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A Fuse #8 Production
Inside A Fuse #8 Production

Fusenews: Coals to Newcastle, Pearls Before Swine, and So On and Such

I must apologize to you for falling down on my regular Video Sundays.  Saturday night I made the executive decision to rewatch Ghostbusters so as best to ascertain its relative awesomeness.  Conclusion: The movie continues to rock.  I was surprised to hear that the shots of the Ghostbusters in the stacks of my library were actually filmed at the L.A. Public Library and not NYPL, but at least the Rose Reading Room and exterior shots (with some seriously odd scaffolding) were authentic.

Moving on!

  • Cybils time, Cybils time! Lovely lovely Cybils time!  Yes if YOU would like to be a judge on a Cybils committee this year, now’s the time to sign on up.  The Cybils are the only book awards given out by YA and children’s literary bloggers.  They pick well and have good taste so if you’ve never served on a book committee and you blog, consider joining before August 31st.  Woot!
  • YA controversies.  Can’t live with ’em, can’t  . . . um. . . . anyway.  In my bubble of children’s books it takes something particularly big and weird to break through and catch my attention.  Big and weird is a good description of the controversy surrounding the Victoria Foyt Revealing Eden: Save the Pearls brouhaha.  A lot of folks have said they won’t talk about it because it just gives the author more attention.  I figure it pays to know what’s going on out there, if only on a basic level.  If you haven’t been following (and this has been a source of conversation for a couple weeks now), the gist of the matter seems to be that a woman named Victoria Foyt self-published a book of YA speculative fiction that many consider to be racist.  Complete with blackface YouTube video and a coals vs. pearls plot (yup) YA Highway collected the best links saying, “You may have noticed that we’ve ignored the controversy over Victoria Foyt’s Revealing Eden and “Save the Pearls” marketing campaign. Nicole M. Taylor’s explanation goes for us too– namely, we didn’t want to boost her signal. But Weird Tales magazine got involved, and N. K. Jemisin has a post worth reading about it.”  I was particularly taken with the Shattersnipe recap as well.
  • Am I the only one who read this Entertainment Weekly interview with Dav Pilkey and immediately tried to figure out who the best person for the role of Captain Underpants would be for the film?  At first I was thinking Rob Corddry from The Daily Show n’ such, but then it came to me: Paul Giamatti.  I looked him up and nothing appears to be on his slate for 2015 so . . . there you go.  Problem solved.
  • When I like to pretend to have lots of lovely money I look upon the Eric Carle Honors Auction with a practiced eye.  I decide which piece I’d put in the living room (the Gabi Swiatkowska, NO DOUBT!) as opposed to the one that would hang over my bed (the Lane Smith).  The nursery would have that Lucy Cousins, naturally. Including original art from books like Meet Danitra Brown, Mama Miti, and many more, you should definitely take a peek at all the art here.  Feed your imagination if nothing else.
  • Ah HA!  I knew it, I knew it, I knew it.  The film Return to Oz WAS brilliant all along!!  Didn’t I tell you all?  Didn’t I?  I didn’t?  Well I’m telling you now and so is the blog 366 Weird Movies (I never said it wasn’t odd) in the post The Three Fetishes: Transformation and Ethical Engagement in Walter Murch’s Return to Oz (1985).  We had a discussion the other night as to whether or not the failure of the film was based in the fact that it was considered too scary for kids when it came out.  Maybe so, but it stays with you, man.  It stays.
  • K.T. Horning’s article about Maurice Sendak The Naked Truth: Librarians Stood by Maurice Sendak, No Stranger to Controversy is great reading in and of itself.  The rumor that librarians painted underwear on Mickey in In the Night Kitchen was something I too learned in library school.  Horning investigates the truth behind the claim.  Another element that caught my eye was the accompanying illustration by Sergio Ruzzier, an artist who received The Sendak Fellowship not too long before Sendak’s death.  The piece says that, “By utter coincidence, he worked on his illustration for SLJ while staying at Sendak’s home, drawing at his desk with his German shepherd nearby.” Neat! You can read about Sergio’s experiences with Sendak here if you’re curious.
  • I don’t know if you’re aware of Bronies.  These are men who enjoy, possibly without irony, watching the new animated My Little Pony show on television these days.  I’m not sure if John Farrier would label himself a brony, but certainly his Professional Assessment of Twilight Sparkle as a Librarian (Twilight Sparkle, as I am sure you all know, is the unicorn librarian of *checks sources* Equestria) shines.  It’s actually good reading for MLIS students since it covers the basic requirements of a good librarian.  Be sure to read the nitpicky comments as well.  They’re almost as good as the article. Thanks to AL Direct for the link!
  • Deathwatch 2012 continues unabated with the loss of Nina Bawden, author of the novel Carrie’s War amongst others.  I encountered this book when I attempted to systematically read through the Phoenix Award winners (an award given out yearly by the Children’s Literature Association to hidden and forgotten literary gems).  The other loss this week was Jerry Nelson, arguably my favorite Jim Henson puppeteer outside of Jim and Frank Oz.  I had wondered by Jerry hadn’t participated in the recent Muppet Movie (I think David Goeltz was one of the very few original puppeteers in it).  This tribute to Jerry in various videos is a lovely look at his many many characters over the years.  It ends with this appropriate little video: my favorite song from Emett Otter’s Jugband Christmas (based on the Russell Hoban children’s book of the same name) sung by Jerry at Henson’s memorial service.

  • This next one just goes to show that you never know.  For years when folks asked me for a picture book of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer I’d tell them no such book existed.  That it was just a television special and song.  That surely I would know if such a thing had ever been published.  Well . . . no.  I wouldn’t know because back in 1939 there WAS a Rudolph book.  One that is now back in print (and available through Ingram) and that you can BET every library in the country is going to want to get their hands on it.  Honestly, I can’t wait to see it myself.  Thanks to PW Children’s Bookshelf for the link!
  • Daily Image:

Who knew decaying books could be so lovely?

Thanks to AL Direct 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 Angry Black Woman blog has an interesting opinion of “Saving the Pearls.” Contains strong language.

  2. I loved Return to Oz when it came out, but several scenes did scare me a bit. Need to watch it again.

  3. I was an Oz fanatic as a kid and really liked Return to Oz (much as it mangled the storylines of the original books). That’s an interesting analysis, and now I’m inspired to have a viewing party! It’s only been… 27 years?… since I’ve seen it.

  4. I’m not sure if John Farrier would label himself a brony

    I’m just ponycurious.

    • Elizabeth Bird says

      Beautiful, John. Just beautiful. And Lisa the idea of a Return to Oz viewing party is so delightful I may have to forgo all other earthly delights until I can make that kind of thing happen.

  5. Honeylamb, you should have ASKED! Your mom and I actually POSSESSED a copy of the old, original Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer book, back in the day!

  6. I had no idea that there were 1,001 Little Golden Books! Wow! While it sounds like the Racine Library has a ways to go, I think that’s a fantastic goal. I would strongly consider driving to Racine to peruse such a collection.

    And YES to Paul Giamatti as Capt. Underpants! I must admit that I have never read a Captain Underpants book straight through, but I have perused my son’s collection and Paul as the Captain seems like a perfect fit.

  7. Sam and I are huge My Little Pony fans. It’s the best animated show on tv right now. He even has a Twilight Sparkle t-shirt.

  8. My mom told me about the first Rudolph book. Apparently the author worked for Montgomery Wards, and they put out a paperback version of the book as a Christmas giveaway one year. My grandparents brought it home for my mother and her siblings and they all liked it. Then in 2000, my mom put together a collection of favorite Christmas stories and published it as Under a Christmas Star. My mother tracked down the author’s daughter and interviewed her to get the real story about the origins of Rudolph. Robert Lewis May was a copywriter for Montgomery Wards, and he was asked to write a Christmas story as a promotional. He tested the story out on his then-4-year-old daughter. She disliked the word “stomach,” so he changed it to “tummy.” The book really took off, but the store owned the copyright. Then after WWII, the owner of MW gave the copyright to Robert May. His sister was married to composer Johnny Marks, who put words and music to the story in 1949. When Gene Autrey recorded it, it became very popular. Robert May bought a new house and quit working for MW for a while to sell Rudolph merchandise. When the fuss died down, he went back to work for MW. The family joked about MW’s returns policy–they would take anything back, including May.

  9. Tanita posted about the Pearly controversy on our blog this week, too–the article in the Guardian that she linked to was really good:

    And, dude: Return to Oz was AWESOME. I loved that movie as a kid. Now I think I may need to rewatch it…

  10. You know, I’m simply not surprised when I see a self-published book that doesn’t do what it sets out to do well. Sorry, for those truly good self-published books, but I’m afraid you’re in the minority. It sounds like she had a decent idea, but I bet a good editor could have made sure it was carried out well and with sensitivity. Or, well, maybe it wasn’t a good idea, so no publishing house was willing to take it on. I think by talking about it, we’re giving it more attention than it deserves.

    I made the mistake of saying I’d review self-published books on my website and then received some really frightfully bad examples (and one or two good ones). None of those would have stood up to this kind of scrutiny, though at least they wouldn’t have offended anyone. Anyway, when I read about that book, I just cringe and look the other way. Yes, you can definitely be racist without meaning to be.