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A Fuse #8 Production
Inside A Fuse #8 Production

Fusenews: Can YOU Identify What Sally is Reading?

  • Okay. First and foremost, citizens of the world I need your help.  Take a look at these photographs:

What you are looking at are two shots of what the character Sally Draper from Mad Men is reading in episode 5, season 4.  It is imperative that we figure out what this book might be.  You see, fellow NYPL employee Billy Parrott . . . I’m sorry.  I’m going to have to stop right there.  Yes, folks, I know a guy named Billy Parrott.  Years and years ago we worked in the same branch and I cannot describe to you the sheer glee expressed by my branch manager as he introduced us.  “Betsy Bird meet Billy Parrott.  Billy Parrott meet Betsy Bird.”  It went on for some time.  Can you blame the guy?  How often does an opportunity of this magnitude present itself?

Anyway, these days Billy does some really engaging blog posts for NYPL about what the characters on the television show Mad Men read.  And Sally Draper is just one of those folks.  You can read his Sally Draper Reading List of proposed titles here.  Trouble is, we need to solve the mystery of what this particular book might be.  Any ideas?

  • In other news, bad news for Billy and me.  Apparently we’re powerless.  Yup.  So sayeth The Village Voice.  In the recent article 100 Most Powerless New Yorkers we come in at #13 with this explanation: “Gone are the days when a master’s degree in library science and a job in the nation’s largest public-library system meant that you would spend your days helping writers to research and mesmerizing people with your encyclopedic knowledge of the Dewey decimal system. Today’s NYPL librarian needs to be a social worker, a specialist at dealing with the homeless and the severely mentally ill, a computer-tech wiz at solving people’s Wi-Fi problems, and a job (and suicide-prevention) counselor helping people look for jobs that simply don’t exist.”  I’m not even going to touch the fact that we help writers and patrons with research and Dewey every day (nor the fact that the main branch’s reference section doesn’t actually use Dewey, but that’s neither here nor there).  Rather, I’m fascinated by the idea that if you help the homeless, the mentally ill, the computer illiterate, and the unemployed that you are, by definition, “powerless”.  Come again?  What kind of power are you talking about exactly?  Not to get all high and mighty on you, but the librarians who do those things have the power to change lives.  Whip-pah!  Thanks to Rocco Staino for the link.
  • Mad about that piece?  Find comfort in the words of Isaac Asimov.  Circa 1971 at that.

Thanks to AL Direct for the link.
  • Well, just to prove that there is at least some justice in the world, Kate Beaton just topped the 2011 PW Comics World Critics Poll.  Darn tootin’.
  • Daily Image:

I haven’t done a bookshelf related image in a while, right?  Then behold!  The power and glory of a bookshelf that uses everything including the kitchen sink:

Info on its use during a zombie apocalypse may be found here.  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. The cover looks like it could be the former (cooler) cover of “The Twenty-One Balloons.” I don’t own the book and don’t know the illustrations, though.

  2. It looks to me like “The 21 Balloons” by William Pene de Bois.

  3. Billy Parrott says:

    Bingo! Thank you Betsy! Thank you Tracy!!! Looks like it is The Twenty-One Balloons. I just went downstairs and found a copy. The illustration is of Krakatoa from page 7. Even better: there is an author’s note from du Bois preceding the story discussing the similarities between this book and F.Scott Fitzgerald’s story “The Diamond as Big as the Ritz,” which was also read in Mad Men!

  4. I have The 21 Balloons in front of me and it’s definitely the book in the first image. That said, I think you’re dealing with two books here as there is no illustration in The 21 Balloons that looks at all like that handsome owl. The style of illustration isn’t even the same, though both are b&w pencil drawings. I know I’ve seen that owl somewhere; I just can’t remember where.

  5. It is The 21 Balloons! I have it in my collection- the illustration is on p.7.

  6. JMyersbook says:

    The cover tells me nothing, but the inside illustration has a very “Finn Family Moomintroll” look to it. Tove Jansson, is that you?

  7. Jean Ducat says:

    I have that edition and can confirm: “The Twenty-One Balloons”, William Pene du Bois. The illustration is the eruption of Krakatoa, page 7.

  8. If your bud really wants to ID the Sally Draper book, he should contact Dan Bishop, the show’s production designer, through AMC’s publicity department. I bet he’d get a kick out of being asked this by the illustrious NYPL!

  9. Twenty-One Balloons, it is. I knew right away that the inside illustration was by William Pene DuBois and then I looked more closely at the cover. I have that book somewhere around here – I think.

  10. Oh, I can always mesmerize people with my knowledge of Dewey. Always. And LC? That just leaves ’em floored.

  11. Thought I posted earlier, but must have not hit submit.
    It’s Twenty One Balloons, by William Pene du Bois, and she’s open to pages 6-7.

  12. Mary Bolaños says:

    It is, indeed, “The Twenty-One Balloons”. The inside illustration is in the introduction and depicts the eruption of Mount Krakatoa.

  13. Tracy called it. I checked my copy. The illustration is on p. 7.

  14. No idea what the book is, but I LOVE those Polish Tolkien covers!

  15. Ellen Heath says:

    My initial reaction before I read the comments was that it was Twenty-One Balloons. The illustration inside could certainly be Pene du Bois. So I vote with Tracy. (On the other hand, it WOULD be fun to call in to ask, so on that I vote with Marjorie.)

  16. without a doubt, 21 balloons. it’s the last illustration at the end of the introduction of the original version, the explosion of Krakatoa.

  17. Thought this an interesting way to talk a book (in this case, The 21 Balloons). Is this copyright legal, do you think? I could sure use this style with students.

    • Elizabeth Bird says:

      Not quite sure what you meant about “copyright legal”. It should be okay in any case.