Friday, January 30, 2009
And, in her memory and for your pleasure, here is the seminal article she wrote with Eliza Dresang about David Macaulay's eternally confounding Black and White.
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
Monday, January 26, 2009
Thursday, January 22, 2009
But I have a nagging problem with it. The whole point of the book is that everyone has ten fingers and ten toes, and that while we celebrate each baby's uniqueness, isn't it great that they (and, by extension, we) have this particular array of anatomy in common? "And both of these babies, / as everyone knows, / had ten little fingers / and ten little toes."
Except, of course, when babies don't. Not everybody does--some are born with fewer (or lose them due to disease or accident), some come with an extra one or two, some people don't even have two hands, for God's sake. I know that these people are relatively rare, but there is something that bothers me when a book so determinedly inclusive manages to be so clueless about what it's actually saying. If this book had a mouth, it would be cramming all ten toes into it right now. You would never (knowingly) read this book to a child who didn't have ten fingers and toes, would you? And shouldn't that give us pause about sharing it with the ones who do?
I don't usually have much patience for debates about "sensitivity" and have no idea why this book bugs me as much as it does.
My favorite surprise was the nomination of Melissa Leo for Frozen River. Go see it.
For their do-over, the two men convened in the White House Map Room at 7:35 p.m. for a brief proceeding that was not announced until it was completed successfully.
“Are you ready to take the oath?” Chief Justice Roberts said.
“I am,” Mr. Obama replied. “And we’re going to do it very slowly.”
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
Sunday, January 18, 2009
I'm all for writers, award committee members, reviewers, teachers, and librarians "trying out" books with kids, but I think we need to be watchful of what they tell us. My colleague Anne Quirk talks about the "Steve and Daphne Show" she witnessed one year at a Best Books for Young Adults committee, where, as dutifully supplied by a committee member, opinions from these two teens from a single high school library seemed to be providing the pivotal swing vote. I myself like to use the fact that the two-year-old from downstairs loves to scream "ROAR ROAR ROAR" as evidence that Bob Shea's Dinosaur Vs. Bedtime should win the Caldecott Medal.
But talk about experimenter effect! Zena Sutherland used to quote Ursula Nordstrom as saying that kids will enjoy the telephone book if it means they're getting their mother's attention, just as politicians know not to say that Harold Robbins is their favorite writer. Everybody wants to make somebody happy. And just because your kids like or don't like something doesn't mean that other kids will feel the same way. Proximity does not an expert witness make.
Thursday, January 15, 2009
Also, Claire inaugurates her monthly booklists with American Presidents.
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
"If we were very, very, very naughty, and wouldn't be good, what then?"
Then," said the mother sadly--and while she spoke her eyes filled with tears, and a sob almost choked her-- "then," she said, "I should have to go away and leave you, and to send home a new mother, with glass eyes and a wooden tail."
Monday, January 12, 2009
But the person who scares me more than all the wolves and witches put together is one of the Times commenters:
I think I would find it very hard to sleep with that person in my house.
As much as I love books, I’m making up stories for my four year old niece instead of reading books. It sharpens my imagination, makes bedtime more exciting for both of us and enables me to control content. Often it is interactive too–sometimes I invite my niece to make up new characters or decide on the ending.I think we need to challenge ourselves to rely less on existing stories in favor of homespun, age-appropriate content for our little ones.
Friday, January 09, 2009
Wednesday, January 07, 2009
I'm again reminded of the infamous editorial-page fight between Horn Book editor Ethel Heins and SLJ editor Lillian Gerhardt. Rejecting the line (promulgated by the Horn Book among others) that children's books were all of a piece with other contemporary literature, Lillian wrote that "from where we sit, books for children are more accurately described as: the last bastion of yesterday's literary methods and standards." Ethel then said that modern adult fiction had gone to hell and children's books were the last refuge of Story; Lillian subsequently threatened to take the train up to Boston and hit Ethel over the head with a chair.
Because we view both children and children's literature as protected species, it's true that in our field we have debates that would seem peculiar if applied to adult books and readers. We don't worry, for example, about grown men not reading, except insofar as it might "send the wrong message" to their sons. But worries about "representation" of various ethnicities, gender, and sexual orientations do have a precedent in the social change movements of the 60s and 70s, with such critics as Kate Millett warning us about how destructive Henry Miller was to women. I'm guessing that Marc would tell me that someone got there before Kate, too!
Tuesday, January 06, 2009
“Books can only support a certain retail price,” she said. “It’s not like you have books that can be Manolo Blahniks and books that can be Cole Haan. Books are books. A book by James Patterson costs the same as a book by some poet.”
Which one is the Blahniks?
Sunday, January 04, 2009
Friday, January 02, 2009
Thursday, January 01, 2009
With our best girls Charlene and Lori at Lorraine's in Provincetown last night. Ptown was hit by a blizzard yesterday so it was something of a haul getting to the restaurant but the streets sure looked pretty with the Christmas lights twinkling against the snow. I've discovered a problem with bringing lots of books on vacation--it's hard to settle on one. Currently I'm dividing my time between an audiobook of My Cousin Rachel, an ebook of an old Lisa Scottoline favorite (on my new iPod Touch--thank you honey) and Tana French's The Likeness. Hope you all are having an equally relaxing week.