• Posted on April 27, 2011

Picks & Tweets from the Illustrated Word

The King's Crow

Spring has sprung, the grass is green(ish), and the air is full of birdsong and…what’s that? Oh yeah, the almost constant hum of Royal Wedding coverage. I have no opinion, really, about the monarchy, but I do enjoy a little princely entertainment now and then. Not so much the younger generation (sorry Wills & Kate), but those great English Kings and Queens of yore: Colin Firth, Jonathan Rhys Myers, and of course, our current monarch, Helen Mirren. I’ll keep this post short as I am off to bed in the somewhat futile hope that a sleep surplus will help me get up at 3:00 a.m. Friday morning to watch the Show. Please enjoy these crowning moments from Royal Web~

On April 26th, Google celebrated the birthday of John James Audubon with a Google doodle. Oh no. Now everyone will know about him. Happy Birthday Mr Birdman, your illustrations are gobsmackingly gorgeous! Other than his ubiquitous collections of art (and field guides), may I recommend a couple of novels~Creation by Katherine Govier (Random House), about his rather harrowing adventures in Labrador, Canada, and a new children’s book, which I’ve yet to read but looks very promising~Okay For Now by Gary D Schmidt (Clarion). Maybe this Audubon-related book will usher in a new cultural obsession~birds. Beats vampires (but not zombies, nothing beats zombies.)

Read More

  • Posted on April 21, 2011

Of Bunnies and Holy Men

It’s often quite difficult to find excellent seasonal picture books simply because the window of opportunity for sales is short and publishers tend to blast the shelves with quantity rather than quality. Also, few children’s writers and illustrators feel their creative juices flow when the subject matter is snake rustlers from Ireland and scenes of crucifixion (sorry Mel.) Of course, there are exceptions: Christmas, for example, inspires many beautiful picture books each year, and the better ones tend to sell throughout the year. When I was a  bookseller, I always kept a row of Christmas books in stock, especially perennial bestsellers like The Polar Express and…um…mostly The Polar Express. Easter, on the other hand, can be a challenge. Christ or Bunnies? Personally, I’m not drawn to children’s books about public executions, Jesus or otherwise, and religious books in general leave me cold, but there is a place for this type of book at Easter. It’s not all about chocolate, apparently.

Read More

  • Posted on April 13, 2011

When Dogs Collide

“Life can be painless, provided that there is sufficient peacefulness for a dozen or so rituals to be repeated simply endlessly.” ~Kurt Vonnegut (Slapstick, 1976)

A very fine philosophy indeed, one shared by this blogger and a very particular mutt named Mister Bud, the star of the new Carter Goodrich book, Say Hello to Zorro! Wrapped in a warm blanket of habit and contentment, Mister Bud is blissfully unaware that his life is about to be turned upside down by the arrival of…well, I’ll save that for later.

As the youngest child in a large family, I have not personally experienced the trauma of being usurped from an established position within the family hierarchy, but I’ve certainly heard all about it from my older siblings. Or should I say, my next oldest sibling. Apparently, I was referred to as ‘it’ before my parents (eventually) intervened. I get it. Change sucks, and who wants to share the spotlight? Enter Mister Bud, a dog who has it figured out. Everything in the house, including the house, belongs to him, and governing all is the schedule, rigorously adhered to, comprising frequent meals, walks, ‘greet and make a fuss time’, cuddling, movies, backyard time, and of course, naps. Things are pretty good for this pampered pooch, until the day Zorro arrives; a tiny pug with a big personality, a pronounced underbite, and just a tinge of bossiness. Life in Budville will never be the same. Read More

  • Posted on April 10, 2011

Picks & Tweets from the Illustrated Word

A Posthumous Publication

Feeling under the weather of late. Something less than death, but more than a hangnail. Eustachian Tube Dysfunction, which is the fancy word for nausea, and the distinct and terribly unpleasant feeling that a weasel has crawled into my right ear and is slowly exiting on the left. Enough whining (if that’s possible.) After all, not everything viral is bad. To wit~

Signs of the apocalypse ~ ‘My Beautiful Mommy: How a Picture Book Explains Liposuction to Kids.’ Wow. In my book-selling days, I used to scoff at the affliction/lifestyle-specific picture books, but this is cutting-edge (or sucking edge) pseudo-counseling at it’s most idiotic. The review is hilarious.

Shaun Tan wins the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Prize, announced in Bologna. Largest prize in children’s books. First an Oscar, and now this? What’s next, Sexiest Man Alive? For additional fun, here is a slideshow of Eric, a chapter in Outer Tale of Suburbia. Love this guy.

Random House to publish new Dr. Seuss book collecting stories previously published in magazines. From the truly awesome (and newly discovered) Where the Best Books Are blog, here’s a sneak-peek.

Read More