It's not every day that a King's bones are dug up. So let's celebrate with some bones we dug out of our non-fiction collection today!
Preface: I've been in my department head position for almost a year and a half. I made a conscious effort not to kick off any big weeding projects until I had been on the job for a full year so I could get a good sense of our patrons and what the community was digging. Now that I have a sense of things, we're off to the races! While my colleagues do a brilliant job of all the nitty-gritty work, I take a quick pass through everything before it goes out the door. I present to you the top casualties of the day.
And, finally, the book that gave this post its name:
I am in love with this book. My favorite excerpt:
Don't hook this book
My young whippernap,
For nickels and dimes
It cost-ed my pap.
Don't know if that qualifies as a whimmy-diddle or not.
I think it's also worth noting that the author, a Mr. James Still, has a bio in the back of the book that says "Critics have hailed his verse and fiction for its beauty, humor, and integrity."
And keeping with our old bones theme, I give you my favorite Grade 7 slow dance jam.
Now I have been late to the party on a few things. When it comes to my Abraham Lincoln obsession, I'm about a century and a half late on that trend.
This all started in February. I am an audiobook fiend as I am unable to read in a moving vehicle without spewing. I also like to spice up mundane tasks like folding laundry or steaming my dresses by listening to an audiobook (note: that last sentence is going to appear in the personal ad I post at age 85). Basically, if I'm not reading a book I'm probably listening to one.
I randomly downloaded Chasing Lincoln's Killer on audiobook. I knew nothing about Lincoln other than the fact that he wore noteworthy hats. Within 25 minutes of listening to James L. Swanson's book, I was hooked.
There is no better audiobook in the world. Will Patton narrates and he does an impeccable job.
This is the thing: I am Canadian. Presidents don't get much stage time on our curriculum. This is about the most excitement we get from a national leader (which, granted, was a big deal):
So before listening to Swanson's book, I didn't really get the Lincoln thing. I certainly had no idea how insanely CRAY the events were before and after his assassination. The General Seward bit!? Mother of Pearl, I almost had a heart attack.
Since listening to the audiobook of Chasing Lincoln's Killer, I have watched several Lincoln documentaries and am slowly savouring Candace Fleming's The Lincolns: a scrapbook look at Abraham and Mary. No matter what is going on in my life, reading that dang scrapbook totally takes me away. If I'm having a bad day, it always helps to know that I don't have to tackle the abolition of slavery. For some inexplicable reason, anything Lincoln-related has an uncanny ability to distract and comfort me. This is exactly how those five-year-old boys who are obsessed with dinosaur books must feel.
So if The Chicago Tribune is right and the Lincoln wave is coming, that will no doubt trickle down to children's books as all thing tend to do. And I can't wait. It's been tough for me to get Canuck kids and teens interested in Lincoln stuff (or, indoctrinate them with my obsession) because they have no point of reference and don't really care about American presidents. And there is so much great Lincoln stuff out there already, with some notable 2012 titles. These are on my to-read list:
To close, here I am in a state of bliss outside the animatronic Lincoln Disneyland feature a few weeks ago post-ALA Saturday. There was no line, because people are suckas and don't realize that an animatronic Lincoln rivals Splash Mountain.
Oh boy, I was majorly pumped to find out this bit of Tammy Grimes trivia today. Basically, everything I loved most in my childhood relates to her.
Since childhood, I have been obsessed with a little-known (or at least I think it's little-known; it never made it onto DVD) Rankin Bass animated version of 'Twas the Night Before Christmas.
Long story short: human family and mouse family live in harmony together in a house. Human dad is a clockmaker. Mouse dad has some job or another, but he often converses with human dad. Mouse dad has a son that writes to Santa and tells him to bugger off because Santa ain't real. Thus, Santa decides not to visit the town. Human dad must build a really nice clock (that plays music of course) to lure Santa back.
The show used to get played on the Family Channel but I haven't seen it on for about ten years. Sadly, my VHS copy from eBay is somewhere at my mom's house. Thank God for YouTube. Tonight I'll be huddled 'round my laptop watching a really low-quality version of this amazing piece of television history.
The songs are SO DOPE. I managed to download this little gem, "Even a Miracle Needs a Hand," off Limewire or some other illegal program back in 2004.
Well, guess who voices the role of the disenchanted mouse son and sings some of the aforementioned dope songs? TAMMY GRIMES! TAMMY GRIMES!
You may remember that I blogged about the best audiobook of all time, narrated by the TG (also now obscure and hard-to-find). What a coincidence, hey?! That's a Christmas Coinicidence, folks.
Have a good one!
Awhile ago, I posted in anticipation of Scholastic's new I Am Canada series. I had a few reservations. My feelings about the name remain (a bit beer commercially), but I'm won over by the prettiness.
The first two books are Hugh Brewster's Prisoner of Dieppe and Paul Yee's Blood and Iron. Both these authors are natural choices for these topics as they've already done their homework: Brewster's Dieppe: Canada's Darkest Days of World War II came out last year and no one should ever forget about Paul Yee's Tales From Gold Mountain and Ghost Train.
The I Am Canada website, as is the case with the Dear Canada site, is stellar. It is also imbued with a healthy amount of testosterone and perfectly reflects the books in all their navy blue glory. I'm really impressed with the cover design - it has enough in common with Dear Canada with the photo and the weathered paper, but also stands alone, too. These boys and girls sure look smart together, don't they?
It's interesting that the I Am Canada books seem available only in paperback (correct me if I'm wrong here). Perhaps because of the maxim that boys prefer paperbacks? If so, very interesting.
While I think boys might be reluctant to read the Dear Canada books (there's a picture of a chick on the front, plus the hardcovers have a ribbon for a bookmark), I can see gals partaking in I Am Canada.
Next up is to give these new boys on the block a read and see how they measure up. But with authors like Brewster and Yee on board, I suspect the final verdict will be... Shannon: 0 I Am Canada: 1
Who knew that being in love with a Minnesotan would bring such children's literature bounty!?
I spent last week in Minneapolis with Dan's (or, in internet speak, @danhooker's) family. We spent most of the time in the house thanks to a horrifying case of food poisoning. While couple's food poisoning led to many prostrate hours watching Deadliest Catch on TiVo, it also allowed for much unexpected fun that is actually relevant to this blog.
First things first. Dan's ma and pa were kind enough to let me ship my eBay win to them to save on shipping. Behold, my much-anticipated Sweet Valley High board game (from a pet-free, smoke-free home, natch):
We put it into action the first night (pre-food poisoning).
I was over the moon when I realized that Dan looks exactly like Winston Egbert!
Dan's dad always finds me awesome stuff at Half Price Books when we visit and this trip was no exception. Look - a first edition Hoot!
Even cooler, check out this self-proclaimed "Jack-in-the-Book," Betty Plays Lady (Samuel Lowe Company, 1953):
I love pop-up/pop-out/toy books though I don't know much about them. Betty is especially cool because it is a kind of paper doll, pop-out hybrid that allows you to change Betty's outfit each time you turn the page. As you see, Betty starts off kind of smushed:
But once you unfold her legs and head, she's ready to play some serious lady:
This outfit is one that I would actually wear:
A nod to the Dutch:
Betty finds some kinda trampy clothes in Grandma's attic:
The fashion fun continues on the back cover:
I just love this book and anticipate the day when I will have to keep it on a high shelf to keep my own little ones from dismembering Betty.
While waiting for the food bacteria to leave my body, I also stumbled across a German version of Winnie-the-Pooh on one of the family's many bookshelves. Dan's family is not German, making this find all the more delightful and random. Note: if you are lucky enough to find someone in this life who has parents that own a German version of Pooh, don't let him/her out of your sight. Whatta find.
Oh yes, I also read Mockingjay. I don't have anything particularly enlightening to say and I'm not going to be a spoilin' Susie (if you're looking for some stimulating yet spoiler-y discussion, you'll find it here). I have to say that I was kind of bored for the first 250 pages, but the last 130 pages were freakin' awesome. I was also happy with the ending. But, as with the other books, I wanted more kissin' (although I know Collins isn't really the kissin' type and that there is not much time for kissin' whilst fighting for one's life). Bottom line: I'm glad I hung on to my Chapters gift certificate for months and spent it on Katniss and the gang.
And, finally, although this is not related to children's literature, I am happy to report that I got to meet one of my childhood idols, Smokey the Bear. We dragged our sick selves to the Minnesota State Fair (and lasted about an hour) but it was worth it to see/meet Smokey. He is a bear of few words (and no shirt).
Most of the time, I write a post because I would like to think I have something kinda, sorta interesting to say or share.
However, I am writing this post because I want to be able to say I told you so.
For the most hardcore of the hardcore young people's book/culture peeps, this probably won't be breaking news. But I want to officially throw my hat into the "The 1920s are going to be the next big thang with young people" ring.
I'll preface this by saying that I'm probably missing a lot of stuff here - if you know of something else, throw your hat in the ring too! That's what the Comments Section is for! You'll be happy you did it when this trend really takes hold. Embrace smugness with me.
Lauren Conrad has a thing for the 1920s
In an interview with Seventeen earlier this summer, Lauren included The Great Gatsby on the list of her favourite books (in addition to her own books, of course - super classy) and said she dresses up like a flapper almost every Halloween. While Lauren isn't the peon of fashion or culture for anyone over 17, she's a mover and shaker with lil' pups born after 1994.
Anna Godbersen's Bright Young Things
Surprisingly, I read The Luxe (and the plot summaries of the next three books in the series on Wikipedia) and I didn't consider it a total waste of my life.
Godbersen's next foray into bubblegum YA lit will be Bright Young Things, to be released in October 2010.
The book's set in...you guessed it...1929. The synopsis includes a whole lotta exciting nouns like "flappers" and "showgirls" and "socialites." I guess there isn't much sexy about "The Great Crash," but, y'know, that wasn't too big of a deal.
Libba Bray's The Diviners
This promises to be the thinking person's Bright Young Things. As Publishers Weekly reported, Bray got a seriously ballin' advance for a four-book "supernatural fantasy series set in Manhattan during the 1920s." Bray is universally regarded as awesome by both teens and librarians, so this is going to be a big deal come 2012.
The Great Gatsby Video Game
Most people heard of this and thought, "What a cute lil' thing to tweet and put on my Facebook." Meanwhile, I let out a maniacal laugh as I added it to my mounting list of evidence.
Teen Vogue and the Twenties
Teen Vogue has been all over the twenties lately. Most recently, their "best dressed reader of the day" (caps are so outta style) proclaimed that she loves the twenties because "It was such a classy era, but at the same time, the clothing choices always hinted toward mischief and revolution." "Hinted toward mischief and revolution?!?" I wish I had been that articulate at sixteen.
Even Snooki gave the twenties a (historically inaccurate) shout-out!
Yes, I watch The Jersey Shore. On the first episode of Season Two (i.e. - two Thursdays ago) Snooki was washing clothes in the sink (after an accident involving white booty shorts and a red alcoholic beverage) and lamented, "I feel like a pilgrim from the friggin' 20s washing s---." Lovely.
So, there you have it. I've got my fingers crossed that the 1920s really is the next big thang, and not just kind-sorta-the-next-big-thang like fallen angels proved to be.
Dr. Dre once said that he is "still not loving police." Well, I'm still not loving the idea of a Mr. Popper's Penguins movie. On a seemingly unrelated note, the fourth season of Mad Men starts this weekend. I think there's something here...
Let me begin by admitting that my attitude towards children's books being turned into movies is best described as "hypocritical curmudgeon." I'm one of those people who usually thinks kids books are best left as kids books: The live action How The Grinch Stole Christmas movie left me teary-eyed in anger and I can't even talk about the Where The Wild Things Are movie without going on an extended enraged tirade. Yet, I think Hawley Pratt's 1971 animated The Cat in the Hat is brilliant while most find it creepy and weird (Daws Butler as Mr. Krinklebein is spot on and Geisel and Chuck Jones produced it! How can you not be into that!?). But, as usual, I digress.
Not surprisingly, I am wholeheartedly against the Mr. Popper's Penguins movie. Or, to be more precise, the 2012 Mr. Popper's Penguins movie (who knew there was one in 1987?) While I realize that much cinematic hi-jinx can ensue when you put penguins in a basement, I just can't stand to see one of my all-time favourite books follow in the footsteps of the likes of Mike Myers and The Cat in the Hat. Plus, The Horn Book said that the book "is more fun than twenty-five movies." How can you beat that?
But I'm a realist. I know that Hollywood will not heed my plaintive whimpers. I realize that I need to change my approach. Instead of whining about it, I need to take action. This movie is going to get made, and if it's going to get made, there is only one man I trust with the sacred role:
Yes, I think Hammy would make the perfect Pops. And like any good English 100 student, I have already anticipated your objections and am ready to convince you.
He's too put together. Mr. Popper is sort of delightfully rumpled and painterly in the book.
But Hammy can look delightfully rumpled/scruffy too! Look!
Jon Hamm isn't kid friendly. Mom friendly, yes. But not kid friendly.
Oh, really? Just look at this face!
Doesn't that just scream kid-friendly? What's that? You think he looks a bit creepy here? Well, that's perfect! Mr. Popper has just a touch of creepy/zany about him (he does have an obsession with reading about cold climates and keeps penguins in his basement).
Aren't you biased? Isn't Jon Hamm second on the list of famous people you want to marry (after JFK Jr. and before Paul Newman in Cat On a Hot Tin Roof)?
You got me there.
Jon Hamm isn't funny.
But he is funny! He really is! Just listen to him tell the story of how Regis Philbin stalks him! (at the 1:00 mark)
There are currently three other actors in serious consideration for the role: Jim Carrey, Jack Black, and Owen Wilson (Ben Stiller used to be, but now he's apparently out). Boo-urns to all these guys.
The Press Association made a very astute comment, saying that, depending on the actor/director combo, the movie could either be " a soul-searching metaphor movie or a kid-friendly comedy packed with animal jokes." If Carrey or Black do the role, it will turn into one of those overly-raucous, way-too-loud blockbusters where humour is achieved via penguins peeing on the carpet. If Owen Wilson does it, things could get a bit too introspective and weird. And if Ben Stiller does it, it will just be Night at the Museum with some penguin trainers tacked onto the credits. Hamm could bring something inbetween, methinks, with a health dose of old-fashioned kitsch and plenty of pomade.
In my final plea, I have created this highly-detailed, realistic simulation for your consideration:
So, I hope you will consider supporting me in the cause: Jon Hamm for Mr. Popper - 2012.
One of the best things about working at an academic research library with a children's collection is the lil' gems you find in the stacks. They can't throw anything away lest someone may write a thesis on it someday! I often go hungry during my shifts because I spend my whole break perusing the PZ 7s and PZ 4.9s. I recently stumbled upon Dorothy Clewes' Library Lady whilst I should have been eating my lunch.
First things first. How fabulous is little Virginia May's outfit? This is what I strive to look like on a daily basis, right down to the opaque tights and sideswept bangs.
This was published in 1970, but it reeks of 1951 (reeks in a good way, that is). Seven-year-old Virginia May only owns one book to her name until a library opens down the street. She is welcomed by the "library lady" (who is, hilariously, never referred to as a librarian), becomes a member of the library, and is soon on her way to borrowing the maximum two books at a time.
Ginny's parents are amped that she is using the library, especially since their two teenaged sons, Charlie and Dudley, are more concerned with loafing about with a troublesome "gang." Charlie and Dudley scoff at Ginny's desire to be "educated," until they get the chance to - get this - make some fish out of construction paper for a library exhibition! After making some very convincing bream and carp (A "bream?" What's that? Who cares! It's charming and British!), Charlie and Dudley begin to feel that they could do more in life than being a "brickie" and an "errand boy."
'What about that then?' Ma said. She wa so pleased she looked ready to burst. It was the first time in a long while that she had felt really proud of her two boys.
'For heaven's sake - it's only a bit of coloured paper hanging in a kids' library,' Charlie said, but he couldn't help feeling set up at the unexpected praise and the idea of his cut-out floating from a ceiling for all to see.
But the craft-induced euphoria doesn't last long. While drinking at the pub with the "gang," Charlie and Dudley reveal that, in addition to their carp and bream mobile, the library fish exhibition contains some valuable old fishing poles (old fishing poles are valuable?). The "gang" then steals the fishing poles and put the blame on Charlie and Dudley! Luckily, Ginny and the library lady (and the science of fingerprinting) come to the rescue in a conclusion that contains the best colloquial uses of "loaf" and "bacon" in the history of literature:
'You used your loaf, that's what,' Charlie said. 'You remembered what time it was. I never would have noticed that in a thousand years.'
'And that library lady of yours, polishing away our finger-marks from the fishing-rods because she wanted a smart turn-out. I never would have bothered to do that: but it saved our bacon.'
Dorothy Clewes was very prolific, and I think she's best known for her picturebooks with Edward Ardizzone. But I don't think it really gets any better than Library Lady. It's so charmingly vintage and English and has such a dear, schticky appeal for any librarian.
I thought my inaugural post should be something dear to my heart, and well, easy readers basically line my aorta. I wrote a really long paper on the birth of easy readers (i.e. - my MA thesis) because I love 'em, I think they need to get more cred, and they came about in the mid-1950s. The mid-1950s was the most swingin' time in American children's book publishing with the best gossip: powerful librarians talking to dolls, editor rivalries, unknown authors and illustrators getting to just flounce up to the editor's office. Amazing.
One of the most interesting little gems I have come across is this New Hampshire Public Radio interview with Else Holmelund Minarik. And Holy Mother of Pearl, there is one heck of an interesting tidbit in there.
At the 4:00 mark, Minarik said that she, GET THIS, took the Little Bear manuscript to Random House before she ever took it to HarperCollins (then Harper and Brothers)! And Random House passed, saying "If you can write about children, we'd be interested."
Now, why is this so interesting? Just imagine if Random House had accepted the Little Bear manuscript. That would have meant no Sendak-drawn Little Bear (he was Ursula Nordstrom's property and there's no way the Random House peeps would have sought him out). Can you imagine Little Bear without Sendak? Can you imagine Sendak's career without Little Bear? (I mean, he was already rockin' it with Ruth Krauss and others, but that lil' ursine munchkin is an important part of his almighty portfolio)
I truly believe that the whole easy reader genre could have gone down an entirely different path if it weren't for the Sendak/Minarik partnership. With no word list, and that dear, quaint, comfy Victorian-inspired art, Little Bear set the bar for both I Can Read and other publishers.
Any Grade 6 researcher could find the Minarik interview as it is linked to her Wikipedia page. But I've never seen it discussed anywhere, which is surprising, considering how different things could have been if Little Bear had been a Beginner Book. I mean, really.
Ah, 1950s children's publishing gossip. Is there anything better in the world? No.