20 November 2009

Fly By

Aaron Reynolds and Neil Numberman are stopping by today for a visit to promote their clever new book, Joey Fly Private Eye. (Da-da-DAA!)

They've prepared a really cool packet of stuff to go with it... but my slow internet connection wouldn't let me load all of it (it's a conspiracy, a cover up, I tell ya!). But for now we've got a cool video...

and cutout paper dolls...

Until next time...

04 November 2009

Taste the Rainbow

A little treat for all you Rainbow Fish haters out there:

Rainbow Fish Roll

Try the most beautiful tasting fish on the menu. We've removed the famous scales, but the taste is as unique and vibrant as ever...$10.99

18 October 2009

Kidlitosphere Conference 2009

Went to the Kidlitosphere Conference on Saturday, which was luckily in my backyard this year. It was great to be surrounded by so many people who are so dedicated and passionate about children's literature... and to finally meet some of you all in person for the first time!

Big props to MotherReader for organizing the day... and for squeezing me in at the last minute!

16 October 2009

BSB Flashback: Hippo! No Rhino!

7 January 2008

The Construction of Meaning and the Self De(con)struction of Identity: A Hippo-Critical Analysis of Jeff Newman's Hippo! No, Rhino!
Rosco P. Hargrove (Class of 2010)
English 421: Re-Introduction to Literary Criticism
Professor F. R. Zismer
Final Paper
Submitted on: December 22, 2007

Plot Summary

A mischievous zookeeper decides to have some fun and puts a sign that reads "Hippo" in front of the Rhino pen. This seemingly harmless bit of mischief wreaks havoc on the rhino's psyche as passersby continually refer to the rhino as "hippo". The rhino desperately tries to correct them, but to no avail. It isn't until a little boy comes along that things change. The child sees what's going on and changes the sign back to rhino. The book ends with the zookeeper continuing his mischievous ways by putting up a new sign that reads, "Porcupin-o".

Part I: Hippo! No, Rhino! Structuralism! No, Poststructuralism!

Newman's sparse use of language is deceptive. While he uses few words in his narrative, he manages to reveal deeper linguistic issues by drawing together some of the fundamental issues and conflicts in literary criticism.

As a starting point, the basic conflict in Hippo! No, Rhino! is clearly a re-creation of the tension between the structuralist and post-structuralist schools of thought. Newman's Hippo! No, Rhino! situation is an intriguing thought exercise which forces us to reconsider a fundamental question: Where does meaning come from?

Is it from the zookeeper (filling the archetypal role of trickster-god) who creates meaning by labeling the rhino as "hippo"? Or is his semantic subversion just a silly prank?

Is it the people reading the sign who give birth to meaning by creating the link between the sign ("hippo") to the signified (the rhino)? Or are they merely dimwitted automatons who will believe anything they read?

Is there even any meaning to begin with? Who are we (or the rhino) to say that "rhino" is the correct label? Isn't the polyphonic spree of letters and sounds that make up r-h-i-n-o ultimately as arbitrary as h-i-p-p-o?

Part II: Pedagogy of the Zoopressed

If we continue to peel away layers of this onion, we eventually find ourselves alone with the tear-jerkingly tragic figure of the "rhino".

(Note: Though it is awkward, I will refer to the rhino using the pronoun "it" because Newman's text does not indicate whether the rhino is male or female.)

(Full disclosure: Upon first reading, I subconsciously assumed that the rhino was a male, which tipped my hand as an unwitting co-conspirator in the phallocentricity embedded in our male-dominated society. I would like to assure you, professor, that based on last semester's readings on feminist theory and gynocritic analysis, I am sufficiently ashamed.)

Why is the rhino a tragic figure? Not only because it is helplessly tormented by the powerful zookeeper... that is but a minor offense. The true tragedy reveals itself with further examination of the sociolinguistic context of the rhino's self-identification.

The word "rhino," being of English (Anglo-Saxon) origin is obviously not the rhino's native tongue. Yet the rhino has come to identify itself as a "rhino," as evidenced by the psychological distress caused by the hippo sign. This self-identification through the language of his oppressor (and yes, he is oppressed... he is, after all, held captive and put on display) is one of major symptoms of oppression that is revealed by postcolonial theory.

The fact that the rhino clings so passionately and desperately to the name bestowed upon him by his captors, demonstrates the powerful role that language plays in perpetuating the inequalities of established social hierarchy. Not only does he accept his given name, he challenges anyone who dare disrupt the sanctity of his moniker. How can the rhino truly free itself from oppression if it lives, breathes, and thinks in the language of its oppressor?

This also sheds new light on the character of the child. As I mentioned in the plot summary, toward the end of the book a young child comes to the rescue, changing the hippo sign back to rhino.

Upon first reading, the child appears as a saviour figure who sympathetically changes the sign to ease the "rhino's" mind. The child's innocence allows him to see beyond the ridiculous sign and recognize the psychological harm being done to the rhino. And yet...

...and yet, perhaps it is not that simple. By reverting the sign (the linguistic tool of oppression), isn't the child merely reinforcing the domination of the status quo and strengthening the establishment's vice-like grip on society? The child may have acted to ease the rhino's mind but (despite the child's benelovent intentions), in actuality he played an active role in relegating the beast to an eternity of tranquil captivity. He did not rescue the rhino, he merely made his cage stronger.

Part III: Freedom Isn't Free or All Signs Point to "No"

Newman's stimulating text leaves the reader (at least this reader) with a final burning question... Who holds the key to the rhino's freedom?

The optimist's answer would be that the key to freedom lies with the rhino itself. Unfortunately, to quote Karl Marx, "Religion is the opium of the masses and optimism is the ecstasy tablet of the self-delusional." So no, the rhino does not hold the key to his own freedom.

The real answer is much simpler and much more sobering. The key to freedom lies with: the zookeeper. (Seriously, it's on the big key ring that's clipped to his belt buckle.)

This does not bode well for the rhino. At the end of the book, the zookeeper puts up a new sign next to the rhino that reads, "Porcupin-o". In doing so, this sadistic trickster god is assuring us that the rhino's nightmare is not over... and that no amount of lit crit is going to save him from an eternity in this semiotic purgatory. The helpless rhino (like the rest of us) is forever caught in that desolate place between meaning and just plain mean.

09 October 2009

Very Grouchy Daddy

Provocative (at least in the children's lit circle) article in Slate by Daniel B. Smith railing against Eric Carle.

There comes a time in the life of a writer when he has to straighten his spine, gird his loins, and—facing the certain opprobrium of his peers and the
disdain of his friends and family—proclaim an ignored, essential verity.

Eric Carle, the most successful children's book author
of our time, sucks.

And Smith raises two classic children's book questions:

1. To what extent should the author take his adult audience into account?
2. Carle or Sendak? (A Kidslit version of Beatles or Rolling Stones)

Update: The children's literature gods have heard Smith's call and rewarded him with this: On October 8th, Jumpstart used the Very Hungry Caterpillar as it's Read for the Record book this year. The numbers are still being tallied, but there's a chance that Smith's nemesis will be enshrined in the Guinness Book of World Records...

18 September 2009

16 September 2009

The Relatives Came

Cynthia Rylant's classic story of an eventful family visit...

...also the title of David Sedaris's next compilation of humorous essays about an eventful family visit and the endearing dysfunction of the modern American family?

10 September 2009

Great Lines in Children's Literature: The Composer Is Dead (Lemony Snicket)

From Lemony Snicket's latest:
"Composer" is a word which here means "a person who sits in a room, muttering and humming and figuring out what notes the orchestra is going to play." This is called composing. But last night, the composer was not muttering. He was not humming. He was not moving, or even breathing.

This is called decomposing.
I would write more about the book itself, but I wouldn't feel right reviewing the book without listening to the CD that comes with it. And I didn't think the staff at Barnes and Noble would be too happy if they caught me pulling the cd out of its case, burning it onto my laptop and then uploading it onto my iPod.

07 September 2009


What must the inhabitants (especially the animals) of Narnia thought of the Pevensie kids when they showed up wearing fur coats?

31 August 2009

Horton Hears A Who (as 70's Thriller)

How psyched would you be if you pulled this slim paperback off the musty shelf of a used bookstore?

From the back cover:
This taut psychological thriller from bestselling author Theodor Geisel is the second installment of his acclaimed Horton series. As the book opens, we once again find Detective Horton waking from a weeklong bender. The sun is piercing, his head is pounding in his ears, and even the dust sounds like it's talking to him. As the day goes on, Horton realizes that he can't shake the voices in his head. Horton can't tell if he is psychic or psychotic, but he follows the voices and embarks upon a mind-bending journey. His feverish dedication leads him to social ridicule, lands him in jail, and threatens to leave his sanity in tatters.

"In the bizarre tradition that includes both Dashiell Hammett and Philip K. Dick, Giesel breaks new ground." -The New Yorker

"Destined to become a cult classic." -The San Francisco Chronicle

"Beware the Sour Kangaroo." -Rolling Stone

30 August 2009

BSB Flashback: Hop on Pop

9 April 2007

Author/Illustrator: Dr. Seuss

Many point to Bruno Bettelheim's award winning book, The Uses of Enchantment: The Meaning and Importance of Fairy Tales, as the moment that Freudian psychoanalysis officially came in contact with the realm of children's literature. While it is true that Bettleheim may have been one of the first academics to tackle the subject, it was the seminal work of Theodore Geisel (Dr. Seuss) that introduced children to Freud for the first time. Case in point: his playful exploration of the Oedipal complex: Hop on Pop.

Hop on Pop was published in 1963, a full 13 years before Bettelheim's Enchantment, and decades before Freud was widely dismissed by the psychological community as a coked-up sex fiend. Pop can be read as a thinly veiled introduction to the disturbing psychosexual theory that the father is the enemy who is preventing us from realizing some deeply ingrained sexual need for our mothers. Gross! Luckily, Seuss didn't get too caught up in the raging Sigmundsteria of the times, otherwise he may have been tempted to go all-out Oedipal and written his book as Hop on Pop then Marry Mommy, which probably would have tarnished his otherwise untouchable legacy.

Upon closer inspection, Freud and other psychological influences can be found sprinkled throughout Seuss's work. The Cat in the Hat is nothing more than a hyperkinetic romp through the subconscious with the Id, Ego, and Superego. The entire plot of Green Eggs and Ham is driven by Freud's theories of the repression and sublimation of base impulses. (What else could "Sam I Am" be, other than an anal-retentive individual's guilt-ridden projection of the repressed self and its latent desires?) And Horton Hears a Who? Horton hears a psychiatrist diagnosing him with schizophrenia, that's who he hears. In fact, if you read too closely, Seussville runs the risk of becoming an inescapable labyrinth of Freudian slips and slides... so maybe we're better off reading with eyes wide shut.

26 August 2009

War of Words

Author: Davide Cali
Illustrator: Serge Bloch

This unique book begins with a soldier in his lonely foxhole facing off against a mysterious opponent. His military-issue manual describes the enemy as dangerous and inhuman, and it is this ruthless and menacing description of the opponent that steels the soldier's resolve during combat. It is a simple matter of kill or be killed. As the war wages on, our soldier eventually sneaks into the other foxhole and discovers that his enemy may not be the monster that he was made out to be. The book ends with the two soldiers reaching out to each other, cautiously hopeful that they can end the fighting.

In April, Meghan Cox Gurdon of the Wall Street Journal had this interesting take on the book:
This book is very stylish, but it's pure propaganda: The idea is to perplex children about why war should ever happen and invite them to believe that nothing is worth fighting for -- when adults should know better.
While I'm all for healthy skepticism, I think that there is more depth here than Gurdon realizes. While the book does not hide its antiwar message, there is another message here that is a little more nuanced than War is Bad or (in Gurdon’s words) that “nothing is worth fighting for.”

In the beginning we, through the soldier's experience, think that the enemy is the other soldier, but by the end the real enemy is revealed… and he isn’t the man in the other foxhole. So the question is: if not the other soldier, who is The Enemy in this story?

This is where the underlying message of Cali's book shines through.
It's clear that these two soldiers were merely being manipulated from above and that "The Enemy" in this case is the faceless figure of authority that knowingly promulgated false information in order to justify and fan the flames of war.

History is riddled with examples of governments/movements manipulating information to justify war, and the decision to go to war is too serious for us to take information at face value. Cause if you don’t dig deeper, you may end up digging your own foxhole (or worse). It's not that "nothing is worth fighting for... but in order to know that something is worth fighting for, you have to know the truth.

Bloch’s illustrations do an amazing job of reinforcing this idea that information plays a large role in war. The illustrations take on the style of political cartoons, mimicking a popular vehicle for propaganda. But more interestingly is the way Bloch uses the page itself within the illustrations.

For example, the foxholes appear as torn holes in the page. (You should CLICK HERE to see images from the book, courtesy of the lovely ladies of 7 Impossible Things Before Breakfast). The page itself is the battlefield. This interplay between the page and the image further illustrates (pun sheepishly intended) that wars are fought not just on the front lines, but on the page: through newspaper editorials, policy briefs, political cartoons… wars are waged by words as well as by bullets and bombs.

So while I, like Gurdon, sometimes raise a skeptical eyebrow at overly simplistic anti-war literature, I don’t think that this is the case in The Enemy. Rather than perplexing children about "why war should ever happen", Cali's book tries to make them realize that if war should ever happen, you better make damn sure that you aren’t being duped into it.

I thought I was going to end it there, but a little digging on the internet revealed another interesting angle.

The Enemy was originally published in association with Amnesty International Australia in 2007. The original version features a highly decorated and smiling general (with sunglasses) below large print that says "Enemy".

Before we discuss the illustration, note that this version does not have the subtitle: A Book About Peace. This is interesting because in her WSJ review, one of Gurdon's points is that,
"The Enemy: A Book About Peace," by Davide Cali, does not so much promote peace as repudiate armed conflict.
Which is a valid point and something that kind of bugged me too. But maybe it wasn't originally written as a book about peace at all. Maybe that subtitle was added on afterwards for marketing reasons. I wouldn't be surprised if US publishers were worried that a book about war would be too hard to promote, so they stuck the tagline "A Book About Peace" and switched out the diabolical general and slapped on a picture of an peacefully smiling soldier. Maybe that cover would be less likely to scare parents away.

Now let's look at the difference in the cover art. Interestingly, the smug general doesn't appear on the inside of the book at all. He remains above the fray (and outside the lines) making the decisions to send people to war. He only appears on the cover, which looks almost like a "Wanted" poster, a bold advertisement saying "This is the real enemy."

In fact, take a closer look at the illustration... it's hard to tell with this low resolution, but you can see that the general literally has blood on his hands.

So Gurdon was right about one thing: this is not a book about peace. This is a book about the horrors of war and the need to keep a close eye on those who have the power to declare it.
Because it’s true: adults should know better. They should know better than to blindly accept jingoistic justifications for war without asking questions. After all, a knowledgeable public with the ability to question their leaders and hold them accountable is key to a healthy democracy. Anything that tells you otherwise is pure propaganda.

23 August 2009

The Five Chinese Brothers: The Movie

This controversial children's book classic is just begging to be adapted for the big screen... I can see it now:

Title: The Five Chinese Brothers

Tagline: If They Can’t Tell Us Apart, They Can’t Pick Us Out Of A Line-Up.

Plot: In this subversive action-adventure, five Asian-American friends, sick of people not being able to tell them apart, decide to use their anonymity to their advantage and plan the crime spree of a lifetime.

Director: Wai-keung Lau
Producer: Quentin Tarantino
Screenplay: Claire Huchet Bishop
Art Direction: Kurt Wiese

Note: In case you didn't recognize the poster, here is the original.

19 August 2009

The Curious Garden

Author/Illustrator: Peter Brown

On the surface, this quietly beautiful book is about a boy who discovers and cultivates a garden in the middle of the city. Through persistence (think The Carrot Seed on Miracle-Gro), the garden thrives and takes on a life of it’s own, slowly spreading throughout the city. More importantly, the garden inspires more gardeners, and soon the formerly drab city is blooming.

There is more than meets the eye here. If you scratch beneath the charming tale of environmental stewardship, you'll find an interesting meditation on the nature of ideas in the internet age.

In Brown's book, more important than the spreading of the garden is the spreading of the idea of gardening. Ideas are curious things indeed, and it is true that with a little persistence and cultivation, an idea has the ability to take on a life of its own. In the blink of an eye (or with the click of a mouse) an idea can spread and take root in even the tiniest crack (or niche market). If enough people pick up on the idea and are inspired by it, they will carry it themselves. Like twittering birds that spread vegetation by carrying seeds to distant lands, an idea can be spread by individuals as they fly across the internet.

Indeed, it is when other people in Brown's city get bit by the gardening bug, that the city really begins to explode. One garden by itself has limitations, but a sprawling network of people dedicated to gardening, now that is when broad social change really blossoms.

Whereas the normal term for this hyperkinetic spread of information is the vicious term to "go viral", the Curious Garden presents the phenomenon of this growth model with innocent beauty and childlike wonder. A message in The Curious Garden is that it takes a combination of sustained curiosity and innovative persistence to allow our ideas to bloom (that and a little bit of luck). The flipside of which is that the fertile garden of the imagination can easily dry up into a bleak and desolate landscape without proper care.

So, upon finishing the Curious Garden, I was left with three questions.

The first question is: What is your idea?

The second question is: Whether it is gardening, an innovative plan for universal health care, or customized bobblehead dolls, do you have the curiosity and persistence to cultivate your idea and allow it to grow?

The last question is: Do you believe in your idea enough to see it spread and possibly take on a life of its own?

Note: For a full review and a compendium of other on-line reviews, go check out (as always) A Fuse #8 Production.

11 August 2009

At the Movies

If you are a bit skeptical about the Where The Wild Things Are movie, maybe Maurice Sendak himself can put your mind at ease:

Unfortunately, I don't have anything that can put your mind at ease about this:

10 August 2009

If You Give A Mouse A Dollar... He'll Rob an ATM?!

Looks like that greedy little mouse is at it again:

From AOL News:
LA GRANDE, Ore. (Aug. 8) - A mouse found inside an automatic teller machine — along with a nest it had built with chewed-up $20 bills — gave an Oregon gas station employee the surprise of her life.

The mouse, discovered Thursday, had thoroughly torn up two bills and damaged another 14 to line his nest. Employee Millie Taylor said she screamed and slammed the machine's door shut.

The bank replaced all the money that wasn't extensively damaged, and the ATM has continued to work just fine. The mouse also got a reprieve: He was evicted from his nest but set free outside the station.

Other workers at the Gem Stop Chevron in La Grande in eastern Oregon say they're mystified about how the mouse got inside the machine.

27 July 2009

Great Lines in Children's Literature: Sam, Bangs & Moonshine

“Sam said her mother was a mermaid, when everyone knew she was dead.”

Sam, Bangs & Moonshine (Evaline Ness)

Now that is a great sentence. That is children's literature.

I was going to leave it at that, but then when I googled "Evaline Ness", I found out that she was married to Eliot Ness, the man who brought down Al Capone. WHAT?! Why this was never mentioned in The Untouchables?! It would have added an interesting dimension to the movie: Evaline trying to write/illustrate her children's books while dodging bullets from Capone's thugs. She could have even asked Sean Connery to proofread a draft for her. How much would you pay to hear Connery read the following passage?

"Moonshine was a mermaid-mother, a fierce lion, a chariot drawn by dragons, and certainly a baby kangaroo. It was all flummadiddle just as Bangs had told her."

Seriously, it would be worth the price of admission just to hear Connery say "flummadiddle". That would have wrapped up the Oscar for him right there.

I was always curious about Ness's choice of the word "moonshine" for the book... now, knowing her prominent role in the prohibition era, I only have more (and much more interesting) questions. Her husband was famous for his quest to enforce prohibition... yet in the book, Evaline has the line:

"There's good MOONSHINE and bad MOONSHINE," he said. "The important thing is to know the difference."

Was Evaline revealing her own moral misgivings surrounding her husband's role in the prohibition era?

Did her famous law enforcement husband share these same doubts with her behind closed doors?

Did the Ness's partake in a little moonshine themselves? Perhaps at a speakeasy called the Mermaid Mother?

Or was the book (which was printed in 1966, 20 years after her divorce from Eliot Ness) meant to be a not-so-subtle jab at her famous ex-husband?

These questions must be answered! I think it's high time the historians stepped to the plate and did some serious digging...

07 July 2009

Kristof's Best Kids' Books EVER!!!

A few good friends forwarded this column from the Sunday New York Times to me today: Nicholas Kristof, the renowned op-ed columnist for the NYT recently wrote about his favorite kids' books. It was an interesting list, but what is even more interesting is that if you look at his body of work, you can see that these childhood favorites really did have an impact on his writing career. Below are some examples:

Kristof Favorite: “Charlotte’s Web.” The story of the spider who saves her friend, the pig, is the kindest representation of an arthropod in literary history.

Related Kristof Article: "Humanity Even for Nonhumans." Writings by a Princeton scholar have popularized a movement to grant basic protections to pigs and chickens and to limit human dominion over other species.

Connection: To what extent do humans have the right to decide the fate of animals?

Kristof Favorite: “Wind in the Willows.” My mother read this 101-year-old English classic to me, and I’m still in love with the characters. Most memorable of all is Toad — rich, vain, childish and prone to wrecking cars.

Related Kristof Article: "It’s Time to Learn From Frogs." Scientists are beginning to find a connection between bizarre deformities in water animals and abnormalities in humans.

Connection: A young Kristoff learned valuable lessons in morality from a misbehaving anthropomorphized toad; scientists learn valuable lessons about humanity by studying genetically misbehaving amphibians.

Kristof Favorite: “Gentle Ben.” The coming-of-age story of a sickly, introspective Alaskan boy who makes friends with an Alaskan brown bear, to the horror of his tough, domineering father.

Related Kristof Article: "Obama, Misha and the Bear." President-elect Barack Obama needs a new approach to Russia if we want to avoid a new cold war, and we also need to get over our crush on Georgia’s president, Mikheil Saakashvili.

Connection: Coming-of-age story, of an skinny, introspective young president who attempts diplomatic relations with possibly hostile parties, to the horror of his tough, domineering predecessors.

I could go on, but I think you get the idea. The conversation continues, as Kristof invites people to list their favorites here.

11 June 2009

A is for Angst

I saw this book by Joost Ellfers and was immediately reminded of Miranda July's 2008 bestselling book of short stories: No One Belong Here More Than You.

Upon further inspection, the two books are actually very similar, deftly mixing heavy doses insecurity and angst with hints of charm and quirk. I thought it was just a coincidence until I saw this picture of July:

The resemblance is uncanny. Could there be a secret Joost-July alliance that we're not aware of? If not, should we request one?

10 June 2009

"Not My Problem"

You may have seen this already, but the Onion A.V. Club has an interesting breakdown of the DVD commentary accompanying the garish trainwreck/nightmare that was the Cat In the Hat movie (which is nice, since no one in their right mind would by the DVD, let alone sit through the commentary).

The article highlights this revealing quote from the director Bo Welch:

"See, we addressed the book—at least the cover and the back cover. What happens in between there is not my problem."

06 June 2009

Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Twitter

So, I decided to try giving this twitter thing a whirl... and after playing around with it, I thought... you know who Twitter would be a good format for? Alexander from Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day! (Judith Viorst and Ray Cruz). I can just imagine Alexander, moping around all day, typing in disgruntled updates on his iPhone...

AlexanderNoGood teacher just said i sing too loud. :(

@ school, Mrs. Dickens liked Paul's pic of boat better than my invisible castle.

AlexanderNoGood I can tell this is going to be a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.

In carpool: becky, audrey, + elliot got window seats. I was scrunched, smushed, and car sick.

i found cereal in my cereal. :( think i'll move to Australia.

@ breakfast: Anthony found Corvette Sting Ray kit in cereal. Nick found Jr. Undercover Agent code ring in cereal.

I can tell this is going to be a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.

You get the idea. If you want to check out his twitter page and see running proof that it was indeed a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. (and here's a link to mine, which will--hopefully--be less of a downer.)

19 May 2009

Cloudy No More!

A while ago, I posted about Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs, pointing out some of the delightfully bizarre illustrations, one of which was what appeared to be baby heads stuck to the front of a garbage truck.

Well, Ron Barrett left a comment setting the record straight:

"I illustrated this book. To clarify the heads: sanitation workers in New York City find dolls in the trash place the heads on the the rods at the front corners of their trucks which they use to navigate through tight spots. One can also see teddy bears on the radiator grills. What the reader sees is the work of playful garbagemen, not sadistic maniacs."

So, there you have it! Mystery solved! Thanks, Ron!

Note: In case Mr. Barrett is reading again, I didn't actually think that the garbagemen were sadistic maniacs--or that the town of Chewandswallow was a brutal totalitarian regime... :)

13 May 2009

Miss Nelson Is Missing: The Movie

Cause it's only a matter of time, right?

IMDB entry

User rating:

Director: Clint Eastwood
Writer: Henry Allard
Artistic Director: James Marshall

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Tagline: "Their teacher is missing... and they have no one to blame but themselves."

Plot: When their teacher (Drew Barrymore) mysteriously disappears, the students (led by Dakota Fanning and Bobb'e J. Thompson) enlist the help of a hapless detective (Seth Rogan) to track her down.

05 May 2009

In the Night Kitchen

Maurice Sendak's classic In the Night Kitchen, re-released as a memoir:

From Publisher's Weekly: Bourdain's latest behind-the-scenes memoir is another no-holds-barred adventure into the surreal underbelly of the restaurant industry. And never one to shy away from controversy, the rebellious Bourdain writes with two objectives in mind: shock and awe. There is one particularly bizarre scene involving full frontal nudity and getting "baked" in the kitchen that is sure to cause a stir among those with a more sensitive palette... but the rest of us should settle in for the meal of a lifetime. With Bourdain and Sendak in the night kitchen, you're guaranteed to have your cake and eat it too.

04 May 2009

Little Mole In Action (Figure)

The Story of the Little Mole in Search of Whodunnit has inspired the creative bunch over at Live 'n Learn to make their very own Little Mole action figure... how cool is that? They should get in touch with Holzwarth and Erlbruch to produce a whole line of these babies... throw in some creative use of tootsie rolls and you've got hours of zany educational fun!

01 May 2009

One more for good luck

From the Unnecessary Sequels cutting room floor, here is another honorable mention for your viewing pleasure. I was playing around with this idea while the judges were deliberating, but didn't actually finish it... thought you all might get a kick out of it anyway. This one is also courtesy of the unstoppable Kate Coombs:
The Very Bulimic Caterpillar: Caterpillars aren't supposed to be fat because fatness is unattractive, also it's unhealthy. One little caterpillar learns an important lesson in this colorful picture book about what to do if you feel waaaay too full!

26 April 2009

That's All, Folks!

All good things must come to an end... and the Unnecessary Children's Book Sequels That Never Were is now over (and I hope you thought it was good while it lasted!). Farida has a nice two part round-up of the submissions (Part I and Part II) that didn't get illustrated, but were hilarious nonetheless. Truth is, I would have tried to illustrate them all if I had the time, and I may still work up another one here and there if I get a chance. But it was a lot of fun, thanks everyone and maybe we'll do this again soon!

Here is a quick round-up of the results:

First Place: Harry and the Can of Purple Spray Paint (Kate Coombs)

Second Place: The Very Hungry Larva (Elaine Magliaro)

Third Place: Kitty's First Meteor Hurtling On A Terrifying Death Path Toward Earth (Hannah Mahoney)

And some of the Honorable Mentions:

24 April 2009

Unnecessary Sequel First Place Winner: Harry and the Can of Purple Spray Paint

Finally, the moment you've all been waiting for... First place in Saints and Spinners' Unnecessary Children's Book Sequels That Never Were Contest goes to Kate Coombs with her unnecessary sequel to Crockett Johnson's masterpiece, Harold and the Purple Crayon:
Harry and the Can of Purple Spray Paint: Whatever you do, don't call him Harold. He's a big boy now, and he wields a mean can of spray paint! Follow Harry up and down dirty alleys and streets, also beneath overpasses, in this touching sequel. Remember: when you see that magical purple tag, an H with a skull-handled dagger slashing through it, you know Harry's been there and left his mark. -Kate Coombs

So there you have it! Congratulations, Kate!

And a big thanks to everyone who submitted their awesome suggestions... and thank you Melangell and Phil for judging and of course, thank you Farida for thinking up and organizing the contest!

23 April 2009

Unnecessary Sequels: More Honorable Mentions

The Unnecessary Children's Book Sequels That Never Were Contest had a whole bunch of fun submissions that played on Shel Silverstein's The Giving Tree, so it had to make it as an honorable mention:

The Taking Tree
: Shel Silverstein's sequel to The Giving Tree proves to be much less popular, as children everywhere shun trees for fear of grabby branches and thieving twigs, and parents complain about the bad morals being conveyed to their impressionable tots. Book rated highly with test audiences, but it was later revealed that test audience consisted mainly of rhododendrons. -a.fortis, Finding Wonderland

The Tree: Co-dependent No More!
: A burst of insight leads the formerly Giving Tree to shed its unhealthy relationship with The Boy as it sprouts a new branch from the stump it has become. -MotherReader

Counting Rings: A Very Special Crime Scene Investigation of 'The Giving Tree': Using the current DSM-V (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders), "Counting Rings: A Very Special Crime Scene Investigation of 'The Giving Tree'" breaks down, in a child-friendly counting-book way, the psychoses and delusions behind your child's first - and favorite - dysfunctional relationship. -Lee Wind

The Irate Stump: The Giving Tree has a few regrets . . . -Jamie Michalak

The Trading Tree: The story of a cunning tree which, starting with the offer of an apple for allowance, slowly trades a young boy out of his considerable inheritance over the course of his life, leaving him with nothing but a place to sit. -Tony Dowler (not an official entry, since he's a relation...)

And one more for good measure--the unnecessary sequel to Bread and Jam For Frances:

Brie and Foie Gras For Frances: After spending a month-long summer vacation in Paris with her parents and younger sister, Frances returns home and refuses to eat anything other than brie cheese and foie gras imported from France. -Elaine Magliaro

That's it for now. Remember to check in with Saints and Spinners on Friday to see who got first place in the contest!

p.s. there are a ton of other honorable mention worthy submissions that I hope to get too in time... unfortunately, if I spend any more time on photoshop my eyes might pop out of my skull and/or my wife might stuff my laptop down the garbage disposal (with good reason).