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>East Side, West Side,

>Brooklyn and Harlem, too. But I began my New York Time (an obscure but funny adult novel by Richard Peck, btw) with a view, from Elizabeth’s living room, of the East River and ended it in Viking publisher Regina Hayes’ office, which overlooks the Hudson. And had a grand time in between, too.

The memorial service for Janet McDonald was held at NYPL’s Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, up on Lenox Ave. in Harlem. It was great to meet so many of the people, family and friends, Janet had described in her emails. It was great to “see” Janet as well: we had never met and never spoke, so a couple of videos filled out the picture for me. (You can see her infamous Condi Rice “tribute” here.) Friends from Vassar and Paris spoke, as did Janet’s editor Frances Foster, making everybody cry. Afterward we repaired around the corner to what I was told was Janet’s favorite NY restaurant, Miss Maude’s Spoonbread Too. Yummy. Afterward, Janet’s agent Charlotte Sheedy skillfully strong-armed me a cab.

Virgin to all boroughs save Manhattan, I took my first trip to Brooklyn the next morning to meet Bruce Brooks. I totally should have rearranged my schedule to meet Jon Scieszka there, as he lives just two blocks away from Bruce. But Bruce and I had a fine time without him, reminiscing over the past twenty years of our friendship and wandering around Prospect Park in vain hopes of finding Bruce’s baby son Drake, who had gone there with the sitter. We caught up with Drake (as well as Bruce’s grown son Alex) back at the apartment, though, where, in an incident that would provide great fodder for my later discussion about boys and reading with Jon, one-year-old Drake became fascinated with my watch. I thought he was enjoying the sparkly blue and chrome-ness of the thing, but no, he kept twisting my hand so that he could inspect the workings of the clasp, less interested in how the thing looked than how it was put together. Score one for gendered behavior!

Then, carefully ushered via excellent directions from Atheneum editor Jordan Brown (a colleague of Bruce’s wife Ginee Seo), I subwayed myself over to Penguin’s offices to meet Jon, who, for the record, totally got the Big Monkey-Little Monkey thing. We spent a lively hour or so talking about boys and books and reading, and Jon showed me the first page proofs of his upcoming Truck Town empire over at Simon and Schuster. (Let me hasten to add, o Penguin potentates, that we also talked about Jon and Lane Smith’s forthcoming Viking title Cowboy and Octopus.) Look for the interview in the September Horn Book special issue, Boys and Girls.

Thanks, boys, for a great trip, and girls, too: along with my best pal Elizabeth (with whom I didn’t get nearly enough talk, but thanks for the hospitality!) I got some time (and choice gossip) from Regina and Sharyn November and Lara Phan at Penguin. I guess we get to do it all over again at ALA in–yikes!–two weeks.

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. Anonymous says:

    >Of course, he totally got the Big Monkey-Little Monkey thing. So obvious. Now the Cowboy and the Octopus, that’s more subtle. 😉


  2. rindawriter says:

    >Loved the little story about the little guy. Hope he soon gets a watch or two of his own just to take apart, cheaper anyway than a lot of store toys! I’d march right out and find him a few watches and other “stuff” to tinker with, but no one can say that my behavior as a mother would be quite the norm either….

    My husband’s mother says that it is true that in one memorable day as a three-year-old, he hooked a water hose up to the vacumn cleaner, also managing in the same day to fall out of a window and get stepped on by a horse. Another small boy I will never forget, my small nephew,when my sister and I were sewing dresses for my wedding, cut the extension cord to the sewing machines thereby suspending the entire process. Ah the fascination with scissors at that age!

    But, of course, the likelihood of finding a little boy character in picture books who takes watches apart or hooks up water hoses to vacumns or cuts extension cords…..? Pretty nil. Sigh, sigh, sigh…Then there is my niece and what she did with the garden clippers one day…I think the worst I ever did as a little one was one-day pouring water into my father’s one and only pair of dress shoes–just before he had to attend some special event requiring them…

  3. >hey, i got the joke too.

    it was awesome to see you. now i need to ask lara what gossip she shared that i don’t know.

  4. Tammy C says:

    >”Score one for gendered behavior.” Oh, puh-lease! Like girls never inspect a watch clasp or take interest in how something is put together?

  5. Roger Sutton says:

    >Well, sure, Tammy, there are little girls who enjoy mechanics just as there are little boys who don’t. But are we to think there are no differences in how boys and girls, say, read? Why do girls read so much more fiction than boys do? (This holds true among adults as well.) Is it all socialization? Scieszka and I discussed the frequent definition of “a good reader” as one dependent on a particular kind of reading that girls as a group do better than boys: the reading of fiction. The NEA defined “literary reading” as novels, plays, and poetry in their infamous survey of a few years ago, and teachers and librarians do it all the time. We pretend that reading is a gender-blind activity, but we define its benchmarks with a standard that favors girls over boys.

  6. Tammy C says:

    >Roger, I think it makes more sense to expand the definition of good reader than it does to limit the definition of gendered behavior.

    Please don’t characterize an interest in how things work as being a male thing. That’s limiting to both girls and boys.

    And I agree, defining “good reader” as someone who reads ficiton doesn’t make sense. It is limiting and inaccurate. You won’t catch me doing it!

  7. Anonymous says:


    I’m looking forward to your issue on boys and girls. My first thought when reading your comment was to wonder if you aren’t assuming that your definition is wrong because boys don’t fulfill it. In different circumstances, would you say the definition is flawed because girls don’t succeed? For years girls have been labeled “poor at math and science.” We work hard to change that by trying to encourage girls and keep them interested at that age when, traditionally, girls’ grades and interest drop, but I haven’t seen anyone saying we should change the definition of what “good at science” means.

    As the mother of boys, I see your point. They do read non-fiction by the bucketload. When reading was new and hard, it was easier to entice them with non-fiction. But if all they read was non-fiction, whether it was for pleasure or not, I wouldn’t call them good readers. Functional, yes, and ready to go out in the world and be successful, but that’s not what I mean when I say “a good reader.” I am afraid the fiction is vital to my definition.


  8. Anonymous says:

    >It’s Anonymous Dad Again!!!!!

    I had to put my two cents in about the ficition non-fiction debate. Our school district has just adopted (for 2007-2008) a new Reading Series where the selections (good or bad) are 60% non-fiction and 40% fiction. Did you know that same stat is what makes up most of the reading selections on standardized tests?!! Oh, and the average reader in real life reading reads more for information daily than for pleasure. Did we read the marquee as we drove into church this morning, then the church bulletin during the service, the menu as we drove through the drive thru at McDonald’s, and then the rules posted at the Wave Pool this afternoon?!!! Yes, It was all for information. I agree we also have to have a real healthy dose of good fiction for the boys. My son and I just finished Danny the Champion of the World thanks to a recommendation from someone on this blog. We then moved on Esio Trot (Yes, we are hooked on Dahl Books)-Which led to an internet search about Tortoises (We found Audrey and Don Wood’s pet Tortoise.) and then to the Library to check out Tortoises and Box Turtles. (Which we read together!!!) My seven year old son now wants a tortoise as a pet. You see fiction and non-fiction go together like books and readers.
    Tonight my son was reading The Enormous Crocodile (Dahl). I’m sure we will be looking for information about crocodiles tomorrow!!! I just finished reading to him Chapeter 6-8 in Clementine by Sarah Pennypacker. You wouldn’t believe me if I told you who handsold us this book!!!!

    You have to as a parent and teacher promote Ficition and Non-Fiction to both the boys and the girls!!! Good Readers Read both!!!!!

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