Tuesday, December 27, 2005
Friday, December 23, 2005
Suppose someone took it into her head to rank the dying and give awards for best last days or near to last days based on certain well thought out criteria, culminating in lots of sugarplums and press and endless discussion. How would that remove us from the experience? How would it remove us from the immediacy and all it might offer us. How would it remove the dying from it, distracted as they are by the possibility of this last big award? It is a toxic practice. There was a writer in East Germany who wrote there before and after the wall came down. Afterward everyone told her how wonderful that she had the opportunity now for artistic freedom, success, money. She said she had more freedom before the wall came down when she simply wrote, knowing her readership would be there, working in peace, nothing to aspire to. Now she had the great seduction of success, competition, it removed her from the freedom of the work. Suppose you could read books without having the distraction and removal to the level of judging them against each other. Then we would see what was there. Each its own experience because of what it is not because of where it is in the line up. Moving freely from book to book. I will not participate in these Newbery talks again. They are only a chance to say look how smart I am. I can tell you what is good better best. They have nothing to do with the truth. They have nothing to do with the artists' intent. Merry Christmas to all and to all a still night.
I don't know if I can read without judging, or at least comparing to what I've read before. (This got me kicked out of one those human-potential workshops once. The group leader said I was too judgmental. I asked her if she knew what I did for a living. Saved by literature once again!) And while I appreciate that the stakes being set up by prizes, or even reviews, can kill good writing, I also worry about a wafty world where all is "experience," there is no worse or better, each work of art is a distinct expression, la, la, la. Don't we write (or paint, etc.) in the first place to throw into relief those flashes of experience that, for us, are the important ones? Isn't living a process of making distinctions among choices? These are genuine questions, not rhetorical ploys, and I thank She... for bringing them up. Her example of the East German writer reminded me of a friend who was moving from the States to Mexico at a time (late 70s) when the Mexican government was cracking down on press freedoms and political dissent. My friend said "here I can wave my arms and say anything I want but nobody listens. There, at least, political speech matters."
I was one of those sixties kids who adored the movie and went on to love the book, too, even recognizing their distinctions. I'm dying to see the stage musical--any reports?
Thursday, December 22, 2005
You will also need to have read the eligible books Nina has chosen for discussion. They are:
Hitler Youth: Growing Up in Hitler's Shadow by Susan Campbell Bartoletti
John Lennon: All I Want is the Truth by Elizabeth Partridge
The Penderwicks by Jeanne Birdsall
Criss Cross by Lynne Rae Perkins
Harry Sue by Sue Stauffacher
Day of Tears: A Novel in Dialogue by Julius Lester
Show Way by Jacqueline Woodson
A Wreath for Emmett Till by Marilyn Nelson
The Game of Silence by Louise Erdrich
The Old Country by Mordicai Gerstein
This is a savvy and excellent list (I guess by that I mean that my choice for the Newbery Medal is on it, and, no, I'm not telling).
Wednesday, December 21, 2005
Do you think Bill O'Reilly would approve? We're having Middle Eastern, which I'm sure would bring out his not-so-latent schizophrenia. (Thanks to Richard for the early morning photograph.)
Tuesday, December 20, 2005
Buying for the known has its own challenges. My guy Richard is not a big reader, but for the fifteen or so years we've been together I've been charged with presenting him with a book to read over the Christmas-New Year's break. Last year, I knew he wanted the new Philip Roth, The Plot Against America, which he loved but then proceeded to hound me to read for myself. And me, Roth, eh, not so much. The point is that when you buy a book for a loved one you live with the consequences, for good or ill. I have a couple of candidates for this year's choice and will let you know how it all works out. I'm still in the delightful agony of assembling my own reading list for our week on the Cape--any recommendations?
Monday, December 19, 2005
Some will be offended by the campaign's smart-alecky digs at reading (from the site's mock FAQ: "Should I burn my books? No, a stack of burning books pollutes the air, and worse - it kinda thumbs its nose at the First Amendment") but I think you have to take yourself awfully seriously to get ticked off at what is a harmless if sophomoric joke. What bothers me more is the campaign's nose-thumbing at audiobooks. By playing up how much easier and hipper listening is than reading, emphasizing the difference between the two experiences, Audible is inadvertently buying into a line that we audiobook fans hear often and hate heartily: listening to an audiobook is not really reading. As Pam rather more elegantly and eloquently argues in her article, them's fightin' words.
Wednesday, December 14, 2005
As Liz points out, the fact that Mr. Ecker acknowledges that he has only "skimmed" the book is true too often of those who censor. My contempt for Mr. Ecker is so ingrained by my education and experience that it is probably too reflexive to even be called outrage; what really kills me is that the man is clueless enough to not only admit to the media that he hasn't read the book, but that even in face of the subsequent controversy, and even while saying that he is reconsidering his decision, he still, according to the Sun, has "no plans to read the book in its entirety." Clueless and lazy. (Add nervy: on the occasion of his recent 77th birthday Ecker told a reporter, "'I went to the doctor for my physical. Doctor said, 'You're in such good shape, I bet you feel like a 30-year-old.' I told him, 'Where is she?'")
Mr. Gibson takes up the cause of Sherrie Versher, the mother of a 10 1/2-year-old public school student in Plano, Texas. For her daughter Stephanie's birthday, Ms. Versher brought 24 brownies to school, to which she wanted to attach pencils that contained the message: "Jesus Loves Me This I Know Because the Bible Tells Me So." When the principal asked her not to distribute the pencils, she walked through the school building saying, "Satan is in the building."
Boy, do I feel for Stephanie, but this incident is just waiting for Richard Peck or Chris Crutcher to get busy.
Sunday, December 11, 2005
I haven't seen the movie yet but the recent snowstorm turned a small stretch of my jogging route into a reasonable facsimile.
And Horn Book marketing mavens JD and Anne, along with design empress Lolly have been putting together a C.S. Lewis page on our website with reviews of the series from our archive. Take a look.
Saturday, December 10, 2005
Christopher Franceschelli, publisher of Handprint Books and former publisher of Dutton Children's Books, the U. S. publisher of Milne, once told me that relations between the Milne Pooh and the Mouse Pooh (oops) were exceedingly complex. He made it sound as if nations might have fallen the day the baker proudly delivered, for a Winnie-the-Pooh birthday party Dutton was hosting, a cake gorgeously designed to look like The Other One.
Thursday, December 08, 2005
We see this call to authority all the time in children's books, and in Tookie Williams' case, it's wedded to celebrity, a different but related situation in which who the author is is at least as important as what the author has to say. (I'm reminded of that famous old Kirkus line: "As a writer, Barbara Bel Geddes is a marvelous actress.")
Today is Tookie Williams' latest day in court, as California's Governor Schwarzenegger, himself married to another children's book expert, hears his plea for clemency. So now the authority and celebrity that obtained in Williams getting to publish his children's books in the first place is meant to work in reverse: because Williams has published children's books against gang violence, he should be allowed to avoid the death sentence.
What do we all think? I am against Williams being put to death because I am against the death penalty, but I'm not sure how I feel about the p.r. strategy employed on his behalf. It is shrewd, though. Incidentally, Williams later wrote a much better book, Life in Prison, a simply written chapter book about what it's like behind bars.
Monday, December 05, 2005
Friday, December 02, 2005
Wednesday, November 30, 2005
I would dearly love to give these Citizens a pop quiz based on their recommended books. My guess is that they are not readers, and that they approach reading with equal amounts of awe and superstition. As they do the internet--blogging is another of their concerns, and their grasp of how it works is about on a par with their grasp on felicitous writing: "As long as young eyeballs spend time on the Internet, there will be Web sites whose sole purpose is to capture big chunks of their time and attention." If this is a demonstration of literary standards, give me Toni Morrison.
Tuesday, November 29, 2005
Sunday, November 27, 2005
Saturday, November 26, 2005
I guess I should have known. The only time I've ever intentionally walked the Freedom Trail was when I first moved back to Boston, and got lost in between the subway and the office, then located on Beacon Hill. The red stripe led right to the door . . . .
Wednesday, November 23, 2005
An Innocent Soldier; written by Josef Holub, translated from the German by Michael Hofmann (Levine/Scholastic)
Inexcusable; by Chris Lynch (Seo/Atheneum)
Skybreaker; by Kenneth Oppel (Eos/HarperCollins)
The Silver Spoon of Solomon Snow; by Kaye Umansky (Candlewick)
Re my ambivalence and semi-despondency: I can't speak for Janis Ian, but it bugs me that we've all gotten so hooked on stars. Authors and illustrators love 'em (and think that they're the only reviews worth getting); publishers often make their advertising decisions based upon them; librarians confess that, pressed for time, they are the only reviews they read. And review editors like them because sticking a star on something is both a shortcut to popularity and an easy out from the responsibility of actually being articulate about why and how a given title is so terrific. We're all in the business of words, so why don't we trust them?
Tuesday, November 22, 2005
At home, Richard and I are watching Fortunes of War, an old BBC miniseries based on a series of books by Olivia Manning I read a hundred years ago. The director and screenwriter have found a very effective way of getting historical information in by making the character played by Emma Thompson all nosy and blunt and new to the scene (1930s Bucharest), and asking the questions viewers will have about the politics of the time and region. We get the context we need at the same time Thompson's character is being developed--quite canny.
Monday, November 21, 2005
But throughout this hectic time I've been listening to the audiobook of Arthur Golden's Memoirs of a Geisha, wanting to have read it before seeing the movie. What a story--and it is inadvertently reminding me of something that seems to too frequently go missing in children's books of the "worthy" kind. By these quotation marks I mean novels that announce that they are going for higher stakes than entertainment, that seek to shed light upon some overlooked social or historical injustice or other. Too often, these books forget to tell a story, opting instead for (sometimes quite vivid) portraiture or scene-painting, trusting that the rightness of the theme is enough to carry readers along. It isn't.
Thursday, November 17, 2005
Wednesday, November 16, 2005
"On Nordstrom's instructions, the udder of the Cow Jumping Over the Moon was reduced to an anatomical blur so as not to disarrange the fragile sensibilities of some librarians--the 'Important Ladies,' as she called them."
But, alas, at least one "important lady" was not to be budged--and the Horn Book Magazine never did review Goodnight Moon! It's kind of sad that Miss Nordstrom did not give us (librarians) more credit, though.
Sunday, November 13, 2005
I'm back from my talk at the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art. It was my first visit there and the place is mightily impressive--three galleries, an inviting small library, a hands-on studio filled with paper and media and ideas for pictures, and a first-rate bookstore run by Andy Laties, who used to own the fabulous Children's Bookstore in Chicago. (Incidentally, Andy has published his bookselling memoir/manifesto, Rebel Bookseller, which I'm taking with me for my trip to New York tomorrow.) You can read Lolly Robinson's account of the museum's dreams, goals and activities here.
Above's a picture of my favorite place in the museum, the entrance hall with "wallpaper" (his term) by Eric Carle. I'm with Rosemary Agoglia, the museum's Curator of Education.
I think the talk went pretty well. While I had intended to give my How Thomas Locker Sold the Soul of the Picture Book harangue, instead I talked a bit about how we review picture books at the Horn Book and a bit more about my governing faith: if we proceeded as if we realized that children read the same way grownups do, children's books and the world would both be better off.
More Tuesday--I'm off in the morning to New York for the Times reception for the Best Illustrated winners. I'll report back.
Thursday, November 10, 2005
But the whole dust-up makes me miss the late Bill Morris, Harper children's books library promotion director, terribly. Bill adored smoking, and I'm sure this is giving him a good laugh. Goodnight, Bill.
I just had a waking nightmare about what it would be like to be married to one of these guys. You're finishing dinner together, chatting about the day, when hubby dearest straightens his tie, prissily dabs at his face with his napkin, purses his lips and makes a small smile to himself before saying, in that tone you've come to know and abhor, "well, my dear, you're just not being very logical. Let's examine your prem--" when the brass candlestick, so long denied, comes down on his pointy little head.
Tuesday, November 08, 2005
He once told an interviewer that he had received a sweet letter from a cancer patient in New York who wanted very much to believe that Nicholas, the protagonist of "The Magus," was reunited with his girlfriend at the end of the book - a point Mr. Fowles had deliberately left ambiguous. "Yes, of course they were," Mr. Fowles replied.
By chance, he had received a letter the same day from an irate reader taking issue with the ending of "The Magus." "Why can't you say what you mean, and for God's sake, what happened in the end?" the reader asked. Mr. Fowles said he found the letter "horrid" but had the last laugh, supplying an alternative ending to punish the correspondent: "They never saw each other again."
Children's books rarely leave us guessing in this way, although there has been something of a trend for ambiguity in books for teens (see Patty Campbell's "So What Really Happened?" in the July/August 2005 issue of the Horn Book). Lois Lowry kept us guessing for a while there as to whether The Giver's Jonas lived or died, but she apparently later decided to go on the record as allowing that he survived. See, his sled took him deep into the snowy woods where he met a boy with a hatchet . . . . Okay, no he didn't, but with their sequels that aren't really sequels, both Lowry and Gary Paulsen sure do keep a fellow confused.
Monday, November 07, 2005
"By story’s end, big red dots still cover Barney, indicating this series isn’t over even when the fat pig screams."
Friday, November 04, 2005
Here's the list:
ARE YOU GOING TO BE GOOD?
By Cari Best; illustrated by G. Brian Karas.
By Anu Stohner; illustrated by Henrike Wilson.
CARMINE: A LITTLE MORE RED.
Written and illustrated by Melissa Sweet.
CHATO GOES CRUISIN’
By Gary Soto; illustrated by Susan Guevara.
ENCYCLOPEDIA PREHISTORICA: DINOSAURS
Written and illustrated by Robert Sabuda and Matthew Reinhart.
THE HELLO, GOODBYE WINDOW
By Norton Juster; illustrated by Chris Raschka.
THE PROBLEM WITH CHICKENS
By Barbara Jean Hicks; Illustrated by Alexis Deacon.
By Bruce McMillan; illustrated by Gunnella. (Houghton)
Written and illustrated by Jon Agee. (di Capua/Hyperion)
TRACTION MAN IS HERE!
Written and illustrated by Mini Grey. (Knopf)
Incidentally, I'd like to acknowledge Eden Ross Lipson for her twenty-some years of children's book coverage in the Times Book Review (and her good work in bringing children's-book coverage to other parts of the paper as well) and wish her the best in her retirement; the Horn Book Magazine will be featuring an interview with Eden in an upcoming issue.
Thursday, November 03, 2005
"Kids get older younger now,'" said Bob Chapek, president of Buena Vista Home Entertainment. "When I started in this business 12 years ago, kids entered into the Disney Classic range at 6. Now, at 2 to 3 years old, kids are buying the Cinderella classic DVD."
The NY Times today gives us the not exactly startling news that little girls want to pretend to be princesses. The reporter, Jodi Kantor, bemoans the fact that girls prefer Cinderella in her post-transformation mode as belle of the ball rather than as the "cruelly oppressed wretch" she is at the start of the story. But come on: wouldn't you? And more to the point: didn't Cinderella?
This little guy (I speak without reference to gender) has Germany covered, standing in the corners of bookstores, drugstores, stationers and grocers every where I went, proffering a bucket of small paperback picture books priced at just under one euro each. I wish we had them here--while the publishing trend these days is for ever-longer hardcover fiction, surely we can find some room for "small books for small hands," as Ursula Nordstrom remarked about Sendak's Nutshell Library; not to mention small allowances.
Tuesday, November 01, 2005
"You'll have to forgive Intern Alexis if she seems a bit sluggish today-- it's just that this week's edition of the Times Book Review is the most depressing thing she's read since Dicey's Song. "
Saturday, October 29, 2005
Friday, October 28, 2005
Be sure to take a look at Anita's book of (almost) the same name. Her taste in books is impeccable (breeding will tell ;-) and for each of her selected titles, she gives a lively and illuminating "story behind the story."
The Horn Book Magazine reviews mostly books it likes a lot, which comes to about eight hundred titles a year. But if you look at the Horn Book Guide, which reviews all (the good, the bad, and the ugly) new hardcovers from established publishers, you'll see that there are maybe not thousands, but at least a thousand more books we think are just fine in any given year. The line between the good and the very good is the hardest one to define, I think--and don't even get me started on the great.
Thursday, October 27, 2005
Tuesday, October 25, 2005
Daphne Muse is a writer, social commentator and director of the Women’s Leadership Institute at
Everyday, history is made by people whose names remain unknown as well as those who become eternal icons. In May of 1980, a woman who forever changed our country spent a week in our home. The East Bay Area Friends of Highlander Research and Education Center joined with founder Myles Horton to honor two of the Civil Rights Movements most courageous pioneers: Rosa Parks and Septima Clark. Clark broke ground as a pioneering force in citizenship training and voter education. The two women met at Highlander in 1955, a place where my own mother-in-law Margaret Landes was trained during the 1930s.
Founded in 1932, Highlander is a civil rights training school located on a 104-acre farm atop Bays Mountain, near New Market, Tennessee. Over the course of its history, Highlander has played important roles in many major political movements, including the Southern labor movements of the 1930s, the Civil Rights Movement of the 1940s-60s, and the Appalachian people's movements of the 1970s-80s. Through books in our home library, her teachers and my own work as a writer, my daughter Anyania knew about the role Ms. Parks played in changing the course of history.
Like millions of other African Americans, Mrs. Parks was tired of the racism, segregation and Jim Crow laws of the times. Through her commitment to freedom and training at Highlander Research and Education Center, her refusal to move to the back of a bus in Montgomery, Alabama on December 1, 1955, spawned a movement. Parks took a seat in the section of a Montgomery city bus designated for whites. She was arrested, tried and fined for violating a city ordinance. Mrs. Parks, a seamstress, often had run-ins with bus drivers and had been evicted from buses. Getting on the front of the bus to pay her fare and then getting off going to the back door was so humiliating. There were times the driver simply would shut the door and drive off. Her very conscious decision turned into an economically crippling, politically dynamic boycott and ended legal segregation in America. A three hundred and eighty two day bus boycott followed her morally correct and courageous act.
In the course of preparing for her visit, Ms. Parks noted to members of the committee that hotels just didn’t suit her spirit and she preferred the tradition extended through southern hospitality of putting people up in your home. She then asked if I would mind if she could be our guest during her week long stay in Oakland. She made only one request of us: that we keep her presence a secret. She and her long time friend Elaine Steele were eager to be in a place where they could relax, listen to music and eat great food without being disturbed. The disturbed part was my greatest concern for between the bullet-blasting drug wars and the press, I was concerned about how to maintain that part of the agreement.
Our modest home in the Fruitvale community of Oakland, California had served as a cultural center and refuge to many writers, filmmakers, artists and activists including Sweet Honey in the Rock, novelist Alice Walker and poet Gwendolyn Brooks. Although we’d never even met, when Rosa Parks walked through our front door, she instantly became family. She and Anyania melted into one another’s arms like a grandmother seeing her grandchild for the first time. One morning as Anyania was about to take off for school, the button on her dress popped off. It was a jumper filled with multicultural images of children my mother had made for Anya. Ms. Parks asked if I had a sewing box, threaded the needle and sewed the button back on. My spirit spilled over and I just burst into tears.
Anyania was so good at keeping the secret. I, on the other hand, wanted to blurt out to my family, friends and students at Mills College “Guess who’s sleeping in my bed? A few months ago, a former neighbor came by to pay a visit and started searching the scores of photographs hanging on the walls in our living room. She stopped, turned around and blurted out, “No that isn’t.” I instantly knew the photograph to which she was referring. Along with pictures of Fannie Lou Hamer, Eleanor Holmes Norton and Jim Forman hangs a very precious photograph of Rosa Parks surrounded by my then seven-year-old daughter and her playmate Kai Beard. Dottie was simply undone that in all the years she’d come into our home, she like so many others simply thought the woman sitting next to Anyania was her grandmother. A few weeks after she returned to Detroit, Ms. Parks sent Anyania an exquisite portrait of her painted by Paul Collins. That portrait now hangs in Anya’s home in Brentwood, California where my grandchildren Maelia and Elijah live, read and play everyday.
Monday, October 24, 2005
Appearing in this issue is an article by Jon Scieszka, "What's So Funny, Mr. Scieszka?" based on his Zena Sutherland Lecture, which he delivered last May in Chicago. Along with publishing the acceptance speeches for ALA's Newbery, Caldecott, and Wilder Awards (in every July-August issue), and those for the Boston Globe-Horn Book Awards (every January-February issue), the Horn Book frequently publishes articles that first saw light on a podium. While the award speeches are published virtually verbatim, all others are subjected to the necessary and sometimes full-on transformation from oral speech to written article--what works for the one frequently falls flat in the other. So: if you do have a speech you think might make good reading for the Horn Book, make sure it graces the page with the same eloquence it had from the microphone. To reproduce comic timing, for example, is really hard--Jon lost a couple of his jokes. And you can't let italics do all the inflecting.
Friday, October 21, 2005
In an essay published in the New York Times this week (but God knows where and when exactly, as the "Times Select" articles-for-pay don't seem to include that information), Times editorial board member Verlyn Klinkenborg says that "writing means allowing yourself to think while paying attention to what you think as you think it." The self-reflexivity of blogging tempts one to go a step even beyond that, and I fear we may all be headed to meta-meta-land.
But maybe it's just me. In any case, this weekend I face the wood-pulp plugs and white laminate of Ikea, Inc. in the form of about a dozen cd towers waiting to be put together. God bless the Swedes.
Thursday, October 20, 2005
Wednesday, October 19, 2005
Many of the unsolicited manuscripts we see are college or grad school term papers, most often unrevised for publication. Think: when was the last time you willingly read beyond "In this paper I shall prove" in a magazine article? Certainly, academic work can be the basis of a fine article--Horn Book reviewer Vicky Smith's "A-Hunting We Won't Go," an essay about anti-hunting bias in children's books, appeared in the Magazine in 2004 but first saw light as a paper for the Simmons' children's literature degree. But in rethinking the piece for us, Vicky boiled down the survey into an argument. We love a good argument, and I don't just mean the bristling sort of debate Marc Aronson and Andrea Pinkney had in our pages a few years back. I mean an article--whether research-based or speculative--that has a reason for being, that wants to tell us something new and convince us it's worth our attention. Hey, I think I'll extend this criterion to the book review section!
My own favorite catch, in a draft of a Horn Book Guide review, was "this book follows sixteen-year-old Karen, a stalking victim." Then there was the time we almost printed Magid Fasts for Ramadan (a picture book by Mary Matthews and E.B. Lewis, about a Muslim boy who wants to join the adults in the Ramadan fast) as Magid Feasts for Ramadan . . . .
Tuesday, October 18, 2005
*and will, on November 12th, at the Eric Carle Museum.
Friday, October 14, 2005
Wednesday, October 12, 2005
Tuesday, October 11, 2005
Friday, October 07, 2005
Thursday, October 06, 2005
My editorial gamely tries to play along with our main theme by bringing in my trip to the IYL last spring in the company of Elena A., but what I was really interested in was what that trip taught me about what American children's book people mean when they call a book European. Hint: it's not a compliment.
Wednesday, October 05, 2005
I'm just back from a couple of days in New York, staying with my dear friend Elizabeth. We met twenty-five years ago as students in Zena Sutherland's children's literature class at the University of Chicago, and now she is a children's book publisher in New York. What has perhaps sealed our friendship even more than our vocation has is our shared devotion to the Off-Broadway revue "Forbidden Broadway," an evening of speedily-paced parody songs and sketches burlesqueing the current Broadway season and spoofing theatrical stars of today as well as yesterday's legends (there is always an Ethel Merman or a Carol Channing moment). We thought the highlight of last night's performance was a showdown between "Cherry Jones" and "Kathleen Turner," each in character from her most recent performance, Jones as Sister Aloysius in "Doubt" and Turner as Martha in "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" The climax of the number was Jones exhorting Turner to "DOUBT!" to the tune of "Shout!"
It made me think about when children's books make fun of themselves, as in the Lemony Snicket Books, The Happy Hocky Family, or A Fate Totally Worse than Death. (There are also those books whose status as parody is debatable, but I'll let you name your own choices there.) I also recall what I think was a Sheila Greenwald novel in which the young heroine is being fed a diet of Judy-Blume like novels, including one blissfully, perfectly, named, Life Goes On, I Suppose. Thirty years or so ago, the ALA's Gay and Lesbian Task Force (as I think it was called then) performed a skit at annual conference, underlining all the cliches of the then-young gay-themed young adult novel. The skit ended with a car crash--the defining moment of books including Trying Hard to Hear You, I'll Get There. It Better Be Worth the Trip, and Sticks and Stones (that last by the wonderful Lynn Hall. Where is she?) While we can still acknowledge the grievance, I always thought that criticism failed to concede that the car-crash-climax was by no means limited to gay-themed novels--the books about teenaged alcoholics worked exactly the same way. Before you all start stepping on my head for equating homosexuality and alcoholism, just . . . wait. Have a drink, darling. I know, I know, that's not funny, and we were talking about humor.
Another place I see children's books being needled (car crashes figured in the drug books as well, btw) is in those lists of parody children's-book titles (One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Dead Fish) or creatively redesigned children's book covers--the one I can think of at the moment has Eminem superimposed upon the great green room for a book called Goodnight, Bitch. Hee. I love this kind of demonstration of the place children's books can take as cultural markers in the big world. The country she-done-me-wrong lament that goes, " . . . now I'm the one who's caught in Charlotte's web," presupposes that the listener knows Charlotte's Web. I think that's great.
Saturday, October 01, 2005
The ceremony last night was quite lively, with a couple of hundred from Boston’s children’s book crowd on hand. My partner Richard took pictures, and I’ll post some here as soon as we figure out how it all works. The acceptance speeches and excerpts of the judges’ remarks will be published in the January/February issue of the Horn Book; the cover illustration is being created by this year’s Picture Book winner Mini Grey.