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A Fuse #8 Production
Inside A Fuse #8 Production

Fusenews: Polar bear, polar bear, what do you see?

Howdy, folks.  I’m starting off today with a little podcast-related item.  Back in the day I tried podcasting for sport.  It was fun (I had my own intro music and everything) but after a while it became clear that podcasting is a labor of love best left to the professionals with their prodigious editing skills, like the old Just One More Book site.  More recently I’ve contributed reviews to the remarkable Katie Davis Brain Burps About Books (more about that in a sec).  Today, however, I am pleased as punch to reveal that I was recently the guest host on the Read It and Weep podcast.  They made me an offer I couldn’t refuse: Name a bad children’s book and they would read it and discuss it with me.  Well, I gave them the worst I could think of (you can guess what it was) and it was SO bad that they told me they couldn’t do it.  Instead, we decided to turn our attention to the good old Triumvirate of Mediocrity (copyright Jane Yolen for the term): The Giving Tree, Rainbow Fish, and Love You Forever.  Even if you like one of these, it is physically impossible to love all three.  Take a listen to our discussion about the gleesome threesome.  Odds are, you’ll never think of them quite the same way again.

  • In other podcast news, the aforementioned Katie Davis has managed to compile a Library Love segment of her own podcast that is so o’erfilled with fantastic authors that you know and love that you’ll find yourself throwing fistfuls of money at your nearest library branch within minutes.  The full list of participants and the podcast itself can be found here.
  • There are many ways in which to take the news that you’ve been nominated for a big award.  Barry Deutsch’s?  The best.  Bar none.
  • True credit to Phil Nel.  Hard to top a blog post that has the title Vandalizing James Marshall.  Rather than discuss cases where folks have drawn bras on Martha (oh, you know it must happen) Phil is referring to the panned and scanned version of Marshall’s The Three Little Pigs in which the images have been truncated or removed altogether.  It’s pretty horrific, Phil’s right.  Particularly when you consider that this is James Marshall we’re talking about.  Shame.
  • Sometimes I don’t pay proper attention.  That’s why I read the blogs of people who do.  Travis at 100 Scope Notes pointed out that the new HMH book The Chronicles of Harris Burdick is an entirely new creation.  Looking at it, he’s right.  Sherman Alexie, M.T. Anderson, Kate DiCamillo, Cory Doctorow, Jules Feiffer, Stephen King, Tabitha King, Lois Lowry, Gregory Maguire, Walter Dean Myers, Linda Sue Park, Louis Sachar, Jon Scieszka, Lemony Snicket, and Chris Van Allsburg himself take the images from the original The Mysteries of Harris Burdick and write original short stories for the pictures.  First off, well played Cory Doctorow.  Second off, Stephen King?  Gee.  Third off, want.  Very much so.  Is it just me, or is Van Allsburg placing his stamp ALL OVER 2011?  Between this and Queen of the Falls, I may have to declare this a Van Allsburg Year.
  • Speaking of hotly anticipated 2011 fare, Peter at Collecting Children’s Books zeroes in on two little numbers that are bound to sell out (for a pretty price) relatively soon.  He also wonders “if anyone has compiled a collection of ‘original neighborhood games’ in a book for kids lately.”  A good question.  I remember that when I was a kid we made up games with names like Barracuda and (I fear that this is true) Commie Ball.  More 1980s names it would be difficult to find, I suspect.
  • Looky that.  There will be a screening of the documentary of Library of the Early Mind at ALA this June.  For free!  You lucky people.  I bet that there will be food and drink and an amazing line-up of authors and illustrators and an M.C. to beat all M.C.s too.  Not that I have inside information or anything . . . .
  • Remember the recent news item about the Sendak-illustrated version of The Hobbit that might have been?  Tony DiTerlizzi offers his own thoughts on both the book and the Sendak/Tolkien split.  Naturally my mind wanders and wonders if someone out there might be so good as to tap Mr. DiTerlizzi for illustrating a new edition himself.  You can see it, can’t you?  He’d do a positively magnificent job as the book includes (as he says), “pockets of darkness that foretell what is to come” and who better to tap into that feeling than he?  Just thinking aloud here.  Monica over at Educating Alice offers her own thoughts on Tony’s article.    I agree with her about Tolkien and his opinion on writing for kids.
  • You know who’s smart?  Paul Zelinsky.  You know why?  Well, apart from being a genius with a brush, the man started recently turning his endpapers and illustrated images into fabric.  Fabric that at some point in the near future you will be able to purchase.  For example, here is a swatch from Awful Ogre’s Awful Day:

You may make me a dress of this at your leisure.  I will wear it to the next Newbery/Caldecott Banquet, you bet.

  • Nice profile of Beverly Cleary in the Times this past Sunday.  Nice librarian quoted in the piece.  How’s that for name dropping, eh?
  • Conversely, there was Detroit News book review of Gary Schmidt’s remarkable Okay for Now that describes it as ” ‘Okay’ a rich story of teen bully.”  Ooooookay.  Um . . . so, in what universe is Doug in that book a “bully”?  In fact, the article goes on to repeat four times that he was a bully and even says that the point of the title was to show Doug breaking the circle of violence.  What the heckedy heck?  Were we reading the same book?  I’m not saying that isn’t a part of the story, but it’s not the central conceit by any stretch of the imagination.
  • Though it seems a little shaky on the definition of what a librarian actually is (just working in one doesn’t actually make you one, guys) I did appreciate the CNN article Librarians: Masters of the Info Universe. Thanks to Martha Bisek for the link.
  • Here’s a blog post you don’t see every day.  Over at Through the Looking Glass author/illustrator Roxie Monro discusses creating an app for one of her books from the artist’s point of view.  Not a p.o.v. we get to see a lot of in these conversations.

Daily Image:

AL Direct pointed me towards this piece on Another 12 Modern Bookcases.  Most of them I’ve seen, but this one was certainly new to me:

Considering the vast plethora of polar bears in children’s literature (The Golden Compass,  A Splendid Friend Indeed, etc.) I can dig it.  Thanks to AL Direct 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. One of those polar-bear bookcases is right here in New York! I saw it in the basement of the Crosby Street Hotel on Monday, beneath a polar-bear-shaped mirror as well.

  2. There will also be a special film screening of Library of the Early Mind at The Eric Carle Museum on Friday, April 29th at 6:00 pm. It will be followed by a panel discussion with Jane Yolen and Grace Lin and a reception in the Great Hall. 2 professional development points – and only $5.

  3. Chris in NY says

    The boy in the striped pyjamas?

    • Elizabeth Bird says

      Ooo. Wardrobe. Ooo. Baby wardrobe. The mind boggles.

      Chris, you know me way too well.

  4. That fabric site is amazing — they custom-print your fabric of choice? Did you see the Alice in Wonderland fabric? Just need to figure out the best search terms … You could have a wardrobe.

  5. I don’t usually listen to podcasts but the topic was too much to resist!!!!!

    Hilarious and brilliant. Favorite quote (although there were so very many faves) was about LOVE YOU FOREVER: “It’s like a Nicholas Sparks kids book” or something to that effect.

    I find that I’m inclined to agree with Mr. Betsy Bird’s GIVING TREE theory. Nobody who has read MR. SHELBY’S ABZ’S could accuse Shel Silverstein of being sentimental about children.

    I linked to your post from my post about sharing LOVE YOU FOREVER with my 10yo son. Hope you don’t mind. : )

  6. The Harris Burdick collection is quite good overall, which is hard in a short story collection because so many times the quality is uneven. I blogged about it already–early, but I couldn’t wait!

  7. Rats! I was going to guess The Boy in the Striped Pajamas too, but someone beat me to it! But I’m glad you reminded me of it — a friend is presenting at a writer’s workshop, and needed ideas for books with intrusive messages/morals as examples of bad writing. Heh heh heh.

  8. Oh, I am sooooo going to have to get a copy of THE CHRONICLES OF HARRIS BURDICK! A friend gave the original to our family after our first son was born, years ago….

  9. Alyson Whatcott says

    I’m both happy and sad to hear about Harris Burdick. In our sixth grade class we write our own HB stories which is my favorite writing of the year. I’m afraid it will lose some magic and originality if there are “real” stories out there–kind of like when the movie version of your favorite book comes out and it’s not like you imagined!

  10. Kristi Hazelrigg says

    What was the Detroit reviewer was thinking when she called Doug a bully?! He is bullied, and a little rude on occasion, but he is in NO way a bully. I don’t even understand how it’s possible to read that book and think about Doug in those terms….

    • Elizabeth Bird says

      Hence my suspicion that she didn’t necessarily read the book. Was he even a bully in Wednesday Wars? I didn’t think so.