Harper Collins, Part Four
Okay. We’re in the flow by now. We know the deal. So we’re at Table #5 with (I believe) Phoebe Yeh. And Phoebe is handing us…
Remember when the blogosphere went into a small tizzy over the idea of the Jenna Bush young adult novel? Remember how we decided we’d sit back, actually read it, and then decide if it was bad or good? Remember how we decided to keep an open mind and not judge a book by its author’s father. Yeah. So I kept repeating these facts over and over in my head as a mantra. Keep and open mind, keep an open mind, keep an open mind. The PR department at Harper has clearly been working overtime on this puppy too. They were going to pump it up like it was nobody’s business. The book Ana’s Story, as you may have heard, focuses on a young woman by the name of Ana who has AIDS and a baby. It’s based on a real Ana that Ms. Bush met while working for UNICEF in Latin America and the Caribbean. Does any money from this book go to the real Ana? Apparently not. All money is going to UNICEF which is noble, but I couldn’t help but wonder why the woman who inspired the story wasn’t getting a cut. I mean, this isn’t her life straight out. It’s a composite, so where does that leave us? I’ll now go tune up my open mind and you YA bloggers can review it when it comes out in October.
There were some other nice looking books but we didn’t have enough time to talk thoroughly about them.
Table #6 had politics as well, but more of the Alice Walker variety. Ms. Walker, who hit it big with last year’s There’s a Flower on the Tip of My Nose Smelling Me, teams up again with illustrator Stefano Vitale. Good thing too. They’re producing a book called Why War Is Never a Good Idea. It’s straightforward all right. It’s a message book and I don’t actually care much for message books, even when the message is something I believe in. I think we’ve all, at one time or another, seen those anti-war picture books of the sixties and seventies, and they all pretty much had the same title as this one. It would take some pretty fancy footwork to keep me from labeling this puppy a didactic screed. And while didactic it most certainly is, Vitale’s pulling out every trick in the book to keep you reading. Oh, he starts out slow enough. Images in the book replicate his pretty paint-on-wood style (or whatever it is he calls it). Then the mixed media starts to make an appearance. Gentle images start replicating themselves to become complex and horrific. It has a slow build but a really superlative ending. Walker’s writing starts out a little heavy-handed, but as the story goes on it fits the subject matter. And while we know that the Caldecott committee probably won’t be able to seriously consider the title because it wears its message on its jacket’s sleeve (so to speak), I won’t be a bit surprised when the Best Book Lists start counting it amongst their favorites.
Moving on, HMOCL #39 Kenneth Oppel has a new bat-centric title. This time, they’re prehistoric. Meanwhile Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle fans might be pleased to learn that Betty MacDonald had one last Piggle-Wiggle story squirreled away somewhere. Now her daughter, Anne Canham MacDonald, has written some more stories for the book Happy Birthday, Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle. Alexandra Boiger’s illustrations are reminiscent of the Hilary Knight originals as well. I made the mistake of calling Hilary Knight, Hilary McKay the other day. I hope they both forgive me for the slip.
Oh! Oh! Oh! From the nice lady who brought us Not a Box comes . . . . . Not a Stick!!! A sequel! This is great news. UN-fortunately, they’re doing with this what they did with Not a Box. Mainly, waiting until the end of the year and then throwing it onto the market January 1st. Last time that happened they decided at the last moment to make the title a December release, making Best Book Lists everywhere scramble like mad to include it in time. Come on, guys! Surely a June release would do everyone a world of good, yes? Place this rant in the Why Didn’t I Ask the Editor This At the Time category.
FYI, this was a table sporting books edited by Michael Stearns. Mr. Stearns was not present, however. Timewise this was probably a good thing. I would’ve taken up the entire fifteen minutes and then some trying to convince him to bring the newest Frances Hardinge book here to the United States. Anyone traveling to Australia anytime soon who can pick me one up? Seriously, I’ll pay you back for it. I just gotsta gotsta have it.
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About Betsy Bird
Betsy Bird is currently the Collection Development Manager of the Evanston Public Library system and a former Materials Specialist for New York Public Library. She has served on Newbery, written for Horn Book, and has done other lovely little things that she'd love to tell you about but that she's sure you'd find more interesting to hear of in person. Her opinions are her own and do not reflect those of EPL, SLJ, or any of the other acronyms you might be able to name. Follow her on Twitter: @fuseeight.
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