Monday, December 21, 2009, Monday Brunch

Today’s brunch is a day late and a little short. Time seems to be getting away from me during this busy holiday season.Thank you for your understanding and patience.


First, a big “THANK YOU” to all who responded to this week’s news that Candlewick has purchased WILD THINGS! : THE TRUE, UNTOLD STORIES BEHIND THE MOST BELOVED CHILDREN’S BOOKS AND THEIR CREATORS, the book I am currently writing with Elizabeth Bird and Julie Danielson. We were so gratified by how many people immediately “got” the concept of the book (not everyone has) and began cheering us on.

If you have any intriguing stories about the background or creation of a well-known children’s book...or have always wondered about something unusual or mysterious you’ve noticed within the pages of a book (something that made you say, like Miss Clavel in MADELINE, that “Something is not right”)...please feel free to drop me a line at

Recent tips from blog readers have already got me looking at the swan boat riders in MAKE WAY FOR DUCKLINGS and checking out biographies of E. Nesbit.

Many thanks!


To double-check the spelling of “Miss Clavel” above, I Googled her name and was surprised to see that she is frequently referred to as a Catholic nun. The Wikipedia mentions she’s a nun and later uses the phrase “Miss Clavel (aka Sister Clavel.)”


I am off work today (blogging, blogging, Christmas shopping) and don’t have ready access to the Ludwig Bemelmans books in our library collection to check this out, but I can’t recall the character ever being called “sister” in the books, or any reference to her as a nun.

I thought she dressed that way because she was a school mistress/nursemaid/nanny type.

But apparently there is some controversy about this. I just found a Catholic forum website in which someone proclaimed:

Miss Clavel is a nun, people! <...> But are nuns really that threatening to children, especially non-Catholic children, that the classic children's literature character needs to be remodelled?

So, is she a nun or not-a-nun?


Living right on the border of Canada, we’ve always been able to receive Canadian television and radio stations in this area. Growing up, we all listened to the top forty on the “Big 8” -- CKLW, AM 800 -- a station then known for its high-octane “20-20 News,” which was broadcast by newscasters with nearly identical loud, booming voices. Today CKLW is a talk station and I listen to the spooky, syndicated “Coast to Coast” radio show over its airwaves nearly every night. The newsbreaks are much more traditional now, though it’s still interesting to hear Canadian pronunciations (ever heard a Canadian say “schedule”?) and phraseology (“The accident victim is in hospital”) -- not to mention the temperature in Celsius (“Tomorrow will be the hottest day of July, with the thermometer topping 30 degrees.”)

The other night I happened to hear a children’s book mention on CKLW’s news. They reported that a first edition of that Canadian classic, ANNE OF GREEN GABLES by Lucy Maud Montgomergy, had just been sold for $37,000 at an auction in New York City. Only eight copies of this book have been sold at auction in the past three decades.

...So check your attic to see if you have a copy of this 1908 novel hidden away somewhere. Though if I ever sold a book for $37,000, I’d be so excited that I’d probably faint and end up “in hospital!”


Evaline Ness’s Caldecott Medal for SAM, BANGS & MOONSHINE was sold at auction for less than $6000 last week.

I actually thought it would sell for more.

There is a way to get a Caldecott Medal of your very own without having to bid thousands of dollars. Here’s all you need to start:

Sorry for the brevity of today’s blog, but I must run out to mail packages, finish addressing my Christmas cards, and do some shopping. And I’ll probably be up till all hours, knee-deep in ribbons, gift tags, and Santa Claus paper before I can finally say, “That’s a wrap!”

Thanks for visiting Collecting Children’s Books. Hope you’ll be back.


Bybee said...

I just can't accept that Miss Clavel is a nun.

Anonymous said...

I always thought she was a nun. I'm not sure why... I just did.