The Horn Book » Read Roger http://www.hbook.com Publications about books for children and young adults Sun, 27 Jul 2014 18:08:20 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.8.3 Why Can’t the English? http://www.hbook.com/2014/07/blogs/read-roger/cant-english/ http://www.hbook.com/2014/07/blogs/read-roger/cant-english/#comments Sun, 27 Jul 2014 18:08:20 +0000 http://www.hbook.com/?p=39647 We saw Dawn of the Planet of the Apes last night–ehh. Some the intra- and inter-species encounters were quite moving and dramatic but the plot was on automatic and the fabulously watchable Judy Greer was wasted (she could have been completely blotto given that all she had to do was lie there with a suffering […]

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whitemountains Why Cant the English?We saw Dawn of the Planet of the Apes last night–ehh. Some the intra- and inter-species encounters were quite moving and dramatic but the plot was on automatic and the fabulously watchable Judy Greer was wasted (she could have been completely blotto given that all she had to do was lie there with a suffering look in her ape-eyes). Before the movie began there were about five different plugs for The Giver, including three of the quiz questions, so somebody is looking out for you, Lois*.

Courtesy of the Kindle Daily Deal, I’m re-reading one of The Giver‘s greatest antecedents, John Christopher’s The White Mountains, first published in 1967. Boy, is it good (I use the interjection advisedly). The text used in the Kindle edition is from 2003, and it includes a preface by Christopher, “What Is a Tripod?,” about how the the book came to be. While Christopher had only written adult novels until then, a London publisher suggested he try his hand at a book for children. He did, the London publisher accepted it, an American publisher had questions:

“Basically, what she said was that she loved the first chapter but the rest of the book was a mess: it would need a complete reworking from Chapter 2 onward. This was something that had not happened to me before. My adult novels had either been taken or rejected as they stood. I was not used to rewriting and certainly not eager to start doing so with a mere children’s book.”

Christopher goes on to berate himself for his patronizing attitude and thank the editor who made his first children’s book so much better: Susan Hirschmann (sic). But the anecdote makes me think of the murmurings I’ve heard about the more interventionist editing of U.S. publishers as compared to that of their colleagues across the pond. Still true?

 

* And, Lois, I love you, but don’t think for a moment we’re going to let you claim that The Giver (the novel) does not end ambiguously just because you changed your mind. In your Newbery acceptance speech for the book you allowed that thinking Jonas and the baby are dead was a valid way to read the ending. So why are you NOW telling the Times “they are not!”?

 

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He must have been pissed. http://www.hbook.com/2014/07/blogs/read-roger/must-pissed/ http://www.hbook.com/2014/07/blogs/read-roger/must-pissed/#comments Thu, 24 Jul 2014 18:28:52 +0000 http://www.hbook.com/?p=39591 In hunting down a quote in the June 1972 issue of the Magazine, I happened upon a note that resonates with the recent debate over the ALA awards and confidentiality. Under “Staff Notes,” in the Hunt Breakfast (yesteryear’s Impromptu column) the first entry is: “Paul Heins [the then-Editor of HB], as one of the three […]

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throwingwe He must have been <i>pissed</i>.

http://www.carolinefontenot.com/idioms-episode-xi/

In hunting down a quote in the June 1972 issue of the Magazine, I happened upon a note that resonates with the recent debate over the ALA awards and confidentiality.

Under “Staff Notes,” in the Hunt Breakfast (yesteryear’s Impromptu column) the first entry is:

“Paul Heins [the then-Editor of HB], as one of the three judges of this year’s National Book Award for Children’s Books, cast the dissenting vote on the book chosen for the award.”

I have no idea if the NBA deliberations were meant to be confidential, but damn, Paul. When I served on that committee in 1999 the discussion was very amicable but I bet not in 1972. Although the note itself  does not deign to mention it, the winning book that year is revealed further down in the Hunt Breakfast as Donald Barthelme’s The Slightly Irregular Fire Engine, which gets a good accounting by the late great Peter D. Sieruta. That announcement also includes a list of “other nominees” and the judges (Lori [sic] Segal, Jean Stafford, and Paul Heins) and AGAIN a disclaimer: “Mr. Heins cast a dissenting vote.”

I wonder which of the nominees Paul was backing. I would have had a hard time choosing among Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH, The Planet of Junior Brown, and His Own Where, three of the ten nominees listed1971 was a good year.

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A winter’s tale http://www.hbook.com/2014/07/blogs/read-roger/winters-tale/ http://www.hbook.com/2014/07/blogs/read-roger/winters-tale/#comments Mon, 21 Jul 2014 14:46:58 +0000 http://www.hbook.com/?p=39483 If you aren’t completely burned out on dystopian fiction, do go see* Snowpiercer, a big, violent, gorgeous, baroque movie about the end of civilization, its last remnant perpetually traveling the ice-covered globe in a nonstop great big train. There is NO love triangle, with eros limited to a couple of crypto-gay warrior-bonding types, and plenty to […]

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exit A winters taleIf you aren’t completely burned out on dystopian fiction, do go see* Snowpiercer, a big, violent, gorgeous, baroque movie about the end of civilization, its last remnant perpetually traveling the ice-covered globe in a nonstop great big train. There is NO love triangle, with eros limited to a couple of crypto-gay warrior-bonding types, and plenty to thrill your (mine, anyway) inner ten-year-old, like an exciting shootout between cars as the train curves around an enormous bend. There’s high camp, too, supplied by Tilda Swinton and Alison Pill as the banality of evil and a gun-toting schoolteacher, respectively. (Wait, did I just repeat myself?) And Ed Harris is on hand, playing–spoiler alert–the very same part he played in The Truman Show.

But best of all is the look of the thing, from the icy landscapes and ruined, empty cities the train charges through to the train itself, from the squalid cars at the back where the slave labor lives to the sleek sushi bar, spa, and disco for the more privileged passengers at the front. One of the more subversive elements of the film is the way it gets you to think “why, yes, I could totally enjoy watching from the dome car as the world freezes to death. Waiter!”

The ending–spoiler alert again–is beautifully and starkly ambiguous. Life or death. I understand that the French graphic novel on which the movie is based has a sequel, but truly: none needed.

*In a movie theater, if you can. While the film is available on TV as an on-demand feature, you really want the big screen and sound for this one.

 

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Helpful tips http://www.hbook.com/2014/07/blogs/read-roger/helpful-tips/ http://www.hbook.com/2014/07/blogs/read-roger/helpful-tips/#comments Wed, 16 Jul 2014 17:39:03 +0000 http://www.hbook.com/?p=39431 Elizabeth has put together an entertaining and most instructive list of ten don’ts for writers submitting manuscripts to agents or editors. (Also entertaining is this take on our listicle culture I read about in the NYT yesterday.) Could I make a list of Ten Things That Make a Children’s Book Reviewer Roll His Eyes? Oh, […]

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SexTips Helpful tipsElizabeth has put together an entertaining and most instructive list of ten don’ts for writers submitting manuscripts to agents or editors. (Also entertaining is this take on our listicle culture I read about in the NYT yesterday.)

Could I make a list of Ten Things That Make a Children’s Book Reviewer Roll His Eyes? Oh, yes. This week (and it changes every week) my first would be Whimsical Names Used Indiscriminately and Overmuch. What are some of yours?

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Get Appy http://www.hbook.com/2014/07/blogs/read-roger/get-appy/ http://www.hbook.com/2014/07/blogs/read-roger/get-appy/#respond Thu, 10 Jul 2014 17:54:14 +0000 http://www.hbook.com/?p=39296 Horn Book reviews have hit the mobile market as Book Verdict, available for free at the iTunes Store. I have just started playing with it but it seems pretty neat: including reviews taken from the Horn Book Magazine and Guide, the app recommends about 10,000 children’s and YA titles published in the last ten years. […]

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gethappy Get AppyHorn Book reviews have hit the mobile market as Book Verdict, available for free at the iTunes Store. I have just started playing with it but it seems pretty neat: including reviews taken from the Horn Book Magazine and Guide, the app recommends about 10,000 children’s and YA titles published in the last ten years. Each record includes the Guide review (or excerpt from the Magazine), bibliographic information, recommended age level,  a link to the World Cat record and local library availability, and to Amazon.com for purchase. Try it out and tell me what you think.

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My gun, my foot http://www.hbook.com/2014/07/blogs/read-roger/gun-foot/ http://www.hbook.com/2014/07/blogs/read-roger/gun-foot/#comments Mon, 07 Jul 2014 16:46:06 +0000 http://www.hbook.com/?p=39187 Instant karma whacked me upside the head at the end of last month when the July-August issue of the Horn Book Magazine, wherein I take ALSC to task for demanding too much secrecy around its Newbery and Caldecott deliberations, was mailed a full week early, thus spoiling the entirely justifiable secret of just what Kate […]

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KateD My gun, my foot

And she was good enough to help me back up, too.

Instant karma whacked me upside the head at the end of last month when the July-August issue of the Horn Book Magazine, wherein I take ALSC to task for demanding too much secrecy around its Newbery and Caldecott deliberations, was mailed a full week early, thus spoiling the entirely justifiable secret of just what Kate DiCamillo and Brian Floca were going to say in their Newbery and Caldecott speeches. I was–AM–mortified: while we told the mailing house to hold this issue a week later than usual, apparently we did not stress strongly enough to them just why we wanted it embargoed, and I guess they thought they were doing us a favor. Kate and Brian were very good sports–see above for our Ambassador’s gracious acceptance of my apology. So to them particularly but to all in general: SORRY!

KirkpatrickHill My gun, my foot

with Kirkpatrick Hill

Otherwise I had some lively conversations about the editorial, and some less lively ones about the Common Core State Standards. (Do the CCSS have any fans left? Marc?)  Macmillan gave a very nice lunch for the Scott O’Dell committee and this year’s winner Kirkpatrick Hill, who’s something of a character who knows she’s something of a character, which makes her a little dangerous but a lot of fun. Kind of like my ALA in general.

But tell me we don’t have to go to Las Vegas again. Please?

 

 

 

 

 

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Thanks for Annie, Nancy. http://www.hbook.com/2014/06/blogs/read-roger/thanks-annie-nancy/ http://www.hbook.com/2014/06/blogs/read-roger/thanks-annie-nancy/#comments Wed, 25 Jun 2014 13:43:47 +0000 http://www.hbook.com/?p=38860 I was very sorry to read that Nancy Garden died on Monday. While she wrote in just about every children’s-book genre there is, it’s Annie on My Mind that made her immortal, and led to her parallel, equally admirable, career as a defender of intellectual freedom in libraries and communities across the nation. The first […]

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AnnieOnMyMind 198x300 Thanks for <i>Annie</i>, Nancy.I was very sorry to read that Nancy Garden died on Monday. While she wrote in just about every children’s-book genre there is, it’s Annie on My Mind that made her immortal, and led to her parallel, equally admirable, career as a defender of intellectual freedom in libraries and communities across the nation.

The first starred review I ever wrote was for Annie, for SLJ back in 1982. I revisited the book twenty-five years later for the Horn Book.

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ALAs Vegas http://www.hbook.com/2014/06/blogs/read-roger/alas-vegas/ http://www.hbook.com/2014/06/blogs/read-roger/alas-vegas/#respond Tue, 24 Jun 2014 16:42:19 +0000 http://www.hbook.com/?p=38853 See some of you in Las Vegas, I hope. My friend Ruth is taking me to see Nature and the Hoover Dam on Friday but I’ll be bouncing around the exhibit hall on Saturday and Sunday, with periodic stops at the Horn Book booth, #829. Martha P. will be there too, so do say hello […]

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clooney ALAs VegasSee some of you in Las Vegas, I hope. My friend Ruth is taking me to see Nature and the Hoover Dam on Friday but I’ll be bouncing around the exhibit hall on Saturday and Sunday, with periodic stops at the Horn Book booth, #829. Martha P. will be there too, so do say hello if you see one of us.

(I see that Danny Ocean over there needs a little help with his Newbery-Caldecott Banquet bow tie, so if you’ll excuse me . . . .)

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Small world, isn’t it? http://www.hbook.com/2014/06/blogs/read-roger/small-world-isnt/ http://www.hbook.com/2014/06/blogs/read-roger/small-world-isnt/#respond Thu, 19 Jun 2014 15:11:29 +0000 http://www.hbook.com/?p=38776 My old Chicago pal Ilene Cooper and I are interviewed by my other old Chicago pal Elizabeth Law at Elizabeth’s new blog, Into the Words.

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GypsyandJune 258x300 Small world, isnt it?My old Chicago pal Ilene Cooper and I are interviewed by my other old Chicago pal Elizabeth Law at Elizabeth’s new blog, Into the Words.

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This is not just about opera http://www.hbook.com/2014/06/blogs/read-roger/just-opera/ http://www.hbook.com/2014/06/blogs/read-roger/just-opera/#comments Wed, 18 Jun 2014 15:21:48 +0000 http://www.hbook.com/?p=38747 The Metropolitan Opera’s cancellation of the announced HD broadcast of The Death of Klinghoffer is galling for a number of reasons. The Met’s decision to stage the opera (albeit with a note in the program by Leon Klinghoffer’s daughters, who have condemned the work as anti-Semitic)  but not broadcast it will please nobody. It is […]

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klinghoffer 300x199 This is not just about opera

from the English National Opera production of The Death of Klinghoffer

The Metropolitan Opera’s cancellation of the announced HD broadcast of The Death of Klinghoffer is galling for a number of reasons. The Met’s decision to stage the opera (albeit with a note in the program by Leon Klinghoffer’s daughters, who have condemned the work as anti-Semitic)  but not broadcast it will please nobody. It is also alarming to see Met General Manager Peter Gelb cave so easily, especially in light of his reaction to those who, because of Russia’s anti-gay antics, protested the Met’s opening night performance last year of Eugene Onegin, featuring Putin supporters Anna Netrebko and Valery Gergiev:

We stand against the significant human rights abuses that take place every day in many countries. But as an arts institution, the Met is not the appropriate vehicle for waging nightly battles against the social injustices of the world.

He was right then and therefore he’s wrong now. But if you are still with me and not wondering when this blog turned into Parterre Box, the cynical and specious reasoning Gelb gives for the cancellation of the broadcast is exactly what libraries hear every damn time somebody challenges a book:

I’m convinced that the opera is not anti-Semitic,” said the Met’s General Manager, Peter Gelb. “But I’ve also become convinced that there is genuine concern in the international Jewish community that the live transmission of The Death of Klinghoffer would be inappropriate at this time of rising anti-Semitism, particularly in Europe.

Censors are almost never worried about the dangers poised by a book to themselves, or to their own invariably brilliant children. They worry about other children. Even leaving aside Gelb’s attempt to grease himself out of the argument and blame it on the Jews, the idea that somehow unthinking anti-Semitic hordes were going to attend an HD broadcast of the Metropolitan Opera across Europe and then–well, and then what, exactly? Censors are also never very clear about just what they expect to happen to people upon reading or viewing an objectionable work. But apparently Americans with enough cash to attend a live Met performance of this opera will be fine; it’s those Other People we have to worry about. It’s ALWAYS the Other People they’re worried about.

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