Sunday, December 12, 2010

Brunch for a Snowy Sunday

Today's brief Sunday Brunch identifies three valuable books for collectors, uses reverse psychology on a popular Mock Newbery contest, and includes a list of all the celebrities who have promoted children's books on the American Library Association's READ posters.

HERE IN THE MIDWEST...


The roof of the Metrodome has collapsed in Minnesota.

Parts of Illinois and Indiana are under a winter storm warning.

Where I live, just north of Detroit, they are predicting four to eight inches of snow later this afternoon.

Here's what it looked like out my back door this morning:


I just hope the muskrats are warm in their house out on the pond:



"IT'S SNOWING" IN YOUR HOUSE?

Incidentally, are you familiar with the 1957 Edith and Thacher Hurd book pictured above? Do you by chance have an old copy of the book at your house?

If so, you could be sitting on a gold mine.

Nice first editions of IT'S SNOWING sell for $250-$400!

And if you think that's a lot, how about this book by the Hurds:


Published in 1956, first editions of MARY'S SCARY HOUSE are usually priced between $450 and $600.

While tracking down images for the two Hurd books, I came across this totally unrelated dustjacket for a 1967 book called THE GHOST OF OPALINA, OR NINE LIVES by Peggy Bacon:


If you ever find a copy of this book, snatch it right up. First editions sell for $450 to $1000!

All three of these titles are good examples of books that never won any awards or prizes, aren't popular enough to remain in print today, yet are still so well-loved by readers that collectors are willing to pay hundreds or thousands of dollars for them.



OH, I HOPE KNEEBONE BOY WINS TODAY!

Today's the day that the Heavy Medal folks convene at the Oakland Public Library to choose their Mock Newbery winner.

Their shortlist includes:

KEEPER by Kathi Appelt
THEY CALLED THEMSELVES THE KKK by Susan Campbell Bartoletti
SIR CHARLIE by Sid Fleischman
THE KNEEBONE BOY by Ellen Potter
THE DREAMER by Pam Munoz Ryan
DARK EMPEROR by Joyce Sidman
A CONSPIRACY OF KINGS by Megan Whalen Turner
ONE CRAZY SUMMER by Rita Williams Garcia

My first thought was that I'll probably throw up if the winner turns out to be THE KNEEBONE BOY (also known as MENTAL ILLNESS CAN BE FUN!, subtitled "AND IF YOU THINK MUM IS NUTS, WAIT TILL YOU GET A LOAD OF MY MUTE BRO, MY DAFFY AMERICAN AUNT, AND ME, A GIRL WHO'S IN LOVE WITH A PICTURE OF HER MOTHER IN DRAG."

But the more I thought about it, the more I began hoping that KNEEBONE BOY does win the prize.

Why?

Because the winners of the Oakland Mock Newbery never seem to actually win the real Newbery Award .

2010's prizes are a perfect example. WHEN YOU REACH ME was as close to a sure-winner as possible. But it was only named a Mock Honor by Oakland, joining other Mock Honors CLAUDETTE COLVIN and MARCHING FOR FREEDOM, as the top prize went to WHEN THE MOUNTAIN MET THE MOON by Grace Lin.

2009 was an oddball year as well. Oakland's Mock Newbery went to THE PORCUPINE YEAR, with Mock Honors going to AFTER TUPAC AND D FOSTER and ALVIN HO : ALLERGIC TO GIRLS, SCHOOL AND OTHER SCARY THINGS.

2008's mock winner was ELIJAH OF BUXTON by Christopher Paul Curtis, with honors going to THE ABSOLUTELY TRUE DIARY OF A PART-TIME INDIAN; GOOD MASTERS! SWEET LADIES!, and THE WEDNESDAY WARS by Gary D. Schmidt.

2007's top title was A DROWNED MAIDEN'S HAIR by Laura Amy Schlitz, with Mock Honors going to ALABAMA MOON, THE KING OF ATTOLIA, and A TRUE AND FAITHFUL NARRATIVE.

One has to go all way back to 2006 to find a year when Oakland's Mock Newbery pick, CRISS CROSS by Lynne Rae Perkins, went on to actually win the Newbery. (The Mock Honors that year were HITLER YOUTH, A WREATH FOR EMMETT TILL, JOHN LENNON, and SHOW WAY.)

Of course noting the fact that the Mock awards almost never match the real prize in no way disparages Oakland's selections. It just proves that, when you have two groups of people discussing a similar slate of books, they may well choose different winners due to any number of variables. Personally, I think Oakland's 2007 winner, A DROWNED MAIDEN'S HAIR, was a brilliant selection which actually should have won the official Newbery that year. On the other hand, Oakland's 2009 winner, THE PORCUPINE YEAR, pretty much stinks.

Stay tuned for the Mock winners at Heavy Medal tonight or tomorrow. And the real winners will be announced on January 10.


BETTE MIDLER AND DR. SEUSS

Yesterday I recorded a movie off TV called THEN SHE FOUND ME. It starred one of my least favorite actresses, Helen Hunt, as a 39 year old woman who had been adopted as a child and was now desperate to have a baby of her own.

Early in the movie, Helen is surprised when her birth mother turns up and wants to have a relationship with her. The birth mother is played by Bette Midler. During their first meeting, Bette recites a Dr. Seuss verse to Helen. She is surprised to learn that Helen's adoptive mother never read Helen that book.

On the one hand, it's always nice to see a reference -- any reference -- to a children's book in a big screen movie.

But, as usually happens, the movie got it wrong.

The book Bette quotes from is OH, THE PLACES YOU'LL GO -- the last book Dr. Seuss published in his lifetime.

THEN SHE FOUND ME was filmed in 2007.

Helen Hunt played a 39-year-old...meaning she was born in 1968.

OH, THE PLACES YOU'LL GO wasn't published until 1990.

So Bette shouldn't have been surprised that Helen's mother had never read her this book.

It wasn't published until Helen's character was 22 years old!



SPEAKING OF BETTE....


Did you know that Bette Midler was one of the earliest stars to jump on the "celebrity books for children" trend? In 1983 she published THE SAGA OF BABY DIVINE, a picture book about a baby who looks a lot like Bette Midler in diapers. She also wears a boa and high heels and her first word is "More." Unlike most of the pedantic celebrity books published in the years since, this is not a flat-footed and patronizing story directed at teaching kids a lesson, but more a faux children's book that uses colorful illustrations and rhyming text to speak to Midler's adult fans. One of those adult fans would post the following blurb on Amazon.com many years later: "A pentameter that rivals Seuss in creativity, timing, and rhyming," but the Boston Globe was a little less starstruck in this contemperaneous review: "Dr. Seuss doesn't have to stay awake nights worrying about being tumbled from the throne as the dean of children's books."


READ!

Bette Midler was shown cradling a copy of THE SAGA OF BABY DIVINE in one of the American Library Association's READ posters.

Bette was one of the first four celebrities (the others were Bill Cosby, Mikhail Baryshnikov, and Sting) photographed for the inaugural READ posters in 1985. Since then, nearly 200 actors, musicians, athletes, and other famous names have been featured in the long-running series.

Some are photographed alone, some are holding adult books.

Which ones were shown holding specific children's titles?

Here's a list:

Bill Cosby / TREASURE ISLAND by Robert Louis Stevenson / 1985
Goldie Hawn / GOLDILOCKS AND THE THREE BEARS by Lorinda Bryan Cauley / 1986
William Hurt / DID I TELL YOU HOW LUCKY YOU ARE? by Dr. Seuss / 1988
Kirk Cameron / THE LION, THE WITCH, AND THE WARDROBE by C.S. Lewis /1990
Denzel Washington / GREEN EGGS AND HAM by Dr. Seuss / 1991
Macaulay Culkin and Anna Chlumsky / HOW THINGS WORK by David Macaulay / 1991
Alec Baldwin / THE ADVENTURES OF HUCKLEBERRY FINN / 1992
Michael Chang / CURIOUS GEORGE TAKES A JOB by H.A. Rey / 1992
Michael Keaton / THE YEARLING by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings / 1992
Whoopi Goldberg / NICHOLAS CRICKET by Joyce Maxner / 1992
Marlee Matlin / ARE YOU THERE, GOD? IT'S ME, MARGARET by Judy Blume / 1994
The movie cast of LITTLE WOMEN / LITTLE WOMEN by Louisa May Alcott / 1995
Barbara Walters / THE LITTLE PRINCE by Antoine De Saint Exupery / 1996
Courney Cox / Heidi by Johanna Spyri / 1996
The movie cast of MATILDA / MATILDA by Roald Dahl / 1996
Brandy / THE CAT IN THE HAT by Dr. Seuss / 1997
Cindy Crawford / THE HOBBIT by J.R.R. Tolkien / 1997
Rosie O'Donnell / BEEZUS AND RAMONA by Beverly Cleary / 1997
Kim Basinger / THE VERY HUNGRY CATERPILLAR / 1998
Muhammad Ali / GOLDILOCKS AND THE THREE BEARS by Jan Brett / 1998
Rebecca Lobo / THE GIVING TREE by Shel Silverstein / 1999
Regis Philbin / TREASURE ISLAND by Robert Louis Stevenson / 2000
Tara Dakides / WHERE THE SIDEWALK ENDS by Shel Silverstein / 2000
Britney Spears / HARRY POTTER AND THE SORCEROR'S STONE / 2001
Dr. Ruth / THE POKY LITTLE PUPPY and CURIOUS GEORGE / 2001
Mike Mussina / CASEY AT THE BAT / Ernest L. Thayer / 2001
Yo Yo Ma / GOODNIGHT MOON by Margaret Wise Brown / 2001
Missy Elliot / A CHAIR FOR MY MOTHER by Vera Williams / 2003
Jeff Corwin / MY SIDE OF THE MOUNTAIN by Jean Craighead George / 2004
Renee Fleming / ANTHOLOGY OF FAIRY TALES by Hans Christian Andersen / 2004
Rick Bayless / BETTY CROCKER'S COOKBOOK FOR BOYS AND GIRLS / 2004
George Lopez / OH, THE PLACES YOU'LL GO by Dr. Seuss / 2005
Ice Cube / THE GREATEST by Walter Dean Myers / 2005
Jamie Kennedy / WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE by Maurice Sendak / 2005
Mat Hoffman / DUCK ON A BIKE by David Shannon / 2005
Ben Roethlisberger / THE GIVING TREE by Shel Silverstein / 2006
Dakota Fanning / CHARLOTTE'S WEB by E.B. White / 2006
Kelly Ripa / THE LION, THE WITCH, AND THE WARDROBE / 2006
Ewan MacGregor / THE COMPLETE TALES by Beatrix Potter / 2007
Sendhil Ramamurthy / THE TOWER TREASURE by Franklin W. Dixon / 2007
William H. Macy / CURIOUS GEORGE by H.A. Rey / 2007
Abigal Breslin / MEET KIT by Valerie Tripp / 2008
Eva Mendes / A LIGHT IN THE ATTIC by Shel Silverstein / 2008
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar / THE ADVENTURES OF HUCKLEBERRY FINN by Mark Twain / 1008
Rachael Ray / THE STINKY CHEESE MAN by Jon Scieszka / 2008
Robert Pattinson and Kristin Stewart / TWILIGHT by Stephenie Meyer / 2008
Hugh Laurie / TREASURE ISLAND by Robert Louis Stevenson / 2009
America Ferrera / A SEPARATE PEACE by John Knowles / 2009
Cole Hamels / ERAGON by Christopher Paolini / 2009
Ne-Yo / THE GRAVEYARD BOOK by Neil Gaimon / 2009
Brenda Song / CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY by Road Dahl / 2009
Taylor Lautner / NEW MOON by Stephenie Meyer / 2009


SCARY BOOKS, SEVENTIES STYLE

Does anyone remember this suspense novel for teens from the seventies?


Everyone wanted to read it when I was a kid.

It was the combination of the alluring title and creepy cover illustration...the promise of crank calls...accidental death...teenage guilt...suspense...and the guy in the middle looked like Elvis....

It was wildly popular in paperback, but I don't think I ever saw the hardcover edition until a few years ago. I wonder how popular the book was in hardcover, considering what a mess the cover illustration is:


I actually think this scan improves upon the original illustration. It smooths out the fuzzy borders, tones down the blotchiness of the colors, covers up the places where the color goes outside the lines, and in general gives the image a more polished appearance. If you could see the actual hardcover book I'm holding in my hands right now, you'd notice all these irregularities -- and more. The book was published in 1971 by Dodd, Mead -- not exactly a fly-by-night publisher with no budget for art and design. So why did this title end up with a cover that looks like an untalented nine-year-old drew it with a handful of magic markers?

I guess it really does prove that "you can't judge a book by its cover," as Edith Maxwell's novel is actually quite entertaining and would be enjoyed by readers of Lois Duncan's books such as I KNOW WHAT YOU DID LAST SUMMER.

Every time I think about one of the books I enjoyed as a young reader, I wonder if it could be re-published for today's kids.

Right off the bat, I'd have to say this one would never get an audience.

Today's kids couldn't get past the title.

JUST DIAL A NUMBER?

What does "dial" mean???

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

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

Oakland had two mock Newbery groups last year. While my group picked WHERE THE MOUNTAIN MEETS THE MOON, Nina's group did indeed pick WHEN YOU REACH ME (with CLAUDETTE COLVIN, THE EVOLUTION OF CALPURNIA TATE, and THE DUNDERHEADS as Honor books). Generally speaking, I think Oakland has had great picks, but I agree with you about 2009.

Jonathan

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CLM said...

I have never seen it but the movie Then She Found Me is based on Elinor Lipman's eponymous (love that word) first novel. I don't recall whether the book had a Dr. Seuss reference but I give Ms. Lipman enough credit that if it had, it would have been a book appropriately published during the heroine's childhood.

That Edith Maxwell book terrified me because of the prank phone calls that went on at every slumber party I ever attended. I felt like I was a potential perpetrator! I read it before I had read much Lois Duncan (except the two in my grade school library which I loved, Peggy - about Benedict Arnold's wife - and A Gift of Magic) but certainly would appeal to her readers.

Nina said...

Peter, I always appreciate your posts! Sorry to disappoint you about the Kneebone Boy though...our results are up here: http://blog.schoollibraryjournal.com/heavymedal/2010/12/13/mock-newbery-results/

Happily, it's impossible to predict the actual Newbery in a Mock discussion. That's never been the goal of ours. I did feel yesterday as I looked at our slate of Mock winners/honors that it was feeling very much like a DROWNED MAIDENS HAIR assortment.

(Can we get you out to Oakland next year to participate?)

Wendy said...

Wow, you think The Porcupine Year STINKS? The group in Oakland that year praised it highly to a person; it easily won the mock Newbery. We struggled to come up with critiques. I was disappointed and somewhat surprised when it didn't medal at all in the real thing. I understand your objections to Kneebone, even if I don't agree with them (don't you usually put spoiler warnings before you give away major plot points like that?), but I can't imagine what your objections were to The Porcupine Year.

Peter D. Sieruta said...

I should have been more clear about PORCUPINE YEAR. I wouldn't say the book itself stunk...I just found it as slow as molasses. I tried to read it a dozen times and simply couldn't get through the first few chapters. What I really meant to say was that as a Newbery (or Mock Newbery) selection, it stunk.

Yeah, I probably should have included a spoiler note in my blog this week...but I guess I assumed that everyone had read the lengthy pieces about KNEEBONE at Heavy Medal and already knew the twists.
But I guess I shouldn't make those kinds of assumptions.

Peter

Bybee said...

I'd love to have the Hugh Laurie library poster!

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