Fuse #8

Friday, June 02, 2006

What's New, What's Coming, Whazzup?

Recently some nice folks in the world of children's literature have been giving me tidbits of information about upcoming projects and irons in the fire. As a matter of course, I would like to share this information with you, the adoring public. Now some, nay, MOST of this info involves books that haven't come out yet or have just been published. New news. That's where it's at, here at Fuse 8.

First up, this nice message from author Mary Quattlebaum about the process involved in writing that fabulous frentic folktale Sparks Fly High (reviewed earlier this week):
Anyway, as the author of said devilish tale I can testify to its devilishly long publishing process. I first came across the tale 18 years ago! Try relaying that bit of info. during school visits. The kids are shocked, shocked that anything, let alone a skinny picture book, could take so long. But the devil was in it, see, and though there's a dearth of Colonial American folktales out there, the presence of the fiery fiend tended to dampen enthusiasm for the mss. Now that the book's out, though I get to dress in colonial costume and trot round with it. In my salad days, I was a tavern wench for Colonial Williamsburg but, alas, that costume doesn't fit any more. Btw, my family and I even got to visit the real Colonel Lightfoot's grave-- an expedition involving a GPS device, trespassing, and a field full of startled horses.

Sparks Fly High is, I maintain, perhaps one of the most remarkable books of the year. It's nice to get a sense of the history behind the tale. Check out Ms. Quattlebaum's website (I STILL love her name) if you get a chance. Fun stuff there.

Next up, we here at the Fuse have heard recently from charming children's author Sara O'Leary who wrote the beautiful When You Were Small with Simply Read Books. I had the pleasure of meeting Dimiter Savoff, the man behind everything at Simply Read, not long ago at my library. Small publication houses tend to take more time than their big name equivalents. I was unprepared, however, for just how much care they take. Ms. O'Leary had this to say about her book:
Dimiter Savoff not only represents Simply Read - he's it....At one of our meetings he opened up a briefcase full of blank sheets and asked Julie and I which white we liked best. This is a man who takes details very seriously. He asked us if we would leave off the dedications and author bios which seemed strange to me but now I love how clean the book is - right down to him shrinking any of the necessaries down as small as he could. A friend of mine - a true sensualist - noted that the book even smelled good. When I mentioned this to DImiter he said it was because they had paid extra to have scent imbued in the glue for the binding.

You heard her right. They paid extra for the scent. Actually, I wasn't too terribly surprised when I heard this. My husband actually commented on the scent of the book as I was working on its review. He said it smelled like the children's books he remembered as a kid. It was only later that we found out that that smell was part of this entire picture book experience. And don't let anyone ever tell you that scent isn't important. Have you ever picked up a picture book that had cheap glue in its binding so that when you cracked it open it stank to high heaven? As a children's librarian, I sure have. Now I can see that there are some people in the world who care more than others about this sort of thing. Add in the amazing minimalism and the beautiful binding and I'm ready and willing to declare When You Were Small possibly the best picture book of the year, bar none. Good news too. Ms. O'Leary and illustrator Julie Morstad are working on a second title after this one.

Okay, what else do I have on my plate? Ah yes! Well, I published a review on the fabulous compendium Why Did the Chicken Cross the Road not too long ago. The book isn't due out until September but I actually could not physically wait to tell you guys about how cool a title it was. Now editor Liz Waniewski from Dial (Dial's unofficial motto should be: We Care About Bloggers) informs me that she's working on a second follow-up book to Chicken with a whole host of different children's book illustrators AND that it's going to involve knock-knock jokes. Whee!

That's all she wrote, folks. I'd love to make this news update a regular feature of the site but information of this sort usually comes in unpredictable burst and spurts. I can only promise you that what I learn, you will find out shortly thereafter.


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