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A Fuse #8 Production
Inside A Fuse #8 Production

Fusenews: Confessions of a syllabus addict

Allrighty then (remember when this phrase was a thing?).  Time to whip out a Fusenews in this new format.  Let’s crank her up and see what she can do!

  • Let’s start with the me stuff.  This happened while I was on vacation:  The folks at the New York Times asked me to be a part of their Room for Debate series, this time on the topic What’s “Just Right” For the Young Reader? (which is described as “How do you know the age at which to introduce children to certain books that might have ‘big kid’ themes?”) I get to give my two cents alongside such heavies as Paolo Bacigalupi, Lisa Von Drasek, Jenny Brown, and the like.  My commenters are particularly smart as well.
  • My husband is now shooting me worried glances because I keep screaming out things like “TELL IT!” and “AMEN!” and “THANKGODTHANKGODTHANKGOD!” over and over as I read Shannon Hale’s recent blog post on Why Do You Write Strong Female Characters?  Big time thanks to Liz B for the link.
  • *sniff sniff*  Smell that?  I smell buzz.  Book buzz.  The ink on 2013 is hardly dry and already I’m hearing good things about certain books.  Books like Starring Jules (As Herself) by Beth Ain which has already gotten a star in PW.  I wasn’t attracted to the cover but my insider moles (with opinions I trust) tell me that the book is mighty worthy.  The book’s not out until March so sate your curiosity for now with Ms. Ain’s blog Tin-Can Stilts.  For years I’ve wanted to make a secondary blog called Tin Can Phone.  Looks like the basic idea is already gone.
  • Hello.  My name is Betsy and I am a syllabus addict.  I love them.  When I see a course taught on children’s or YA literature I just gotsta get my hands on it.  And when the course is taught by author Mitali Perkins and is called Race, Culture, and Power in Children’s and Young Adult Books?  Bonus.    I want to go to there.
  • It’s always fascinating when the ShelfTalker blog compiles a list of The Stars Thus Far, which collects all the books that have earned stars in a given year.  Of similar interest is Heavy Medals’ work tabulating the 2012 Best Books Lists’ Overlap.  All very telling, though I know we can all name years where the winners of the Newbery and Caldecott were books that got only one star here and there and no Best Books listings.
  • Speaking of Heavy Medals I was touched by Jonathan Hunt’s remembrance of Peter Sieruta this past week.  Please take some time to read the comments, particularly those of Jules and Helen Frost.  It’s one of those losses you just sit there and shake your head about.  Just shake and shake and shake.
  • Liz Burns has provided a smart and insightful look at Leonard Marcus’s Listening for Madeleine: A Portrait of Madeleine L’Engle in Many Voices.  If nothing else, read the last paragraph in Liz’s piece.  That’s why we love her.
  • No end of the year compilation is complete without heading over to Seven Impossible Things to check out Jules and her 2012 7-Imp Retrospective Before Breakfast.  Consider not only the fabulous content but also the fact that the woman wrote a freakin’ book during the year as well (with me, but trust me when I say she did the lion’s share).

So much stuff happens in New York City that I sometimes have to rely on my out-of-state friends and siblings to alert me to what’s up.  Take the immersive theatrical performance of Then She Fell as one such example.  In it, fifteen audience members wander around a former hospital encountering the performers one-on-one.  Says the description, “Inspired by the life and writings of Lewis Carroll, it offers an Alice-like experience for audience members as they explore the rooms, often by themselves, in order to discover hidden scenes; encounter performers one-on-one; unearth clues that illuminate a shrouded history; use skeleton keys to gain access to guarded secrets; and imbibe elixirs custom designed by one of NYC’s foremost mixologists.”  Paging Educating Alice . . . . Thanks to Kate for the link.

  • Okay. Show of hands.  How many of you knew that author Patrick Carman has a podcast called Intersect with Jeremy Gonzalez where they interview various children’s and YA literary luminaries?  Since it looks like he only started it as recently as October 16th I don’t feel TOO bad about my lack of knowledge, but this thing has been far too below the radar.  You can never have too many children’s literary podcasts, that’s what I always say (though the current go-to site remains Brain Burps About Books).
  • It’s not exactly news that Jeff Bridges has been trying to make Lois Lowry’s book The Giver into a film.  That’s been the story for years.  What is news is that he finally, and at long last, got the green light.  You can list to the Studio 360 on the news right here.
  • In other it’s-not-news-except-that-it’s-news there have been a couple articles out there about New York Public Library’s upcoming makeover.  The Daily News talks about it here and The New York Times does the same here.  All I care is that there’s to be a new children’s room and a new teen space and they will be separate.  Whew!
  • Color me cynical but any time I see a journal or magazine for the masses do a best children’s book list for the year I can’t help but think the writer is just cribbing off the free samples savvy publishers sent to their door.  Then I get even more cynical and think, “How can I get my own book into the EW offices next holiday season?”  Such self-interest will have to wait, at least until we look at EW’s 10 Great Kids Books of 2012.  Ten is a pretty small number, but cynicism aside it’s actually a pretty darn smart list.  They even worked in a little nonfiction!  Thanks to Marjorie Ingall for the link!
  • Did this appear in PW Children’s Bookshelf and I just didn’t see it?  I think I’d remember an article called The 5 Books That Inspire the Most Tattoos.  Featured on the PWxyz blog, 3 out of the 5 books mentioned are children’s.  Darn tootin’.
  • Speaking of PW Children’s Bookshelf, they did find some fabulous fodder as of late.  Now I’m fairly certain I first saw this on their site, but when I tried to relocate it on there I failed miserably.  Regardless of where it came from, if you haven’t seen the piece on Celebrities Who Have Modeled For Book Covers, do so now.  The Baby-Sitters Club connection is worth it.
  • Also found there, it’s hard to resist a piece with a name like Scholastic Editors Predict Trends in Children’s Books.  Which should probably be called Scholastic Editors Predict Trends in Children’s and YA Books, but we’ll let ’em off the hook this time.  A good list of things to look for, though they forgot to mention twins in middle grade, clones in YA, and the upcoming space opera plethora of literature.  Though admittedly that last trend might just be wishful thinking on my part.
  • Though I take issue with the little summaries on the sidebar that call this How We Write: The Snickets (Lisa Brown is no such of a thing) if you want to see people being smart in the face of inane questions, this little Q&A is enough to convince anyone that neither you nor I is/am/are clever enough to ever be interviewed in this manner.  Extra Bonus: It includes a link to American Chickens (the duo’s zine) which I had hitherto not been privy to see.
  • Daily Image:

Trust Berlin to get awesome on us yet again.  This week we see that the Bookcrossing Bookswap Club has struck again.  This time they’re using fallen tree trunks to give out the goods.  Here’s a taste here.

You can get a full taste of the goods at Inhabitat.  Thanks to mom 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. Out of all the general entertainment magazines, EW has the smartest book review/news coverage (they also take YA literature seriously). Their weekly Must List frequently features books.

    • Elizabeth Bird says

      True, though their focus is almost purely YA. Only once in a while will they mention children’s lit. Hence my amazement.