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A Fuse #8 Production
Inside A Fuse #8 Production

Fusenews: Back to work, everybody!

Top o’ the Tuesday to you, gentle readers!  After a delightful Memorial Day Weekend of doing very little (aside from watching somewhat strangely high statistics for my dinky little Saturday review) I am now working my final week at NYPL before the imminent arrival of a brand new Baby Bird.  So let’s pack in the news items while we may, eh?

First off, big time thanks to everyone who showed up for the BEA Kidlit Drink Night.  We raised excellent money for Reading is Fundamental and Rasco from RIF provided her own sweet thanks as well.  Y’all are sweet and good and I appreciate you thoroughly.

And now the sad news.  I’m sure that some of you may have heard that librarian, blogger, and 2012 debut author Bridget Zinn died of colon cancer at the age of 33.  Tributes to her have been springing up all over the web and Liz at Tea Cozy has created a very impressive rundown on all the best Zinn links.  I was sorry not to have known her better.

  • I mentioned everything in my Day of Dialog rundown except the new books coming out.  Until I get around to typing that up, why don’t you head on over to the PW post BEA 2011: A Bountiful Fall for Children’s Books.  I’ve read some of those books, but a lot are unfamiliar to me.  Get a glimpse of what the publishers think will be big (warning: may differ wildly from what librarians think will be big).
  • I just can’t stop mentioning Candyland these days.  One minute I’m talking about the Candyland movie.  The next I’m insisting that you head over to The Scop where Jonathan Auxier talks up his favorite board game of all time: The Settlers of Catan. Sounds a bit like Risk except, as Jonathan says, “Risk is Candy Land in wingtips and a smoking jacket — a game of luck pretending to be a game of skill.”  I’m just amazed that no one’s done a Risk movie yet.  I mean, come on!  We’re already shooting most of our films in New Zealand/Australia anyway.  Clearly that’s where you’d have to set it.
  • Sounds pretty standard at first.  The online children’s book magazine Books for Keeps puts out a piece called Ten of the Best Dystopian Novels.  You probably are, like myself, expecting them to cover the usual.  Your Eva.  Your Z for Zachariah.  So it was with great pleasure that I noticed the #1 was The Wolves of Willoughby Chase.  Wait . . . oh!  Dystopian.  Not post-apocalyptic.  The other choices are just as fascinating (I always liked The Wind Singer).
  • Saying that there is good stuff at 100 Scope Notes is like saying there is air.  Two recent posts were particularly grand, however.  First, Travis takes down an unfortunate Jerry Spinelli cover that, I’m ashamed to say, my library still circulates.  The pleated jeans I could live with but the headband . . . yeah, fine.  We’ll try to order a paperback soon.  In the second post Travis takes a gander at the Mock Newbery/Caldecott lists on Goodreads for 2012.  I’ll have to consider that for my mid-year round-up. The comments gave me some good ideas too.  If there’s a 2011 trend, it appears to consist of newly illustrated versions of old books (The Crows of Pearblossom, The Secret River, etc.).  Interesting.
  • What do you tell a parent when they say they want a list of good resources for the newest children’s books?  It’s not an easy question, actually.  Librarians have a penchant for children’s literary review journals, but if a mom or dad just wants some good recommendations they seem more inclined to go to Goodreads, Amazon, or the New York Times bestseller list than anywhere else.  So the next time YOU have a parent at your children’s reference desk asking for a go to source, Brimful Curiosities recently came up with a great piece called Parents Staying Current – How to find the latest and best children’s books.  Bookmark it to your children’s reference computer.  I say this knowing perfectly well that she mentioned me right up front and that this sounds like a shameless plug.  I do not care.  The list is a thorough look at a variety of different online sources.  Fantastic!
  • The Blue Rose Girls just unarchived an old Libby Koponen post on the book Thimble Summer that I think I missed on its first go-round.  In it, Libby shows off the book (which is good) and one of its weirder aspects.  Now years and years and years ago I reviewed this book on Amazon, and somehow Libby found it (it’s still the top review, which I find an interesting testament to Amazon’s review-staying-power) and mentioned that I was concerned about the fact that Garnet’s best friend Citronella is continually referred to as fat in spite of the fact that she looks like this:

Citronella’s the one on the left.  Mind you, I wrote this review back in 2004 a full two years before I started my blog so my tone is a bit… uh… strident.  From reading the review you might be under the distinct impression that any kid who reads Thimble Summer is going to wake up with a terrible body image the next day.  Now that I’ve grown older and mellower, I’d rather just look less at what the pictures would potentially do to child readers (answer: nothing) and more at how interior children’s illustrations have changed over the years.  If an author today were to include a “fat” character, you can bet that wouldn’t look like middle-of-the-road Citronella up there.  Probably wouldn’t be allowed to use the term “fat” unless it was a YA novel either.

  • Speaking of the blog, I’ve a confession to make to you.  I’ve been two timing you, Fuse #8.  Yup.  Behind your back I will occasionally post on a SECOND BLOG!  I know!  Crazy!  I didn’t mean to, but NYPL is awfully fond of the idea of having its librarians blogs, so the other day I wrote a piece that normally would have gone on here.  Called Fabulous Fictionalized Biographies: Trend or Genre? I examine an old form of middle grade novel writing that’s been seeing a slow revival lately.  Mainly, famous people who appear as the main characters in fiction for kids.  I could only think of four recent examples, so if you’re able to think of more, please! Help me!  Oh, and the name of blog #2 is going to be The Fourth Owl, I think.  Points to anyone who can figure out why.
  • It’s been a long time but ads have finally returned to this blog.  Some of you may recall that the old blog moved to a new platform about a year ago and when that happened my bouncy ads went POOF!  I was conflicted on that point.  On the one hand some of us still remember Atherton-gate (bouncy bouncy banners from hell).  On the other, with new baby on the way I do like the additional revenue.  Ads are funniest when they’re for things I absolute abhor.  There was one for The Seeker, that gawdawful cinematic adaptation of The Dark is Rising, that used to lurk at the bottom of my page like it was just waiting to bite someone.  Today we seem to be sporting ads for a book I’m really rather fond of.  Perfect Square is one of my favorite picture books of the year, so it’s quite nice to sport it here.  Heck, even I followed the link out of curiosity, and in doing so eventually discovered this cool post on the Greenwillow blog on Outtakes from Perfect Square.  Of course by linking to the post WITHIN the blog I’m just shooting myself in the foot ad-wise, but eh.  Life’s short.
  • New Blog Alert: New to me anyway.  There should be awards for good blog names (my blog would not win considering it’s named after a car part and has zippo to do with children’s literature).  32 Pages, however, is not only well-named but also incredibly pleasant to the eye and may take up a much coveted slot I’ve been trying to fill for years: Best Canadian Children’s Literary Blog.  Ever since the loss of Just One More Book I’ve been bereft.  Best of all, 32 Pages likes to highlight lesser known titles in the picture book genre.  Superb.
  • Hm. Interesting.  Over at The Guardian the question of How do I write a book review? is posed to two reviewers/children’s book authors Philip Ardagh (he of the beard) and Linda Buckley-Archer.  They’ve some interesting things to say about critical reviews in particular.  Not sure as I’d agree, but see for yourself.  Thanks to Achockablog for the link.
  • The American Libraries Magazine has a regular feature called Ask the ALA Librarian that I sometimes enjoy.  Recently said librarian got a heckuva stumper of a question that would have left me gasping.  Question: “Are there stand-alone libraries serving children (other than those in schools, that is)?”  The answer is excellent and one that makes me want to take a road trip to SEE all those lovely libraries someday.  Someday.  Thanks to AL Direct for the link.
  • I found myself reading and rereading the first sentence in the John Sellers PW piece BEA 2011: A BEA First: A Middle Grade Buzz Panel when he starts off with, “There’s a kind of inferiority complex at work in the middle-grade market, which is sometimes perceived as receiving less attention and respect than its YA older sibling (which, in turn, has its own self-esteem issues when compared to the adult publishing world).”  Oh so?  Often I’ve found just the opposite to be true, with awards like the Newbery garnering far more attention than their Printz fellows.  Seems to me that YA gets a lot of buzz and entertainment attention for its fantasy and sci-fi books out there, but serious YA fiction and nonfiction is sometimes still struggling to reach its intended audience as easily as middle grade titles do.  But then that’s just my two cents.
  • Daily Image:

Maybe I’m just a big old nerd, but can you think of a more righteous ride to be driving today than this Penguin books delivery van from 1937?

Look me in the eye and tell me that’s not a sweet set of wheels.  Thanks to Aunt Judy 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. On the YA vs MG issue: I would say that YA books seem to be a “hotter” market right now in terms of film rights and multi-book deals. (maybe I’m wrong about this — any YA authors care to clue me in?) However, I would agree that MG books might enjoy a cultural edge insofar as they get to be more directly connected to the larger tradition of Children’s Literature. Given the ages of their protagonists, books like TREASURE ISLAND or ANNE OF GREEN GABLES should probably be called YA … and yet the MG crowd claims them.

    • Elizabeth Bird says

      Yep. That’s a much clearer and concise way of saying what I was attempting. Cheers, Jonathan.

  2. Regarding your hits: as far as I can tell, your blog stats don’t include all the people who read you through their google reader (like me). My g-reader says you have 586 google subscribers.

    Have a comfortable, happy, healthy maternity leave, Betsy!

  3. Wow. Thank you so much for the wonderful comments, and the great article (as always.) A pretty awesome way to start a Tuesday morning! All the best, Donna

  4. Didn’t Anne Carroll Moore [sp?] write a column called The Third Owl? Ah-ha.

  5. I was glad to see that the stand-alone article mentioned Charlotte’s Imaginon, which I worked at for four years.

  6. Other stand-alone children’s libraries include the Children’s Resource Center located in New Orleans and one of the New Orleans Public Library branches. It’s also a Carnegie library, I believe.

    There’s also the Saucier Children’s Library (Saucier, MS), a branch of the Harrison County (MS) Public Library (located in the Biloxi area).

  7. Speaking of NOPL and Harrison County libraries…these libraries are still in recovery from Hurricane Katrina (6 year anniversary).

    NOPL has exciting plans for their reimaged and reconstructed libraries:

    Harrison County is also closing their temporary library in preparation for their new Biloxi library:

  8. I immediately envisioned the Candyland movie being like The Trial of Colonel Sweeto.

    • Elizabeth Bird says

      How did I not think of Captain Sweeto until now? I shall hang my head in shame. Delicious gumdrop flavored shame.

  9. Also, thanks for the mention, Betsy. It took me a few extra days (WordPress ate a draft!), but I posted a followup to last week’s piece on boardgames and authorial machinations: