Surprising Jolts of Children’s Books in Unexpected Places
Time for another post that justifies my current job. As you may or may not know, as Evanston Public Library’s Collection Development Manager I buy all the adult books. Which is to say, they apparently make them for people over the age of 12 these days. Who knew? Happily, there are plenty of connections to the wide and wonderful world of children’s literature in the grown-up book universe. Here are a couple of interesting recent examples you might enjoy:
Though she’s best known in our world as a mighty successful picture book author (with a killer ping-pong backswing) Rosenthal’s that rare beast that manages to straddle writing for both adults and kids. The last time she wrote an out-and-out book for the grown-up set, however, was ten years ago (Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life). This next one’s a memoir of sorts (I say “of sorts” because the subtitle belies this statement). Here’s the description:
“… each piece of prose is organized into classic subjects such as Social Studies, Music, and Language Arts. Because textbook would accurately describe a book with a first-of-its-kind interactive text messaging component. Because textbook is an expression meaning “quintessential”—Oh, that wordplay and unconventional format is so typical of her, so textbook AKR. Because if an author’s previous book has the word encyclopedia in the title, following it up with a textbook would be rather nice.”
Sorry Permanent Press Publishing Company. This cover doesn’t do justice the myriad children’s book references parading about inside. I read all the reviews and tried to find the best description (the official one is lame). Library Journal‘s was the one that piqued my interest best. As they said:
“Jonathan Tucker lives with his dog Nip on 20 acres on Long Island, having left his job with a high-powered law firm three years earlier after his wife and two children were killed in a traffic accident. Now his mentor, a senior partner, asks for help. The firm’s biggest client, billionaire Ben Baum of Ozone Industries, has died in London under suspicious circumstances. A descendant of L. Frank Baum of Wizard of Oz fame, Ben had been obsessed with fantasy, in particular the works of Baum, J.R.R. Tolkien, and Lewis Carroll. Attached to his will, he left behind an enigmatic letter, prefaced by runes and filled with puzzles hinting at forces of evil arrayed against him. It’s up to Jonathan and his team to unravel what may be a deadly conspiracy with a host of suspects, each one poised to benefit from Ben’s premature death. . . . Readers may enjoy the kid-lit nomenclature—characters include Alice, Charlotte (who spins webs), Dorothy, Eloise, Madeline, Herr Roald Dahlgrens (a “peach of a man”), Frank Dixon (the Hardy Boys), Peter Abelard, and the Baums—and may not mind the sometimes too-evident craft, e.g., characters who “tell their story” at length and dialog laden with exposition.”
Admit it. It sounds fun. But that cover . . . I mean, did they just hire someone who just read the title and found the nearest Getty Images of crows? No points there.
I feel like it’s been a while since one of these round-ups included a book about a picture book author/illustrator. This one counts. In this story, said picture book creator has lost her inspiration. Other stuff happens too, but with my tunnel vision that was pretty much all I picked up on.
Part of the joy of my job is buying the “cozies” i.e. sweet little murder mystery novels (usually in paperback). You would not believe the series out there. There are quilting mysteries, yoga mysteries, jam mysteries, bed and breakfast mysteries (that one makes sense to me), you name it. The newest series I’ve found? Little Free Library mysteries. I kid you not.
As for other mysteries . . .
Now I know what you’re thinking. You’re wondering if this is actually a book about a murder that occurs at Misselthwaite Manor. And the answer is . . . . it’s not. No, it takes place at a book-themed resort where a secret garden has been created for the guests. How do folks die? Deadly herbs!! That gets points from me.
Oh ho! This one almost sneaked past me the other day. I read the review, dutifully put it in my order cart, and just as I was moving on to the next book my eye happened to catch the name of the author. Marjorie?! The same Marjorie who writes those magnificent yearly round-ups of Jewish kids in books at Tablet Magazine at the end of each year (to say nothing of her posts throughout the other seasons)? That’s her. The book’s getting great reviews too, so go, Marjorie, go!
So here’s the problem with this book. It should be in the humor section alongside the Amy Sedaris title Simple Times: Crafts for Poor People. Instead, it somehow ended up legitimately with a “Craft” Dewey Decimal Number, a fact I’m going to have to rectify at work tomorrow. Not that you couldn’t actually do the crafts if you wanted, but the book’s far funnier than it is practical. No one knows what to do with the thing when they see it, of course. So why am I including it here? Because darned if the author isn’t Ross MacDonald, the author/illustrator of fine picture books everywhere. I did my due diligence to make sure it was actually the same guy. Yup. It sure is. So Macmillan, about that DD# . . .
And finally, just because I thought it was cute . . .
Now someone go out and write a picture book of the same name for all our budding scientists out there.
Filed under: Uncategorized
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.
SLJ Blog Network