Wednesday, June 25, 2008

I have watched Tim Gunn, and I, sir, am no Tim Gunn.

. . . so what do I tell the lovely Rachel Smith, who will be making her Newbery-Caldecott banquet debut this Sunday and wants to know What to Wear?

Leonard and Leonardo

Back in New York, touring the Met and talking with Leonard Marcus about his new history of children's book publishing. Hear the latest Horn Book podcast.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Who needs critics?

Film critic Mark Lawson's Guardian piece about media producers shutting professional reviewers out is interesting to consider in light of the increased commercialization of children's fiction, particularly this:

Professional solidarity aside, it's easy to understand why publicists are looking at ways of bypassing conventional critics. For example, the considerable majority of those who regularly review films in Britain are, like me, white males over the age of 40 who tend to prize originality over repetition and realism above sentimentality. These demographics and values are completely the opposite of cinema's main target audience: 15-24-year-olds seeking, in two senses, a big release on a Friday or Saturday night.

As a result, the cinematic commentariat tends to be far keener than potential ticket-buyers on small-scale, brainy pieces (such as, recently, the quirky drama Son of Rambow or the political documentary Taxi to the Dark Side), while rating many very profitable genres far lower than cinema-goers do: chick flicks, romcoms, horror, children's films and any returning title that is followed by a number higher than 2. That attitude to sequels is typical of the fundamental philosophical difference between serious critics, who flinch at the idea that they know what they will get, and civilian audiences, who are often attracted by familiarity.

Tasha Tudor

I met her once--she was holding court at a Little, Brown party at an ALA, dressed to the nines in an old-fashioned gown and lace in her hair, seated regally in a wing chair while we gathered at her feet. We commemorate her passing with an article she wrote for the Horn Book more than sixty years ago.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Inanimate Alice

is back with a fourth chapter, and there's a bit of a rabbit hole . . . . Any theories as to what exactly is going on here would be welcome.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Boston Globe-Horn Book Awards 2008

Here they are, the winners of the 2008 Boston Globe Horn Book Awards.

Nonfiction: The Wall, by Peter Sis, published by Foster/Farrar.
Honor Books: Frogs by Nic Bishop (Scholastic) and What to Do about Alice? by Barbara Kerley, illustrated by Edwin Fotheringham (Scholastic)

Fiction: The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie, illustrated by Ellen Forney (Little, Brown)
Honor Books: Shooting the Moon by Frances O'Roark Dowell (Atheneum) and Savvy by Ingrid Law (Walden/Dial)

Picture Books: At Night by Jonathan Bean (Farrar)
Honor Books: Fred Stays with Me! by Nancy Coffelt, illustrated by Tricia Tusa (Little, Brown) and A Couple of Boys Have the Best Week Ever by Marla Frazee (Harcourt)

Special Citation, for excellence in graphic storytelling: The Arrival by Shaun Tan (Levine/Scholastic)

Read the press release for complete details.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Catching Up

Cruising through Bloglines to see what I've been missing over the past ten days, I was stopped by Colleen's post about blog tours wherein the author ponies up cash to a third party who then alerts its squad of bloggers to review the author's new book. Holy crap. I share the outrage but feel that this concept is going to thrive just about well as the just-announced Progressive Book Club, which will fail not because America has been taken over by benighted republicans but because book-of-the-month-type book clubs are an anachronism. The blog-squad concept will fail because buzz-generating reviewers won't join in and will make mock of those who do. Jeanne duPrau, pull out now.

Then there's Frank Cottrell Boyce's comments about YA publishing, but I think the worthy arguments advanced against them are missing the funnier semi-scandal of one Guardian children's fiction award longlister (Boyce) queering (albeit probably obliviously) the chances of another (Patrick Ness) by saying his really isn't a juvenile book at all!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

The wedding . . .

the cake . . .

our visit to my friend Jo . . .

and her dog Whipper . . .

and running across the Golden Gate Bridge . . .

and dinner with old college friends Gary and Georgie (and Gary's fiance Matt).

I WON'T be sharing the pictures Richard took of me in the motel pool, and I promise to be on-topic tomorrow.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Hear Roger (and Richard Peck)

In our latest podcast Roger brings us along for an evening in New York with Elizabeth Law (Vice President and Publisher, Egmont USA), Douglas Pocock (Executive Vice President, Egmont USA), and Newbery Medalist Richard Peck. After a lively discussion about what draws adults to read young adult books, Roger talks to Richard Peck about his current project (here's a hint: "I'm bringing Grandma Dowdel back").

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

June newsletter

The June issue of Notes from the Horn Book should be in your inbox right now (if not, see it and sign up here). Included in this issue: Roger interviews Alexandra Day (Good Dog, Carl's mistress), recommends some picture books for dog and pony lovers, holds forth on some eagerly anticipated sequels, and makes a plug for library summer reading programs. Plus: Ask the Horn Book questions answered, three compelling and topical titles, and reading suggestions in anticipation of the Fourth of July.

I'm-a the Most Happy Fella

Richard and I are off to Napa today for the wedding of his adorable son Dorian to the lovely Julie, so I won't be posting for a week or so. Kitty tells me she'll keep you informed of any especially juicy gossip.

Plenty of reading is coming along--the last quarter of Middlemarch, Ha Jin's A Free Life, Scott McClelland ratting out his boss, Colin Thubron on Siberia and Richard Grant on the Sierra Madre. And a bunch of mysteries. (This is where the Kindle comes in really handy.) I'm hoping to pick up the new David Sedaris and John Sandford at the airport.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Somebody owes Lisa Yee a Mac

(Thanks to Lolly Robinson for the tip.)

Comment spam?

Blogger seems to be having various problems today and won't let me post a couple of highly amusing pictures Lolly Robinson sent my way. What's posting without interruption, however, are spam comments. Does anyone have any recommendations for curbing this? Word verification doesn't seem to work anymore, and I hesitate to approve comments first because I think it would inhibit commenters (plus, I don't want the extra work). Any ideas?

Monday, June 02, 2008

Web Watch June '08

Rachel's latest edition of Web Watch, our online feature which links content from around the Internet with the books, authors and topics featured in the latest issue of the Horn Book Magazine, is up.