Surprising Jolts of Children’s Literature
Yes, dearies, it’s that time again. As I purchase adult materials for my library system I stumble across books with distinct connections to children’s books. Here are some of the latest finds from the other side of the reading spectrum.
First off . . .
Awwwwww. There he is. That’s our guy! You may not know it but aside from penning such marvelous middle grades like Better Nate Than Ever, and besides hosting one of the finest Twitter feeds this side of the Potomac, and besides putting together such classic cocktail creations as Tequila Mockingbird, Mr. Tim Federle has a l’il old memoir coming out. Oh. Wait. No. According to Baker & Taylor its BISAC says that it’s SELF-HELP / Personal Growth / General. So! If you know of any Generals in search of personal growth and a little self-help, you know where to turn. It’s out now and PW called it, “an intuitive guide that puts life into perspective in humorous and entertaining fashion.”
This next one takes a second . . .
Any clue why it’s here? The key is the author. Alison McGhee! Author of such fine middle grade novels as this year’s Pablo and Birdy or the picture book that renders all new mothers quivering, shivering lumps of pure emotion Someday (seriously, can we just secretly swap out all the editions of Love You Forever for that book instead?). Kirkus called this a “luminous” novel saying, “McGhee has an almost musical ability to repeat the themes of her novel with enough variation to keep them fresh.” PW didn’t disagree, saying the book was “poignant.” LJ didn’t fawn, but it liked the book too. Apparently McGhee’s been writing these adult books on the side for years. Gosh, and you think you know a gal.
Now for this next one I’m going to have to turn to the publisher’s description:
“Where is Wendy? Leading a labor strike against the Lost Boys, of course.
A Scottish academic unearths ancient evil in a fishing village. Edgar Allan Poe’s young bride is beguiled by a most unusual bird. Dorothy, lifted from Kansas, returns as a gymnastic sophisticate. Emily Dickinson dwells in possibility and sails away in a starship made of light. Alice’s wicked nemesis has jaws and claws but really needs a sense of humor.
In Jane Yolen’s first full collection in more than ten years discover new and uncollected tales of beloved characters, literary legends, and much more. Enter the Emerald Circus and be astonished by the transformations within.”
Nothing could be simpler! Ms. Yolen hasn’t done a book for adults in several years, so this is a return to form, as it were. And as you can see, Holly Black does the Intro.
The Akashic Noir series put out by Akashic Books has been a pretty fair success for them. It’s hard to say how many they’ve done so far, but I’m consistently impressed by the reviews of the books, to say nothing of the caliber of editors they seem to acquire. This latest title in the series is edited by one Keir Graff. Name ringing any bells? You might have seen him traipsing about the country with James Kennedy so as to present the 90-Second Newbery Film Festival. Or you might have read his rather delightful middle grade novel out this year, The Matchstick Castle. Whatever the case, the fellow has range. Noir-y range.
Now this one is a collection of short stories, and you know what they say. If a hundred monkeys were typing a hundred short stories on a hundred typewriters, eventually they’d reference a children’s book in one of the tales (that’s how the saying goes, right?). In this case there’s a tale where, “an unruly, unpredictable shadow creeps in a child’s window to demand that he cut off the other hand of Captain Hook in ‘A Shadow’.” I’m going to admit I’ve never seen that twist on Pan before, and I have seen a LOT of twists. Kirkus went into a little more detail on the story, describing it this way: “In ‘A Shadow,’ a maid discovers a piece of metal in J.M. Barrie’s sitting room on the morning of the author’s death. The item eventually finds its way to a boy, who’s haunted by an unrelenting shadow in his dreams, demanding he cut off a pirate’s hands. ” They also called the collection, “Poignant, exquisite, and endlessly witty.”
For folklore nerds, seeing the combined prowess of Henry Louis Gates AND Maria Tatar in the same place is a bit of a thrill. Don’t ruin it for me if you know of any of their previous collaborations. I want to savor this. The book collects 150 African-American folktales and Tatar’s contribution appears to have been to create (according to Kirkus), “the organizing principle behind the book’s arrangement of stories, which go from continental-African tales to African-American ones to ‘folkloric cousins abroad’ from the Caribbean and Latin America.” And as a particularly nice touch for you children’s lit scholars out there, the Harlem Renaissance African-American children’s periodical, Brownies’ Book, has inclusions in this collection as well. It’s out November 14th, so FYI.
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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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