Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Krosoczka Interview at Publisher's Weekly

One of the little treasures I've had marked in my Google Reader has been this interview with Jarrett J. Krosoczka. He's best known for his picture books at the moment, but he's starting up a kids' graphic novel series about a crime-fighting lunch lady (I know, right? I know!)

In this interview, he talks about the long and winding process of bringing Lunch Lady to life, being a "goofy kid who loved to draw," and how his attention was turned from comics toward picture books when a teacher brought some to class.
I had never looked at picture books as an artistic endeavor. But I realized that these books are cool, and can sit on bookshelf in a kid’s room and be passed down for generations. The comics I had been working on were, for lack of a better word, disposable.
The first in his new series, Lunch Lady and the Cyborg Substitute, hits the shelves this summer, and is even getting polished up for movie stardom. Pretty good for a goofy kid.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Anthony Browne interview

Jon Scieszka may be getting kids to salaam on this side of the pond, but over in the UK, Anthony Browne has been named their new children's laureate. Thanks to Child_Lit, here's an article from the Times Online, containing a child-driven interview of Browne, and his very interesting answers. Here's my favorite, on what he hopes to accomplish as children's laureate:
“I'm hoping to get us to value looking more than we do,” Browne answers. “We can learn so much by using art. Children, particularly, are taught to move away from pictures into words, but you can read pictures, too. I think all children are very visual, but as they get older and more self-conscious they lose it. The only difference between me and most adults is that I carried on drawing. You could all draw like me! We're taught that in maturity you leave pictures behind, but you don't have to do one at the expense of the other.”

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Frog and Toad Are Back!

Remember Arnold Lobel's classic Frog and Toad? I have visceral memories of turning the pages, reading about these two firm friends. Now Lobel's daughter Adrienne is bringing back three new Frog and Toad stories in a book called The Frogs and Toads All Sang. The stories are ones her father wrote but never published, paired with her own pictures. Check out the NPR story for more.

Thanks to the Miss Rumphius Effect for the news, via a Tweet from gregpincus. How is it possible to have so many steps to get to one article about frogs and toads?

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Tushies and Chicka-Chicka Vids

So after yesterday, I thought you guys deserved some adorable videos. The first is a quick trailer for The Tushy Book.

Next, a musical version of Chicka Chicka Boom Boom.

I especially love the various methods of perambulation.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Can vs. Should

Every so often, the kidlitosphere has a flurry of posts about reading to grade level (or above, or below) and the importance that grown-ups attach to it. Even though we've done it before, it's worth going through again as often as possible, which was why I was happy when Jen Robinson kicked this flurry off. She has a round-up of responsive posts and links at PBS's Booklights blog.

I was one of those kids who read above their grade level. Luckily, my parents never put any pressure on me. But I personally bought into the "gifted" label and pressured myself, reading Gone with the Wind in fourth grade and attempting Nicholas Nickleby in seventh, believing that because I could read these books, I should. I hated both and have never gone back to either, even though I love other Dickens novels.

My favorite scene in all of Dickens may be the lurid description of Miss Havisham's wedding cake. Reading it was the first chill-inducing, breath-stealing experience I ever had of the presence of literary genius. But I was seventeen.

That's my greatest objection to pushing kids to read farther and farther above their grade level. Not that kids will encounter sex and violence, but that they may be in the presence of genius that they're not ready for, and in missing it, dismiss it for the rest of their lives.

Of course Dickens, Austen, and Shakespeare are stone-cold geniuses. I'm the last person to deny that. But there's genius of a different kind in Eric Carle, in Frog and Toad, in Ramona Quimby--the kind of genius that's right for the age it's written for. This is not about skill level, but child development.

Sure, there are kids who are developmentally ready for Dickens at ten. Every kid is different, after all. But so many are pushed at it, forced to start and forced to finish by influences outside the simple question of, Does this book speak to me?

As many of you know, my favorite novel is Pride and Prejudice. I started it three different times (at fourteen, at sixteen, and at eighteen) before I finished it. If I'd been pushed through it at fourteen, spurred on by AR points or lexile levels or teachers or parents that said I should read this book, I might have missed and dismissed a novel that's formed a cornerstone of both my reading and my understanding of the world.

You want to talk about tragedy.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

And It Doesn't Look More Than Fifteen

According to Publisher's Weekly, storytime classic The Napping House recently turned 25. Zowie. To celebrate, they cranked up the art using computer technology that wasn't around in 1983. Audrey and Don Wood were initially a little leery of succumbing to the update bug, but:
“The new cover perfectly illustrates the liberating effects of digital technology on design,” Don says. “Suddenly hundreds of design options, unavailable to us in the 1980s, present themselves. This cover is alive and flowing and cozy—a vortex of slumber. Looking at it, we couldn’t resist.”
As long as Grandma isn't shown with earbuds. Check out the article for some fun tidbits about the original creation and the revamp.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Libraries and Those Who Love Them

Recently, Abby (the) Librarian did a great series on what patrons, teachers, and other folks should know about the library. They cover things like how to work with the library if you're a teacher, storytime behavior, and some basic things about How It All Works.

Some, like the following, should be printed out on every library card.
The library is not totally silent. Yes, we want you to do your homework here. Yes, many libraries have quiet areas or silent reading rooms. But what you've got to understand is that the group of chatting teens or giggling three-year-olds have just as much right to be at the library as you do. The library is for everyone and it's no longer always a silent space. If you're looking for a quiet place, I can probably recommend some places that tend to be quieter, but I will defend the teens' right to use the library, too.
Am I right?

If you're a non-librarian but love the library, stop by for some important tips.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Aww, Now I'm Hungry

One of the kidlitosphere's favorite links in the past week has been to the fabbity-fab Cake Wrecks blog, which featured a post titled "Reading Rocks" this past Sunday, with amazing cakes based on children's books.

As if that weren't enough, Susan over at Booklights gathered up a few more. I know I'm about thirty-five years away from retiring, but if I get that Olivia cake at my retirement party, I can die a happy woman.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Robert Sabuda Talks Pop-Up Books

Courtesy of the Dallas Voice and my Google Reader, an article about a-freakin'-mazing pop-up-book creator Robert Sabuda, who is literally so good he sometimes wows himself. He talks about why he loves what he does.
“One thinks kids are scatterbrained, but they are also very observant when they choose to be. When they open that first page [of ‘Peter Pan’], they look and say ‘That’s Tiger Lily’ and their parent says ‘What? I didn’t even see that.’ I want to see that, too,” he says.
Read on for some giggles about how grown-ups approach children's books.

Okay, maybe I'm being incurably nosy, but the article mentions Matthew Reinhardt as Robert Sabuda's longtime partner. I know they've partnered on a number of these pop-up books, but does the term "partner" in this case mean in their personal lives as well?

<>Don't you wish we had a simpler term, like husband, that we could apply in this case? Hmm? < /political moment>

Monday, June 1, 2009

Reading Roundup May 2009

By the Numbers
Picture Books: 18
Early Readers: 3

Writing: No! That's Wrong! by Zhaohua Ji
Illustration: A Penguin Story by Antoinette Portis
Overall: A Book by Mordecai Gerstein

Because I Want To Awards
Should Be Read At As Many School Visits As Possible: Bats at the Library by Brian Lies
Makes Me Want to Snap My Fingers: Cool Daddy Rat by Kristyn Crow