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A Fuse #8 Production
Inside A Fuse #8 Production

Fusenews: STEM Girl Fashions, the Death of “Hypothesis”, and More

Welcome to Fusenews! Or, as I like to call it, all the news that fit to fuse.

Yeah. We’re still working on that one.


First off, a great illustrator for children has died. This was very much the case of me not knowing that he was still alive, only to be doubly saddened when I heard he was gone.  Walter Tripp had a way with drawing animals.  I encountered his delightful art as a child with the quintessential, classic collection of poetry A Great Big Ugly Man Came Up and Tied His Horse to Me: A Book of Nonsense Verse, which Little, Brown put out in 1973. He had this keen sense of humor and genuine good will in all his books. I’m just so pleased he made what titles he did. And, of course, he made my favorite panel of all time. Enjoy:



Did you know that the term “scientific method” is a long outdated concept that keeps popping up in children’s books because we all learned it in our childhood and are convinced that it still exists? Melissa Stewart explained all of this more than a year ago but I think a bunch of us failed to get the message. For that matter, did you know that the term “hypothesis” is antiquated? Check out Melissa’s post Behind the Books: So Long Scientific Method that is worth your time. And, while you’re there, check out the more recent post Expository Nonfiction: Some Students Prefer It! to give you a sense of the wide range and diversity of reading preferences out there amongst kids.


BirchbarkHouseWhat’s your favorite relatively unsung children’s literature award? To choose but one would be difficult for me. I love the Mathical Book Prizes on the one hand, but then again there’s a soft spot in my heart for the Children’s History Book Prize. And who could forget the Excellence in Graphic Literature Awards? But when all is said and done, the Phoenix Awards might be one of the best. Dating back to 1985, this award (given annually by the Children’s Literature Association) is handed to, “a book originally published in the English language, is intended to recognize books of high literary merit, which never won award at the time publication, and which is still worthy of recognition.” This year’s winner? The Birchbark House by Louise Erdrich. I couldn’t think of a more deserving book to name.


My 7-year-old daughter and I were in a bookstore the other day when her eye was caught by a flashy Who Was display they had going on. She was intrigued by the number of people there that she simply didn’t know. Later, I grabbed her a copy of Who Was Alexander Hamilton? from my library since she’s into that show these days.  I’m pleased that she’s interested in the series, but as with any series not all titles are created equal. At Educating Alice, Monica Edinger recently wrote an incredibly smart and incisive piece on the book What Was the Holocaust? with thoughts on the publisher’s choice of cover. I particularly like that she reached out to the publisher, allowing them to explain the decision. Your required reading for the day.


Not to long ago the NCTE posted on Twitter a picture that was labeled “Graphic Novels – In My Library”. Booktoss took a gander and happened to notice that in the big stack of comics every last one of them was by a man. So. There is that.


Cracked recently put out a post about a variety of different alt-right children’s books called 5 Children’s Books to Confuse Your Child Into Patriotism. When these types are articles come out they inevitably highlight self-published titles or very very small presses. Would that they had dug a little deeper because while they do discuss a book about taxation and government regulation, they completely miss the world’s strangest picture book about trickle down economics, which came out in 2011 from Andersen Press. Did you miss Denver by David McKee (the same guy who does those cute Elmer the Elephant books)? More fool you.


In October I’ll be in Brooklyn as part of School Library Journal’s SLJ Leadership Summit. I haven’t been in NYC since January, so what should I do while I’m there? Well, as luck has it, I may have just enough time to check out this new exhibit at the The Grolier Club. Have you ever been? Periodically they have children’s literature-inspired exhibits that are well worth a visit. Here’s the latest:

PlayingSoldierPlaying Soldier: The Books and Toys That Prepared Children for War, 1871-1918, from the collection of Richard Cheek.
September 12 – October 27, 2018

Learning to “play soldier,” boys were persuaded to admire and wish to become soldiers and sailors through books, toys, and printed ephemera related to military life and wartime experience.  Published from 1871-1918,  ABCs and picture books celebrated the armed forces.  Story collections and novels highlighted daring wartime adventures, scientific studies revealed the “wonder” of military inventions, and history books and ballads emphasized the great battles.  Fairy tales created heroes or heroines who could withstand or triumph over evil forces.

Once the Great War broke out, new genres developed to help children and teens adjust to the realities of a worldwide conflict.  From satirical attacks against the enemy in picture books to stories of atrocities in propaganda pamphlets, there were also reassuring accounts of young heroes.  “The books issued for the ‘duration’ are among the most creatively and movingly illustrated titles in the entire spectrum of military publications for children,”  comments collector Richard Cheek who organized the presentation.


Will This Children’s Book Creator Win The World’s Biggest Art Competition? So asks Travis Jonker, and it’s a legitimate question. I’ll confess that I knew almost nothing about the art competition of which he speaks until recently, and it’s even in my old neck of the woods! But who is the children’s book creator? That, my friend, you’ll need to discover for yourself. And, while you’re over at 100 Scope Notes, you need to check out this truly brilliant post What’s the Children’s Lit EGOT? I think he’s on to something there.


Daily Image:

Though started by an Evanston entrepreneur on Kickstarter, somehow I’ve been completely unaware of the existence of the Princess Awesome line of clothing for girls. Unaware, that is, until my mother bought my daughter a dress that was covered in hidden ninjas AND that had pockets. Then I took a look at the site. Math dresses. Science dresses. Truck and dino and shark and train dresses. All. With. Pockets.







Okay, guys. You sold me. This is amazing.


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. My daughter and I love Princess Awesome. Clearly I should have passed on the word sooner. Glad you found them, anyway.

  2. During my years as a school librarian I had a framed Wallace Tripp illustration on my desk. It shows Prospero throwing his magic book in the sea, and a little rabbit saying, “I hope that’s not a liberry book.”

  3. I LOVE the Phoenix Award, because that’s how I discovered Jill Paton Walsh’s wonderful novel, The Chance Child.