Golden Fuse Awards – 2008
Happy New Year!
Another year has come and gone and we’re left admiring a host of wonderful, wild, weird children’s books published in the past 365 days. Now unlike Golden Fuse 2006 and Golden Fuse 2007 I feel like I wasn’t giving proper attention to my various weird categories towards the end of the year. My apologies. Still and all, here’s a taste of what I liked and didn’t like relatively recently. In the realm of children’s literature:
BEST COVER OF THE YEAR:
The Cabinet of Wonders by Marie Rutkoski, cover by David Frankland, jacket design by Jay Colvin.
Our new king of the cover? Maybe so. A good cover artist reads the book and then slips fun and accurate details into their jacket design. Frankland had at least three book jackets this year, but this one was his masterpiece. Even the fox made it into the scene, and he doesn’t even show up until 20 or so pages from the end. Loved the style, the colors, and the choice of scenes to include. Very well done.
A Thousand Never Evers by Shana Burg, cover art director unknown. Picture of girl by Michael Forst, picture of cotton field by Dusty Davis.
Not an obvious winner compared to some of the flashier contenders in ’08. But stop a minute and consider what we have here. This is a bit of historical fiction and the girl on the cover is not wearing jeans or Airwalk sneakers (yes, I’m still mad at you A Friendship for Today), and her hair and outfit actually look like they might might be from 1963. The girl looks like an average girl, not a model. Truth be told, I was not a fan of this book one little bit, but I can separate a title from its packaging and this package is skillfully done.
Savvy by Ingrid Law, cover by Brandon Dorman
Actually, I might have given it to Brandon straight out, but I already awarded him the Golden Fuse back in 2006, and I didn’t think it fair to do so again so soon.
MOST MISLEADING COVER OF 2008
Stella Stands Alone by A. LaFaye
Under normal circumstances this award goes to covers that sport dragons when there are no dragons or other incongruities. This year that didn’t happen as often. Thank goodness for covers like Stella Stands Alone, a very fine novel, where someone slapped a burning suburban home with nice fluffy hedges on the jacket in the hopes that people would assume it was a southern mansion. Lazy lazy.
Greetings From Nowhere by Barbara O’Connor
It seems cruel that a year after Ms. O’Connor had the best cover of the year (How to Steal a Dog) they slapped this childless postcard of a jacket onto a really fine book. What is appealing about this jacket, people? I label it "misleading" because to look at it you’d think it was about 50-year-old retirees and their pension difficulties. Which isn’t entirely untrue but still . . .
Ever by Gail Carson Levine
White kids. Great. Cause we obviously don’t get enough of those on our children’s books. So where, exactly, is the “olive nose” or person who’s “skin is bronzed”? Ug.
SADDEST ARC to FINAL COVER SWITCHEROO
I was all kinds of excited to read Gollywhopper Games when I saw the cool John Rocco cover it had:
Good thing it was on the ARC. Dunno if I would have picked it up if it had had this dull as dishwater final jacket image:
BEST READALOUD PICTURE BOOK:
Footprints in the Snow by Mei Matsuoka
BEST ENDPAPERS – PICTURE BOOK:
There’s Nothing to do on Mars by Chris Gall
BEST ENDPAPERS – NOVEL:
Holes: 10th Anniversary Edition by Louis Sachar, designed by Filomena Tuosto and Irene Metaxatos, endpapers possibly created by Vladimir Radunsky (unclear)
(oh, reprints completely count if the inside material is original)
BEST SPINE BENEATH THE JACKET:
Tennyson by Lesley M.M. Blume (art designer unknown)
BEST GRADUATION GIFT PICTURE BOOK:
Cottonball Colin by Jeanne Willis (illustrated by Tony Ross)
Garmann’s Summer by Stian Hole
WORST MOTHER OF THE YEAR AWARD:
Denise in Waiting for Normal by Leslie Connor – When burning your child alive isn’t enough.
A tie between –
I wouldn’t leave either of them in a room with a kitten.
SEPARATED AT BIRTH COVERS:
The Lost Island of Tamarind by Nadia Aguiar
The Ruby Key by Holly Lisle
BEST OBLIQUE LITERARY ALLUSIONS:
There is a Leroy Brown in The Sherlock Files by Tracy Barrett. He is a member of The Society for the Preservation of Famous Detectives. A fun reference, no?
“The true test of any society isn’t how many lies it has; it’s how many lies it believes.” – The Facttracker by Jason Carton Eaton.
“. . . I don’t think people are at their best when they’re wishing sometimes,” – Well Witched by Frances Hardinge
“Smiling innocently, the lass resolved to lick the wall of her bedchamber as soon as she was alone.” – Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow by Jessica Day George.
“How do you hang a man who keeps you laughing?” – The Trouble Begins at 8: The Life of Mark Twain in the Wild, Wild West by Sid Fleischman
“Purring is not so different from praying.” – The Underneath by Kathi Appelt
“Nothing was too fantastic, because the strongest force in the universe had been undone. So how could ordinary blood be stronger?” – White Sands, Red Menace by Ellen Klages
BEST FIRST LINES:
"When my brother Fish turned thirteen, we moved to the deepest part of inland because of the hurricane and, of course, the fact that he’d caused it." – Savvy by Ingrid Law
“There is nothing lonelier than a cat who has been loved, at least for a while, and then abandoned on he side of the road.” – The Underneath by Kathi Appelt.
“For a wonderful moment Ryan thought Josh was going to make it.” – Well Witched by Frances Hardinge
“Conor Broekhart was born to fly; or, more accurately, he was born flying.” – Airman by Eoin Colfer
“Henry Smith’s father told him that if you build your house far enough away from Trouble, then Trouble will never find you.” – Trouble by Gary Schmidt
“Nothing quite compares with the excruciating pain of being kicked in the goolies by a Caterpillar boot.” – The Ice Cream Con by Jimmy Docherty
“The guys say I’m lucky.” – Brooklyn Bridge by Karen Hesse
“The undead are ruining my life. I blame my mother.” – Suddenly Supernatural: School Spirit by Elizabeth Cody Kimmel.
“Have you ever felt your skin being peeled slowly away from your arms and legs?” – Barnaby Grimes: Curse of the Night Wolf by Paul Stewart
“There was a hand in the darkness, and it held a knife.” – The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
WEIRDO TRENDS AND SIMILARITIES BETWEEN BOOKS:
Character named Rossamund –
Object of love in Rogue’s Home by Hilari Bell
Main character in Lamplighter by D.M. Cornish
Character named Dewey –
Boy in Down Sand Mountain by Steve Watkins
Girl in White Sands, Red Menace by Ellen Klages
Lamps Containing Living Substances that Require Tending –
Rogue’s Home by Hilari Bell
Lamplighter by D.M. Cornish
Volcanoes: Not as Fun as Advertised –
Into the Volcano by Don Wood
The Day the World Exploded by Simon Winchester, illustrated by Jason Chin
Nation by Terry Pratchett
Girls with Talking Spider Companions –
Lulu Atlantis and the Quest for True Blue Love by Patricia Martin
The Cabinet of Wonders by Marie Rutkoski
Skinny, balding, middle-aged men get lucky in love –
Savvy by Ingrid Law
The Willoughbys by Lois Lowry
Queen Victoria –
Young Lady: Airman by Eoin Colfer and Bewitching Season by Marissa Doyle
Old Lady: The Island of Mad Scientists by Howard Whitehouse
Sherlock Holmes –
The Island of Mad Scientists by Howard Whitehouse
The Sherlock Files by Tracy Barrett
Enola Holmes and the Case of the Bizarre Bouquets by Nancy Springer
Enola Holmes and the Case of the Peculiar Pink Fan by Nancy Springer
The Magician by Michael Scott
The Second Siege: The Tapestry (Book 2) by Henry H. Neff
The Magician by Michael Scott
The Cabinet of Wonders (The Kronos Chronicles: Book 1) by Marie Rutkoski
AND FINALLY, MY FAVORITE CRAZY BOOK TO BOOK CONNECTIONS:
Cicada Summer by Andrea Beatty – “Fern and Dad chat about this and that, but after a while, Fern gets quiet and closes her eyes, and her hand taps out the beat to a song only she can hear.” – pg. 39
White Sands, Red Menace by Ellen Klages – “He drummed his fingers on the steering wheel once his ice cream was gone, keeping time to some music only he could hear.” – pg. 74
Down Sand Mountain by Steve Watkins – The Klages book stars a kid named Dewey. So does Mr. Watkins’s book
“Then he said there was this thing he had figured out in the war and he guessed I didn’t understand it just yet – a lot of people didn’t understand it – that there might be hundreds of categories for the living, but there wasn’t but one category for dead.” – pg. 216
The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman – “A graveyard is not normally a democracy, and yet death is the great democracy . . .” – pg. 27
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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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