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A Fuse #8 Production
Inside A Fuse #8 Production

Fusenews: Mysterious Edges, Heroic Worlds

Well sir, it’s a heckuva week.  Book stuff is happening out the wazoo, but for a moment I’d like to concentrate on what else is going on in the wider children’s literary world.  What say we Fusenews it up a bit, eh?

  • Of course there’s no way to begin today without a hat tip to the late, great E.L. Konigsburg.  The only person, I believe, to win both a Newbery Award and a Newbery Honor in their debut year.  Top THAT one, folks!  The New York Times pays tribute to one of our luminaries.  We had managed to do pretty well in 2013 without losing one of our lights.  Couldn’t last forever.  Godspeed, Elaine.
  • Speaking of deaths, I missed mentioning my sadness upon hearing of Roger Ebert’s passing. Jezebel put out a rather nice compilation of Roger Ebert’s Twenty Best Reviews.  I wonder if folks ever do that for children’s book critics.  Hm.  In any case, amongst the reviews was this one for Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.  It’s rather brilliant.  See for yourself.

12. On the original Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory:

“Kids are not stupid. They are among the sharpest, cleverest, most eagle-eyed creatures on God’s Earth, and very little escapes their notice. You may not have observed that your neighbor is still using his snow tires in mid-July, but every four-year-old on the block has, and kids pay the same attention to detail when they go to the movies. They don’t miss a thing, and they have an instinctive contempt for shoddy and shabby work. I make this observation because nine out of ten children’s movies are stupid, witless, and display contempt for their audiences, and that’s why kids hate them….All of this is preface to a simple statement: Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory is probably the best film of its sort since The Wizard of Oz. It is everything that family movies usually claim to be, but aren’t: Delightful, funny, scary, exciting, and, most of all, a genuine work of imagination. Willy Wonka is such a surely and wonderfully spun fantasy that it works on all kinds of minds, and it is fascinating because, like all classic fantasy, it is fascinated with itself.” [January 1971]
  • New Blog Alert: Now I would like to brag about my system’s children’s librarians.  They are uniquely talented individuals.  Smart as all get out.  One that I’ve always been particularly impressed with is Stephanie Whelan, a woman I trust more than anyone else when it comes to finding the best in children’s (not YA) science fiction and fantasy fare.  Now Stephanie has conjured up one doozy of a blog on that very topic.  It’s called Views From the Tesseract (nice, right?) and it looks at a lot of science fiction and fantasy specifically with side views of topics in the field.  You’ll find posts with subjects like A Matter of Taste: Preferring One Genre Over Another, Five Fantasy Pet Peeves, and the fascinating delve into the world of Tom Swift in The Swift Proposal.  Stephanie also has access to galleys so be sure to check out her early reviews for books like William Alexander’s Ghoulish Song and Sidekicked by John David Anderson (which I’m reading right now on her recommendation).
  • Turns out that the Mental Floss piece 11 Book Sequels You Probably Didn’t Know Existed spends an inordinate amount of time looking at children’s books.  Check it out for mentions of the 101 Dalmatians sequel (missed that one), the E.T. sequel The Book of the Green Planet (which, if memory serves, was illustrated long ago by David Wiesner and is the only book he no longer owns the art of), and more.
  • Nice blogger mentions this week.  Thanks to Sara O’Leary for mentioning my new website and to Jen Robinson’s for the nice review of Giant Dance Party.  I appreciate it, guys!  Plus Jen is the first review I’ve read that draws a connection between my book and the Hunger Games series.  Few can say so much.

Speaking of reviews, I owe Travis Jonker a debt of gratitude for reviewing Marguerite Abouet’s Akissi.  I read that book in the original French a year or two ago and was completely uncertain if it would ever see the light of day here in the States due to a final story that, quite frankly, DEFIES anything I’ve seen in children’s literature before.  The kind of thing that makes Captain Underpants look tame.  You have been warned.  Great book, by the way.  Let’s not lose sight of that.

  • Not too long ago I spoke to a group of 6th graders at Bank Street College’s school about contemporary book jackets and how they’re marketed to kids.  Only a portion of my talk was dedicated to race or gender.  Fortunately, the kids have been thinking long and hard about it.  Allie Bruce has posted twice about a covers project the kids have participated in.  Be sure to check out race and then gender when you have a chance.  Food for thought.
  • What do Pinkalicious, A Ball for Daisy, and Square Cat all have in common?  Read ’em to your kids and you’ll be teaching them that consumerism is king.  So sayeth a 196-page thesis called “Cultivating Little Consumers: How Picture Books Influence Materialism in Children”, as reported by The Guardian.  And they might have gotten away with the premise to if they just hadn’t brought up I Want My Hat Back.  Dude.  Back away from the Klassen.  Thanks to Zoe Toft (Playing By the Book) for the link.
  • Required Reading of the Day: There are few authorial blogs out there even half as interesting as Nathan Hale’s.  And when the guy gets a fact wrong in one of his books, he’ll do anything to set it right.  Even if it means going to Kansas.  Here’s how he put it:

We made a HUGE historical error, and we are going to fix it! We are going to learn why Kansas wasn’t a Confederate state–why it was a “Free State,” and how it happened. We are also going to visit Kansas on an official apology and correction trip. When we are finished, all Hazardous Tales readers will know how to correct their own copy of Big Bad Ironclad! Stay tuned!

You can see the official ceremony here, but be sure to read all the blog posts he drew to explain precisely why Kansas was a free state anyway. You can see Part One, Part Two, Part Three, Part Four, Part Five, and Part Six.

  • Daily Image:

It’s not the holiday gift giving season, but if you know a librarian in need of a unique gift, I have your number.

Awesomesauce.  Thanks to Marchek 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. Thanks for the introduction to Stephanie’s blog! I feel sad that even though I search the internet assiduously every Sunday for my mg sff round-ups, I never found her–makes me wonder what else I am missing.

    • Elizabeth Bird says

      She’s relatively new to the blogging game, all things considered. Glad to help you direct your attention to her. I trust her opinions implicitly.

    • My reaction was more “NO! Not ANOTHER blog I ABSOLUTELY HAVE TO READ!” *added to my feed reader* 🙂

      • Elizabeth Bird says

        Don’t worry. Blog death rates are skyrocketing these days. Surely some of your favs will pass in time. Then you’ll be grateful for the newbies.

  2. Aw, thanks, Betsy. I’m working on another kidlit footwear post — there is no better way to procrastinate than looking at bananas (LITERALLY) crazy shoes. And I know you know what I’m talking about.

  3. Love your news! “Back away from the Klassen” ha! I do agree Pinkalicious can be a bit bratty, but I’m perfectly good with the lying and theft of the hat in Klassen’s- what does that say about my morals!!!!

  4. Thanks Betsy!

  5. Glad you found the review. I wonder if it will remain the only one to draw a connection to the Hunger Games books… Love the shoe piece, too. I can see why you had to include it 🙂

  6. Thanks for the shout out, Betsy!

  7. Thanks for the link to my Kansas blunder. I’m still cringing at the thought that somewhere out there, there is an angry librarian shaking her head at my horrible map mistake. The good news is, the map has been fixed and all future editions will have it correct.