Thursday, May 26, 2011

Summer reading

We've posted our suggestions for summer reading--strictly recreational--so dig in. For the grownups, I'm recommending Michael Faber's The Crimson Petal and the White, an orgy of Victoriana with a bracing touch of postmodernism and what I think (I'm only a few hours into the forty-something houred audio edition) is going to be a lot of sex. Read it before Masterpiece Theater takes the guts out of it.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Real Boy Movie

We saw Thor last night, and it made me think about the chapter I wrote about boy books for A Family of Readers. I called that "Go Big or Go Home" after Will Hobbs's novel of the same name, and boys and other people who loved that book will love this movie. Explosions, challenges, slapstick, father-son drama, sacrifice, and just a hint of romance (object of which being Natalie Portman, who I like a lot more here than in Black Swan).

However, I will never be able to go to the movies again without looking back to check the projector. And here I thought it was just my aging eyes.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

We have a winner

Our new blog about all things Caldecott Medal, debuting this fall, will be called Calling Caldecott, a name first suggested to us by Anamaria of Books Together. It was the first suggestion! So, Anamaria, send your mailing address to kbircher at hbook dot com and we'll get you your copy of A Family of Readers.

Any early Medal contenders out there?

Monday, May 16, 2011

You have to love someone who could call her own granddaughter a psychopath

Rocco has a great interview over at SLJ with Paula Fox, who wrote one of the greatest novels I have ever read (One-Eyed Cat) and who is at the heart of the oddest piece of children's book gossip I have ever heard.

Enough already

Okay, I laughed when I saw the cover of Go the Fuck to Sleep and I laughed again at least through the first half of the pdf of the whole book that has been making the rounds. But when it became A Thing and a big prepub bestseller and people all over the net lining up to buy it and baby-shower it, I realized it's at heart just a potty-mouthed version of It's All About Me, yet another book that allows parents to feel cool and special and hardworking and essential to the little baby for whom they so graciously interrupted their fucking stupid hipster douchebag lives.

Yes, I do feel better, thanks for asking.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

For appearances sake

Because of a scheduling conflict, Martha P. and I will be speaking at the Eric Carle sometime later in the year rather than this month. But I am all set for this evening's panel discussion at 7:00 P.M. at the Cambridge P.L. with the Scooby-Doo Diversity Gang--Holly Black, Sarah Rees Brennan, Deva Fagan, Malinda Lo, Cindy Pon, and Francisco X. Stork. Poor Francisco--he's not just the only guy, he's the only one who steers clear of fantasy. Thus far, anyway: look for Marcelo: First Bite in bookstores soon.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

May Notes from the Horn Book

Wherein I interview Patrick McDonnell (Me . . . Jane), and we review more nature books for young children,  three new chapter books, audiobooks for middle-schoolers and some new YA novels.

Monday, May 09, 2011

Neil speaks

 . . . and apparently gets into a lot of hot water for doing so. Even before people in Chicago knew that Neil Gaiman was giving the 2012 Sutherland Lecture, they were talking about kooky Matt Dean, the Minnesota legislator who announced that he "hated" Gaiman (whether the books or the man he did not make clear), called the author a "pencil-necked weasel," and accused him of "stealing" $45,000, the fee Gaiman received for a speech, from the state.

What is up with Republicans? When they're not trying to monkey with the laws of supply and demand, as above, they keep busy legislating health care. Ayn Rand is crying in hell, and the fact that Gaiman donated his fee to charity only makes her feel worse. (I'm kind of with her there.  I'm sorry Gaiman felt compelled to tell us how he spent the money--who cares?) If somebody wants to pay me $45,000 for a speech, I'll gladly take it and do my utmost to push those dollars swiftly back into our flatlined economy. Dentists, opticians, roofers rejoice!

Sunday, May 08, 2011

Mo speaks

 . . . and did a great job. I loved that he took on our under-examined slogan "People Need Books" and flipped it to explore how books, unlike TV or digital media, need people--while a TV show will keep rattling on even when you leave the room, a book can't do anything unless someone is reading it. (Marla Frazee and Allyn Johnson make a similar point in their article about picture books in the current issue.) And he warmed my misanthropic little heart when, in response to a question by a teacher who always told her students that "writers work in groups," said that he worked alone, only showing his manuscripts and drawings to his wife and daughter, from whom the acceptable response was praise. My favorite question, from a little kid: "Does the Pigeon have a sister?" And circling neatly back to his opening theme, Mo replied "you tell me."

Next up for the Sutherland:  Neil Gaiman, May 4, 2012. Don't even think about trying to get a ticket until next April.

But speaking of groups (and Mo did say he heard a lot of YA writers did work this way), this coming Thursday, May 12, I'll be at the Cambridge Public Library moderating a panel consisting of Malinda Lo, Francisco X. Stork, Sarah Rees Brennan, Cindy Pon, Deva Fagan, and Holly Black, talking about "diversity in YA fiction." The event begins at 7:00PM and I would advise showing up early if you want a seat. Porter Square Books will be on hand to sell books for a signing following the panel.

Thursday, May 05, 2011

The Pigeon Speaks

I'll be in Chicago tomorrow for the Sutherland Lecture (I would have been flogging it here but the event sold out very quickly) with Mo Willems. He's interviewed on the occasion by Time Out Chicago, and look for his speech this fall in the Magazine.

People who make purchase decisions based on starred reviews aren't doing their job right

Considering how professionally bankrupt--giving 'em, getting 'em, using 'em--the whole starred review system is, I really like what Shelftalker has to say about the whole business.

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Live Five Schedule

At ALA in New Orleans next month, I will be conducting five-question interviews with the following authors and illustrators at our booth (#939). And we have a NEW sound system!

Saturday, June 25:

10:00 AM Rick Riordan
11:00 AM Clare Vanderpool
2:00 PM Erin and Philip Stead

Sunday, June 26th:

10:00 AM Tomie dePaola
11:00 AM Bryan Collier
1:00 PM Rita Williams-Garcia
2:00 PM Brian Selznick
3:00 PM Sy Montgomery and Nic Bishop

Monday, June 27th:

11:00 AM Paolo Bacigalupi

Anything you want me to ask?

I never went

 . . . to a prom, but I admire the way these authors proudly show off the ruffles and powder blue of youth.

Monday, May 02, 2011

May/June Horn Book Magazine

The May/June issue is out and a whole bunch of it is up online, including cover artist Marla Frazee and Allyn Johnston's argument for the picture book; Barbara Bader on children's library leader Augusta Baker; Chelsey Philpot on To Kill a Mockingbird, Andy Laties on why traditional publishing works so well, and Viki Ash and Betty Carter on What Makes a Good Baby Shower book? Also: my editorial on reading quotas, author Madeleine George defending herself against charges of "fatphobia," and author Russell Freedman defending himself against Marc Aronson.  Enjoy!