center here).  On the School Library Journal side of things, Mr. Ian Singer has been named the publisher of SLJ, LJ, and Horn Book.  Whew!  Their appointments have been near simultaneous too.  Must be that kind of month.

  • You have to hand it to Travis Jonker.  When the man finds a cool post he doesn’t sit on it.  Authors, you may be inclined to see his posting on the delightful plot synopsis sheet J.K. Rowling made up, in order to plot out Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.  If any of you can translate the part where she writes, “NOW VOL IS ACTIVELY TRYING TO GET HARRY TO [BLANK]” (what is that next part?) I’d be grateful to you.
  • This past Saturday I hosted three fantastic panelists from SCBWI (Vicki Wittenstein), PEN (Susanna Reich), and Author’s Guild (Pat Cummings) in my library.  At one point the discussion turned to picture books and someone said, “Now that the picture book is dead . . .” or something to that effect.  “Oh good,” said Pat Cummings.  As she pointed out, folks have been saying the picture book has been dying for years.  Such a relief for it to just die altogether and be done with it.  It was a joke, and a timely one in light of the recent New York Times article Picture Books Languish as Parents Push ‘Big-Kid Books’.  Philip Nel took the ball and ran with it in his recent post The Picture Book is Dead; Long Live the Picture Books.  As Nel says, “Though the real cause for declining picture book sales may be the economic downturn (a fact the Times piece mentions but downplays), the article does one thing very well: it accurately reflects the prejudice against children’s illustrators and illustration.”  Someone on the child_lit listserv also pointed out that while booksellers are interviewed about declining sales, no one speaks to librarians about picture book circulation statistics.  That’s probably because the facts you found there would not support the theory that picture books are in decline.  As the price of picture books rise and the economic crises continues, people are rushing to libraries to check out their favorites, rather than have to buy them.  No mention is really made of this in the piece, however.  More’s the pity.
  • Actually, that article about picture books really got folks talking.  I even had patrons coming up to me after it published to ask me for my opinion.  Not long after, I received an email from author Susan Fine.  She wrote me the following note about a school-bestowed literary award that sounds incredibly fun.  Those of you interested in starting literary awards with your own schools might want to take a closer look at this.  She said:

“I’m writing because I just read the NYT article about picture books, which I’m sure you’ve already seen, and that makes me more interested than ever to tell you about the Sutherland Awards (named for Zena Sutherland). I believe I gave you a quick description of the awards when you were here. They are done at the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools, and while facilitated by the librarians, the process for the awards is largely run by students, primarily a committee of sixth graders, although third, fourth, and fifth graders are also quite involved. The awards illustrate brilliantly the extraordinary power of picture books and all that they can do to teach so many different skills. I posted below two entries I did on my blog about the Sutherlands. Here is also a link to the Lab Schools website, which describes recent winners and some of the awards process: The process that students engage in for the Sutherlands wonderfully teaches critical reading skills and is so much a celebration of the power and potential of the picture book to do so.”

Thanks for the info, Susan!  One of her blog entries on the subject can be found here.

  • *sigh*  I still can’t attend this year’s Kidlit Con in Minnesota.  You might be able to, though.  Be sure you check out their website for the newest information.  I am just so envious!  Grr!
  • So my husband comes home from ComicCon the other day and he’s just bought  Tony Isabella’s 1000 Comic Books You Must Read.  From what I can gather, this is a pretty cool book, and one that’s very well known in the comic community.  Why do I bring this up?  Because if you turn to page 222 you will see that he lists Amelia Rules by Jimmy Gownley.  Under an image of the cover the text reads: “After her parents’ divorce, Amelia adjusts to her life in a new town with the help of friends.  Her stories are funny, moving, and true-to-life.  Amelia Rules: Superheroes won the 2007 Cybil Award for best graphic novel for readers 12 and under.” [emphasis my own]  Holy cow!  A Cybils mention!  In a printed book!  By someone not involved in the Kidlitosphere!  That’s just about the coolest thing I’ve seen all day.

The Infomancer told me a day or so ago that if there were children’s books written like this blog post Badass of the Week: Samuel Whittemore, we’d have absolutely no difficulty selling historical non-fiction to kids.  I cannot help but agree.  Thanks to The Infomancer for the link.

When I was working at the Jefferson Market Branch in Greenwich Village, one day my boss came up to introduce me to the new employee.  With a look of unrestrained glee just ah-sparkling in his eyes Frank brought us together and then proceeded to say, “Betsy Bird… meet Billy Parrott.  Billy Parrott . . .  meet Betsy Bird!”  This went on for some time.  I have to admit, it was a little perfect.  I eventually left for the Central Children’s Room not long after meeting Billy, and he eventually went on to become the manager of the new bright n’ shiny Battery Park City branch.  I know this not because I’m a good little librarian who keeps close track of her fellow employees, but because there was a recent article in the New York Daily News called Battery Park librarian Billy Parrott keeps a ‘Mad Men’ reading list of books featured on the show.  There is only one Billy Parrott.

  • Hey, you know that fun podcasting Katie Davis does, where I contribute a recorded review once in a while?  Well, she’s at it again.  My review this time: Cherub (The Recruit #1) by Robert Muchamore.
  • This is your regular reminder about sites out there that deserve your attention.  For folks who write or illustrate children’s books, The Purple Crayon by Harold Underdown has for years and years been an online staple of the industry.  I know for a fact that the site precedes my blog, since I think I studied his website when I was in graduate school.  In any case, FYI.  There’s some good stuff there.
  • You can’t throw a dart without hitting an author or illustrator interview on the web these days.  Far rarer are illustrator blogs that interview the authors of their books.  As Sergio Ruzzier says “Illustrators don’t necessarily get to know the authors of the books they work on.”  Mr. Ruzzier is one of the rare exceptions, and on his site he interviews Caron Lee Cohen, author of their Halloween-themed Broom, Zoom!
  • Meanwhile overseas, Michelle Paver (author of the Chronicles of Ancient Darkness series) has (A) Finished the last book in said series and (B) just won the Guardian children’s fiction prize.  Kudos to you, Ms. Paver!  Kudos.
  • Author Kristin Cashore rewrites a scene from her book Graceling in the style of David Mamet.  Authors, take note.  I love this kind of stuff.  Thanks to Shaken & Stirred for the link.
  • There are few words that strike fear in the heart of a former fan than the words “re-imagined.  From Cynopsis Kids you will see what I mean:

“Also on the way is a ‘re-imagined’ version of DangerMouse , the classic UK animated series that FME owns.”

So help me god, if you touch one HAIR on that franchise’s head I will be LIVID!  DangerMouse is my youth, people.  Hands off the incredibly weird animated Britcoms for kids.

  • Daily Image:

Mark Twain has a lovely line in Innocents Abroad after he describes seeing the statue of The Skinned Man.  “That night, the nightmares.”  A similar line might come to mind after seeing a taxidermied version of what I am going to call Amy Krouse Rosenthal’s Duck! Rabbit!

Thanks to BoingBoing 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. Wow, what a great link!

    I believe VOL is trying to get Harry to “H of P” which I’m guessing is the Hall of Prophecy.

    It is followed by, “very ???? – could see his name.” Not sure what the second word is.

  2. Oh man. That photo is disturbing on so many levels.

  3. I agree with DavidT…I thought it said H of P, which I assumed to mean Hall of Prophecy.

  4. I think the word after “very” is “vivid.” 100 Scope Notes definitely found a very cool link! I’m going to bring a copy of it next time I’m invited to the public schools’ young authors conference day. I think HP fans will find it inspiring.

  5. That story of Samuel Whittemore is slightly exaggerated. But only slightly. I wouldn’t want to be on the other side of a stone wall from him.

  6. “When I was working at the Jefferson Market Branch in Greenwich Village, one day my boss came up to introduce me to the new employee. With a look of unrestrained glee just ah-sparkling in his eyes Frank brought us together and then proceeded to say, “Betsy Bird… meet Billy Parrott. Billy Parrott . . . meet Betsy Bird!”

    Shades of David Letterman’s “Uma…Oprah” joke!

  7. As DavidT pointed out, it’s “Now Vol is actively trying to get Harry to H of P” (which she’s defined at the top of the column as “Hall of Prophecy”), then “very vivid, could see his name” with an arrow noting that that bit will come later in the book’s time frame. I’ve used this in plotting workshops because it’s such a wonderful chart to show how much work and planning went into the HP books.

    That Duck! Rabbit! is really disturbing….