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Photo by Richard Asch

… which happens to be the title of Richard Peck’s 1981 novel for adults, providing me a great opportunity to bridge two worlds when that Richard and my Richard and I were having dinner before seeing A Doll’s House, Part Two last Saturday night. We could all talk about real estate, which we did, as well as about what Peck might, as a recently laureled Boston Globe Horn Book Honor Book honoree, do at the Horn Book at Simmons Colloquium this October. We have a plan.

 

 

 

Photo by Monica Higgins

My New York time began with announcing the BGHB Awards with Kwame Alexander. We like our show and want to put it on the road if there are any takers. Kwame, we could be the new Brothers Green! Before we opened the envelopes, I asked Kwame if he wanted to know the winners in advance, and he said he wanted to be surprised. Great, I thought, spontaneity, but then I panicked in my head, trying to remember if there were any names that could trip an unsuspecting person up. Another Maia Wojciechowska! But no, thank goodness.

Over the next couple of days my pal Al and I kept busy calling on publishers. We do this a few times a year, and it’s a delicate mix of gathering useful editorial and business information whilst also gathering ad revenues and attention to the Horn Book. I enjoy the challenge. This go-round had as its finest moment an unlooked for encounter with my longtime dear friend Margaret Ferguson, who has recently brought her eponymous imprint to Holiday House from Macmillan. Margaret and I met through Annie on My Mind in 1982. Al and I were there to see Terry Borzumato-Greenberg and Mary Cash (both also terrific of course), and it was a wonderful surprise to see Margaret.

Al and I also stopped by the new Amazon store in Columbus Circle. Very nice staff. But I can’t imagine buying a book there, not because of any Amazon animus but because the joint made me feel like an unthinking subject of a not very benign experiment. That store bets on knowing what I want before I know myself, but when I’m in a bookstore I want at least the illusion of free will. And while I’m sure the design and layout have all been thoroughly tested as effective, the store was very bland and regimented-looking. It didn’t make me want to wander around itself.

Photo by Elizabeth Kohn Fithian

On Sunday, I was over at BookCon refereeing a panel of authors including the aforementioned Kwame, Daniel Handler, Jeff Kinney, and Mary Pope Osborne. The challenge here was that three of my panelists are extremely popular series authors and one who–well, as he put it in a lighthearted slap to the panel–“won the Newbery Medal.” They were a great group, but Handler had to be watched carefully.I thought that he would like it when I told him how wrong I was when I had told the Wall Street Journal that this new “Snicket” series would never go anywhere. While I enjoy hearing people tell me that they were wrong and I was right, Daniel took some umbrage. Or did he? He always makes me feel as if he and everyone around him have become characters in a book.

So that was my work. We saw Indecent, about which more later, and we also saw two musicals–Come From Away and Groundhog Day. This means I’ve seen all the Tony Best Musical nominees, which probably gets me another toaster or something, and I predict Groundhog Day will and should win. I only first saw the famous movie last weekend in preparation, and I like the Jake Gyllenhaal remake better. The production and special effects of the musical were flashy–really flashy–but always in ways that drew us into the story and characters, who in turn made us care about their fates. I cried happily there but must say I remained unmoved by Come From Away, although we were flanked by a bused-in group of Newfies who cheered and cried and waved their Newfie flags at every opportunity. I didn’t feel like I was resisting it, either, it’s just that what was there seemed so synthetic to me.  A Doll’s House Part Two was a deliciously astringent antidote after that, and in Jayne Houdyshell, who plays the maid, Peck said he saw his choice for the film version of Grandma Dowdel. Hey, Mr. Producer!

Roger Sutton About Roger Sutton

Roger Sutton has been the editor in chief of The Horn Book, Inc, since 1996. He was previously editor of The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books and a children's and young adult librarian. He received his M.A. in library science from the University of Chicago in 1982 and a B.A. from Pitzer College in 1978. Follow him on Twitter: @RogerReads.

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Comments

  1. re: musicals – you didn’t like Dear Evan Hansen?

  2. Roger Sutton Roger Sutton says:

    No, I liked it. I didn’t completely BUY it, but I enjoyed myself for sure.

  3. Sam Juliano says:

    “This means I’ve seen all the Tony Best Musical nominees, which probably gets me another toaster or something….”

    I’d say that is quite a remarkable accomplishment for all sorts of reasons!!

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