Welcome to another Sunday Brunch at Collecting Children’s Books. Thanks for dropping by.
It’s Superbowl Sunday, a day that has become almost a national holiday in the United States. I just read that it’s the second highest day for caloric consumption after Thanksgiving. And that some schools in Indiana will start a couple hours late tomorrow so that bus drivers can sleep in after the big game. Me? I think I’ll read a book. Here are a few titles to choose from:
THE WINGED COLT OF CASA MIA by Betsy Byars (1973)
THE BLIND COLhttp://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gifT by Glen Rounds (1941)
SAM COLT AND HIS GUN : THE LIFE OF THE INVENTOR OF THE REVOLVER by Gertrude Hecker Winders (1959)
THE CROOKED COLT by C.W. Anderson (1956)
THE WINNING COLT by Louise Lee Floethe (1956)
THE BLACK STALLION’S SULKY COLT by Walter Farley (1954)
THE COLT FROM MOON MOUNTAIN by Dorothy P. Lathrop (1941)
SAINT IGGY by K.L. Going (2006)
SAINT MAYBE by Anne Tyler (1991)
SAINT GEORGE AND THE DRAGON by Margaret Hodges and Trina Schart Hyman (1984)
A VISIT FROM SAINT NICHOLAS by Clement Clark Moore (1822)
WHEN WE WERE SAINTS by Han Nolan (2003)
THE PATRON SAINT OF BUTTERFLIES by Cecelia Galante (2008)
CURSE OF THE CURSIVE
My favorite writer, M.E. Kerr, once told me that she tries to prevent her publishers from using cursive, or script, writing on the covers of her books.
Because many of her young readers have told her that they don’t know how to read handwriting.
I was shocked to hear this, but then I began asking around and learned that a lot of grade school teachers don’t have time to teach a lengthy handwriting unit to kids these days. What a far cry from the “old days” (i.e. my own youth) when we spent months learning to write in cursive. Our teacher had a multi-pronged chalk holder that allowed her to draw three straight lines across the blackboard, upon which she’d carefully write out the letters in precise script, the capital letters touching the top line and the lowercase letters grazing the middle line. I still remember how she taught us to write the lowercase M, drawing the first upward and downward motion while saying, “The bear went over the mountain....” then the second curve (“...the bear went over the mountain...”) and finally the last curve (“...the bear went over the mountain...”) and then she’d trail off the end on the bottom line saying, “To see what he could see.”)
I guess one reason handwriting gets shunted aside is because kids are too busy learning keyboarding/typing in third or fourth grade. That was the age when we used to learn handwriting...and we didn’t learn typing till junior high!
I was thinking about this the other day when I came across this recent book for young readers:
I could read the title, but was completely stumped by the author’s last name:
Bowl? Bowie? Bouie? It wasn’t until I looked inside that I discovered her name was Julie Bowe.
Guess I need a remedial class in cursive writing. The bear went over the mountain, the bear went over the mountain....
IN THE MOOD
I was looking at Sarah Miller’s website this week and came across this question and answer:
Q. Do you listen to music while you work?
A. Yes. Almost always. I choose very specific music for each project, and it's always either instrumental or foreign so I can't get distracted by lyrics. MISS SPITFIRE was written exclusively to three Beethoven piano sonatas - the Moonlight Sonata, the Waldenstein Sonata, and the Pathetique. The book I'm working on now is set to Russian Divine Liturgy, with an occasional bit of Favorite Russian Songs, by the Barynya ensemble, and the soundtrack to Les Choristes. I've even got tunes selected for a book I haven't started yet: ragtime and opera.
Music does two things for me:
- Sets the mood.
- Lets me know when I've put in my writing time for the day. End of CD = quitting time!
This got me wondering what music other authors enjoyed as they worked. Hunting around the internet, I came up with these answers:
It kind of varies for me. For a long time, I did need music, but when I'm working I can't listen to music with words in a language I understand. Since I understand words from a bunch of European languages, if I'm not listening to classical, if I'm not listening to symphonic movie soundtracks, I'd better be getting some really esoteric music. Bagpipes are a big favorite. And for the Circle of Magic books, since I was working in a universe rather like the Medieval Middle East and Central Asia, I was listening to Arabic and Hindi and Tuvan throat singing and Balinese and Gamelan and any Japanese or Chinese, you name it.
I love music, classical music in particular, but jazz and all kinds of stuff as well -- but not when I'm working. The rhythm, whatever the rhythm is, interferes with the rhythm of what I'm writing. When I'm doing prose, which is what I'm doing almost all the time -- occasionally I've been known to write verse -- I need to hear what I'm doing in my head, and I can't if there's music playing.
I can't listen to music. It's too distracting!
Sometimes I’ll listen to music before I start writing to put myself into a certain mood. ...But I’m so easily distracted that I can’t listen to music when I’m writing.
I often write with music on. It doesn't distract me. Anything that makes me more comfortable and keeps me writing is good. And occasionally I'll reread something I've written and know what I was listening to when I wrote it.
I listen to music constantly. When I write, I cannot listen to music with words, so the old standbys are Sun Ra and Morton Feldman.
I don’t listen to music when I write-I listen to Law & Order. I play the reruns all day. Something about the Da! Da! frees up the creative side of my brain. Weird, eh?
Julie Bowl..l mean, Bowie...I mean Bouie...okay, Julie BOWE
I don’t listen to music while I’m writing because it distracts me. But, sometimes, I like to write in the food court at the mall. It’s helpful for me to have that mix of voices in the background while I’m working. Plus, they have really good coffee there.
THIRTY EIGHT YEARS LATER
I recently came across an article written by Patty Campbell, Pat Davis and Jerri Quinn called “We Got Here...It Was Worth the Trip : A Survey of Young Adult Reading in Los Angeles Public Library.”
In 1972, the authors attempted to find out the most popular books in the LA library by putting a questionnaire in the pocket of each YA book in the collection. This part cracked me up: “The questionnaires were designed to be visually appealing. At the top of the slip was a design of mushrooms and the sun -- two ‘in’ items in current young adult symbology.”
Over the course of six months, the survey was answered 2009 times.
The following titles were listed as the top ten favorites:
1) MY DARLING, MY HAMBURGER by Paul Zindel
2) MR. AND MRS. BO JO JONES by Ann Head
3) GO ASK ALICE by Anonymous
4) CATCHER IN THE RYE by J.D. Salinger
5) BLESS THE BEASTS AND CHILDREN by Glendon Swarthout
6) PHOEBE by Patricia Dizenzo
7) BRIAN PICCOLO : THE SHORT SEASON by Jeannie Morris
8) THE OTHER SIDE OF THE MOUNTAIN by Michael Bernanos
9) RUN SOFTLY, GO FAST by Barbara Wersba
10) LENNON REMEMBERS by Jan Wenner
In the same survey, readers were asked “Are there any books you would highly recommend to other young people?” and the top ten responses were:
1) THE OUTSIDERS by S.E. Hinton
2) THE GODFATHER by Mario Puzo
3) THAT WAS THEN, THIS IS NOW by S.E. Hinton
4) MY DARLING, MY HAMBURGER by Paul Zindel
5) GO ASK ALICE by Anonymous
6) THE PIGMAN by Paul Zindel
7) THE LORD OF THE RINGS by J.R.R. Tolkien
8) GONE WITH THE WIND by Margaret Mitchell
9) LOVE STORY by Eric Segal
10) MR. AND MRS. BO JO JONES by Ann Head
Granted, a list from 2010 would look quite different. And a few of the above titles are now out-of-print and out-of-mind. But, still, I’m surprised by how many of the above continue to be read by teenagers today. Even MR. AND MRS. BO JO JONES remains in print and still appears on high school reading lists.
Here’s the cover I remember seeing on every drugstore rack in the seventies:
I have to admit I never read it back then...though I do recall seeing a TV movie-of-the-week based on the novel. But the fact that this book retains its popularity after forty years definitely makes me want to read it now.
MR. AND MRS. BO JO JONES belonged to a sub-genre of YA fiction concerning married teenagers. Others included FOR ALL THE WRONG REASONS by John Neufeld; MEET ME IN THE PARK, ANGIE by Phyllis Anderson Woods; THE BRIDE WORE BRAIDS by Fredrick Laing, and several more. I wonder if there have been any comparable “young married” novels in the past twenty years? Do teens still get married...or do they just move in together and then appear on Judge Judy six months later because they broke up and now owe money on their apartment lease?
Whatever the case, Bo Jo and Bride appear to still draw young readers. I’d better borrow a copy from the library so I can figure out why.
Thanks for visiting Collecting Children’s Books. Hope you’ll be back.
...Hey, would you visit more often if I decorated this blog with pictures of suns and mushrooms?