From the Files Of: Okay. Seriously Now, People.
$500-an-Hour Tutors the Latest Teenage Accessory
Sometimes I hate this city.
$500-an-Hour Tutors the Latest Teenage Accessory
I have a lovely post for you lads and ladies this morning. Weirdo writing rituals of the literarily famous. Any site that happens to contain the sentence, "It is alleged that Henry David Thoreau could swallow his nose", has my instant and undying love.
Not being a librarian in a system smaller than, say, the population of the state of Delaware, I don't have to deal with a lot of issues facing school teachers and librarians nationwide. For example, I never have to worry about starting a new catalog from scratch in a school library or classroom. Not an issue! If it were, however, I guess I'd be pretty durn excited about this Delicious Monster thingy. According to Esme Codell (who should know) the site contains, "shareware that allows you to automate your personal collection of books! That means, teachers, you can scan in your classroom collection, beep-beep-beep, and look things up and check things out, just like a real library, only interfacing with snazzy Mac graphics!".
For those of you familiar with my library branch, the Donnell Central Children's Room likes to describe itself thusly:
Originally housed in The New York Public Library's landmark Central Research Library on Fifth Avenue, the Central Children's Room is a national leader in childrens services. Today, over 100,000 volumes provide a wealth of material for children of all ages, and for adults.Emphasis on the "wealth". Recently the Bookseller Blog featured a little article entitled, Libraries Caught Off-Guard by Nostalgia Book Buyers. With the rise of eBay and all that jazz, plenty of people are checking out rare children's books, reporting them as "lost" to the library, and then paying a much lower fee than they'll eventually be paid online for the same book. My library, thank heavens, is probably not particularly prone to this scam. Still, we used to have a huge children's book sale every year at which booksellers would burst through our doors, hungrily snatching up anything potentially valuable that they could find. It put one to thinking of uncouth young baboons, only with slightly less inherant dignity.
I was born contrary. Should you crow a little too loudly about how good this thing or that thing is, I immediately decide to set about sniffing out its flaws. I don’t want to come across as easily won over. Never. You see where this is leading, don’t you? For a while now I haven’t been able to so much as glance at a children’s literature blog without eventually seeing the writer go into fits of pure ecstasy over Amy Timberlake’s, “The Girl Lucy Moon”. Was I going to be so easily swayed by the pack? No sir! This “Lucy Moon” business was going to have to do a puh-reety good job if it wanted to win my heart any time soon. Thus thinking I picked it up, gave it a look-see and… uh…
Pooh has been bugging me all week to post this. I tried telling him that it was really more of a Disney Pooh thing than anything to do with the real Milne Pooh but he's having none of it. With that in mind I present it to you now. It really is only gonna make sense to anyone who's seen both Apocalypse Now and Winnie-the-Pooh. Also, I personally feel that the degraded film quality really adds to the whole experience (especially at the end).
Just in case anyone ever tries to convince you that historical decorative materials are dull:
In researching historic decorative material offered by Lanston Monotype as well as other metal foundries, such as Barnhart Brothers and Spindler, there were occasionally ornaments that defied description. Perhaps it was a Victorian sense of humor or someone really thought these were a good idea or perhaps popular taste has just changed so much over the last hundred years, or our forebears were completely insane. In any case, LTC is somewhat proud to present a collection of the most bizarre, disturbing and baffling printers ornaments we could find.
"Why do the numbers of girls interested in the sciences decrease as they move into high school and higher education?" Girls aren't going into the sciences like they should be and The Feminist Press at CUNY alongside the National Science Foundation wants to change all that. The solution? They're calling for the following:
You’ll find several requests for specific proposals below. One calls for scientific detective stories based on the life, research, and discoveries of real women scientists. Another calls for stories featuring real young women—aspiring gymnasts, ice skaters, actors, dancers--using a knowledge of science to help them become really good at what they do. A third recognizes how popular Manga and graphic novels are with girls, and asks for imaginative new collaborations between Manga writers and artists to create adventures about girls who use real science to accomplish their goals.Details are available at their website. And as someone who would have preferred to swallow small hot nails rather than take another Geometry or Chemistry class in high school, I understand the need. I also like that the call for proposals includes a Manga element. Well done there.
Like you never wondered how they came about. The birth of the graphic novel finds its beginnings in "speechbands" circa 1404. The more you know, eh?
Different books have different attitudes when it comes to grabbing your average child reader's attention. Sometimes a children's title, particularly if it happens to be of the historical fiction persuasion, will meander about. It'll lazily traipse its storyline hither and thither, confident that young readers will find the will or the desperation to follow it wheresoever it may go. Then there are books like Delia Ray's, "Singing Hands". You open the book and the first thing you see is a twelve-year-old preacher's daughter of a deaf congregation humming up a storm right smack dab in the middle of her father's communion. THAT wakes your average reader up, and from there on in it keeps a tight headlock on your attention so that all a person can do is read straight through to the end without interruption. That too is Ms. Ray's charm. Any writer can tell a story that has an interesting concept. Few, however, could find a way to wrangle that interest to the ground within the space of a couple opening sentences.
One, I should point out, that's not appropriate for children. You'll never look at a beloved children's icon the same again.
I've had the few, the proud, the too often mortified Hot Men of Children's Literature nominated by publishers, fans, friends, you name it. This week, however, ye olde Fuse #8 reached a milestone when we received a nomination from a previous Hot Man of Children's Literature. Actually, the word "nomination" is a bit of a stretch. In the words of the nominator, "I have not, however anonymously, recommended Mr. [...] as a 'hot' man. I am hoping for provisonal probation. I want Mr. [...] to suffer". Which is to say, the nominator would prefer the following:
For the period of, say, six months, [...] would be a provisional, probationary ‘hot’ man. During this term he would be obligated to return to you a monthly proof of ‘heat’ in the form of images of him reading his humorous tomes to a group of adorable kittens or something of that nature. Should Mr. [...] live up to his obligations of heat, he may take my, anonymous, slot.The temptation to follow through on such a suggestion is immense. Men could compete to become Hot Men of Children's Literature. The mind boggles. Then the mind remembers that it is A) Married and B) Way too busy to spend its spare hours sifting through pics of insipient Hot Men baking fudge brownies or what have you.
Last night I was enjoyed the company of a whole host of lovely children's literature lovin' ladies. The child_lit listserv (Unofficial Motto: Philip Pullman Writes On Us!) has periodic group dinners here in NYC. So last night about 8 of us decided to traipse on down to the World Trade area of town and have a lovely little picnic in a small park there. Good conversation was present. Prosciutto was present. Wine was present. Cops were also, unfortunately, present due to the latter item. Instead of hauling us in, however, (and what good copy Drunken Librarians Busted at World Trade Center Site would have made in The Post too) the cops were very nice and told us how to go about concealing drinks in the future. I assured the others that I would blog accordingly, and so I have. A tip of the hat to our fine NYC force.
This sounds a little odd to say, but I can’t think of a better way of introducing this book than to say the following: From the creator of “Gossie”, "Ollie" and “Gossie & Gertie” comes an epic quest novella... about a chicken. If that doesn’t trip smoothly off the old tongue it's little wonder. Dunrea and his corresponding publisher Philomel (a division of the Penguin Young Readers Group) decided to do things a little differently with this small folksy book. It’s a nice story with a steady heart and a practical soul. It also treads some overly familiar ground, however, so if you’re looking for something with a storyline that doesn’t sound like something you’ve heard many times before, consider searching elsewhere. It's a pleasant little story that is sure to endear itself with some. Just make certain that the person you purchase it for belongs to that selfsame “some”.
Forget oil or natural resources. We're running out of ISBN numbers!!!
I don't write 'em.
From David Lubar back in 2003.
In the eighties, angst reigns supreme. During that decade, YA novels give us 837 rapes, 943 murders, 1,247 suicides, 12,457 dead parents, 19,382 dead pets, and three smiles. Legions of dogs are bred for the sole purpose of dying in the penultimate chapter. So many parents drown that the Red Cross steps in to offer free adult swim lessons to any interested fictional characters. Loneliness runs rampant -- nobody wants to be the main character's best friend because that's almost a guaranteed death sentence. During this period, I attempt to write books using my first two initials, but people misread the meaning of D. R. Lubar and hound me for amphetamine prescriptions.Thanks to Interactive Reader for the link, who in turn got it from Cynsations.
Great posting on BookMoot this morning. It seems that the good folks who brought you the idea of banning the bilingual version of Clifford the Big Red Dog and Disney's Christmas Storybook are back with a whole new nuttier series of books to remove from our precious children's hands. Know what's inappropriate for kids today? Talking owls and ... uh ... girls, I guess. The Burning--Guardians of Ga'hoole, Book 6 by Kathryn Lasky and Becoming Naomi Leon by Pam Munoz Ryan are on the hit list. I think BookMoot said it best when she commented,
If this is not just a publicity stunt (did your PR agency recommend this action?) then I call on the EPA for an emergency investigation of the water supply in Antelope Valley. While you are at it, check the air quality in the administrative building. They are drinking or breathing something funny out there.
While perusing Jen Robinson's recent posting on how she had recently purchased some reissued reprints of older children's books, I was delighted to discover she mentioned my much beloved and too often forgotten Below the Root. This book was basically the City of Ember / Giver / Windsinger / any-other-book-where-a-kid-gets-an-assigned-job-at-12 title of its day. Why was I so attached to this particular title as a child? Because I owned, played, and loved the video game version.
The Authors Guild is the nation's oldest and largest professional society of published authors, representing more than 8,000 writers. The Authors Guild Backinprint Bookstore is pleased to bring readers access to a variety of titles that were previously out-of-print.Whatever their reasons, this is an organization to watch. Now can we do something about bringing back The Noisy Counting book please?
Blurbs and book descriptions can be great. If you see, for example, an enticing cover in the bookstore, blurbs have the power to make or break your potential purchase. If the description sounds remarkable, the blurb is the book’s friend. If the description sounds deathly deadly dull, the blurb and book are foes. But you see, I don’t read blurbs. I like books to surprise me. To have stories and plots that jump out of nowhere and throttle my attention soundly. In short, I like to know as little about a book as possible before I read it. And since my focus in life is to concentrate wholeheartedly on children’s books, blurbs are avoided at all times at all costs. Good thing too. Had I known the plot of “Alphabet of Dreams” beyond the initial premise I might have labeled this book too soon. As it was, my slow realization of what this story was about liberated me to feel especially proud of myself and proud of author Susan Fletcher for so skillfully drawing out the story’s elegant elements. If you’re anything like me and you’d like to unravel the mystery behind “Alphabet of Dreams” on your own, stop reading this review and know only this: Excellent book. Excellent plot. Excellent characters. A classy affair through and through. Nuff said.
Okey-doke, kids. Pencils at the ready. I need you all to name as many out-and-out gay characters found in children’s chapter books as you can possibly think of starting... NOW! *ding* Pencils down. How many did you come up with? Don’t be shy, I want to see your full list. Oooooh. Couldn’t think of all that many, eh? Okay, new quiz. This one’s easier. List all the children’s chapter book characters that are kids and that someday might turn out to be gay when they grow up... GO! *ding* Pencils down. Let me see... ah... Harriet the Spy? Come on. You can do better than that. You know what, let’s just forget the whole thing. After all, I have the answer to your prayers right here. It’s called, “The Manny Files”, and I can guaran-damn-tee you’ve never come across anything like it before. It deeply amusing, genuinely touching, and like nothing you've ever experienced before.
Y'all know my current overwhelming obsession with the covers of children's books. They're good. They're bad. They're ugly. Well, recently the Penguin Blog (I should make up t-shirts that read Smart Publishers Blog) had a piece up on creating covers for books. Admittedly they've had a good cover year so far. Changeling and Oh Rats both looked mighty fine.
Auctions, aside from ebay, are not for normal everyday schlubs like you and me. They are for the rich. As such, it's just soooo unfair when I hear about something like this. A group named the First Amendment Project is going to be auctioning off "character-naming rights in forthcoming works by prominent authors". What does this mean? It means that Carl Hiaasen's winner's name will "appear at least once as a taxidermied rat in my next children's novel." Even better, Chris Ware (who has an awesome show at the Chicago Museum of Contemporary Art, by the way) will include the winner's name and "approximate drawn likeness" in an upcoming serial comic strip. Though, admittedly, considering how Ware presents his characters, this might be a somewhat depressing prize.
An author that writes about Indian raids circa the early 1600s is setting themselves up for a monumental challenge. One, quite frankly, that I don’t envy a bit. I mean, it’s a bit easier if you’re taking the side or point of view of the Native Americans. There’s a bit of fear that your story is going to be monumentally depressing, but authors like Joseph Bruchac and Michael Dorris have found ways around that. And then some writers for kids decide to go about it in an entirely different way. Let’s take the P.O.V. of the settlers. Better still, the James Town settlers. Best of all, the boy assigned to be the servant of that remarkable personal publicity machine and self-promoter, Captain John Smith himself. For what she has set out to do, author Elisa Carbone has done an admirable job. I may not agree with whether or not this was a job that needed to be done, but I can appreciate the work she’s put into “Blood On the River”.
I should have posted about this earlier but I had some crazy idea that I'd be able to add a visual to this post. What a maroon!
Doggone Brooklyn. With their Oracle and their 826NYC (NOT 826Brooklyn, so how come THEY get to host it?) and their damned difficult to navigate at 2 a.m. subway system. So what do they have on their plate next? Only the Brooklyn Book Festival, the hottest ticket in town and one filled to o'erflowing with children's authors. Don't believe me? Check out these stats:
Audiobooks are a beast unto themselves. In my library we've a large shelf of them. There, in a wildly conglomerated mix, sit books on tape and books on cd for the taking. Yet I can't tell you how many times someone will ask for their favorite book, say Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH, only to find we haven't a copy specifically on tape or cd. Still, with the popularity of sites like Audible.com, the range of ways in which to find and listen to audible books has never been greater.
LibriVox’s founder, Hugh McGuire, 32, a software developer and writer in Montreal, said there were another 100 works in development, all of which would be recorded, edited and uploaded by volunteers. “The principles of the project are to be totally noncommercial, totally ad free, totally volunteer and totally public domain,” he said.Not that LibriVox is the be all and end all in all this audible. After all, when you purchase or borrow a book from Recorded Books, you know that you're going to get some high quality readings. As for LibriVox...
At its worst a free audiobook can sound like a teenager reading aloud in high school English class. At its best it can offer excellent sound quality and skilled narration infused with a passion for the text. In between is a world of competent readings, sometimes spiced with affected accents, mumbled words and distant car horns and reflecting all manner of literary interpretations.Still, it's hard to deny the charms of that which is free. For those who don't like the selection at their local library or feel a little empty of pocket, maybe LibriVox really is the future. Interesting stuff.
I figure that if A Chair, A Fireplace and a Tea Cozy can post theirs then maybe I can post mine. This is fun. You give this site your picture and they tell you what celebrities you resemble. Apparently I look like Nikki Six. Awesome. Should I ever wish to get a second career as a bassist for Motley Crue, I think I've got an in.
When you read a bad book, the aftermath of the experience can leave you shell-shocked for quite a long period of time. Not too long ago I came across the regrettable “The Boy Who Ate Stars” by Kochka and I had a hard time recovering. Kochka, in my view, approached the subject of autism in children as a kind of wild kids-in-touch-with-their-animal side type of story. The whole project left me disappointed and wary of any books written with child audiences in mind that dealt with autism. But then I saw “RULES” and I became sorely tempted to give it a go. From its thoroughly engaging cover (you hear me publishers?) to its incredible characters, smart plotting, and all around classy style, I would recommend this book to any and every child I ran across. This is how it’s done people. This is how you write a first novel.
This is one of those cases where you wish the preference of the author had been thoroughly trumped. It looks as if Cornelia Funke has gotten her way and Brendan Fraser has signed on to play Mo in the upcoming and perpetually in production Inkheart. I think I'll bide my time trying to figure out who should play Dustfinger. Howzabout Steve Buscemi?
I thought I could beat Blogger at its own game by having a lovely little banner at the top of my blog AND search capabilities. Now it looks as if Blogger only allows you to have one or the other. Appparently I can't have a cool banner if I want people to be able to search my archives. It really didn't become a problem until I realized that Google wasn't searching my blog either as a result of the change. Therefore, until someone comes up with a doohicky I can download onto Fuse #8 that will allow people to search within the blog OR my good friend Don comes over and fixes my problems himself, we're back to the old banner. Oh well. Twas fun while it lasted.
For those of you who enjoy the Colbert Report
When I was a kid I loved me my Agatha Christie and Rex Stout. Mysteries were my bread and butter. Today, nothing’s different. Kids are just as enamored of adult mysteries as they ever were. And perhaps the most popular detective with the kiddies (as much as I would prefer it to be Nero Wolfe or Hercule Poirot) is Sherlock Holmes. Holmes is hot these days. To what may we attribute this Holmes-loving trend? The rise of such children’s books as the remarkable “The Case of the Missing Marquess: An Enola Holmes Mystery” by Nancy Springer? The new Sleuth imprint by Penguin? The rise in mystery-minded series books? Or is this a trend begun entirely by publishers with little to no child input? Whatever the case, I hope kids are ready to open up wide and swallow their fair share of Sherlock lore. If they are, Tracy Mack and Michael Citrin’s first installment in their new Baker Street Irregular series, “The Fall of the Amazing Zalindas” should be just the starter Holmes-tale they need.
I've always had a real problem with blogs written entirely in a baby's "voice". You know what I'm talking about. "Mama and dada had to change my diaper early today before they took in some marvelous red snapper with a sage marie sauce at their favorite restaurant Le Beouf". That kind of thing. How much different is it, then, when fictional characters start blogging on their own?
Cheryl Klein has offered a particularly useful post on her blog. Entitled How Do I Become a Book Editor, useful doesn't even begin to describe what Klein has written. Should any of you happen to know someone wishing to switch professions (or, better yet, get one in the first place) consider this link a must read. For fear that you think the job is all sweetness and roses, however, I refer you as well to the dark side of the job.
I tend to leave the children's music stuff to my too talented co-worker Warren. As it happens, however, Warren just had his very first child (nicknamed, as of this moment in time, Steamboat). That means that it's up to me to bring the following to your attention:
Once you’ve read enough children’s books where a girl disguises herself as a boy you begin to understand the standard tropes of the genre. The moment when they have to bind their newly growing breasts. The moment when they have to deal with their period. Usually these stories are fantastical in some respect. Almost never are they based on real life historical figures, and even more rarely are they fictionalized real-life stories. But there are exceptions to every rule and “My Last Skirt” is certainly one of these. Taking the rather fantastic story of real-life Civil War soldier and transvestite Albert Cashier nee Jennie Hodgers, the story follows Jennie from Irish sheepherder, New York cashier, soldier, old man, and, finally, old woman. And though I may have some quibbles with how author Lynda Durrant chose to present some of her information, there’s no denying the inherent interest in Cashier’s tale.
I think I've just been blatantly copied. No, really! How else to explain the current Hotties of Publishing, Men's Division currently going on at GalleyCat? Being slow, I didn't vote in time and the results are already in. Worse still, children's literature fan favorite Michael Stearns did not win. That's okay. His mere inclusion means that I can make him a Hot Man of Children's Literature someday.
In early August I received the following suggestion:
One more recommendation: Jon Agee. He's the most adorable, delightfulI'm sold. We here at A Fuse #8 Production take our hot men as we can find 'em. Terms like "adorable" and "delightful" made such a choice as this all the sweeter. And, as it happens, I'm a fan of Mr. Agee's work. From The Incredible Painting of Felix Clousseau to the misleadingly simple Terrific to his great two-page spread in the recent Why Did the Chicken Cross the Road, this guy's got skills.
Apparently today was a slow news day for CNN. Hence this story about a 92-year-old first time children's author. Says one Ms. Laura Lipari, "I'm not an author ... I'm someone who writes from the heart." As opposed to actual authors. They write from their glottuses, I guess.
This Saturday my library is having our final Summer Reading Club celebration from 2-4:30 (to which you are all invited, should you so desire). With that in mind, we are going to make it pirate themed. In preparation I decided to see what piratical goings on I could find online. What I found was Pirate Speak. It's a program that turns all sentences and phrases into their buccaneering equivalents. So, logically, I took some first sentences from children's books and plugged them in. The result: