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A Fuse #8 Production
Inside A Fuse #8 Production

Fusenews: Give it what you’ve got

James Preller has an idea.  An awesome idea.  We’ve all heard that boys are reading far less than girls these days.  To combat this lack of laddie reading, folks have come up with booklists or websites or what have you to inspire the male masses to pick up a book.  Preller, however, has taken a rather practical approach.  As he explains on his blog, “I’ve reached the conclusion that one of the most powerful, positive factors to encourage and inspire boys to read is, very simply, to see their fathers read. Look, there’s dad sitting down with a book. Any book. Fathers don’t just chop down trees, fix door jambs, and watch football. We read, too. It’s a valid male activity, like burping. Think of the power of that simple image. There’s Dad with a book in his lap.”  As a result he’s calling upon the menfolk to contribute photos to the cause.  Show us some dudes with books.  I know of one website that does something similar, but the results are pretty different.  In any case, help James out.  See more here.

  • Okay folks!  It has happened.  They’re trying out eReaders for small fry.  I thought we had another year to go before any of this finalized, but as of right now Barnes & Noble is advertising their color NOOK for kids on their website.  There’s nothing particularly new about it (plenty of apps do similar things for kids) except potentially the size.  After some digging I found that the new NOOKcolor is going to be about 7-inches.  Something to ponder.  One wonders what the Christmas sales (and post-Christmas sales) will be looking like this year . . . and if they’ll meet expectations.  Thanks to Nina Crews for the link.
  • The Brown Bookshelf has offered a challenge unto you masses out there.  Here’s the skinny: Each February (Black History Month) they make a point to highlight the accomplishments of twenty-eight African-American authors and illustrators who work in the field of child and YA books.  Right now they want the best “new and unnoticed works by African-American authors” for 2010.  And they need them very soon too!  So if you’ve a chance, submit your too little known and appreciated favorites by October 31st to The Brown Bookshelf and shed a little light on some unsung gems that caught your eye.
  • I’m still bummed that I didn’t get to go to the KidLitCon this year.  I find solace in reading the recaps instead.  In fact, you can find a nice, big, beautiful recap encapsulation (or ReEnCap if you want to be cute) here.  A hearty tip of the hat to Tea Cozy for the link.
  • @LaurelSnyder queried in a tweet the other day whether or not I’d seen this.  I had not, so I am grateful.  In this blog post it is written, “we would be delighted to see the National Book Foundation change its National Book Award guidelines to allow retellings of fairy tales, folk tales, and myths. We would be glad to consult with you more on this matter, and truly appreciate your consideration of this request. We look forward to hearing from you with your thoughts.”  Huh!  Now there’s a creative notion.  The thought comes via Maria Tatar, a John L. Loeb Professor of Folklore Mythology and Germanic Languages & Literatures at Harvard University and Kate Bernheimer, a writer in Residence & Associate Professor at the University of Louisiana in Lafayette.  They’ve even got a Facebook page for the idea.
  • Basically, you’ve probably noticed by this point that today’s Fusenews consists primarily of folks asking you to do things.  Not give money or anything, but  . . . . things.  Thoughts.  Efforts.  Take as an example this post by author/illustrator Sergio Ruzzier, he of one of my favorite little books, Amandina.  He writes, “I’d like to invite anyone who loves picture books to send me a list with ten of their favorite picture books, for kids or not. The books can be from any time and any country. I’d like to keep the definition of picture book as wide as possible.”  Read his post to see what he’s looking for and what to submit.  I’m pondering my own favorite ten.  It’s tough though.  Nostalgia plus contemporary works of genius plus classics . . . that’s gonna make for an interesting list.
  • Close on the heels of my recent review for Mockingbird (and aren’t we all so incredibly civilized in our differing opinions?) comes Mac Barnett’s amusing pseudo-titles for his next Brixton Brothers book.  My favorite is the first on his list, though they all have their charms.
  • You know, this book was turned into a film a couple of years ago, but it’s not particularly well remembered.  I’ll be fascinated to see if Walden gets it right a second time around.  According to PW Children’s Bookshelf:

“In other film news, Walden Media has bought feature film rights to the classic holiday novel The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson, Variety reports. The story originally appeared in McCall’s in 1972; HarperCollins published it in book form and it has sold more than 2.5 million copies in the U.S. It centers on a group of “the worst kids in the history of the world,” who take over the town’s annual Christmas pageant.”

  • It is the very rare author that can write knowingly and well right until the end.  Eva Ibbotson was one such writer.  Though she’s best known for books like Island of the Aunts and Which Witch?, I was very fond of her last book The Dragonfly Pool.  Ms. Ibbotson passed away at the age of 85 on October 20th.  You may read her obituary in PW here.
  • Travis Jonker offers us a round-trip time travel pass to dear old 1992.  He recently uncovered an ancient Scholastic Book Club flyer and . . . well, let’s just say that 1992 has never felt quite so distant before.
  • Daily Image:

This made the rounds a couple weeks ago, but I just love how they keep on updating the site.  If you haven’t seen the Library Sleevefacing webpage, you are in for a treat.  Check out some of the inclusions:

Thanks to mom 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. Thanks for mentioning Eva Ibbotson on here. I didn’t know she had passed away, but I am a huge fan of her writing. She will definitely be missed.

  2. Seconding Meghan’s comment. Eva Ibbotson had a way with words for sure. RIP, and thanks for letting us know!

  3. I’m thinking Barnett’s new book should be called Mackingjay, actually.

  4. I didn’t know about the Nook reader for kids, but Velocity is also working on a kid-friendly storybook reader. See it here:

    While this is all interesting, I still think that a crucial interaction between a parent and kid will be lost with a reader. Call it my prejudice, but being a child shrink means I think about child development and human interactions–particularly between parent and child–all the time. That kind of human interaction is just as important as manipulation of the environment. There’s something about holding and manipulating the actual BOOK that’s dovetails with the development of a kid’s spatial-recognition skills. In a way, this is why older teens haven’t much liked ereaders and don’t find them all that useful as textbooks (I believe it was Princeton that tried the experiment and concluded that readers were a no-go). Spatial skills develop very early on and go hand-in-hand with acquisition of object permanence: that something continues to exist in three-dimensional space (and memory) even if a child can’t see it. It’s why very young children will look behind a mirror to see where something’s gone; why peek-a-boo works so well with infants but bores a toddler. The toddler knows you’re there; the infant is delighted to see you reappear; and the kid in-between will eventually reach out and take your hands away to reveal your face–> a key realization that utilizes both object permanence AND a knowledge of HOW an object occupies space.

    This is also a highly adaptive survival skill. If this were a cave-kid, this would translate, eventually, into an understanding that the wolf about to eat you is hiding behind that rock; it’s not gone and if you don’t realize that, you don’t survive. So these kinds of skills are very old: not primitive, just essential.

    In the same way, think about how people find information in, say, a book. The book exists in multiple dimensions, not the least important is 3-D: as an object with width, length and depth. Depth (and not just depth perception) is extremely important in terms of accessing information. If you talk to kids (and older teens and adults), many can tell you approximately how far *along* in the book a certain tidbit of information might be; this is how people find things in books (and space, in general; it’s why you can recall not only the layout of your cluttered desk, but how you also remember that the paper you’re looking for is third pile over, about halfway down). Similarly, kids can also describe the look of the page and its layout, as well as what comes before and after.

    While the ability to recall the look and layout of a page might translate through a reader (and I’m still not sold on that), there is no 3-D in a reader and no opportunity to exercise spatial skills that might compensate if, say, your ability to recall WHAT the page looks like isn’t as advanced. Spatial skills are also something that many boys are better at by adolescence than girls.

    Just some food for thought. While there may be gains with readers, I wonder, really, what will be lost: which skills might not develop as well or be capitalized upon. Conversely, would some kids develop different skill-sets? Possibly. Only time would tell–but, again, I’m not sure that neglecting innate abilities in favor of new tech is a good thing.

  5. I *love* that TV movie of THE BEST CHRISTMAS PAGEANT EVER — it caught the tone of the book pretty close to perfectly. I hope this new one does it as well.

  6. Thank you Betsy! I can’t wait to receive your list.

  7. The link to Travis Jonker’s trip to 1992 doesn’t seem to be working. Any help? I’m a-dyin’ for some hip ’92 action.

    • Elizabeth Bird says

      Oof! That’s no good. I think I’ve worked out the quirks in any case. Should be up and running now!

  8. Aw. I’ve just discovered Eva Ibbotson this year and have been devouring her books. I’ll definitely miss her!