27 February 2013

That is my belt: The next Jon Klassen hit?

Looks the Caldecott hasn't left Jon Klassen complacent.  Is this a preview of his next book?

Who knows... but don't be surprised if in the next year you see "I want my belt back" or "That is my belt" in a bookstore near you.

24 February 2013

Going Medieval: When Library Fines Aren't Enough

In Stephen Greenblatt's Pulitzer Prize winning "The Swerve", he goes into fascinating detail about the value of books, particularly prior to the advent of the printing press. In one passage, he describes how monasteries would sometimes protect these precious items by placing curses on them.

Reading one of these I couldn't help but think there might be some librarians who would be tempted to put this to use.  So, in case the 10 cent daily fine isn't doing the trick, I've made the curse into a handy sign:


Warning: Before posting this at your circulation desk, please check to make sure your library doesn't have a policy prohibiting eternal damnation.

13 February 2013

Cover to Cover, Shore to Shore (more U.S. vs. U.K. book covers)

As someone who could spend (and has spent) hours looking at book design, I love The Millions' annual comparison of U.S. vs. U.K. book covers.  Inspired by the post, here are the U.S. covers of some of the past Newbery Award winners and their alternate covers from across the pond.  

U.S. versus U.K. Book Covers
(U.S. left, U.K. right)

The U.S. version is both playful and mysterious. The U.K. version is a Brendan Fraser movie.
Winner: U.S.

The U.K. version is more stylish and less blatantly angtsy.
Winner: U.K.

Wasn't a big fan of either... and then I noticed the silhouette on the U.S. version.
Winner: U.S.

Both get the job done, but the U.S. version has more charm.
Winner: U.S.

Eh, both kind of look like album covers for discarded Pink Floyd albums.
Winner: None

The U.S. version is a bit cartoonish, but at least it doesn't make me want to cry.
Winner: Daisy from Downton Abbey

Full disclosure: I grew up subconsiously thinking the bearded old man was Lois Lowry.
Winner: U.S.

The U.S. version focuses on "plain", the U.K. focuses on "tall".
Winner: U.S. (This one is a pure nostalgia choice.  Sorry, U.K.)

Final Score
U.S.: 5
U.K.: 1
None: 2

11 February 2013

09 February 2013

Artist Exchange: A Chair for Whistler's Mother

In 1969, the great surrealist Salvador Dali published illustrations for Alice in Wonderland that were fantastic--if also slightly disturbing.

Advice from a Caterpillar
Seeing Dali's unique take on a beloved text makes you wonder: Which other classic artists would have be well-matched with books from the children's literature canon?

Here are three examples to start:

Author: Munro Leaf
Illustrator: Francisco Goya

Author: Vera B. Willams
Illustrator: James M. Whistler

Author: Jon Klassen
Illustrator: Renee Magritte

05 February 2013

Willems Shakespeare presents: Hamlet (starring the Pigeon)

Two of literature's most tortured characters, together at last.


(starring the Pigeon)

04 February 2013

That cat really did love his hats.

As editor in chief of Beginner Books at Random House in the late 1960s, Michael Frith worked closely with Geisel, sometimes into the early hours of the morning. When they were stumped by a word choice, Mr. Frith said, Geisel would often bound to the closet and grab a hat for each of them — a sombrero, or perhaps a fez. There they would be, sitting on the floor, Mr. Frith remembered, “two grown men in stupid hats trying to come up with the right word for a book that had only 50 words in it at most.”

My favorite detail is that he apparently had a secret hat closet hidden behind a bookcase.  Imagine trying to pull a copy of "Oh the Places You'll Go" from the shelf only to have the bookcase open up, revealing a secret closet--and instead of finding some deep dark secret, you find a room filled with hundreds upon hundreds of goofy hats?