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YAY!

This has a very tenuous connection with KidsLit (it concerns a Newbery Winner, at least), but a very strong connection to my heart, so I had to share:

Neil Gaiman will write an episode of Dr. Who

(!!!!!!!!!)

February 9, 2010 at 1:36 am Leave a comment

Werner Herzog reads “Curious George”

Self-explanatory.

“An alien trinket of unimaginable cultural significance”

(via Nutty, Dry, and a hint of Vanilla)

January 31, 2010 at 2:46 pm Leave a comment

Well-defined

Have you guys seen the blog My First Dictionary?

When I was about eight, I begged my parents to buy me a set of children’s encyclopedias at a garage sale. They were falling apart, and I don’t remember when I ever used them, except once, to look up the word “Notorious”. The definition was something along the lines of “famous, but for a bad reason”, and the illustration was similar to “The Movie Star is famous.  Buffalo Bill is notorious.” I didn’t get the difference (I have to admit that, at the time, I was pretty into Annie Get Your Gun).

My First Dictionary has a much better example:

Other definitions are even better:

Seriously, check it out.

January 30, 2010 at 10:14 am 2 comments

Among Art Deco Gnomes

My top 10 favorite things list definitely includes Sweden, Art Deco, and Fairytales*, so I am shocked to find that I’ve never seen Bland tomtar och Troll, or Among Gnomes and Trolls. This book is, apparently, a Swedish standby, published every year with new illustrations to accompany the folktales and fairytales it tells. The first edition, in 1907, was illustrated by the incredible John Bauer (I wonder if they called him Jack?). These dark illustrations, with their loose lines and drama, exemplify what ideal fairytale artwork should be in my mind. The gloomy, naturalistic nature of Scandinavian folktales in particular — with their shadowy forests and earth-dwelling dwarfs rather than unicorns or cupids — matches Bauer’s style, and the results are spectacular.  Art editors, take note. Let’s get some more books that look like this:

See a much more complete gallery  at Golden Age Comic Book Stories (a great blog, by the way, and one you should check out).

*The rest of the list? Pie, old bookstores, glacial lakes, TV marathons, King Arthur stories, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, and I’m leaving one spot up for grabs.

January 25, 2010 at 2:06 am 1 comment

Pledging

See that swanky new kid-reading-a-book image to your right?

Some organization, which I confess to knowing nothing about, is encouraging people to put down iPhones and pick up real, black-ink-on-white-paper books. To spread their message, they’ve put together some buttons and icons etc, so you can use electronic media to show your enthusiasm for physical media. Neat-o!

Get your own at Read the Printed Word.

January 20, 2010 at 10:28 pm Leave a comment

Top 50 Sci-Fi Fantasy Books (as told by TR)

I promised a return, but have thus far not delivered. So here, for your edification and debating pleasure, is This Recording‘s list of the “100 Greatest Sci-Fi or Fantasy Novels of All Time”.

Carnavale puts “Litany of the Long Sun” at number one.

Alex, I love you most of the time, but have you lost your mind? Any list of Sci-Fi Fantasy that doesn’t have Lord of the Rings in the top 10 is just wrong.

You’ll notice there’s a whole lot of Le Guin love going on here, which is big problem for me. I’ve never found her more than slightly above mediocre, which I realize is a high crime in the world of Sci-Fi geeks. Sorry, all, I have no defense.

Debating entirely subjective lists may be nothing more than a Hornby-inspired exercise in time-wasting, but have at it. Any other ideas about what should dominate in those Top-10 spots?

January 18, 2010 at 10:18 am Leave a comment

Welcome to 2010

Here we go, New Year’s Resolution.

Hold me to it folks. Guilt trip me shamelessly when I post infrequently. I can’t do it without you!

January 9, 2010 at 3:31 pm Leave a comment

I cluod hvae tlod you taht

jabberwockA friend, who was a neuroscience major, just shared a NYTimes piece with me. “Look!” she said, “It’s your thesis plus my thesis!”

The article, by Benedict Carey, discusses a new study published in Psychological Science, suggesting that nonsense may be, in fact, a way to jumpstart the brain into finding patterns. The researchers and writer seem to indicate that this is a shocking realization.

As Carey writes, “When […] patterns break down — as when a hiker stumbles across an easy chair sitting deep in the woods, as if dropped from the sky — the brain gropes for something, anything that makes sense. It may retreat to a familiar ritual, like checking equipment. But it may also turn its attention outward, the researchers argue, and notice, say, a pattern in animal tracks that was previously hidden. The urge to find a coherent pattern makes it more likely that the brain will find one.”

Chairs in the woods? Or maybe a lamp-post in the middle of the woods? Or a whiffling jabberwock in a tulgey wood?

Children’s literature could have told them that long long ago. And, hey look at that right there: another reason for literary criticism!

But, to Carey and the researcher’s credit, they don’t miss the opportunity. Carey winkingly acquiesces in his closing line: “Still, the new research supports what many experimental artists, habitual travelers and other novel seekers have always insisted: at least some of the time, disorientation begets creative thinking.”

October 5, 2009 at 9:18 pm Leave a comment

Fanciful Mr. Fox

One truth about children’s and YA literature is that it’s often enjoyed as much by adults as much as by young readers. Grown-ups love the whimsy, earnestness, and humor that kids love as well. But while we like the same stories, kids and adults often like different things, visually. Kids like bright color and shapes. Adults like subtlety and aesthetics. This creates an interesting dilemma for designers. How do you market a book that people will want to buy both for their children and for themselves? How do you design a book that will catch the eye of childless adults and preteens equally?

Often, this leads to really amazing, creative design.

Hugo Cabret

Sometimes, its leads to terrifying Frankendesigns.

Oh God! Mutant nerd! Don't let it near me!! Ahh!

Oh God! Mutant nerd! Don't let it near me!! Ahh!

The same dilemma happens with kid’s movie marketing, especially when it’s based on a book.

The many book-based movies coming out now are showcasing their varied successes and failures.

Spike Jonze’s “Where the Wild Things Are” has hit the bullseye with design. The posters are interesting, the trailer’s gorgeous, and even this pop-up shop/marketing scheme in Space 15 Twenty is dazzling. Check out the whole shop at KitsuneNoir.

wtwta store1

The new posters for “Fantastic Mr. Fox”, on the other hand… well, they seem to fall victim to that same problem of kidlit design: To design for kids or for adults?

Take a look (more are over at Gordon and the Whale)

Fantastic Mr Fox

But I haven’t lost hope. I love everything Wes Anderson’s done, and I’m sure this won’t be an exception. How do I know?

September 22, 2009 at 10:58 am Leave a comment

Yippee!

I’ve been recently added to the blogroll over at KidLitosphere!  I’m shocked and honored to be among incredible company (Fuse #8! Seve Imp! Collecting Children’s Books! Oz and Ends! Shelf Elf! Finding Wonderland! -woah, now I’m dizzy from the overwhelming awesomeness of all the people over there)

Clearly, my thank-you’s need some work.

September 21, 2009 at 10:56 pm Leave a comment

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Read the Printed Word!
he sailed off through night and day and in and out of weeks and almost over a year to where the wild things are.