Surprising Jolts of Children’s Literature: Spring 2017 Edition
Not a terribly long list today, I’ll confess, but want to know a little secret? Come close.
I’m buying a house.
Yep! After living in nothing but apartments (and currently renting a home that doubles as both a mystery house and a hospice for yellow jackets) I’m finally being a great big grown-up and owning my very own place. You know what that means don’t you? Let the search for a Little Free Library I can afford commence!
The official move begins on Monday, which means my internet may get a little spotty in the interim. Cute little postings, like the ones you saw earlier this week, may well proliferate like veritable bunnies. Today, we lean heavily on an old reliable stand-by: Looking at books for adults that contain some aspect of children’s literature in their veins. Let’s see what I’ve been able to drum up!
David Wiesner & the Art of Wordless Storytelling
by Eik Kahng, Ellen Keiter, David Wiesner, and the Santa Barbara Museum of Art
For all that Mr. Wiesner is the only artist living today to have accrued three Caldecott Awards and two Honors, he’s not really a household name. Nor, for that matter, have I ever seen a retrospective of his work. Credit the Santa Barbara Museum of Art for changing all of that. This exhibition catalog contains quite a lot of his art. As the PW review said of his images, “They’re photographed with ‘raking light’ (Kahng’s phrase), highlighting the tooth of the watercolor paper and the works as paintings, so that even his best-known images look fresh.” But the real lure for some might be the amount of behind-the-scenes process that’s at work here. Can’t wait to get my hands on this one.
There’s a Mystery There: The Primal Vision of Maurice Sendak
by Jonathan Cott
Sendak, on the other hand, has hardly suffered too little scrutiny. Really, one might begin to wonder after a while what else was left to even say about the man and his art. Apparently the author of this book first interviewed Sendak in 1976 after the publication of Outside Over There. The trick to this book is that it uses Outside Over There as a kind of guide to the inner workings of Sendak’s head. According to the publication information, “Cott also turns to four ‘companion guides’: a Freudian analyst, a Jungian analyst, an art historian, and Sendak’s great friend and admirer, the playwright Tony Kushner.” Even I have to admit I’ve never seen anyone go this particular route before. Heck, I’ll read it.
Stitching with Beatrix Potter
by Michele Hill
Next we travel from literary criticism to good old-fashioned homespun arts. The publication information says that with this book you could potentially “stitch up a cushion based on The Tailor of Gloucester” or create a wedding quilt based on one from Potter’s home. Most encouragingly was this note from the Library Journal review of the book: “Hill’s designs celebrate the best-known works of Potter, while also bringing some of her lesser-known botanical illustrations to the forefront.”
Snark: Being a True History of the Expedition That Discovered the Snark and the Jabberwock… and Its Tragic Aftermath
by David Elliot
Does the name “David Elliot” ring any bells for you? For me, I got him a bit confused with David Ellwand (The Mystery of the Fool and the Vanisher, etc.). As it turns out, Elliot has done some children’s picture books but they’re awfully different from Ellwand’s work. Do you happen to recall the sweet Henry’s Map, followed soon thereafter by Henry’s Stars? That’s the bloke. Called “charming book for grown-up children of all ages” by its publisher (they may wish to rethink that one). Here’s the full description of the plot:
” ‘Gabriel Clutch was a thief and a liar but he was right about one thing. He told me he had a great secret in his collection that would shake the literary world to its roots if it ever got out …’ So begins the delightfully dark Snark, a tumultous romp through worlds created by Lewis Carroll and here brought to life through the vivid imaginings and fabulous art of award-winning author and illustrator David Elliot. What exactly did happen to the Snark expedition? Did his dagger-proof coat protect the Beaver from the Butcher? What befell the Boots in the Tulgey Wood? Who fell foul of the Jabberwock? The Bandersnatch? The Jub-Jub Bird? And, finally, the big question: what precisely is a SNARK …?”
By Any Name
by Cynthia Voigt
Voigt! Faith and begorrah, Newbery Award-winning author Voigt! I’d know that gal anywhere. Apparently she’s pulling a switchover here, writing for adults on the sly. She wouldn’t be the first. Here’s the publisher description for the book:
“Just as Judy Blume made the jump from international star children’s author to writing for adults, Award-winning author Cynthia Voigt grabs readers new and old(er) with her first novel for adults in over a decade! This historical novel, perfect for readers of sweeping family sagas like The Lost Wife and A Fall of Marigolds features an indelible character who, from WWII on, sees lines as meant to be crossed, changing the lives of all who come into contact with her indefatigable spirit”
Filed under: Surprising Jolts of Children's Literature
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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