Tuesday, May 8, 2012

RIP Maurice Sendak

I was reading through my Google Reader this morning, and came across the news that Maurice Sendak had died. I made one of those little noises, that "Oh!" of combined horror, sadness, and disbelief. Here's his obit at the New York Times.

Now, the NYT doesn't exactly have a shining track record as far as children's and YA book coverage goes, but I have to give them props for this lovely obit, which acknowledges Sendak as a picture-book creator that both defined and stood outside the genre.

Even now, Sendak's books have teeth that you don't often find in the picture-book shelves. They're a little sharp, a little hard-edged, a little dangerous, and the kids love them, because their world is not the soft and fuzzy baby-ducks-and-mama-bunnies that we often get in 32 pages with illustrations. Their world is full of uncertainties, new people, desperately dangerous situations. (You try being two feet tall and encountering a 180-lb dog, even a nice one. That's some George-and-the-Dragon stuff right there.) And the kids themselves aren't docile cherubs.

He wrote a small-form picture book called Alligators All Around. A child's world is full of alligators. Sendak knew that. And he sent his heroes out into the alligators, and they beat them. They even romped with them.

We'll miss you.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Reading Roundup: April 2012

By the Numbers
Picture Books: 7
Early Readers: 1

Library: all

Writing: Baby Bear Sees Blue by Ashley Wolff
Okay, we've all seen it before: the "Mama what's that?" structure. But I like the way that Ashley Wolff does it, folding in color concepts and seasons with an affectionate-but-not-adorable mother-child relationship.
Illustration: Extra Yarn, illustrated by Jon Klassen, written by Mac Barnett
It could be my yarn-lovin' ways that ensured a place in my affections, but I think there's more. Klassen's spare lines and taciturn faces are livened only by the wild and lovely colors of the knitted creations Annabelle gifts upon all and sundry.
Overall: Bink and Gollie by Kate DiCamillo and Allison McGhee, illustrated by Tony Fucile
Teeming with imagination, quirky wit, and a friendship of opposites, this 2010 award winner feels like a classic that I've already loved for years.

Because I Want To Awards
Sorry, guys, not this month. Too small of a pool. I will say this: all my standouts battled each other fiercely for their respective spots. It was very nearly a three-way tie for overall.