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>Three random notes

>1. Kitty Flynn has tracked down some more James Marshall material from our archives.

2. If you’re bored and in Boston tomorrow night, I’ll be moderating a panel at Boston College for the Foundation for Children’s Books. Program description:

The Foundation for Children’s Books presents a panel discussion “What Happens Next in Children’s Books? On Tuesday evening, January 30 at 7:30 p.m. at Vanderslice Hall, Boston College. Roger Sutton, editor-in-chief of the Horn Book, talks with a panel of senior editors from publishers small, medium and large–Judy O’Malley of Charlesbridge Publishing, Elizabeth Bicknell of Candlewick Press and Margaret Raymo of Houghton Mifflin–about the changing nature of publishing books for children and youth. Topics will include the reign of fat fantasy, the decline in picture books, and the future of the new kid on the block: graphic novels.

Please join us for what promises to be a stimulating evening. At-door registration is $15. For more information, including directions and other events in our evening speaker series, please visit our website at

3. Watch my head explode over at Seven Impossible Things before Breakfast.

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.



  1. >Oh …. if only to be at Boston College and attending this panel discussion. Be sure to give us the scoop tomorrow in regards to the decline in picture books (really?) and the future of graphic novels (not necessarily for kids!). Inquiring minds.

    Maybe a podcast of the event?

    So, you want to be a weather man? Interesting, very interesting.

  2. >Roger, any thoughts on what your committee’s excellent decision means for the Wilder speech at the Newbery/Caldecott banquet? I know some hope this means a shorter evening…but I’m rather hoping for good speech by a Marshall aficianado…someone, perhaps, like Maurice Sendak?

    And you will, of course, be coming as George?

  3. >As head-explosions go, it’s fairly entertaining.

    Thanks for submitting to our interview. Really, though… you like ALL sounds?

  4. >I love the adulation they’re giving you, and agree with it all. Roger, I can’t get through a day without checking your blog several times, always hoping for fresh (as in new, but sort of as in the other way, too) words from you.

    Jeanne Birdsall

  5. Anonymous says:

    >So, if we’re bored and in Boston tomorrow, a panel on the decline in picture books and the future of graphic novels. I dunno. The next round of auditions on American Idol sounds more unpredictable. It’s all so cyclical. Remember when YA fiction was dead?

  6. rindambyers says:

    >Tcha, tcha, Anonymous…come on, now try the glass half full instead of half empty once in a while…and besides…you’re getting the sand in here all wet…

    I would LOVE to be there if I could…Publishing for younger folk is ALWAYS exciting to talk about…amywhere…I mean POD, Pod casts, e-books, Flash games,online publishing, hypertext literacy, computer art, young minds wired to multimedia, and the ever amazing endurance and vitality of the lowly comic book…

  7. >Whew, thanks Jeanne B. It’s good to know I’m not the only one who checks back here a couple of times a day to read post comments and hope for a new entry.

  8. Stephanie Greene says:

    >If that doesn’t beat all. I just read a bio of James Marshall and learned that he got the idea for Martha and George because he was lying in a hammock outside his house one day, and heard the TV inside, on which his mother was watching “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolfe?” and the voices started those wonderful books off.
    For such a dreary movie to have helped spawn such hilarious books… Marshall’s the best. I’m so glad he was honored this year.

  9. >The long fantasy novels – it’s because of computers. Soon you will see longer novels of all kinds. Longhand manuscripts induced longer wordier books. Typewriters made for shorter manuscripts because too much of a pain to edit too much and took too long to get final product out. There’s only so long one can stay with a ms without being driven crazy. Longhand didn’t get edited so time span was about the same as shorter edited typed book. But computers, ah, comuters, fast to write, easy to edit, speed speed speed makes for run on thoughts and ideas and dont have to worry about staying with the book forever stuck in same book hell because so fast to edit. Only person who can bear to stay with book forever is Shirley Hazzard. Everyone else wants to move on which can do with speedy cmputers, write long novels, edit fast, leave big clunking book with no regard for poor reader who may want to move on himself but should have thought of that before picking up big clunking book. If all computers died and writers had to go back to typewriters, would have shorter books again, guarantee.

  10. >And I know you’re asking, yeah, but why FANTASIES so long in particular. Because those writers seriously kinked. Novels with ideas – only so long you can go on until idea exhausted. Content controls form to some extent. But fantasy writers mostly there to play in head and can continue to play in head endlessly if allowed and computers allow it.

  11. >This also accounts for the dearth of middle reader novels and the number of YA instead because its easier to write longer books and if its that much longer one thinks this should be YA, a ten year old wont have that kind of attention span and so the heroines get older as well. And that leads librarians to despair of the lack of middle reader novels which accounts for this years newbery picks and four honor books because when librarians say they want more middle reader novels what they mean is chiefly what was picked, heroine of an age, books of alength, their message whether they knew it or not was, you write ’em, we’ll sticker ’em. Computers have so much to answer for.

  12. >Reader attention span has much to do with book quality and reader interest level. Recent Harry Potter books (Half Blood Prince @ 652 pages)were huge and did not seem to stop children from reading them.

    I must respectfully disagree with the last anonymous comment regarding what librarians want and middle reader novels. Readers are more sophisticated than in years past in regard to topic and length. I am not sure the output of published middle reader novels have kept up with the readership demand. I don’t disagree that the Newbery novels did fit in with a certain criteria and lacked diversity, but that does not take away from the quality of the literature.

  13. >And watch my eyes glaze over at the intro. Zzzzzzzz….

  14. Anonymous says:

    >actually those long novels were coming in before computers – even before xerox. the boys were TYPING their mss. with CARBON PAPER, if anyone remembers that antique product.

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