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A Fuse #8 Production
Inside A Fuse #8 Production

Fusenews: I’m lovin’ it

New York, she is so snowy these days!  I’ve lived in this pleasant burg roundabout six years, by my count, but this is the first winter where the weather decided to bring back memories of my Michiganian (Michigander? Michiganolian?) youth.  Well, a good Fusenews is the perfect solution for any snowy day.  On to the top stories!

  • Some of us know Shaun Tan best because of his remarkable book The Arrival.  Others first became aware of him through his Tales from Outer Suburbia.  Now expect a whole new crew of folks to be introduced to him thanks to . . . his recent Academy Award nomination.  Yup.  I kid you not.  Check out the nominees for Short Film (Animated) and there he is alongside one Andrew Ruhemann for an animated adaptation of The Lost Thing.  It’s based on his picture book of the same name.  Haven’t read it?  Well, you lucky bum, you’re in for a treat.  Perhaps anticipating this Arthur A. Levine is releasing a collection of three Tan picture books in one volume called Lost & Found.  It’s due out on shelves this coming April.  If you can wait that long, of course.  In the meantime you can watch the trailer for the film here.  Thanks to Marjorie Ingall for bringing the nomination to my attention!
  • Say, this is fairly big news that’s making the rounds relatively slowly.  Are you aware that they have hired a new New York Times Book Review editor of children’s books?  Yes, they’ve been a little low-key in the announcement but thanks to this podcast from the National Book Critics Circle we have learned that Pamela Paul has garnered the choice position.  PW confirmed the choice here.  Ms. Paul has a blog of her own, which will give you a better sense of who she is and what she has done.
  • History Question: Has a paperback edition of a work of children’s fiction ever incorporated the awards it won into the design of its new cover?  If you answered, “No, and I doubt it ever will be,” think again.
  • One of my favorite little ole imprints is one that dedicates its time and attention to bringing out some of the strongest graphic novels for kids you will ever lay hands upon.  I hope you will all help me raise a glass and offer many congrats to First Second for celebrating their 5th Anniversary this year.  I’ve read a bit of that Zita the Spacegirl GN due out February 1st and it’s a fine example of what First Second does best.  Cheers to all!
  • Hrm.  The Scribd site is fast becoming the most dangerous one on the web.  I say this because I pretty much could read The Children’s Object Book from the 1880s all day long.  Seems to me you could sell it for a pretty penny if you published it now.  Ironic hipsters would buy it, as well as straightforward parents.
  • In the future all education children’s books will be written in the font Comic Sans.  Don’t believe me?  Praying it isn’t true?  The end is near, oh Helvetica lovers.  Meet your new master.  Thanks to @HarperCollins for the link.

Blogger turned hugely successful YA author (of 13 Reasons Why) Jay Asher has a fun new series on his site.  It’s what would happen if you allowed Harold from Harold and the Purple Crayon the ability to run wild through the picture books of other characters.  So far he’s only covered No, David! and Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus.  I suspect there are more in the works.

Readers reading about readers reading about readers.  The blog Even in Australia (love the title since it only works if you don’t live in Australia) gets, as she says, a little meta on us by introducing the subject of books in which characters read other books.  The best example comes when she mentions the book More All-of-a-Kind-Family and how the characters find the brand new sequel to Anne of Green Gables on bookstore shelves.  Whoa.  I think my brain just popped.

  • Soon-to-be-published-Abrams-author Jonathan Auxier is co-teaching a course on children’s literature with his wife.  So for fun, he put the syllabus for the class online for folks to ogle.  If you’re anything like me then you probably adore syllabuses.  Check it out and see how many you’ve actually read.  I confess to not being as up on my Goody Two-Shoes as I should be . . .
  • Then over at Nine Kinds of Pie, professor Philip Nel takes it one step further.  He’s encouraging you guys to go so far as to Pimp My Syllabus.  Take some time to read through what he’s looking for, then offer up some suggestions of your own.  I mean, how often does such an opportunity arise?
  • Kids choice awards are fun.  Even more so when you get to make up goofy categories.  With that in mind, Sue Miles at Eastern Elementary School in Traverse City, Michigan (go, Cherry Festival!) has come up with the Eastern Choice Awards.  Amongst the categories that you’ll find are Use of Voice by an Author, Watercolor in a Picture Book, and (just to keep things fair) Mo Willems Book.  Cute.
  • The prequel they’re filming to The Wizard of Oz has just lost Robert Downey Jr. as The Wizard.  His replacement?  Johnny Depp.  I dunno.  Call me old-fashioned but couldn’t we hire this century’s equivalent of a young Frank Morgan?  How about Paul Giamatti?  I could see him taking on the role of a shyster.  Thanks to Marjorie Ingall for the link.
  • All right.  Enough dilly-dallying.  Let’s see what Cynopsis Kids conjured up for us this week:

Telegael , an Irish animation and TV studios, acquires the TV and movie rights to the According to Humphrey kid book series by author Betty G. Birney.  The book series, which includes six titles so far, focuses on an adventurous classroom hamster named Humphrey.  The seventh book in the series, titled Back To School According to Humphrey in the US (titled School According to Humphrey in the UK), is set for release this year.  The According to Humphrey books are published in the US by G.P. Putnam’s Sons, an imprint of Penguin Young Readers Group, and in the UK by Faber & Faber.  Additionally, Faber is set to publish Humphrey’s Tiny Tales , a new series of Humphrey books for younger readers.  Telegael is a co-producer of a range of animated series including Tutenstein, Dive Olly, Dive, Hero 108 and ToddWorld, as well as DaVincibles, and Speed Racer: The Next Generation.  In addition to writing kids’ books, Birney has also written for a number of kid-targeted TV series, such as Welcome To Pooh Corner, Dumbo’s Circus, Madeline, Bobby’s World, Fraggle Rock, Doug and several CBS Schoolbreak and ABC Afterschool Specials.”

Huh.  That’s not so bad.  And the Humphrey books circulate rather nicely in my own branch.

  • Boy, that’s a good idea.  A kind of Nanowrimo for picture books.  Take a gander at what’s going on at Picture Book Marathon and take the ultimate challenge: in a month, you’ll each create 26 picture books.  Check out the details (as well as the cool logo by illustrator Nathan Hale) but hurry!  The deadline to join is January 30.
  • Generally speaking, I like to notice when a book for kids is a bad idea.  Some years, I luck out and find books so awful that I can feel very little guilt in calling them out.  Other years, folks are pretty good.  Nothing too odd stands out.  Clearly I missed a book last year, though, because Marjorie Ingall has just covered it in Tablet magazine.  Did you know that Holocaust cat picture books were a genre?  Well, they are now.  Be sure to read Marjorie’s own personal blog post on her thoughts about writing that article as well.
  • Anyone else a little baffled about how a Rosemary Sutcliff novel from 1954 called Eagle of the Ninth is only NOW a major motion picture?  Matt speculates that this is because someone in Hollywood grew up with the book as their favorite novel.  Turns out, that’s exactly what happened.  Producer Duncan Kenworthy apparently loved this book as a kid.  Let that be a lesson to you, authors.  If you write a book and some kid reads it and really really loves it, someday it too may appear upon the silver screen (and hopefully a little sooner than 19 years after your demise).
  • Speaking of folks helming movies of books they read as kids, how much you wanna bet that Jennifer Love Hewitt loved Wait Till Helen Comes as a kid?  How do I know this?  Oh . . . call it a hunch.  Matt points out that since she can talk to ghosts she can probably get the best ghost talent for the film.  Touché.

Stop the presses!  I hope none of you forgot that The Edgar Award nominations for the best mysteries were recently announced.  This year’s juvenile contenders are fascinating.  They include:

“Zora and Me” by Victoria Bond and T.R. Simon (Candlewick Press)
“The Buddy Files: The Case of the Lost Boy” by Dori Hillestad Butler (Albert Whitman & Co.)
“The Haunting of Charles Dickens” by Lewis Buzbee (Feiwel & Friends)
“Griff Carver: Hallway Patrol” by Jim Krieg (Penguin Young Readers Group – Razorbill)
“The Secret Life of Ms. Finkleman” by Ben H. Winters (HarperCollins Children’s Books)

Cool!  I’ve only read two of these so I know which ones I’ll be rooting for.  Howzaboutyou?  Thanks to PW Children’s Bookshelf for the link.

  • Sometimes when I take kids on a tour of my library they’ll ask if we have the biggest in the country.  I tell ’em, nope.  That would be the Library of Congress.  That place is so cool.  It’s kind of unfair that they had to rub it in by getting their own impromptu hawk.  Man.
  • Daily Image:

Sometimes it takes surprisingly little to amuse me.  Like a McDonalds book sandwich:

Tee hee hee.  Meat.  Thanks to Book Patrol 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. A prequel to the Wizard of Oz? I think MY head just popped off. I’m glad you are keeping on top of things for me.

  2. Let’s see. The kids in Edward Eager books several times say nice things about E. Nesbitt books (go ahead, force me to be specific, MAKE me go reread Half Magic and The Time Garden.)

  3. I am so happy to see Griff Carver: Hallway Patrol and The Secret Life of Ms. Finkleman are Edgar Award finalist. And I want to read The Haunting of Charles Dickens

  4. I love Even in Australia!

  5. I was born in Ann Arbor and my parents always told me to say I was a Michigander. No major snow yet here in D.C. but maybe this afternoon!

    Book characters have given me many book recommendations–I had never read any of E. Nesbit’s books about the Bastable children before reading references to them in Missing Melinda by Jacqueline Jackson and Friendly Gables by Hilda Van Stockum. Memoirs of a Bookbat by Kathryn Lasky also has references to Judy Blume and Magic by the Book by Nina Bernstein has the characters magically transported into Robin Hood and Tolstoy.

  6. Betsy,

    I clicked on the Picture Book Marathon link on your newsy bits, and it’s not connecting. Here’s the link again.


    Jean Reagan

  7. Thanks for the mention of LOST & FOUND, Elizabeth. We’ve actually moved the pub date UP a month, so that folks who are intrigued at the Oscars (or who just can’t WAIT) will be able to get it in their hands in just a few weeks!

  8. I vote for Michigander. At least that’s what we say in Ann Arbor.

  9. Edward Eager’s kids also read Masefield–Laura is reading “A Box of Delights” in the train on the way to their new home in Connecticut at the beginning of “Magic or Not.” And of course, the central plot device in”Seven-Day Magic” is a book that takes you into OTHER books.

    The Melendys read a lot; in “Then There Were Five” there is an absolutely glorious description of Mark’s initiation into the pleasures of reading for pleasure.

    And the Swallows and Amazons–particularly Titty & Dorothea–read, although theirs is mostly books originally aimed at adults (all the North Pole explorers in “Winter Holiday”; and at the beginning of “Pigeon Post” Dorothea is reading Rafael Sabatini on the train. . .hm, reading on the train is a definite theme.)

  10. Thanks so much for the blog mention! There are indeed some Middletons who dream of thrones (eh-hem, Kate…), but this Middleton only dreams of great design. And everything I know about designing children’s books, I’ve learned from working with Chad Beckerman. I’d be completely remiss (and a little fearful of flying pie) if I didn’t add my thanks to him for the inspiration.

  11. Hi Betsy,

    I’ll be there to summarize ;)! I loved the event and I’m sad I didn’t know about the Literary Salon sooner as I am a recent NYC transplant via the Washington, DC area.

    Thanks for the shout-out…See you at the next event on Feb. 5th!
    Dhonielle Clayton

  12. Despite my thinking that a prequel to The Wizard of Oz is one of the most unholy of unholies (unholys? hmm), I love the suggestion of Paul Giamatti. Aside from the fact that Mr. Giamatti has the gift of automatically making something better simply by being there, he could definitely pull of a kindly but mysterious huckster. With Depp, I fear the role is going to be…intense. Which is why I go back to the unholy thing.

  13. Thanks for the mention, Betsy! The class is going well. Most of the students were expecting to read a bunch of picture books, so there was a bit of a shock when they saw 10 novels on the reading list … but they’ll survive. Don’t worry about never having read LITTLE GOODY TWO-SHOES — you’re not missing much. I’ll be putting up a post with a summary and “best bits” section on Monday. I will not, however, be using Comic Sans.

  14. Susan Miles says

    Thanks for the plug for our Eastern Choice Awards! This year’s categories and nominees are just about wrapped up gearing up for our late March all-school vote and early April award ceremony!

    Loved the McDonald’s book sandwich!


  1. […] Salon has an interesting piece about how font choice (they call them hideous fonts) can affect reader interest (and by extension reading/literacy). Terry has dubbed it “TypeFace the Facts” because of the convergence of research, analysis, and e-Readers. [via the Snowed-in edition of Fusenews at a Fuse #8 Production] […]