Congratulations to all the National Book Award winners, especially the two I have read: Colson Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad and Representative John Lewis, Andrew Aydin and Nate Powell’s March: Book Three. I read the latter during the final week of the election campaign and the parallels are eerie. The former is remarkable for its topic, its ambition, its imaginative, its magical realism,….just everything. Both are amazing, amazing works (as are the first two books in the March series.)
Category Archives: Other
Today is my sister’s birthday. Until now one of the worst historical events that occurred on it was Kristallnacht in 1938 Nazi Germany. Now it is also the day Trump won the US Presidency. My poor sister. Poor us.
Here are a few random thoughts I just posted on Facebook:
1. My wise and liberal political scientist father. Lewis J. Edinger, died in May 2008 thinking it wasn’t possible for a country so full of racists, to elect an black man. When it did I kept thinking, how happy he would have been to be proven wrong. And then again in 2012 — it would have pleased him enormously. A Holocaust survivor and specialist in German politics, who regularly answered my questions as to how Hitler and the Holocaust happened, I wish he was here now to help explain what has just happened and what might happen next.
2. Having been a Peace Corps Volunteer in Sierra Leone taught me that you can think it won’t happen “here” and then it does. I knew Sierra Leone as a relatively stable country in the mid-1970s. A couple decades later it was a country awash in brutality and horror. Things can change on a dime. Even in America.
3. I teach children. I have a life-threatening illness. Yet I’m an optimist. I’ll try to continue to be one and assume things aren’t going to go downhill from here. I will look for what is beautiful and do what I can to help in this dark time.
Revisiting: Tom Angleberger’s Fake Mustache: Or, How Jodie O’Rodeo and Her Wonder Horse (and Some Nerdy Kid) Saved the U.S. Presidential Election from a Mad Genius Criminal Mastermind
Want an insane kid book about an insane presidential election? Look no further than Tom Angleberger’s Fake Mustache: Or, How Jodie O’Rodeo and Her Wonder Horse (and Some Nerdy Kid) Saved the U.S. Presidential Election from a Mad Genius Criminal Mastermind. Here’s my 2012 review of it:
Yesterday a package of ARCs from Abrams arrived at my home, among them Tom Angleberger’s forthcoming Fake Mustache and, needing a light read before bed, I decided to give it a try. Next thing I knew a couple of hours had passed and I’d gulped down the whole delightful confection. It isn’t out till April so I hope this isn’t a dreadful tease, but I thought Origami Yoda fans as well as others looking for good and funny middle grade books might like to know what they have in store.
So wacky this is (as another beloved Angleberger character might say) in the best way which is no easy feat. For funny is incredibly hard to pull off; what has me guffawing can just as easily leave another reader cold and vice versa. As someone who too often has been left cold by silliness I was wary when I started this one, but within pages I was completely won over.
So where to begin with this over-the-top story? The beginning, I guess. The first section is narrated by seventh grader Lenny Flem, Jr who tells what happens when classmate-and-supposedly-best-friend Casper Bengue gets his hands (or rather his upper lip) on a very pricey fake mustache, the Heidleberg Handlebar #7 to be exact. Somehow Casper knows of the remarkable properties of this mustache and while I don’t want to give away too much I will say that they help him to begin taking over the world starting with state governor and moving on to president. And so Lenny along with a Hannah Montana-like television star called Jodie O’Rodeo (who narratives the second section of the book) alone have to save the day.
There are silly names (Casper and Lenny’s town is called Hairsprinkle), pitch-perfect-for-kids grossness (boogers play a significant role), and some lighthearted pop culture baiting (e.g. Jodie’s has-been status). There are wild and crazy chases and bad guys and much zaniness. One of my many favorite moments is when Casper in his new “I”m taking over the world” role changes Election Day to Monday so he can take over the US faster.
I will be eager to see what others think of this one, but for me it was a goofy froth of fun.
I think a lot about how we need to keep front and center how varied stories are even within particular ethnic and cultural groups. My particular ethnic background is very much a fringe one compared to most in the US and causes me to react differently than others to works of art featuring this particular ethnicity. My friend Roxanne Feldman considers this issue through her own ethnic/culture/life-experience lens in this post inspired by another on a short story collection. Here’s her conclusion, but please go and read the whole post as it shows how individual each of our experiences is within our different life experiences:
That said, is including ghosts/spirits in a story about a Chinese American girl automatically the mark of “exoticism” or “keeping the culture in the backwater days”? I’d say no — not automatically at all. It all depends on how the tale is told and the world is built and whether there is a true understanding of from where such elements came. Just because I, a 50 something Chinese/Taiwanese woman feels a certain way about a text featuring “my culture” does not mean that mine is THE way or THE ONLY way that such text would be or should be viewed by other Chinese/Taiwanese or Chinese/Taiwanese American readers.
I hope that we can all accept that, since People are complex and Cultures and Histories are complex, Books about People and Cultures the Discussions about such Books are also unavoidably complex. We do have to keep digging and thinking and sometimes even changing our minds.
I became a fan of Chris Raschka many years ago after falling in love with Arlene Sardine (tickled to see his tumbr site references it) and have been delighted to see him repeatedly celebrated ever since (two Caldecott medals among many other awards).
Just out is his moving collaboration with the late great Vera B. Williams’ Home at Last. This is such a real story of adoption, family, and the smallest things that children struggle with — worry, sleeping, etc. Williams and Raschka collaborated on this book up to her death and then Raschka fullfilled her vision beautifully. A warm and lovely book. (You can learn more about the book and the creators’ collaboration here.)
And then there is something completely different — The Doorman’s Repose — an original work by Chris from the New York Review of Books (a publisher best known for bringing back out of print titles) coming out in May. The few images I’ve seen and the following publisher’s description have me very excited:
Some of us look up at those craggy, mysterious apartment buildings found in the posher parts of New York City and wonder what goes on inside. The Doorman’s Repose collects ten stories of the doings of 777 Garden Avenue, one of the craggiest. The first story recounts the travails of the new doorman, who excels at all aspects of his work except for perhaps the most important—talking baseball. Other stories tell of a long-forgotten room, a cupid-like elevator, a poisoned boiler, and the unlikely romance of a cerebral psychologist and a jazz musician, both mice. Because the animals talk and the machinery has feelings, these are children’s stories. Otherwise they are for any child or adult intrigued by what happens when many people, strangers or kin, live between shared walls and ceilings, under one high, gargoyled, turreted roof.
From the Society of Illustrators comes this exciting opportunity:
READING PICTURES: The Artist’s Voice and Vocabulary in Picture Books
The Society of Illustrators, 128 East 63rd Street, New York, NY 10065
Monday Dec 5, 2016 from 1:00 pm to 8:00 pm
Join us for an in-depth exploration of the annual Original Art exhibit, featuring the very best illustration in books for children this year.
Art directors Laurent Linn (Simon & Schuster), Martha Rago (Random House), and Cecilia Yung (Penguin) will lead a gallery talk for an up-close examination of the works on view.
Illustrators Nancy Carpenter, Mike Curato, and Sergio Ruzzier will share their behind-the-scenes decisions and discuss and/or demonstrate their creative processes in the intimate gallery setting of the Society of Illustrators.
Attendees will continue the conversation with colleagues and presenters over a delicious buffet dinner.
1:00 pm Gallery opens for check-in and preview of exhibit
2:00 pm Introduction by Cecilia Yung
2:15 pm Gallery talk with art directors Laurent Linn, Martha Rago, and Cecilia Yung
3:45 pm Break
4:00 pm Presentation by Sergio Ruzzier
4:30 pm Presentation by Nancy Carpenter
5:00 pm Presentation by Mike Curato
5:30 pm Q & A
6:00 pm Book signing
6:30 pm Buffet dinner
Non-refundable registration is $35.00 and includes a copy of the exhibition catalog (value $10.00), presentations by three illustrators, gallery talk, and delicious buffet dinner.
The speakers’ recent books will be available for purchase.
It isn’t too late to register here for this fabulous one-day conference at Bank Street College here in NYC. Checkout the schedule of events below. Looks great, right?
9:00am – Arrive, register, and drink coffee
9:30am – Welcome
9:35 – 10:15am – “Reading with Pictures: Visual Literacy Yesterday and Today”
Panelists: Lindsey Wyckoff, Archivist, Bank Street College of Education
Francoise Mouly, Publisher, Toon Books and Art Editor, The New Yorker
Rudy Gutierrez, illustrator, Spirit Seeker: John Coltrane’s Musical Journey
Raúl Colón, author and illustrator, Draw!
Moderator: Leonard S. Marcus, children’s literature scholar and Honorary Degree holder from Bank Street College of Education
10:15 – 11:10am – “Artists and Illustrators Talk Visual Literacy”
Panelists: Laurent Linn, author and illustrator, Draw the Line
Hervé Tullet, author and illustrator, Let’s Play!
Angela Dominguez, author and illustrator, How Do You Say?/¿Cómo Se Dice?
Jason Chin, author and illustrator, Gravity
Brian Pinkney, author and illustrator, Max Found Two Sticks
Christopher Myers, author and illustrator, My Pen
Moderator: Susannah Richards, Eastern Connecticut State University
11:10 – 11:25am – Break
11:25am – 12:25pm – “The Whole Book Approach: Reading Picture Books with Children”
Presenter: Megan Dowd Lambert
Join Simmons College professor and author Megan Dowd Lambert to learn about the Whole Book Approach, a co-constructive (interactive) storytime model focused on the art and design of the picture book, which she developed in association with The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art. Drawing on her book, Reading Picture Books with Children: How to Shake Up Storytime and Get Kids Talking About What They See (Charlesbridge 2015) attendees will consider the difference between reading with children and reading to children. Active participation throughout the session will allow everyone to reflect on a diverse array of picture books in order to add Whole Book Approach tools and techniques to their own storytime practice.
12:25 – 1:25pm – Book Discussions (DISCUSSION GROUP LEADERS AND BOOK LIST)
1:25 – 2:00pm – Lunch and Book Autographing
2:05 – 2:50pm – “Capturing the Action: Graphic Novels and Visual Literacy”
Panelists: Deb Lucke, author and illustrator, The Lunch Witch
Raúl Gonzalez, illustrator, Lowriders in Space
Jorge Aguirre, co-author and illustrator, Dragons Beware!
George O’Connor, author and illustrator, Olympians series
Moderator: Jesse Karp, Pratt Institute School of Information
2:55 – 3:30pm – Closing keynote: Pam Muñoz Ryan, author, Echo
3:30 – 4:00pm – Autographing in the lobby – books for sale from the Bank Street Book Store team