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A Fuse #8 Production
Inside A Fuse #8 Production

Fusenews: Sifting the Nifty

From sopping wet New York City here is your philosophical question of the day: If April showers bring May flowers, what the heck do May showers bring?  Ponder that while I hand you a piping hot plate o’ Fusenews.

  • My library branch is turning 100 next week (you may have noticed the pretty New Yorker cover that referenced this) but it’s acting pretty spry for a centennial.  For one thing, NYPL is coming out left and right with fancy dancy apps!  Here’s one for the researchers.  Here’s another that’s a game.  Here’s a third that lets you reserve books.  Insanity!
  • This week’s Best Post Ever: Travis Jonker is a genius.  A full-blown, certified genius.  He’s come up with a Middle Grade Title Generator that leaps on the current trend of titles that sound like “The (insert word ending in -ion) of (insert slightly off kilter first and last name for girls)”.  He came up with a couple examples like “The Gentrification of Geraldine Frankenbloom” but his commenters really picked up the gist of the idea and ran with it.  Rockinlibrarian’s “The Zombification of Apple McGillicutty” (which I would read in a red hot minute) may be my favorite but a close second was Lisa’s “The Excommunication of Willow Diddledeedee.”  I got nothing so cool.  The best I could come up with was “The Computerization of Sarasota McNerdly.”  I doubt it would sell.
  • Adam Rex recently penned a post that works as An Open Letter to Everyone Who Thinks It Must Be Easy, Writing Children’s Books.  It’s in response to Paula Poundstone (whom I also like) and her recent faux pas on Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me when she told Brenda Bowen that she thought it would be easy to write a picture book.  Note, if you will, that Poundstone has not actually attempted to do so.  In fact, the only stand-up comedian picture books that immediately come to mind are those by Whoopie Goldberg, Jay Leno, Jerry Seinfeld, and Jeff Foxworthy.  And weren’t those memorable!  Not in a good way, of course.  Particularly the Leno.  *shudder*
  • She wrote it back in 2006 but it still applies today (particularly in conjunction with Adam Rex’s post).  Meghan McCarthy asks the age old question What makes us qualified to write for children? I believe Anne Carroll Moore once asked Ursula Nordstrom the same question about editing for children (a cookie for everyone who remembers Nordstrom’s response).  Yet another reason why we need to follow-up on Peter Sieruta’s suggestion to create an Anne Carroll Moore/Ursula Nordstrom crime solver series.  I envision Moore as the Bert to Nordstrom’s Ernie, don’t you?
  • Speaking of Peter (my co-writer on a book we’re creating with Jules from Seven Impossible Things), recently Collecting Children’s Books did a great round-up of great authors Gone Before Their Time.  I didn’t know any of the writers he mentions personally, but it’s not hard to feel frustrated when you learn that Louise Fitzhugh, as one example, died at 46.  Gah!

Ow.  Banged my head there for a second.  On the one hand it hurts.  On the other, I suddenly had a glimpse into the future.  It’s the year 2111 and in a small school district in America Phyllis Reynolds Naylor’s Alice books are being challenged in a school library.  Of course that’s happening right now (yet again) but I’ve no doubt that one hundred years from now folks will keep on keeping on.  Hopefully I’m wrong.  Sidenote: I wonder if those new Alice covers with the Julia Denos illustrations being published this year will make the books more bannable or less bannable in the future?  Hmmm.  Thanks to @ProfessorNana for the link.

It’s YA, but I think it’s worth checking out the Reading Rants review of Laini Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke and Bone, just in case you want to see what one of the potential book jackets for the book looks like.  I dare say it’s one of the most eclectic and original jackets I’ve seen this year.  Hope it makes the cut in the end (it won’t).

  • I had a discussion with a librarian friend the other day (hi, Lori!) about the books we’ve been reading lately that needed to be edited down.  More than one book this year has struck me as way too long and in need of a fine pair of pruning shears.  That’s why it’s so gratifying to hear an author like Jonathan Auxier recount a moment when his editor wanted him to cut out a beloved paragraph.  Editors: They can make books good.  Special thanks also to Jonathan for taking my recent post on The Oz Quest Theory and turning it into a truly insightful consideration of the difference between poetics and hermeneutics.  Something to feed that hungry brain of yours.
  • Alice and Dorothy.  Dorothy and Alice.  Two classic children’s book heroines with vastly different modus operandi.  That’s why it’s so cool that blogger/author/teacher Monica Edinger had her fourth graders compare and contrast the two heroines.  She reads them Alice, they read Oz on their own, and then the two are compared.  Would that all our fourth graders could have this chance, eh?
  • We have Nonfiction Mondays, Poetry Fridays, and my own Video Sundays.  So why not Book Talk Tuesdays?   That’s the idea behind The Lemme Library’s newest feature, and it’s a bloody good idea.  A well-written book talk is (to a children’s or YA librarian) worth its weight in gold.  Check out the newest links gathered this week and get some ideas for book talks of your own.
  • I love hearing about great children’s books from other countries so the post Put yourself in the shoes of your child learning to read about the French title Tibois Fait Son Musee by Ashlid Kanstad Johnsen.  I can relate.  I recently broke out my old high school French knowledge in an attempt to read the French graphic novel Akissi: Attaque de Chats by Marguerite Abouet (which, for the record, is a lot of fun) and probably missed more than I got.  Thank goodness for the pictures, then!
  • Hey!  Congrats to author James Kennedy on the birth of a beautiful bouncing baby girl!  The heart-shaped birthmark is a nice touch.  I have one on my right shin, so I can attest that they are definitely in vogue.
  • I keep thinking about moving to L.A. and I keep being prevented.  And now I hear that the city has been grilling its school librarians in an attempt to oust them completely?  For crying out loud, what is going ON over there?!?
  • Daily Image:

In case you’re in the market for a new bookmark.  This was created by an artist who was reading Gregory Maguire’s Wicked.

Many thanks to bookshelves of doom 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. Jeanne Birdsall says

    Ursula Nordstrom: (might not be exact) “I’m a former child and I haven’t forgotten a thing.” it is my mantra.

  2. Love the bookmarker! And just yesterday I was telling someone how I long for a pair of red, sparkly shoes….

    Reading French is one (fun) thing, but not long ago we spent the evening reading an Icelandic picture book (also available in French from the same great publishers as Tibois, but for some reason we had the Icelandic version) – neither of us have any Icelandic, but I have some Swedish, husband has Dutch and good German, and we both studied linguistics so we reconstructed some sort of proto Germanic and used that for the Icelandic. It was a lot more fun than it sounds! And the book was great – another one I hope gets picked up by an English language publisher.

    I think a book in Arabic script, however, might be a step too far…. (although I’d loved to be able to read Farsi and enjoy Iranian picture books properly – I think they have an amazing illustration culture)

  3. Ah, the Arabic was an old John Holt trick to put parents in the shoes of their child learning to read. To help them understand why their child might not recognize a word they had already read further up the page, Holt had a page of Arabic and asked the parent to to find the same word twice on the page.

  4. The article about the LA librarians was beyond horrifying. Indeed, my hands are shaking as I type this. I hope those lawyers and district stooges end up in that special circle of hell where they spend eternity getting thwapped by wooden rulers wielded by every teacher ever.

    And what KILLS me is that hearings like that are REALLY EXPENSIVE. The lawyer, I’m sure, bills the district at around twelve hundred an hour. Interrogating every librarian in the district would have been a ridiculous money waster, and would do nothing more than to humiliate the people who dedicate their lives to educating children.

    But really, that’s the point, right? To humiliate.

    Do you think that lawyer has to justify his job? Prolly not. We don’t do things like that to men in our society. Only to those “lady” jobs.

  5. Being a teacher in L.A., I will just add that some 4,000 teachers are going through the same thing this spring. This is after getting a letter that says you can bring a lawyer and evidence to your hearing, and another letter that says you can file a “Denial of Accusation.” Apparently the accusation is that you work in a district that has no money, in a state that has no budget.

    40,000 educators have been laid off statewide in the past 3 years, including librarians. This trend is scheduled to continue for the nest 3-4 years, till the kids will no doubt be taught in one giant classroom in the auditorium, like an endless school assembly–by the one remaining teacher.

    So yeah, stick to New York and those excellent lions!

  6. Thanks for telling everyone about the baby, Betsy! I was pleasantly startled to learn you have a similar birthmark to baby Ingrid. That’s delightful! Or perhaps ominous?–The mark of a kind of librarians’ Bene Gesserit?

    • Elizabeth Bird says

      *sigh* Yes, NYC I’ll stay for now. I am pleased that these library interrogations are getting as much news as they are, though. How much worse it would be if this passed unnoticed (or worse, uncared about) by the general public and press.

      And yes, James. She bears “the mark”. All members of my occupation have already duly noted her name and placed it in The Big Book of Future Librarians. She will attempt to escape her fate for years, only to find herself filling out MLIS school application forms in her sleep. This future I foresee for your child.

  7. For some reason your blog auto-corrected the word “weird” with “a genius”. Strange…

  8. Beautiful baby, James! Hey, I’m not an anatomist or anything, but I wouldn’t say that birthmark is on Ingrid’s thigh. More like her waist. Are you sleep deprived or something? Congratulations!

  9. I listened to that Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me episode and rolled my eyes mightily at the lack of respect for how hard it is to write a picture book, but it was actually Faith Salie who said it must be an easy thing to do. Paula hopped on the train by expressing amazement that one of her kids’ shapes board books was co-authored and noted that bath books tend to be poorly written, but Faith was the one who basically said she looks at picture books and thinks, “I could do that.” Which Bowen promptly invited her to attempt and to which I thought, “Good luck with that, Faith.”

  10. I don’t know about May showers, but I learned from a punny joke book (The Electric Radish and Other Jokes) long ago that May flowers bring…Pilgrims!

    • Elizabeth Bird says

      Oh, good memory, Jen. You’re absolutely right. I didn’t think a Faith book would sell particularly well, but a Paula book might.

      CLB, you officially win. That answer overfloweth with the awesome.

  11. I have a heart birthmark too! Mine’s on my elbow. It really must be the mark of the librarian!