Monthly Archives: April 2017

Thinking About Identity Labeling

A few days ago I was struck by Lisa Selin Davis’s New York Times Op-Ed, “My Daughter is Not Transgender. She’s a Tomboy.” It captured for me the need we seem to have to get young people identified and then label that identity. Often kids who, in my experience, are exploring and trying out identities as they figure out what they want to be.

Then a few days later I read Chase Strangio’s thought-provoking response, “An Open Letter to Those Praising the New York Times ‘Tomboy’ Piece.” And I realize yet again how incredibly complex our current world is as we work to support evolving identity from every side.

I’m still reading, listening, learning, watching and thinking about all of this. Hope you all are too!

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Indie Press Spotlight #2

Ossiri and the Bala Mengro from Child’s Play Books is a delightful yarn of the Travelers (as Romani are called in the UK). Penned by Romani Richard O’Neill and Katharine Quarmby with charming illustrations by Hannah Tolson this is both an entertaining tale and a book that gives a good sense of the Traveler life.

In A Horse Named Steve from Kids Can Press, Kelly Collier takes on confidence, bravado, hubris, and what it means or not to be exceptional in a wry way, both in her text and in her illustrations. Steve certainly thinks he is more than exceptional– whether young readers agree would make a great conversation. When I’m back in school next fall I definitely plan on giving this one a try.

Eric Veillé’s My Pictures After the Storm from Gecko Press has the physicality of a board book, but the content will entertain children far beyond the toddler stage. On one side are the “before” images and on the other the “after” ones. Starting with a storm we go on to every thing from lunch to a cannonball. Wacky and nutty in the very best way.

From Phaidon‘s First Concepts with Fine Artists comes Birds & Other Animals with Pablo Picasso. Each page of this board book features a simple, but perfect drawing of an animal by Picasso along with minimal text such as “Wasps like to fly, but grasshoppers prefer to hop!” that I believe is also Picasso’s, but am not sure. There’s a page at the end explaining who the artist was and a final spread with the sketchbook pages from which these animals came.

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Not Your Nice Little Bunny Books

Seeing all the sweet bunny books being touted for Easter makes me think of those that aren’t so, er, nice. Here are few that came quickly to mind. By all means suggest more in the comments.

You may be surprised to know that one of the first is Beatrix Potter’s The Tale of Peter Rabbit.  Potter’s Peter and other animal characters (she’s got quite a few bunnies) in her books tend to be selfish, silly, and not particularly nice.

A recent subversive one is Jon Scieszka, Mac Barnett, and Matthew Myers’s Battle Bunny. I wrote about reading aloud here. That is NOT a nice bunny!

I’m partial to Emily Gravett’s Wolves which is from the point of view of a bunny. Things may or may not go well — depends on which ending you prefer.

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Another oldie, but goodie is “The Story of the Wild Huntman” from Heinrich Hoffman’s brilliantly subversive Struwwelpeter.

As for the one in Jon Klassen’s I Want My Hat Back,  hmm….

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Jules Danielson just recommended this one. You can get a taste here and here. Boy oh boy is that one bad bunny!

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Roxanne below reminded me of this “bopping them on the head” bunny.  I knew the rhyme, but not that it was adapted as a picture book.

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Impressions of the Bologna Children’s Book Fair 2017

Last year as I began planning my spring term sabbatical  I realized that I would be free to check-out the legendary Bologna Children’s Book Fair. And so I convinced Susannah Richards to join me and on Friday, March 31, off we went for a week at the fair.

While I had heard a lot about the fair from others, got plenty of advice, I still went with few expectations other than that it seemed to be more for buying foreign rights and not so much for the likes of me. I quickly discovered that while it was indeed mostly for rights, it also was rich in learning opportunities of all kinds. I wandered the halls in awe of the range of publishing from throughout the world, sat in with editor friends while they met with foreign publishers, went to some wonderful panels, saw amazing art and books, and met old and new friends from all over. Add in the marvelous city of Bologna and it was all in all a fantastic experience.

We arrived on Saturday, giving us the weekend to sightsee before the start of the fair on Monday. Wandering the streets of Bologna, stopping into bookstores, libraries, and more was wonderful. Everything I ‘d heard about this city was correct. Then we spent the bulk of Monday-Wednesday at the fair itself. It was incredible wandering the halls, setting in on panels, seeing art, meeting people, and more. A truly wonderful experience; I’m so glad I went. I realize now I didn’t take very many photos at the fair itself — probably feeling it would be too intrusive — but there are plenty elsewhere, say from at the fair’s site,  PW (I was quoted in this article of theirs), and here.  Here are a few I did take as I wandered the city and the fair.

The warm colors of Bologna are marvelous.

 

Bologna is known for its food. Here is a storefront featuring its famous tortellini (which deserves the accolades).

The Piazza Maggiore at night.

On Sunday there was a huge architectural annual competition on the piazza. This year the challenge was to create a thirteenth gateway to add to the twelve already around Bologna.

There were exhibits all over the city featuring children’s books. The fair’s guest of honor for the year included Catalan children’s book creators and there was a delightful exhibit of their work at the gorgeous Biblioteca Archiginnasio.

New York Times children’s book editor Maria Russo moderated a terrific panel featuring books on artists.

It was great fun being at the announcement of this year’s Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award winner Wolf Erlbruch whom I first encountered long ago via this book.

Looked for African publishers and found Golden Baobab. Representation was sparse for the continent and so I hope there will be more as years go on.

Aspiring illustrators were everywhere.

We visited the remarkable public library, Biblioteca Salaborsa.  There was a delightful exhibit, Rules of the Game, that cleverly allowed for interacting with books. Saw the Horn Book Magazine among their periodicals and was mighty impressed with their range of book offerings in so many languages.

It was a wonderful and most worthwhile experience, one I’m still processing.

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