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September 2005
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November 2005

Korean American Titles

Sarah Park, a doctoral student at the University of Illinois, maintains a list of  Korean American children's literature at We like Yumi Heo's picture book One Afternoon, about a little boy and his mom running errands in a busy city. A nice book to share with preschoolers, Heo's story was the only one that I knew well on this list, so obviously I have some readin' to do. Several titles concern children who were born in Korea and adopted by families in the United States.

A Kinder, Gentler Halloween

Here is an interesting op-ed piece from today's Hartford Courant. Written by Penn State professor Cindy Dell Clark, the essay urges adults to go easy on the scare tactics with young children:

Deathly displays do frighten children at ages 6 or 7. Kindergartners on haunted rides, when fear builds, are apt to cry and hide in their mother's lap. In my research, I showed innocuous pictures of Halloween icons to young interviewees. I was surprised to find that many first-graders were quick to take the depicted witch or haunted house and hide it under the furniture, safely out of view. Children generally thought the icons I showed them, and the entities they pictured, were quite scare-inducing, although these included neutral-looking black cats or bats or lighted jack-o'-lanterns.

From other research conducted by a psychologist, preschoolers are known to be frightened of monsters, even when they are aware that the monsters are not real. Adults need to be wary about setting out to frighten very young Halloween celebrants.

Memed: 20 Random Things

Kelly at Big A little a tagged me with a meme: name 20 random things about yourself. Here are a random 20 of my favorite works of art.

1. Court of Benin pendant mask, Metropolitan Museum of Art.
2. Double eagle pendant. Met Museum.
3. Frank Lloyd Wright room, Met Museum.
4. Tiffany window, Met Museum.
5. Frank Lloyd Wright's Fallingwater model, Museum of Modern Art. One day I'll see the actual house, I hope.
6. Matisse's Red Studio, MoMA
7. Vermeer's Artist's Studio, Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna. (Although I've never seen it in person, I've admired this painting since Art History 101.)
8. Alvin Ailey's "Revelations" (choreography). See Photo Gallery.
9. Millais's Ophelia, Tate Britain. 
10. Hughes's April Love, Tate Britain.
11. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
12. Lincoln Center Theatre's 1998 production of  "Twelfth Night,"  with set design by Bob Crowley and music by Jeanine Tesori.
13. Triptych of the Glorious Virgin, Musée de Cluny.
14.  The Pietá, St. Peter's Basilica. Again, one day I'll get there...
15. Tom Otterness's Life Underground, New York.
16. Calder's Circus, Whitney Museum.
17. Comtesse d'Haussonville, by Ingres, Frick Collection.
18.  Sherman's March,  a 1986 documentary by Ross McElwee
19. The Seven Up! documentaries by Michael Apted
20. The Parthenon, Nashville. Somebody told me that there was one in Greece, too.

I've already tagged a few people with an earlier meme, but if you want to participate, do post your 20 random things on your blog.

Newsweek Reviews Musical "Elements of Style"

Andrew Cohen at Newsweek/MSNBC reviews the musical "Elements of Style," which I mentioned last week. I'm not entirely surprised that the idea proved more interesting than the actual performance. I once spent a year as a theater reviewer, and this happened time and time again.

Maira Kalman collaborated on the operatic song cycle with Nico Muhly; Kalman has also illustrated a new version of the Strunk and White grammar guide.

From Andrew Cohen's review:

Unfortunately, the operatic style of the piece rendered the lyrics all but unintelligible to this listener—in ironic contrast to the simplifying ethos of "Elements"—though that may be more the fault of the acoustics of the library venue, which was, after all, designed for silence.

Not that any of this prevented the piece from garnering titters of appreciation capped by a standing ovation from the high-tone crowd in attendance. Although the piece may have violated E. B. White's advice to "Prefer the standard to the offbeat," it was more than effective in fulfilling another edict: "Be obscure clearly."

Skeleton Man

Muller in the Middle, a middle-school librarian, critiques Skeleton Man on his blog and says it's a "great suspenseful tale."  Joseph Bruchac's 2001 novel is a 2005 Nutmeg award winner;  Connecticut children in grades 4-6 vote for their favorite of 10 nominated titles. Kids, teachers, and librarians make up the nominating committee. All states have book awards, according to the American Library Association, and Bruchac's spooky story has been honored several times.

About the Chicken Artist

A huge shout-out to  Natalie, who created the Chicken Spaghetti chicken, on the right. Thank you! He's just the greatest. Chicken Spaghetti readers should know that Natalie, who's a painter and illustrator,  and a business partner have a line of personalized children's stationery, and it's wonderful! Do go see her work online. You'll want to order everything, and you can see which stores carry the line.  Click here, for  Ellie Mim's Social Stationery.

And if any of you editors are reading along, you'd be wise to seek out Natalie's portfolio; you can reach her through the Ellie Mim web site.

Rosa Parks, Remembered

In honor of the Civil Rights heroine Rosa Parks, who passed away on Monday, here is a link to the Rosa Parks Museum and Library, in Montgomery, Alabama. Part of Troy University Montgomery, the building is situated on the spot where Mrs. Parks was arrested fifty years ago for refusing to give up her seat on the bus.

Flags are flying at half-staff in Montgomery, where the Advertiser  reports that visitors are flocking to the museum. In December, the city will remember the 50th anniversary of the bus boycott, which was triggered by Rosa Parks's action.

There are many children's books about Rosa Parks. Powell's bookstore, among others, carries a number of them. For teachers, the Alabama Department of Archives and History has a lesson plan about the bus boycott, which uses original documents and is geared toward older students.

An informative obituary, written by Alabama native Diane McWhorter, is at Slate. (Thank you to Quiet Bubble for the link.)


Over at Delaware Online you can find host of new Halloween titles, including Lisa Desimini's Trick-orTreat, Smell My Feet and the Halloween Howls poetry anthology.

Some older favorites around here are The Runaway Pumpkin, by Kevin Lewis; It's Pumpkin Time, by Zoe Hall; The Teeny Tiny Ghost, by Kay Winters; and Too Many Pumpkins, by Linda White. Oh, and I can't leave out  Space Witch, by Don Freeman (Corduroy).

If my son were at home, he'd have you reading (for the umpteenth time)  The Real-Skin Rubber Monster Mask, written  by Miriam Cohen and illustrated by Lillian Hoban. School Library Journal agrees with his assessment, saying "Children eagerly anticipating the next installment about Cohen and Hoban's familiar classroom will not be disappointed by this Halloween treat."

Wild Things in L.A.

Where the Wild Things Are, the classic Maurice Sendak picture book, is in movie pre-production. The film's director, Spike Jonze (of  "Being John Malkovich" fame), collaborated on the screenplay with Dave Eggers. Dave Eggers? The Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius guy? Yes, indeed. The New York Times relates the saga of how this film came to be, or rather, is coming to be. The screenplay is pending final approval by Sendak and film studio honchos.

Sendak is frank, as usual, when interviewed by the reporter  Charles Fleming:

He had then and has now, Mr. Sendak said, "a loathing of movies that are based on children's books, and a loathing for most children's books." In his words: "It's all vulgar. It's all  Madonna." Asked about the film versions of Dr. Seuss's Cat in the Hat or How the Grinch Stole Christmas - both released by Universal, where Ms. Snider is now chairman - he said: "What is the purpose of this debauchery? Money! Only a seriously sick or brainless person could like them."