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A Fuse #8 Production
Inside A Fuse #8 Production

Fusenews: When did the letter “Z” become feminine?

Matt and I are continuing to prep for our upcoming trip to Bologna.  So far I have been advised by my readers to eat a lot of gelato (done and done!) and to wear comfortable shoes.  I think I can promise that . . . I think.  Currently I’m having the heels on my favorite pair replaced.  In the meantime . . . .

While I’m floating about on thoughts of Italia, there is a place right here in New York City that offers a magnificent glimpse into a very different European country.  I don’t know how many people here in town are aware of the Scandinavian House and its current children’s exhibit.  At Playing by the book author Matthew Finch traipsed over to the exhibit and interviewed the set designer about the space and what it’s accomplishing.  Looks like I’ll need to take a trip over there one of these days.  Great stuff!

  • Americans don’t think about Chitty Chitty Bang Bang very often.  A bold statement but probably not overly controversial.  I think the movie goes out nicely enough, but not to the extent that Mary Poppins does.  And the book by Ian Fleming (the edition illustrated by Brian Selznick) is checked out of my children’s room on a regular basis but I’ve never had anyone request it by name.  All things to bear in mind when hearing that over in England the family of Ian Fleming has commissioned our old friend Frank Cottrell Boyce to pen a sequel.  I think this is an excellent choice. Boyce has the right amount of whimsy to him (plus I’d love to see what he does with a straight out fantasy).  Boy, a lot of Estates have been commissioning sequels lately, haven’t they?  I wonder if the estate of Jean Merrill would ever consider commissioning a sequel to The Toothpaste Millionaire.  A patron asked me for one yesterday and I had to confess that I knew of no such matter.  FYI, oh sequel hungry.
  • Prequels are another matter entirely.  They’re rarer by far, and probably more difficult to create.  One way of making them easy is to take an adult character and render him or her as a child.  The current crop of young Sherlock Holmes novels follow in those footsteps (50 points to the first YA author who writes a Young Hercule Poirot, Young Nero Wolfe, or Young (hee hee) Miss Marple novel in the next year).  When your characters are already children at the start, your job is doubly hard.  Remember that Anne of Green Gables prequel that came out a couple years ago?  No?  Precisely.  Still, with the right author in hand it might be able to work.  Hearing that Patricia MacLachlan is going to try her hand at a Boxcar Children prequel leaves me curious.  She’s a good choice, of course.  Plus her name has instant cachet.  What pleased me, though, was that she’s going back to the story’s original Depression roots.  We shall see what we shall see.
  • The well-written booktalk is a librarian’s best friend.  Why, an enterprising sort would do well to publish a book of fantastic booktalks culled from the best librarians in the biz.  Have at it, anyone who wants to do that.  In the meantime the best source of booktalks is bloggers.  Over at The Lemme Library Kelly Butcher had an idea.  She introduces the notion of Book Talk Tuesday.  Says she, “I invite teachers and librarians to link to a recent book talk or book review that can be used by others- to help purchase new books, learn about new books and to help give us book talk ideas.”  Not a bad idea.  Head on over if you’re keen on participating!
  • Sarah Pekkanen over at The Washington Post reports on the gender divide in children’s books.  The piece places things in the context of The Hunger Games, which is fine.  Seeing this in the wake of also reading Cinderella Ate My Daughter I’m thinking a lot about gender stereotyping in covers in the context of what boys will and will not read.  Seems to me that the harm done by pushing “girly” materials on young girls is not far off from pushing boys away from books they might like by giving the covers an overdose of girlish elements.  I need to chew on this idea for a while.  In the meantime, I’ve gotten a little addicted to Peggy Orenstein’s blog.  I mean, have you seen what they did to the Trolls dolls recently?
  • Fans of figures will find much too coo over in the recent release of the 2011 Facts & Figures Coverage of top selling children’s and YA books.  Series do dominate.  It’s interesting to get past them into the non-series titles, though.  They’re rare, but eye-opening (particularly when not written by a celebrity).  Much to chew over here.
  • If this post were a children’s book it would be the fastest selling item in stores nationwide.  Come to think of it, why haven’t more toy products tried hawking their products as alphabet books?  That’s their problem, man.  They’re just not shameless enough.  Thanks to @PWKidsBookshelf for the link.
  • From PW Children’s Bookshelf came this fascinating tidbit of information that I’d not heard elsewhere: “The U.S. nominees for the 2012 Hans Christian Andersen Awards are: Paul Fleischman for the Author’s Award, and Chris Raschka for the Illustrator’s Award. (Britain’s nominees are Philip Pullman and John Burningham.) The award is given biennially to a living author and a living illustrator whose body of work is judged to have made a significant and lasting contribution to children’s literature; it is considered the field’s top international prize.”
  • Let’s say you’re a debut children’s author.  Let’s say you’ve a book coming out right now and that it managed to get some pretty classy blurbs from big name authors.  You want to promote your book, but you’d like to do something a little more original than the usual blog tour / book trailer routine.  Bobbie Pyron came up with a rather clever solution to this.  Her book A Dog’s Way Home helped her come up with the hook too.  On her site she’s interviewed folks like Barbara O’Connor, Gary Schmidt, Kathi Appelt, and even the aforementioned Patricia MacLachlan (taking a break from that Boxcar Children prequel, I see) about their own dogs. Clever author lady.  Thanks to Molly O’Neill for the link.
  • As the daughter of a former independent bookseller I feel it necessary to keep a finger on the pulse of the bookselling industry to some extent.  I admit, however, that in all my days and all my time I’ve never really thought about censorship in bookstores.  It must happen, but until I read Josie Leavitt’s piece A Censorship Issue I’d failed to take the time to rub two gray cells over it.
  • Movie news time!  You’ve all probably heard by now that Berkeley Breathed’s Mars Needs Moms may be one of Hollywood’s biggest bombs of the year.  I feel a little bad for Berk, Bloom County fan that I am, but there was nothing about that film that appealed to me or anyone I know who saw the trailer.  I’m not particularly shocked by the lack of public appreciation.  And speaking of bombs, here’s one from the future all thanks to Cynopsis Kids!

Taylor Swift , Danny DeVito , Ed Helms , Zac Efron , Rob Riggle and Betty White will all lend their voices to Universal and Illumination Entertainment ‘s 3D CGI animated feature film adaptation of Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax .  Based on Dr. Seuss’ 1971 book, The Lorax , the movie is set for release on March 2, 2012, and is the third movie created by Illumination and Universal.  DeVito will serve as the voice of the title character of the Lorax, while Ed Helms voice the mysterious Once-ler.  Efron will lend his voice to Ted, the idealistic boy in search of the Lorax, and Swift will play Audrey, the girl of Ted’s dreams. Rob Riggle will play financial king O’Hare, and White has signed on to portray Ted’s wise Grammy Norma.”

You know what?  I take that back.  I love the idea of a Danny DeVito Lorax.  Only, I’m not buying it unless he exchanges the customary, “I speak for the trees” for a more DeVitoesque, “Hey!  Idiot!  Trees here!”

  • Daily Image:

Why yes, I WOULD love a pocketwatch that contains a slowly disappearing Cheshire Cat.  However did you know?

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. Thanks for linking to Playing by the book 🙂 I was very envious of Matt being able to go on my behalf. Whilst you’re over in Europe will you be going to the London Book Fair – 10 days after Bologna? I’ll be there on the Monday if you wanted to meet for a coffee.

    • Elizabeth Bird says

      Ooh. Boy, that would be fun. I can’t this time, but I may have to take you up on that offer in the future. London + books = heaven, as far as I’m concerned. Something to plan for the future, eh?

  2. i thought MARS NEEDS MOMS was dreadful as a book and could not believe the money being dumped into turning it into a movie. i’m not surprised it bombed. the saddest thing of all was that for someone as talented as berke breathed the book resembled a celebrity book in that it seemed out of touch with the genre.

  3. “Hearing that Patricia MacLachlan is going to try her hand at a Boxcar Children prequel leaves me curious. She’s a good choice, of course. Plus her name has instant caché. What pleased me, though, was that she’s going back to the story’s original Depression roots. We shall see what we shall see.”

    Oooh, that’s interesting. Did you read the prequel to A Little Princess? I never got around to it. A Little Princess is a childhood favorite, so I’m a little wary of it.

    • Elizabeth Bird says

      Never read the McKay Little Princess sequel, though I thought about mentioning it in this post. Actually, that might make an interesting post in and of itself. Sequels to classics: What has and hasn’t been done. It’s interesting to think about what they might try next. The fact that there hasn’t been a Secret Garden sequel does my cold heart good.

      Yeah, Berke just isn’t cutting it in the children’s fiction world. I’m not sure where the gap is. I wish I could buy those gorgeous Bloom County collections for my children’s room, though. The price is prohibitive, but I love thinking about kids discovering them for the first time.

  4. That LEGO space ship alphabet is pure gold. Somebody needs to publish that–with building instructions included.

  5. GAH! What did they do to the Trolls?!? The comments on that blog post made some interesting parallels between the Trolls fad and the Zhu-Zhu Pets which I found interesting — thanks for the link!

  6. Tom Angleberger says

    If they ever want that Toothpaste Millionaire sequel, I could have it ready for them by Monday.

  7. I actually read the Little Princess sequel and liked it a lot–McKay was obviously trying to write in the style of Burnett, and it ended up as a very appealing hybrid of their two styles. (I doube that Burnett would have chosen any of those fates for the girls in question, but I still enjoyed it a great deal and didn’t think that it ruined or changed the enjoyment of the original book. If that makes sense).

  8. Young Miss Marple! Hee hee indeed! Even though I can’t imagine it at all, I would definitely read it.

    On another note, if I ever meet the person responsible for Trollz, they’ll be sorry!

  9. Meredith– I totally was just going to come here and say that about Young Miss Marple. SOMEBODY WRITE THAT, PLEEEZE?

  10. Karen Ruelle says

    FYI, Scandinavia House has a cafe with delicious food, too. (Not sure they have gelato, though. Not geographically appropriate, I guess.)

  11. My Boaz's Ruth says

    I LOVED the Anne of Green Gables prequel. Sure, the actual books are better. But they did a good job and I picked it up on the Borders clearance table when I saw it for $3.

  12. My Boaz's Ruth says

    BTW I’m lost. Where does the “Z” feminine thing come in?

  13. There is actually a Secret Garden sequel! It’s ya/adults, though:

    And despite the panning reviews, I adored it as a teen. Very soapy. All three of them were in love with the others, if I remember right.

    For me, liking a prequel or sequel has to do with my feelings on the original text. I don’t want anything muddying up my characters in Anne or Betsy-Tacy, but I never attached to The Secret Garden as much, and so enjoyed its return.

  14. Not sure this was the young Miss Marple you were hoping for …

    • Elizabeth Bird says

      AAAAAAAA!!! Perhaps the most frightening thing I’ve heard. Meredith, you’re amazing. I don’t know where you found this but it makes me worry about the state of reality. If we can collectively cause this to come to pass . . .


  1. […] she was preparing for her whirlwind trip to Bologna, Elizabeth Bird (aka Fuse 8) put together a jam-packed link fest for her readers. There is one resource in particular I want to point you to: Kelly Butchers’s […]

  2. […] she was preparing for her whirlwind trip to Bologna, Elizabeth Bird (aka Fuse 8) put together a jam-packed link fest for her readers. There is one resource in particular I want to point you to: Kelly Butchers’s […]