Please pull up a chair for another Sunday brunch, serving random facts, thoughts, and opinions on children’s books -- but not “everything on a waffle.” Today’s blog is dedicated to the three people who told me they missed last Sunday’s brunch. Thanks guys!
IF IT AIN’T BROKEN, DON’T FIX IT
It’s a beautiful morning in these parts -- blue sky, bright sun, cool breeze, greening trees -- and it put me in mind of the old Cat Stevens song from the 1970s, “Morning Has Broken.” Do these lyrics look familiar?
Did you know “A Morning Song (For the First Day of Spring)” was written by the famous British children’s author Eleanor Farjeon in 1922? In addition to appearing on Cat Stevens’ album TEASER AND THE FIRECAT, the song is also included in many Christian hymnals. I found the above verse in this children's book published by Oxford University Press in 1957:
THIS YEAR’S NEWBERY WINNER, A CLAMOR OF CHILDREN
I just discovered that this year’s Newbery winner GOOD MASTERS! SWEET LADIES! was originally scheduled for publication in 2005 under the title A CLAMOR OF CHILDREN, with illustrations by Trina Schart Hyman. Wow! Robert Byrd, who eventually illustrated this book, did a fine job -- but Hyman’s illustrations would have been even more noteworthy. Who knows -- the book may have ended up wearing a Newbery AND a Caldecott seal. (I’m assuming that Ms. Hyman had to pull out of the project because of ill health; she died in November 2004.)
Incidentally, the Library of Congress cataloging record for GOOD MASTERS! SWEET LADIES! lists another, earlier title for this book: VILLEINS AND VERMIN, SIMPLETONS AND SAINTS. This is very odd, since earlier titles are only included on Library of Congress records if a book was previously published under that name -- which wasn’t the case here. Strangely, several booksellers in Austrailia and Canada have Schlitz’s book listed under the title VILLEINS AND VERMIN, SIMPLETONS AND SAINTS, accompanied by a picture of the GOOD MASTERS! SWEET LADIES! dustjacket.
For what it’s worth, I don't think GOOD MASTERS! SWEET LADIES! is the greatest title ever...but it’s certainly stronger than A CLAMOR OF CHILDREN (which sounds like a book Eleanor Farjeon might have written in the 1950s) or VILLEINS AND VERMIN, SIMPLETONS AND SAINTS which is too long and, with the variant spelling of that first word, would have been a major pain to look up online.
DISS TOMBSTONE IS BLANK!
Speaking of Trina Schart Hyman, take a look at this illustration she did for the biography WILL YOU SIGN HERE, JOHN HANCOCK? written by Jean Fritz and published by Coward McCann in 1976.
Notice how the tombstone on the far right is curiously blank? If you can find a first edition of this book, the stone will have a name on it.
When Trina Schart Hyman was working on JOHN HANCOCK, Kirkus Reviews sniped about the illustrations she provided for SNOW WHITE (adapted by Paul Heins and published by Little, Brown in 1974.) So Ms. Hyman decided to make a statement of her own. On the right-hand tombstone, she provided an epitaph for Virginia Kirkus, editor of KIRKUS REVIEWS:
us a nasty
soul is its own
It wasn’t until after the book was published that someone noted this very public diss of the famous reviewer. Coward McCann removed the offending text from the gravestone -- and all printings since then (and there have been MANY) feature a blank slate in lower right corner. If you can find a first edition with the Kirkus stone, it’s definitely collectable!
(I’m still trying to find one myself.)
...A DARKLING PLAIN by Philip Reeve just won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for young adult fiction.
...Tedd Arnold’s RAT LIFE has won the Edgar Award (given by the Mystery Writers of America) in the young adult category. Katherine Marsh’s THE NIGHT TOURIST won in the juvenile category.
...Every time I notice an interesting young adult novel at the bookstore, I turn to the copyright page to see if it’s “Produced by Alloy Entertainment.” A surprising number of them are -- and I can’t take them as seriously as most other books for some reason....
...I’m hearing good things about the new YA novel THE ADORATION OF JENNA FOX by Mary E. Pearson.
....Also hearing a lot of positive talk about the new children’s book SAVVY by Ingrid Law. It was just published on Thursday and the copies that arrived at my favorite bookstore were already second printings -- anathema to the serious book collector! If you’re interested in getting a copy, you’d best track it down now while first printings are still out there somewhere....
...Another YA book getting a lot of attention is SUNRISE OVER FALLUJAH by Walter Dean Myers -- a sequel of sorts to his amazing 1988 Vietnam novel FALLEN ANGELS. This one’s about the war in Iraq.
...And let’s never forget M.E. Kerr’s novel about the first Iraq war, LINGER. This one is just as timely (and just as great to read) in 2008 as it was when first published in 1993.
...Speaking of outstanding young adult war fiction, it doesn’t get much better than the four-volume “Echo Company” series by Zack Emerson (later revealed to be Ellen Emerson White.) Oh how I wish someone would reissue these paperback originals from the early 1990s in hardcover!
...Did you know that this year’s Newbery winner A CLAMOR OF CHILDREN (I mean, GOOD MASTERS! SWEET LADIES!) was rejected by TEN publishers before Candlewick accepted it? Writers, take heart! Editors, take heed!
...Wouldn’t you love to see a new novel from Sue Ellen Bridgers?
...When you were a kid, did you ever come down to breakfast and discover that your copy of George Selden’s A CRICKET IN TIMES SQUARE had been mysteriously autographed during the night? If so, you might (or might NOT) want to read THE STORY OF HAROLD by Terry Andrews and then have a little talk with your parents....
...I was so happy to see Fuse #8 of School Library Journal admit in her May 2 blog that she’s not a big fan of EVERYTHING ON A WAFFLE. For all these years, I’ve thought I was the ONLY one!
...Someone visited my blog earlier this week using a Google search for “Crescent Dragonwagon, signed tablecloth.” I have no idea what that’s all about, but I want one! I love some of her books for young people -- and she has the best cornbread recipe ever in her cookbook.
...Speaking of signed tablecloths, someone once told me they were at a function with James Marshall and two other children’s book illustrators (whose names I’m unfortunately blanking on) and during the dinner the three men completely covered the tablecloth with a beautifully drawn illustration. Wouldn’t that have been something to see?
...For us library lovers of a certain age, doesn’t this picture bring back memories of a simpler time?
THE PENULTIMATE ITEM IN THIS BLOG
On Friday I bought the just-published Madeleine L’Engle novel THE JOYS OF LOVE. Ms. L’Engle died in 2007, but left behind this manuscript, which she wrote in the 1940s.
Since it’s probably inevitable that someone somewhere will eventually continue writing L'Engle's “Austin” or “Time” books, it’s nice to have at least one last book that was actually written by L’Engle herself. (I know, there are probably no plans to continue those series with another writer...for now. But I bet it happens. Popular writers no longer die...someone else just continues writing their books. Laura Ingalls Wilder is just fuming about this in heaven.) Anyway, having read about half of THE JOYS OF LOVE so far, I’m finding it a quiet, sophisticated novel (the heroine has already graduated from college) that will please fans of the author.
Incidentally, the introduction (by L’Engle’s granddaughter) refers to this book as being “the penultimate version” of the novel.
She must not read Lemony Snicket.
THE NEW CENTURION
This is the one hundredth blog entry of Collecting Children’s Books. Thanks to everybody who reads this blog regularly or stops by for an occasional visit. I really appreciate it!