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A Fuse #8 Production
Inside A Fuse #8 Production

Fusenews: “Even books meant to put kids to sleep should give them strange dreams.”

Sharp-eyed spotters in the children’s book realm caught site of an interesting little something in the Kidlitosphere this week: An honest-to-gosh manifesto.  Not a manifesto of a nefarious nature, mind, but one that begins with the conversation starter, “We are tired of hearing the picture book is in trouble, and tired of pretending it is not.”  It goes on from there.

Naturally, I was curious so I asked my buddy and future National Ambassador of Young People’s Literature (my opinion, give or take twenty years) Mac Barnett where this came from and whose idea it was.  Mac responded:

“I’d been thinking about–and talking to colleagues about–the issues in the proclamation for a while. It felt like it was time to do something. Late one night at the beginning of summer, my former professor and I were in the middle a feverish talk about the picture book, and he suggested that I write an art manifesto, and take out an ad in Horn Book. It seemed like a great idea at the time, and still seemed great in the morning. So I wrote down some thoughts about picture books–the way they’re made and discussed–and solicited feedback from artists and writers I knew and whose work I admired. The proclamation gained signatures, and soon we had enough to fill an ad in small magazine (part of what was exciting and gratifying about releasing it on the internet yesterday was seeing the document so quickly grow beyond its 6″ x 9″ trim size). The great Carson Ellis designed, drew, and lettered the manifesto, and finally it was ready.”

The undersigned make up a fascinating cross-section of the current crop of up-and-coming children’s book staples. We shall have to refer to them as The Proclaimed from here on in.  It’s the ones I don’t know that catch my attention the most, though.  Isol?  Not exactly an American household name.

And with that taste still fresh on our tongues, we begin today’s Fusenews.

  • You may recall that the other day I pointed out that Simon & Schuster had held a blogger preview (like a librarian preview but more bloggy) here in town, possibly setting off a trend amongst the publishers here in town.  PW picked up that ball and ran with it in their article The Mighty Mom Bloggers.  I would argue that mommy bloggers are hardly a new force, but the piece is interesting.  My comments in it stand in contrast to statements made along the lines of “We’re kind of like the influencers of the influencers.”  More than anything else I tried to point out that there are two kinds of children’s literature bloggers out there.  There are the people who came to blogging via books first and those who came to it via children first.  The most interesting part of it, for me, is to see how publishers are catering to the mommy blogger contingent.   It all makes me wonder  . . . whom would you say is the most powerful parental blogger of children’s literature working today?
  • This past Sunday the Bird flock decided to take a trip down to Zuccotti Park to check out this Occupy Wall Street everyone’s been talking about.  I was so glad that we did too.  The scene (there’s no other word for it) is amazing.  But don’t take my word for it.  Arguably it is our own Lemony Snicket/Daniel Handler who, when he is not helping to put a name on proclamations, may be said to be the most eloquent man speaking on the topic of the occupation.  Equally eloquent is Philip Nel whose Little Rebels came under fire when a fellow who had obviously not read said book made a host of blind assumptions about it.  Phil’s response is, to put it plain, beautiful.  Finally, blogger/librarian Rita Meade, for her part, located the library in the park.  And yes, just as SLJ reported so accurately, they do have a children’s section.  Wonderful!
  • Oo.  There’s a topic.  Liz Burns, self-confessed back-o-the-book-flipper tells all.  She then wonders how many other closet back flippers there are.  I cannot count myself amongst them, though I have been known to skim future pages of a book in an effort to tell whether or not a character lives/continues to exist in some way.  I did that most recently with Meloy’s The Apothecary so as to determine the status of the Russian kid.
  • Long ago I created a series called Hot Men of Children’s Literature.  Maybe someday I’ll follow it up with Cutest Couples of Children’s Literature.  Dillons, Steads, and Provensens beware.  David Roman and Raina Telegemeier may have won this round.

Note to Self: Read Pinocchio.  Or rather . . . maybe not.  As an unofficial collector of children’s literary statuary, though, I am grateful for the commenter who mentions Pinocchio Park.

Bologna Book Fair fraud?  It happens.

Movie news!  Time for some choice bits from la la land.  First up, from Cynopsis Kids:
Canada-based animation studio Rainmaker Entertainment teams with producer Jane Startz (Ella Enchanted, The Indian In The Cupboard, Tuck Everlasting) to develop and produce two new family feature films, Tiger’s Apprentice, based on the first book in Laurence Yep’s eponymous young adult trilogy, and Far Flung Adventures: Fergus Crane, which is based on the kid’s fantasy book penned by Paul Stewart and illustrated by Chris Riddell.  Both new movies, which will utilize Rainmaker’s CG animation capabilities, will be produced by Startz and Catherine Winder, President and Exec. Producer, Rainmaker.  Screenwriter David Magee (Finding Neverland, The Life of Pi) has written the movie adaptation of Tiger’s Apprentice.  David Berenbaum (Elf, The Spiderwick Chronicles, The Haunted Mansion) wrote the screenplay for Fergus Crane.

  • And along similar lines is this scintillating info from PW:

DreamWorks Animation has acquired at auction feature film rights to Dav Pilkey’s Captain Underpants series, published by Scholastic/Blue Sky. The eight-volume series revolves around two precocious fourth-grade boys, who hypnotize their principal and turn him into Captain Underpants. According to Deadline New York, DreamWorks Animation has been chasing the rights to the series since it began back in 1997, but Pilkey hadn’t wanted to sell them until now.

Until now?  What changed, Dav?  And how the heck do you turn that into a film?

  • Daily Image:

The title reads PSA: Please Knit These Penguins Some Sweaters (this is true) and then it includes this image:

Even Roy and Silo [And Tango Makes Three] were never this stylin’.  I may pass out from the cute of it.  Thanks to Molly O’Neill 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. Our class used the penguin sweater images during a book discussion of Pierre the Penguin! Adorable photos, heartwarming story. The book’s not too shabby, either, and it’s up for a WA state children’s picture book award.

  2. I would like to expand the blogger definition beyond the book-child dichotomy. There are many teachers who blog about children’s literature, and in many cases, or at least my own, it is the fusion of the book, a child or group of children, the classroom community and the role of a book within that community that drives the blogging. My colleagues and I blog as teacher educators who are former K-12 classroom teachers. We also happen to be mothers. Beyond the dichotomy, I think we all have so much to learn from one another’s perspectives to shape the reading lives of children (which includes knowing when to leave them alone!).


  1. […] it comes to what’s going on in kidlitland. Yesterday (though I’m just catching it now) she opened with the arrival of a new picture book manifesto organized by Mac Barnett and signed by a collection of contemporary picture book authors and […]