Thursday, September 27, 2007

Steve Jenkins says Just Say Know

Steve Jenkins gave a great speech yesterday morning here at the Red Clover conference connecting his own (and children's) interest in scale, the large scale and numbers involved in contemporary science, and the refusal of a large part of the public to believe in the scientific evidence regarding, among other issues, evolution. I'm hoping he will turn it into an article for us, so Steve, (or anyone at Houghton Mifflin, where Steve is visiting today) you're on notice that I'll be calling.

In the afternoon I hammered yet again at my favorite theme, that reading is ultimately a private exercise of the imagination and not a group activity, and that as librarians we have to remember to select books whose effects we will never know--it can't all be surefire story hour fare. For this point I chose to contrast Rachel Isadora's new edition of The Twelve Dancing Princesses (Putnam) with Jonathan Bean's At Night (FSG). Both books are great, but the first is a simply told, visually bold book that is perfect for sharing with a group while the second has its best audience in a group no larger than two.

Richard and I ended the day with a visit to Horn Book stalwart Joanna Rudge Long and her husband Norwood, who live in a Vermont-red house surrounded by mountains, the Appalachian Trail, and a maple-sugaring operation that looked nothing like the hole-in-a-tree-with-a-bucket I remembered from the picture books of my youth. The technology, scenery, company (including two smart and sweet dogs), conversation, and food could not have been better. While walking in the Longg' backyard--otherwise known as the AT--we endured a brief shower but were rewarded at its end with a full-on rainbow.


emay said...

I think The Twelve Dancing Princesses is a classic instance of the dichotomy between what kids like and what adults like in kids' books. I thought it was absolutely gorgeous, Caldecott material. My little girl thought it was bo-o-o-o-ring. Like most kids, she'd much rather see realistic and/or humorous illustrations.

Saipan Writer said...

I wonder if kids with a strong social desire are more likely than others to dislike reading, because of its solitary nature.

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