What do the Newbery and Stephenie Meyer Have In Common?

The Children’s Bookshelf peeps at Publishers Weekly recently tweeted this Huffington post article on Grammar Pet Peeves.  The list contains the fairly standard horrors of affect/effect, its/it’s, etc. and it got me thinking about the two children’s lit misspellings that keep me awake at night.

The first, and most bone-chillingly infuriating, is the misspelling of Newbery.  If I had a dime for everytime I saw Mr. N spelt wrong, I’d likely have enough money to hire Neil Gaiman to come speak at a private event.

John most often has his surname butchered in two ways.

1.  “Newbury”

Even Neil Gaiman is not immune to the power of the Newbery typo!!!

"Hey kids, let's go to the libury for a Newbury award winning book!"

2.  “Newberry”

"Hey kids, let's go to the liberry for a Newberry award winning book!" My horror at the Mr. Popper's Penguin movie will be saved for a future post.
Caldecott is spared the terror.

“Stephanie Meyer”

Stephenie Meyer is what I call a “tooth brushing author,” meaning I harbor neither overwhelmingly strong hatred nor overwhelmingly strong love for her or her work.  Reading Twilight was like brushing my teeth – it was a necessity that left me feeling rather neutral and blaze.  M’eh.

But what does leave me in a cold sweat of rage is the misspelling of her name.  I don’t know why, but it’s like fingernails on a chalkboard.  And it’s one thing if you’re a teenager on a Twlight message board, fervently arguing the merits of Team Jacob, but it is quite another if you are one of Canada’s most popular and respected newspapers:

COME ON! The giant picture of the book cover is right there, exposing your nasty typo ways, National Post!

And People magazine did it too!

There are many more examples but my blood pressure can’t take it.  I know that we are all human and that this blog is probably riddled with typos, but I thought it was my duty to show you this horrifying underbelly of the children’s/YA literature world.  This will also be the only time Stephenie Meyer and Newbery are ever mentioned in the same sentence.

I would also like to point out that there are some instances where children’s literature-related typos are positively inevitable.  For instance, when you are spelling John Scieszka.  Even if I am copying his name directly from a book cover, I will always spell it wrong.  The same goes for Canadian YA author Shelley Hrdlitschka.  It is common knowledge that the most fertile typo breeding ground is created when an s is paired side-by-side with a c.  Throw a z or a k/h in there and you’re up the creek.

Writing Wisdom: Lauren Conrad vs. Katherine Paterson

In the final term of my MLIS degree, I wrote a paper on Lauren Conrad for a New Media for Children and Young Adults course.  I spent 5800 words exploring how Lauren Conrad embodies several conflicting versions of herself over various media.  It almost killed me.  It wasn’t the actual writing or the theory – it was the hours I spent with Lauren watching and reading interviews, pausing and rewinding episodes of The Hills and, perhaps most painfully, reading both L.A. Candy and Sweet Little Lies. In the midst of my LC binge, I tweeted:

Well, people, the time has come.

Whilst promoting her books, Lauren talked about the writing process: her inspiration, balancing fiction and reality, and her passion for writing.  Katherine Paterson does this too (note that I had the decency and respect not to put those two in the same sentence).  The thing is, when Katherine Paterson speaks or writes about creating fiction for young people, it is like a lobster feast.  When Lauren speaks about creating fiction, it is like the final bite of a filet-o-fish sandwich that has been left out in the sun too long.  But I’ll leave you to judge things for yourself.

Now, I know that there is nothing really fruitful that can come out of this comparison and that it is really just unfair.  After all, is anyone really as articulate, eloquent and insightful as Katherine Paterson?  No.  Not really.  She sets a bar that is higher than Mount Everest, K2, the Empire State Building, and Vancouver’s new behemouth Shangri-La if they were stacked vertically on top of eachother.  And Lauren Conrad certainly isn’t suffering as both L.A. Candy and Sweet Little Lies were NYT best-sellers.

But dang it, it’s fun to ridicule celebrities, especially when they enter the sacred world of writing for young people.  So here we go.  Note that I have culled the Paterson quotes from The Gates of Excellence and The Spying Heart which I’ll abbreviate as GE and SH respectively.  Lauren’s quotes have been mostly transcribed from interviews and I’ve provided links.

Lauren Conrad

Katherine Paterson

On truth creeping into their fiction

One of the main questions I get asked is how close these books will be to my life.  Um, I think that it’s best to write what you know.  There’s gonna be a lot of things in the books that people who, if they’ve at all, you know, followed our story will be like ‘Oh, I know exactly what they’re talking about.’

HarperTeen: Lauren talks about L.A. Candy

Perhaps the more orthodox among us would hesitate to say that it was the story that shaped the truth, but surely it has been the vehicle for the truth as long as the human race can remember.

GE, p. 57

On writing a character that resembles herself

I kind of took a girl and put her in similiar situations and kind of told my side of the story, you know, from someone like me but didn’t do, any of, you know, any of the same situations I had been in.

Teenflare.com interview

I know that the only raw material I have for the stories I tell lies deep within myself, and somehow when I go inside I find there a troubled child reaching up for comfort and understanding.

SH, p. 137

On discussing one’s own book

I just finished writing it and it is really good. I learned so much from writing book one so I think it shows in book two.

Lauren Conrad Online interview

There are real problems when a writer talks about her own books.  You can’t talk about them while you’re writing them, at least I can’t.  They’re too fragile and would collapse under the weight of your verbiage.  Once they’re safely written, but not yet published might be a good time, but you may be the only person interested in the book at that point.  And even if you aren’t, it would be grossly unfair, because no one else would be in a position to talk back.

GE, p. 123

On tackling tough subjects

I tried to tone down the truth a bit because I was keeping the demographic in mind.

Good Morning America interview

There are adults who would rather teenagers not come face to face with such agonizing home truths.  But I have never been sorry that I met my shadow when I was sixteen.

SH, p. 111

And, finally, a quote from Lauren that is so nonsensical and enigmatic that there was no Paterson comparison:

That’s one of the great things about writing is that you get to be in someone’s head, so I think there’s a lot of situations where you know, you’re going through things and it can be, you know, a little overwhelming and it’s all very new. So I think that’s more where I drew from.

Powell’s Books: The Haul

Haul videos and blog posts are amazing.  I have lost hours of my life watching juicystar07 with a kind of anthropological fascination.

I recently undertook my very first quest to Portland’s Powell’s Books.  As many of you probably already know, it deserves a massive Zoo-Wee Mama! for being so big and so awesome.

So, in the spirit of narcissism, capitalism, and juicystar07, I present to you my Powell’s purchases.

First, for only $3.00, a pristine copy of some paper dolls donning 1950s fashions.  This is still in print, thank heavens.

Next, Arnold Lobel’s Martha the Movie Mouse. The fact that this is out of print proves that there is much evil in this world.  For $2.95, it cost less than an Us Weekly, and there is no trace of Heidi Montag’s giant melons anywhere on this baby.

I think that James Marshall’s easy readers put Seuss to shame and thankfully these are still in print.  But for $1.50 and $2.50, I couldn’t resist!  Multiple copies of the same book may constitute hoarding, but I like to think of it as adding to my Marshall collection.

Three Up A Tree is the third member of this Trinity of Wonderfulness that chronicles the misadventures of Lolly, Sam, and Spider.

Okay, so I now have multiple copies of this too, but what a spiffy hardcover version this was – and for $2.95!

I never get over what a complete meanie Thelma is in this book. "No backsies?" HARSH.

I am now starting to realize I have a bit of a problem collecting different versions of my favourites, but how could one resist this itsy bitsy, hair-covered Little Fur Family!? Someone with no soul, that’s who.  And my soul is big, fat and fur-covered.  Now I just need to get me one of the original editions made with real rabbit fur.  Sorry, PETA.

And, now, the grand finale.  You saw Little Bear in my first post, but you didn’t see the absolutely darling Jenny’s Moonlight Adventure, didja?

New York Review Books has re-printed all of Esther Averill’s Jenny Linsky stories, but nothing beats the original.  So, so, so beautiful.  Little known fact: if I got a tattoo, it would be of Jenny Linsky.  Little Bear set me back $45.00 and Jenny set me back $28.00, but I am confident that my great grand-children may make a few dollars if they choose to re-sell these books (note: must make clause in will to be buried with these to prevent such a travesty).

So, there you have it.  My children’s book haul.

(For those of you interested in a more traditional haul report, I also got a lovely Free People jacket for 60% off and a darling Michael Kors cardigan for 70% off at Nordstrom Rack)


Little Bear Without Sendak?(!)

Looky-loo! That's my very own pristine copy of an early edition of Little Bear. If you ever come over, I may let you touch it. Please bring white gloves and a deep sense of reverence.

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.