02 November 2012

A Man of Many Designs: The Illustrated Odyssey

Reimagining a classic is always a dangerous proposition.Author Gillian Cross and illustrator Neil Packer recently took on the Olympian task of packaging "The Odyssey" for a younger audience, presumably to serve as a placeholder until they encounter Homer in sophomore year of high school. To be clear, no one, including Cross and Packer, intends this to serve as a replacement for the original.However, this version does succeed as an appealing introduction for the uninitiated – and for the rest of us, it provides a welcome opportunity to view an old friend in a new light. (Click here to read the rest of the review at Page Views)

10 September 2012

Be Still My Nerdy Heart

A beautiful infographic by Jan Avendano capturing all the relationships in the Phantom Tollbooth.

Books about books: 'Mr. Morris Lessmore' and the enduring importance of print

Having been perched atop the bestseller lists, "The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore" is William Joyce's love note to books and tugs at the heartstrings of bibilophiles everywhere.  Which is ironic because "Morris Lessmore" is actually based on an Oscar-winning computer-animated film that was then converted into an iPad app before finally making its way to the printed page.
Despite its origins in modern technology, "Morris Lessmore" is a welcome addition to an increasing number of books about the importance of books. As the picture book world evolves and adapts to new technologies (most prominent picture books have YouTube trailers and tie-in apps these days), authors are taking the time to remind us that despite the sparkle and swipe of the newest app, there will always be a need for the unique pleasures of print.  (Read the rest at PageViews)

07 September 2012

Nerds and Neanderthals

America makes a clear distinction between bookish types and football types. The Nerd vs. Neanderthal dichotomy is a cornerstone of American culture (at least in American culture as presented in high school TV shows).  
But the truth is that football and literature do not occupy separate realms. As any fan knows, football is driven by drama of the game. Each week’s contests are served up with a mythological importance: Epic battles between the forces of good and evil; tales of impossible redemption colliding with heartbreaking falls from grace; traitors conspiring in the shadows of egomaniacal tyrants. And all of that is just on the New York Jets. 
So to help you make sense of this upcoming season, here is a literary guide to the 2012 NFL season, wherein we identify some of the most compelling storylines and narratives from each team and its literary equivalent.  While only one team’s season will have a truly happy ending  —every team will emerge with a few good stories to tell.  (Read more here at Page Views)

23 May 2012

The True Value of the Little Prince Discovery

“Anything essential is invisible to the eyes.” –“The Little Prince”

Today (May 16), the Paris auction house Artcurial will auction off two recently discovered pages of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s beloved classic “Le Petit Prince.”

The auction house estimated the worth of this literary find between 40,000€ to 50,000€ (app. $52,000 to $65,000). This may seem like a high price tag for two thin pages of nearly illegible writing, but it would not be surprising to see it fetch an even greater sum.

After all, “The Little Prince” has sold 140 million copies worldwide and is the world’s second most translated book behind the Bible.

 But more interesting than the monetary value is this question: Why was this passage left out of the final manuscript? While we’ll probably never know the answer for sure, the omission of this particular passage sheds some light on the book’s breathtaking success. Read more at Page Views

14 May 2012

Beyond the cliché: Ten picture book gifts for graduates

Graduation season is fast upon us. It's likely that your local bookstore (if you’re lucky enough to still have a local bookstore), has already dusted off its “Gifts for the Graduate” display.
These will always feature picture books because, with their uplifting messages and a small word count, they make great gifts for the pomp and circumstance crowd.
However, it is important to choose carefully. Give the right picture book and you arm your graduate with precious wisdom for the road ahead. Choose poorly and you just dropped good money on a long-form greeting card.
Bookstores will inevitably suggest the classic (Dr. Seuss’s “Oh, the Places You’ll Go!”) and the cloying (Sandra Boynton’s “Yay You! Moving Out, Moving Up, Moving On”), but if you want to reach beyond the cliché, here are 10 alternative gift ideas: Read more at Page Views

10 May 2012

Some thoughts on Sendak

Some thoughts on Maurice Sendak in the NYDailyNews:
Sendak, who died on Tuesday at 83, knew that he was a writer unlike any other. “I think what I offered was different,” he once said in an interview, “but not because I drew better than anybody or wrote better than anybody, but because I was more honest than anybody.” Read more at the NYDailyNews

21 April 2012

The Pulitzer Board's Word Problem

Since the Pulitzer Board won't tell you what you should read, here are some suggestions: The Pulitzer Board's Word Problem
The Pulitzer committee caused quite a stir this week by deciding not to award a proize for fiction in 2012. But if you look closely at the three finalists (Denis Johnson's "Train Dreams," Karen Russell's "Swamplandia!" and David Foster Wallace's "The Pale King"), you'll see that they all have one thing in common that virtually disqualified them from winning anything this year: Too many words.

20 April 2012

Moving, kinda.

Moving to the more elegant web address: www.bottomshelfbooks.net.

(Note: Also, switched to a new template which may mess up the formatting for old posts.)

07 April 2012

Back in the saddle again?

It's been almost 2 years, but I've started writing again. I still have a lot of rust to knock off, but so far I've contributed 2 short pieces to Page Views, the new NY Daily News book blog:

"To help new parents get started in the brave new world of children’s literature, here are some complementary book pairings: a “grown-up” book and its picture book counterpart. These pairings offer a bridge between reading worlds by featuring recognizable characters, similar styles, and parallel themes. And most importantly, none of these pairs feature any (overt) messages about the joys of pooping."
"Dartmouth College announced this morning that its medical school will be named after Audrey and Theodor Geisel (aka Dr. Seuss, who graduated from there in 1925).
Since it does not inspire confidence to have a doctor who refers to body parts as "Thing 1" and "Thing 2", we thought it would be useful to prepare a new recommended reading list for incoming medical students."
I've missed writing, so hopefully this will help me get back on track. If not, I'll be sure to post again in another 2 years.