Family trip coming up? One that involves a longish auto excursion? The Washington Post comes to the rescue with a review of some audio books. (Registration required.)
The author of the forthcoming board book Urban Babies Wear Black lives in the, eh, suburbs. The Journal News profiles Michelle Sinclair Colman in today's issue; a reporter writes, "Instead of introducing readers to fuzzy bunnies or
talking bears, Colman's work features yoga-practicing, latte-slurping
tots (charmingly illustrated by Nathalie Dion). And she's hoping
city-dwelling parents — weary of books about Barney and Babar — will
appreciate Urban Babies as much as their children."
What's that again? I already appreciate my child more than I appreciate Urban Babies, and I haven't even seen the book yet. Oh, that's not what the journalist meant? Copy editor on vacation, guys?
"Instead of introducing readers to fuzzy bunnies or talking bears, Colman's work features yoga-practicing, latte-slurping tots (charmingly illustrated by Nathalie Dion). And she's hoping city-dwelling parents — weary of books about Barney and Babar — will appreciate Urban Babies as much as their children."
Teenage girls, here's one for you. Amanda Craig, who's fast becoming my favorite kid-lit critic, examines the young adult novel I, Coriander in her column today. Written by Sally Gardner, the "fairy tale for our times" is set in Puritan-era London, and Craig writes, "Many fairytales revolve around that half-dreamy,
quasi-erotic state of adolescence but this extends and deepens it as a
The U.S. release date is set for mid-August, according to Amazon.
After the success of Shrek!, another William Steig picture book is due to become a movie. This time around, it's Sylvester and the Magic Pebble, whose rights have just been acquired by Lions Gate Films. Nice news for the Steig estate and for the wee fans of Steig's unusual tale about the donkey who morphs into a rock. I worry that a movie version won't get the magic of this story right, but that's just me.
News via Reuters UK
In an essay for the Times, G.P. Taylor (Shadowmancer, Wormwood) takes on adults who bring their prejudices to books written for children. The British author and parish priest says of Roald Dahl's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,
"Here was Dahl, sticking two fingers to every librarian and liberal with irreverent, non-PC antics of fat kids, beastly bullies and gruesome trials for all the villains. Oompa-Loompas paid with beans and kept from society in a secret factory caused such a stir in their original, African pygmy form as to cause outrage among the socially conscious literati."
The El Paso Times reports that some people recommend Taylor's Shadowmancer as a Christian alternative to Harry Potter. (Actually that sounds like a publisher's talking point to me, but whatever.) In an interview with NPR last year, Taylor characterized the allegorical book as "a secular novel about faith."
Meanwhile in Taylor's neck of the woods, the Times critic Amanda Craig chats with Dahl's widow, Liccy, who says that her husband "said that in writing for children you had to grasp them by the neck in the first sentence. He had a perfect simplicity in the construction of each sentence which is what made him so readable.”
The public school libraries in Nasha, New Hampshire, aren't locking their doors this summer. They're open for a hour or two in the mornings. What a good idea! Plenty of time to grab a good book. Parents, teachers, school librarians, and everyone else can read about the pilot program in the Nashua Telegraph.
How's this for publicity, oops, I mean, irony? Christopher Paolini, forecast by some as J.K. Rowling's heir apparent, grades Harry Potter & the Half-Blood Prince for Entertainment Weekly. He gives it an A-. (It's hard to tell where the minus comes from, certainly not from statements like, "Her epic stands as one of the great achievements in fantasy literature.") Paolini is no Michiko Kakutani, but both critics praise Rowling's latest. Paolini's Eldest, a sequel to the bestselling Eragon, debuts next month.
If you or yours are into manga and anime, you'll want to see what's cooking over at Teen Librarian. She is featuring a podcast interview with TangognaT, a librarian (and blogger) who knows all about those genres, and Teen Librarian has included a bunch of links, too. I don't know from podcasts, and okay, I'm a little scared. I did once go see a rather trying "art" piece that took place in a performance pod; the artist/pod occupant shouted a lot about the reeds and the Mississippi River. Or maybe it was the reeds of the Mississippi River. I don't think it'll be like that, though.
Last night I finished Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, by J.K. Rowling. Until the kids got on the train to Hogwarts, I was resistant. But, then, whoosh, I was on board...to stretch an analogy. And what I have to say is this: J.K. Rowling should write a sequel. Yes. Using the same characters and the same setting. Should I write and suggest it to her?
Seriously, I don't have any lit-crit to add to the harrypotterology canon, although I did enjoy three-fourths of HP1.
I myself see no distinction between children's literature and good or great writing for extremely intelligent children of all ages. J.K. Rowling and Stephen King are equally bad writers, appropriate titans of our new Dark Age of the Screens: computer, motion pictures, TV.
Bloom's piece on Andersen is one of the few freely accessible things on the Journal's web site, so click away. He dissected HP1 five summers ago, but that article ("Can 35 Million Book Buyers Be Wrong? Yes," 7/11/2000) is not available at WSJ.com unless you want to pay for it.