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A Fuse #8 Production
Inside A Fuse #8 Production

Fusenews: What’s wrong with this picture?

With Book Expo going full-blast in town and my library celebrating its Centennial all at the same time, blogging is possible but slightly more difficult than usual.  I am amused to find that when I skip a day some folks worry that I might be in labor.  Fear not.  I’ll find a way to update the blog with that news, come hell or high water.  Tonight, meanwhile, is also my final Kidlit Drink Night (at least for a while) so if you’d like to view my largess (or, rather, largeness) here are the details.  Meanwhile, back at the ranch . . .

  • So I go into the administrative office the other day to pick up my room’s checks and WHAM!  Two gigantic Lego statues of Patience and Fortitude (the library lions) are just sitting there, chewing their cuds (or whatever it is Lego lions chew).  I showed them to a class of second graders on a tour a day or so later (they’re on display in our main hall, if you’re curious) and one kid said that looking at them was like looking at a computer screen.  He had a point.  They’re mighty pixilated.
  • Wow.  That’s pretty cool.  The organization Keshet (“a national organization working for the full inclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Jews in Jewish life”) is releasing posters of LGBT Jewish Heroes.  One of the posters available?  Leslea Newman of Heather Has Two Mommies and my favorite LGBT board books Mommy, Mama and Me and Daddy, Papa, and Me.  Thanks to Marjorie Ingall for the link.
  • Do you have what it takes to take on the Sixth Annual 48 Hour Book Challenge?  I don’t want to hear your excuses!  I want to see you reading.  You’ve some time to prep so get those eyeball stalks limbered up.
  • Recently I attended SLJ’s Day of Dialog (slooooow emerging blog post to come on the subject).  The keynote speech was delivered by Katherine Paterson who began, much to my delight, with some praise of New Zealand children’s book superstar Margaret Mahy (who would be a superstar here if they just friggin’ republished The Changeover *coughcough*).  Anyway, it seems she recently won in the picture book category of the 2011 New Zealand Children’s Book Awards.  What would you like to bet me that someday they’ll rename those awards “The Mahys”?  I give it ten years, tops.
  • Speaking of awards, SLJ just announced that “Peter Sís, Philip Pullman, Chris Raschka, John Burningham, and Paul Fleischman are some of the 59 finalists selected for the prestigious Hans Christian Andersen Award, the highest international recognition given to an author and an illustrator of children’s books.”  Wow!  Well played, sirs.  A pity you’re all white guys, of course.  Wouldn’t mind seeing a little diversity (not to mention gender alternatives) in our nominees next time, eh whot?
  • It’s not a librarian preview, but it may be even better.  Designer Chad Beckerman presents the Amulet Books Fall 2011 Preview, taking care to include many a fine sketch of some of the covers while they were in process.  I’ve been eagerly waiting for a number of these, though that Deviant jacket may be the creepiest and most alluring of the batch:

  • Recently there was a bit of discussion on the Kidlitosphere discussion group about the recent Millions piece Goodnight Stars, Goodnight Air: Reconnecting with Children’s Books as a Parent by Kevin Hartnett.  On the one hand, it’s always good to hear new parents rediscovering the classics for themselves.  On the other hand, sentences like this one give one pause: “There are benefits to this system.  For one, it helps to ensure that passing fads doesn’t wash quality books away.  It’s doubtful, for example, that toddlers would opt for Goodnight Moon as often as their parents do, so maybe it’s just as well that they don’t have a say.”  Hmmm.  Thanks to Gail Gauthier for the link.
  • A year or two ago I had a drink with a nice agent who represented a cooking blogger by the name of Ree Drummond.  My blog reading is, I confess, fairly limited to books for kids so the term “Pioneer Woman” has more of a Laura Ingalls Wilder feel to it than anything else for me.  The agent gave me one of Ree’s cookbooks, and it has since become my cooking Bible.  Seriously, everything in The Pioneer Woman Cooks is delicious.  I can’t live without it.  Next thing you know, Ree ended up with a picture book with Harper Collins.  Charlie the Ranch Dog is cleverly paired with illustrator Diane deGroat (well played, HC).  Now Drummond has written a post on the Twenty Steps to Writing a Children’s Book.  More confessional than instructional, I like it because even Drummond confesses her mistakes along the way.  That’s endearing.  Thanks to Tricia Stohr-Hunt for the link.
  • In discussion with artist/author/photographer Nina Crews the other day we got to talking about famous photographers that did picture books.  William Wegman and Cindy Sherman both dabbled in their way, but Nina mentioned to me that Edward Steichen once made a book for kids as well.  I had a hard time believing it but . . . well, see for yourself.  Thanks to Nina Crews for the link.
  • New Blog Alert: This one’s a pip!  Over at Trendy Kid’s Books, one Heather Smith takes the picture books that appear on the New York Times Bestseller list and turns the words in those books into word clouds.  I was rather partial to the one for Me…Jane.  Plus it’s not a bad way to keep a finger on the pulse of the popular.
  • The resident husband had a post up recently about adapting books to the screen that makes special note of J.K. Rowling’s creation of Hermione Granger as a character.  Says Matt, “If Rowling hadn’t invented Hermione Granger, then the screenwriters would have had to dream her up on their own.”  See why.
  • I’ve always wanted to have a Children’s Literary Salon featuring translator Anthea Bell.  As far as I can determine, she’s one of the best out there.  Unfortunately she’s not local so I’ll have to stay content with this Q & A with Anthea Bell that PW provided.
  • From Cynopsis Kids, the strangest bit of Hunger Games casting I’ve seen yet:

“More casting news for Lionsgate ‘s feature film adaptation of Suzanne Collins’ young adult novel The Hunger Games , as musician/actor Lenny Kravitz (Precious) signs on for the role of Cinna, Katniss’ assigned fashion stylist for The 74th Annual Hunger Games, and Toby Jones (he was the voice of Dobby in the Harry Potter movies, and been in many other movies) will serve as Claudius Templesmith, the arena announcer. Directed by Gary Ross, and produced by Nina Jacobson’s Color Force in tandem with producer Jon Kilik, The Hunger Games is set for release March 23, 2012.”

Huh.  Kravitz.  Well . . . okay.  I’m willing to go along with it.  Anyone see Precious?  How was he?

  • Daily Image:

Alison Morris (formerly of the PW blog ShelfTalker) sent me the following picture because she knew it would amuse me mightily.  She was absolutely right.  Don’t stare at it too long.  You’ll go blind.  Found in front of an Au Bon Pain:

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. I know what’s wrong with that ridiculous picture. I mean, with good feta and Greek olives, no way is that only 230 calories. Absurd! Thanks for sharing…..

  2. Sometime you’ll have to tell us what it was like to write a picture book, ma’am, because although the Pioneer Woman had a lot of fun, that seems too … easy…

    • Elizabeth Bird says

      Aw, Greg, you caught on right away. There’s no getting past you!

      And yeah, as I say it’s not exactly an instructional how-to-make-a-picture-book post so much as a long and lengthy bit of praise of Diane deGroat. Which, to my mind, the world needs more of.

  3. I enjoyed reading about Ree’s picture book experience, but it’s the veeeery rare author who gets to “write the art”! Usually, the illustrator is left in peace to proceed with his/her own creative process once the manuscript has been passed along. In fact, the editor tends to protect that process from potentially meddling, non-artist authors!

  4. Wait – are you pregnant?

  5. Anne Ursu says

    Oh, great, now I’m blind.

  6. Becky Gorek says

    Lenny Kravitz was excellent in Precious. I think you’ll find he makes a perfect Cinna. 🙂

  7. I am so looking forward to Mother Reader’s 48-Hour Book Challenge! In fact, I think you have the right idea, and I will have to practice up during the upcoming 3-day weekend.

  8. I had to laugh at that quote about it being good toddlers not having a say in book choice. Both of my kids when they were toddlers certainly made their opinions on books known. They would close them, sit on them, hide them if they didn’t like them. They would take them out of my hands and replace them with books they did like. And neither of my kids liked Goodnight Moon.

  9. My older son’s favorite book for a long stretch when he was a toddler?

    Get Your War On.

  10. You just like the cover of DEVIANT because it reminds you of Master Hand and Crazy Hand from Super Smash Brothers.

  11. Uh, Betsy — the thing that’s horribly wrong with that sign is that THOR is not a GREEK God. He’s Norse. I doubt very much that Scandinavians ate anything like a Greek Salad. (much as I love Greek salads.)

    Love the Lego Lions!

    Confessions of a Pioneer Woman begins her picture book saga at the place most authors consider the middle of the writing/ getting published process. She talks to an editor and they decide they’ll publish a book she hasn’t written yet? Dream on. Even multi-published authors don’t have it that easy.

    As you know, we write stories/ re-write and polish them/ submit them to publishers/ and wait and wait and wait, and often never hear that the story was rejected. If (and that’s a big if) the story gets accepted, most writers are not allowed to speak to the illustrators. Many times we don’t see the illustrations until after the book is published. I’m sure she realizes how lucky she was to work so closely with such an excellent illustrator. I’ve always said that writers and illustrators working together would turn out a better product that working separately, and her book is a good example of that.

    • Elizabeth Bird says

      Yep, Wendy. I was joking around with Greg when I said he got it. He was joking too, I’m pretty sure.