I'm sorry I have not posted in a couple weeks. First I was involved in another round of revising the manuscript I'm writing with Elizabeth Bird and Julie Walker Danielson for Candlewick Press (we cut it from 570 pages to 424...falling short of our goal of cutting it to 350) and then last week my father got out of the hospital/rehab center after breaking his arm and we had to deal with visits from home health visitors over the weekend. While I've been "away," lots of book award shortlists and winners have been announced. For example:
The Mystery Writers of America have announced their nominees for the 2012 Edgar Allan Poe Awards.
The nominees for "Best Juvenile" are:
HORTON HALFPOTT by Tom Angleberger
IT HAPPENED ON A TRAIN by Mac Barnett
VANISHED by Sheela Chari
ICEFALL by Matthew J. Kirby
THE WIZARD OF DARK STREET by Shawn Thomas Odyssey
The finalists in the "young adult" category are:
SHELTER by Harlan Coben
THE NAME OF THE STAR by Maureen Johnson
THE SILENCE OF MURDER by Dandi Daley Mackall
THE GIRL IS MURDER by Kathryn Miller Haines
KILL YOU LAST by Todd Strasser
The winners will be announced April 26 in New York City.
And here is the shortlist for the 2012 Andre Norton Award, for the year's best science fiction or fantasy novel:
AKATA WITCH by Nnedi Okorafor
CHIME by Franny Billingsley
DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONE by Laini Taylor
EVERYBODY SEES THE ANTS by A.S. King
THE BOY AT THE END OF THE WORLD by Greg van Eekhout
THE FREEDOM MAZE by Delia Sherman
THE GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS by Rae Carson
ULTRAVIOLET by R.J. Anderson
The winner will be announced in mid-May.
The finalists for the Irma Simonton Black & James H. Black Award for Excellence in Children's Literature ("given to a book in which the text and illustrations work closely together to create a vibrant whole") are:
YOU WILL BE MY FRIEND by Peter Brown
I WANT MY HAT BACK by Jon Klassen
WHAT ANIMALS REALLY LIKE by Fiona Robinson
ALL THE WAY TO AMERICA by Dan Yaccarino
The winner will be announced April 9.
The shortlist for the LOS ANGELES TIMES Book Prize has also been announced and this list is my very favorite! (Of course I may be prejudiced, since I was one of the judges, along with Cindy Dobrez and Angelina Benedetti.)
The finalists are:
BEAUTY QUEENS by Libba Bray
THE BIG CRUNCH by Pete Hautman
A MONSTER CALLS : INSPRED BY AN IDEA FROM SIOBHAN DOWS by Patrick Ness
LIFE : AN EXPLODED DIAGRAM by Mal Peet
THE SCORPIO RACES by Maggie Stiefvater
The winner will be announced April 20.
WHERE HAVE YOU GONE, WILLIAM MCKINLEY?
I've always thought that E.L. Konigsburg's first book, JENNIFER, HECATE, MACBETH, WILLIAM MCKINLEY, AND ME, ELIZABETH, was one of the most perfect middle-grade novels ever written. It was named a Newbery Honor Book the same year that Ms. Konigsburg's FROM THE MIXED-UP FILES OF MRS. BASIL E. FRANKWEILER won top prize (though I, like John Rowe Townsend, think the order probably should have been reversed.) It was also the first-ever title issued by Aladdin Books:
Though perfect in my eyes, the book has been slightly altered at least once. A reference to Jennifer's mother being "Negro" was later changed to "black." I've often wondered if someone will ever request they cut the line in which Jennifer fantasizes that she's smoking a cigarette. But one thing I never thought they'd change is that memorably lengthy title. And they haven't -- at least here in the USA (or, as Elizabeth would call it, "the US of A.") But I recently came across the British edition of the book and was surprised by the title:
I guess they figure English kids won't know who William McKinley was. ...Though, come to think of it, how many American kids know who he was.
It's not uncommon for American titles to be changed when the book is pubished in England -- and vice versa. But E.L. Konigsburg seems to get her titles changed more than the average bear.
Remember her early novel (GEORGE)?
They used the same cover in Great Britain, but changed the title to BENJAMIN DICKINSON CARR AND HIS (GEORGE):
The American JOURNEY TO AN 800 NUMBER
became JOURNEY BY FIRST CLASS CAMEL in England:
Actually, you don't even have to cross the pond to see some Konigsburg titles changed. What used to be:
has now been re-released right here in the United States as MY FATHER'S DAUGHTER:
This edition's neither British nor American, but I had to include it anyway. Even though the title is written in Russian, I'm sure you'll recognize what book it is:
But what I love best is the translation of that title, as provided by Amazon: FROM THE ARCHIVE OF MRS. BASIL E. FRANKVAYLER, MOST COMPLICATED IN THE WORLD.
THE CURSIVE CURSE
For many years now I've been hearing that kids HATE cursive fonts in books. Many schools no longer teach "handwriting" at all, and thus some kids can't read it at all. Some kids won't pick up a book if the title is written in cursive on the front cover. Although I don't particularly have a problem with cursive writing, I must admit that overly fancy fonts often cause me to puzzle over a title. Here's the one that tripped me up last week:
Do you know what it says?
I finally realized the title was GRIM:
Maybe I was just having a bad day. ...But if it took me a couple seconds to puzzle out the name, I wonder how many young readers -- many of whom never learned cursive to begin with -- will hang around look enough to figure out the title...or just reach for another book?
A WRINKLED BAG
How neat is this?
One of the perks of owning a bookstore is that publishers often send you promotional pieces publicizing books. My bookstore buddy just received this bag celebrating the 50th anniversary of Madeleine L'Engle's A WRINKLE IN TIME, featuring the well-remembered original dustjacket illustration by Ellen Raskin. And she gave the bag to me! I was quite thrilled...except I feel it's too special to use on a regular basis.
I think I'll just put it on display in my library instead.
REVIEW : STEP GENTLY OUT BY HELEN FROST AND RICK LIEDER
This picture-book length poem begins:
"Step gently out,
a single blade
then continues, through Frost's lilting, limpid words and Lieder's close-up photographic images, to celebrate the insects that share our world.
The entwined art and text open the reader's eyes and bring renewed appreciation to ants, moths, fireflies and other creatures that "shine with stardust" or are "splashed with morning dew." A final spread identifies and provides information about each insect highlighted in the text. STEP GENTLY OUT has the feel of a classic and, one hopes, will lead to further collaborations between this poet and photographer.
BOOKSTORES : A MEETING PLACE
Rick Lieder's photographic art from STEP GENTLY OUT will be on display in the gallery of Bookbeat, an independent bookstore in Oak Park, Michigan, from March 17 through April 30. The opening of the exhibition, on March 17 from 6:00 to 8:00 PM will be attended by both Mr. Lieder and Ms. Frost. The following day both creators will join other authors at a speaking/booksigning public event in nearby Berkley, Michigan called Read in the Park.
As more and more bookstores close, we are losing "meeting places" where authors and readers can gather to exchange ideas. Several years ago, Bookbeat hosted an author signing for Helen Frost, Kathe Koja (BUDDHA BOY) and Sarah Miller (MISS SPITFIRE.) I believe this was where these authors first met and became friends. And I suspect that this meeting somehow led to the creation of STEP GENTLY OUT. You see, Rick Lieder is married to Kathe Koja and had provided the photographs for the dustjackets of many of her young adult novels. If it hadn't been for Bookbeat bringing these authors together, perhaps this great new book might never have been "born."
THE HUNGER WHAT?
Did you hear about this new movie due out soon? I can't remember the title exactly...something about Hungary...or Hungry...oh yeah, it's called THE HUNGER GAMES!
I'm not sure there's anyone alive today who hasn't heard of the movie and books by now. From what I've heard, advance ticket to the film are selling like crazy. It's shaping up to be a big hit before anyone's even seen it.
And the books are selling like crazy!
In addition to the trilogy of novels by Suzanne Collins, there are now "companion" books to the movie, parodies (THE YOUNGER GAMES; THE HUNGER PAINS) and even an unoffical, unendorsed cookbook! And PEOPLE magazine just put out a special issue devoted entirely to the movie.
Although the blatant commercialism is annoying, I have to admit I'm pleased to see that a book written for young people is getting this kind of public interest.
WE'RE TOO BUSY READING TO PUT ANYBODY DOWN
If the special edition of PEOPLE devoted to THE HUNGER GAMES is a testament to the popularity of the book and movie, then the cover of the weekly issue must say something about what's currently of interest to the magazine's regular readership. After virtually ignoring the deaths of much bigger stars over the past few years, this week PEOPLE has a cover story on the death of Davy Jones from the Monkees. That really surprised me since he had been out of the limelight for decades. But apparently those who grew up in the sixties and seventies have never quite forgotten this singer and performer.
I wondered if The Monkees had any impact on books for kids and came across these paperbacks:
as well as this hardcover novel from Whitman:
That last book was written by William Johnston, an author who wrote a few adult novels of his own, but was probably best known for adapting TV shows and movies into drugstore paperbacks for young readers. Among his dozens of books are adaptations of Dr. Kildare, The Munsters, Get Smart, The Flying Nun, The Brady Bunch, Room 222, The Mod Squad, Happy Days, and many more.
Obviously Mr. Johnston never won any literary awards. I've read a few of his books over the years and they are exactly what you'd expect: facile, slight, and superficial. Yet you have to give this author credit for churning out book after book and, I strongly suspect, providing reading material to a lot of kids who probably never borrowed a book from the library in their lives. For many, a cheap adaptation of Gilligan's Island or Welcome Back, Kotter might be one of the few books they read in their lives.
Needless to say, there is very little info out there on the author. From what I tracked down in Contemporary Authors, he was born in 1924 in Lincoln, Illinois and wrote his books while living in Massapequa, New York with his wife and five children. He may still be alive today. The only personal quote he offered Contemporary Authors was, "I am interested only in writing entertaining stories and remaining as anonymous as possible."
Of course this makes me more interested in him than ever. I'd love to know how he fell into writing TV adaptations...if it paid well...it the job was fulfilling...and how he felt about his career on the whole. Not every writer is Hemingway or Faulkner. And there's something to be said for writing books directed at those who will appreciate them most -- that is, ardent fans and reluctant readers. In the greater scheme of things, these books may be quite ephemeral...yet they say a lot about popular culture at the time they were written.
Thanks for visiting Collecting Children's Books. Hope you'll be back soon!