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A Fuse #8 Production
Inside A Fuse #8 Production

Fusenews: “swinish Milneish parts”

All right, all right, all righty, all right then.  Where to begin . . . I know.  With a tribute that deserves notice first and foremost.  I had heard that Laura Amy Schlitz was writing an obituary for her friend, fellow writer Eva Ibbotson.  I expected it to be brilliant.  It has, in fact, exceeded my expectations.  So much so that it gives me the rather morbid hope that I die before Laura just so that she can write an obit for me as well.  Nobody does it better.

  • Hooray!  It’s time of the year again!  The Best Book lists of 2010 are beginning to arrive.  Just the other day New York Public Library decided on their 2010 list of 100 Books for Reading and Sharing (I’m not offering any hints, but it’s good).  They’ll be printing that soon.  And now Publishers’ Weekly has release their own Best Children’s Books 2010.  I don’t agree with all their choices, but it’s certainly got some great books on there.  Be sure to check it out.
  • Speaking of Bests, my co-author Peter Sieruta at Collecting Children’s Books just printed the list of the 2010 ABC New Voices list of “outstanding debut books by authors for middle-grade and young-adult readers.”  I must say, I’m more than a little disappointed in the results.  No Adam Gidwitz.  No Kate Milford.  No Margi Preus.  No N.H. Senzai.  We must have been reading very different authors this year, those independent booksellers and I.  I would like to read The Clockwork Three, though.  I’ve been hearing good things.
  • Wow!  So somehow I was unaware that Lisa Brown (she of the recent picture book Vampire Boy’s Good Night) had created a large archive of three panel cartoon reviews of various works of classic literature.  Or, if not classic literature, at least well known literature.   Some of you, I know, will be fond of the Little House one.  Thanks to Educating Alice for the link.
  • Got word the other day from illustrator Annie Beth Ericsson that due to the fact that NYC’s Mayor is declaring a brand new Illustration Week soon, she is going to interview a whole slew of new up-and-coming illustrators “many of them children’s book-related” on her blog Walking in Public.   Sounds good to me.  Please note, oh ye librarians that work with small children, that a couple of the illustrators have images that aren’t necessarily workplace friendly.  Good stuff that should be checked out, though!
  • The screening of the children’s literary documentary Library of the Early Mind went swimmingly here at NYPL last week.  But don’t take my word for it.
  • You know that game where you have to list the three authors, living or dead, that you would most want to sit down and have a cup of tea with?  Well, onto my list goes T.H. White.  I wouldn’t have thought so, but I recently read the letter he wrote to his friend Leonard James Potts about writing The Sword in the Stone and it really rather overwhelmed me with its charm.  He manages to make two direct jabs at A.A. Milne then ends with an apologetic, “I am staying in Norfolk to shoot wild geese–the latest craze. God knows what I shall think of next.”  Read it, if only to perk up your own day.  Thanks to Matt for the link.
  • Hey, did anyone else catch the children’s literary reference on Modern Family the other night?  The one where Cam critiques an Alyssa Capucilli book.  “And how, exactly was it a big day for Biscuit?  Hm?”  Admittedly there is no such book as Biscuit’s Big Day, but at least someone on the writing staff thought to mention a children’s book character aside from the usual suspects.
  • Great news out there, but I’ll use this particular summing up from old Cynopsis Kids:

“The American Library Association ‘s (ALA) welcomes The Stonewall Children’s and Young Adult Literature Award to the ALA Youth Media Awards announcements in January 2011, which already includes the noted literary prizes such as the Coretta Scott King Book Award, John Newbery Medal, Michael Printz Award, Randolph Caldecott Medal, Schneider Family Book Awards and 13 other awards for youth literature.  The Stonewall Children’s and Young Adult Literature Award is administered by the ALA’s Stonewall Book Awards Committee of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgendered Round Table and is awarded annually to authors and illustrators of English-language books for kids and teens relating to the GLBT experience. The Stonewall Book Awards Committee handed out its first Stonewall Children’s and young Adult Literature Award in 2010.”

  • It would be very difficult, even if you’re not a Harry Potter fan, not to take some pleasure out of the recent Observer debate between novelist Naomi Alderman and children’s author Frank Cottrell Boyce over whether or not J.K. Rowling should ever write another Harry Potter novel.  For one thing, I adore Ms. Alderman’s disgust with the Star Wars “prequels” and this led to a conversation between Matt and myself over how Lucas could have ruined the character of Han Solo, had he a mind to do so (Matt envisions a nine-year-old Han shooting a gun to save someone and then saying numbly, “I’ll never shoot first again.”).  Frank Cottrell Boyce, for his part, makes some fun points and then suddenly veers off to one side speculating as to whether or not Rowling could resurrect Snape from the grave.  To which I say it’s just so crazy it just might  . . .  Thanks to PW Children’s Bookshelf for the link.
  • Ah.  Well it was a thought.  Looks as though BEA and ALA are gonna stay separate after all.  That’s fine.  Would have been interesting, but I can certainly see the downside.
  • Daily Image:

What’s shocking about this isn’t that I’m stealing it from Travis Jonker’s 100 Scope Notes site.  Nope.  Far more shocking is the fact that I didn’t steal it before.  What was taking me so long?

T-shirts were, as you can see, once available.  Now they may not be.  Grr.  By the way, was anyone else served green eggs and ham at school whenever St. Patrick’s Day rolled around?  Why do I suspect that in this day and age of religious awareness and vegetarianism (not to say veganism) that doesn’t happen quite as often anymore?  Thanks to 100 Scope Notes 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. Hi Betsy,

    That was my first visit to Kalamazoo, and I liked it so much, that I’ll pose the question (to you) that I often get… Why did you leave there? (For me, its “why did you leave NM for Illinois? and the answer is grad school.) The library is gorgeous. And the rolling hills, fall colors… And the hospitality, too! All in all, a terrific visit.

    Regarding my reference to the list… Did I note that it wasn’t your personal list? I don’t, in fact, recall just what I said, but will make absolutely sure to do it in the future when I reference the list in a lecture. I was talking about the prevalence of stereotypical images and referenced the list and my analysis of the list. Words matter, as I take great care to point out, and I certainly don’t want to add confusion to the work you do, and did, with that list. I’ll make a clarification on my post about the seminar.

    An aside… yesterday I pulled up Amazon’s list of “Bestsellers in Children’s Native American Books” and posted that list to my blog. I haven’t done much with it yet, but it occurs to me that it’d be interesting to see how much cross-over there is from that list to the list generated from your poll.

    • Elizabeth Bird says

      Thanks, Debbie! Ah, Kalamazoo. You know, as a kid I always thought I’d end up in Kalamazoo again. Somehow that hasn’t quite turned out that way, but I’m a big-time fan of the town. So glad they treated you well! They’re swell folks, those Kalamazooians.

      And many thanks for understanding why I’d want to clarify that my list was a poll rather than something I conjured from my own noggin. I do agree with you on a fair number of the titles and find your commentary a necessary part of the list itself. And thanks for letting me know about the new post to your blog! I too would be interested in seeing how much crossover there is.

      Now what’s your take on that graphic novel collection Native and that new MG novel The Mourning Wars? I’ve been dying to know!

  2. The graphic novel… I wish the people who put it together (designers?) had made clear what tribe each story is from. The info is in the back with the bios, but I’d have liked to see it with each story.

    MOURNING WARS? I don’t know it… I’ll look for it. Publishers do not send me books. I only get them when someone asks me “have you seen” — and then I track things down, usually buying them or borrowing from the library. I read some blogger’s comments, about how publishers send them books, and I wonder how they get on those publisher’s distribution lists.

    I admire how much you are able to do. I have stacks of things around me that I’ve not yet blogged about. Like LAST SUMMER OF THE DEATH WARRIORS, which I like. And, I’ve got Pratchett’s NATION here with dozens of tags sticking out…. things that ‘broke the magic’ for me (to use Cynthia Leitich Smith’s phrase from her talk at Kalamazoo). And I just got I AM NUCHU… But, I’m teaching, and put a lot of time into that.

  3. Sometimes I think authors should leave well enough alone rather than ruin a good thing. I’m referring to the debate in the Observer on whether JK Rowling should continue with another Harry Potter book. In the context of this post Betsy alluded to the prequels of the Star Wars saga.

    Well…this just got my juices flowing…

    Coincidently, the other day on cable TV I saw the movie Phantom Menace (prequel #1) for only the second time in my life. The first time was in a theater when it was released back in 1999.

    I thought it was bad then. But sitting through the movie a second time really drove home how bad it really was.

    I was interested to see how others felt, so I went out on the Internet and poked around. On You Tube there was a review of the film that was one of the funniest and most clever things I’ve ever seen. Actually, it was more a “seven part dissertation” on how not to make a movie (or craft a story).

    Due to some coarse language, as well as a few short segments that are a bit off-color, the 7-part video may not pass “Video Sunday” muster. But otherwise, it was spot on! It’s a compendium of everything concerning “story as it relates movies”. Of course the observations are equally applicable to “story as it relates to books”.

    In this season of Newbery debates, putting aside all the individual nitpicky criteria, for me a book boils down to one thing…
    Does it tell a good story.

    For a primer on how not to craft a story:
    1- Watch the original Star Wars movie.
    2- Watch The Phantom Menace.
    3- Find the You Tube “Phantom Menace Review Part 1”, and view all seven parts.

    One of the opening lines of the vide #1 review is:
    “The unfortunate reality of the Star Wars prequels is that they will be around…forever.
    They will never go away.
    They can never be undone.”

  4. Jeez, I was using Anakin Skywalker as an example of how NOT to evolve a villain (I was reviewing Barry Lyga’s Archvillain), and I could not even bring myself to link to anything from those Star Wars prequels. SO BAD. My kids adore them though, which really calls their judgment into question, in my opinion.

  5. Elizabeth Bluemle says

    Betsy, publishers had to submit their books to be considered for the New Voices program, which accounts for the omission of those wonderful books you mention.

  6. Thanks for the heads up on the Publisher’s Weekly list. I will be checking them out!