I've Let You All Down
You don't ask for much. All you want is a children's literary blog that doles our equal parts snark and gossip about your favorite children's books, authors, hot editors, etc. So how do I repay you for your attendance and readership? Do I promptly send out my opinions on the New York Times Best Illustrated Books of 2006 the minute the newspaper hits front porches nationwide? I do not. I spent most of Sunday picking through the clothes of style editors, eating moist chocolatey brownies, and vegging on the couch with a couple really great 2006 children's novels that I CAN'T TELL YOU ABOUT SO DON'T EVEN ASK!
*pant pant pant*
Back to business. I've disappointed you. I'm sorry. To make it up to you, my devoted adoring masses (hi, mom!) I'm giving you the straight dope on the choices Donald Crews, Judy Zuckerman (hi, Judy!), and Michael Patrick Hearn (with whom I once had a child_lit dinner) made one dark and stormy night.
First off, I approve pretty heartily. There are a couple, "Huh?" choices on the list, but nothing so terrible as to give me the shakes. The winners were:
HELLO TWINS. Written and illustrated by Charlotte Voake. Candlewick. $15.99. (Ages 2 to 5)
THE LITTLE RED HEN. Written and illustrated by Jerry Pinkney. Dial Books for Young Readers/Penguin. $16.99. (Ages 4 and up)
JOHN, PAUL, GEORGE & BEN. Written and illustrated by Lane Smith. Hyperion Books for Children. $16.99. (Ages 5 and up)
THE RED LEMON. Written and illustrated by Bob Staake. Golden Books/Random House. $14.95. (Ages 4 to 8)
SO SLEEPY STORY. Written and illustrated by Uri Shulevitz. Farrar, Straus & Giroux. $16. (Ages 3 to 6)
ADÈLE & SIMON. Written and illustrated by Barbara McClintock. Frances Foster/Farrar, Straus & Giroux. $16. (Ages 4 to 8)
MOMMY? Art by Maurice Sendak. Scenario by Arthur Yorinks. Paper engineering by Matthew Reinhart. Michael di Capua/Scholastic. $24.95. (All ages)
MOVE! By Steve Jenkins and Robin Page. Illustrated by Steve Jenkins. Houghton Mifflin. $16. (Ages 3 to 4)
FLOTSAM. Written and illustrated by David Wiesner. Clarion/Houghton Mifflin. $17. (Ages 5 to 8)
GONE WILD: AN ENDANGERED ANIMAL ALPHABET. Written and illustrated by David McLimans. Walker. $16.95. (All ages)
I've linked to the reviews I wrote for some of these. Just goes to show that a person can write a review a day for a year and still miss out on some of the "big winners".
So first and, I think, foremost I would like to express my relief that I was not the only person in the world to fall head over heels in love with Adele & Simon. And though I am on the Newbery committee this year, that doesn't stop me from speculating about the Caldecott contenders. Come on, people! Note the gorgeousness!
No surprises with Flotsam, Mommy?, or Move. As for The Little Red Hen, So Sleepy Story, and John, Paul, George & Ben, these were all on the New York Public Library's 100 Books For Reading and Sharing list (not yet online). So that leaves three very mysterious little curiosities in need of a closer inspection.
First of all, I've seen all three of these titles on bookstore shelves. The first time I saw The Red Lemon I thought it might appeal to the design-crazed NYC upper West side crowd, but that doesn't mean the book didn't strike me as funny. It did. Not terribly memorable, of course. But funny. Hello Twins falls in the same camp. I could have requested ARCs of these books from their publishers when I had the chance, but I didn't feel like it. You see the results.
Undoubtedly the most peculiar addition to this list is David McLimans' Gone Wild. McLimans (who has an odd little website) has written only one book thus far in his kiddie lit career. It is this book. I cannot remember where I first saw it. Was it in a museum gift shop? The dentist's office? No idea. In any case, it's a perfectly fine title but it seemingly fulfills all those stereotypes we secretly harbor towards the New York Times Best Illustrated Books list. You want a cool animalian alphabet book? My heart belongs to Matthew Porter's ABC. Now and forever, Matthew!
Just my two cents. Other thoughts?