Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Stop nibbling books!

Seriously... legislation regarding lead in ink is proving problematic in the US. Here.

Where the Wild Things Are

I think I love this trailer for the film. The monsters are giant puppets! I love giant puppets. I love giant puppets so much more than I love CGI.

I mean, remember the Muppets? They appealed to the child/adult audience long before Shrek. Jasper Fforde once said in a reading that his father, who was very serious and intellectual and the UK's 24th chief cashier (he signed the bank notes), would always stop everything for 'Pigs in Space.'

I just liked that anecdote and wanted to work it in somewhere. Now I just hope I have it right.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Stories for free

For those interested in science fiction short fiction (a mouthful), an issue of Shimmer can be downloaded for free.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Shaun Tan Visit

Shaun Tan, one of my all time favourite children's authors/illustrators, is coming to speak at Monash University: 10:30am Tuesday, March 31 at the Japanese Studies Centre (it's just left of the bus bays as you enter the campus from the bus). He's also kindly agreed to sign any books that people have!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

SciFi Channel

Xeni Jardin's list of possible names for the SciFi Channel is great. Some may be possibilities for the science fiction collection in Monash's Rare Books collection.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Sometimes, the universe is in my favour...

If you're in my Children's Lit class, don't look, because this is going to be unashamedly utilised in next week's lecture.

I'm not teaching The Graveyard Book this semester. But Colbert opens his interview with Neil Gaiman by comparing The Graveyard Book with The Flopsy Bunnies. I am teaching The Flopsy Bunnies. I knew there were more reasons to teach The Flopsy Bunnies than "it's fun to say 'flopsy bunnies' multiple times at a lecturn."

Those pesky author shots...

Jezebel reports on the issue of how female authors are photographed for their book jackets. We talked about this in class last year. We noted, particularly, the prevalence of 'beauty' shots of female authors of Middle Eastern descent, adding to the general exoticism of their work. I also pointed out my favourite example of an author shot, which I just located in the oddest place. It's of Amanda Foreman when she first published Georgiana. The latter is a work of history, so the decision to promote Foreman as an attractive author is even more startling, perhaps.

We did try to think of male authors who had been photographed in similar ways. We couldn't think of any. We were a little disappointed by that. If anyone can think of any, please let us know.

In the meantime, I have to produce a photo for a conference website. This is the first time I've encountered the request and it's making me a little nervous. I guess the old boots next to a pile of books shot won't do the trick?

Saturday, March 14, 2009

One of the most popular books ever...

There's an interview in the Guardian with Eric Carle. The tales of his life in Germany in WWII, his anecdotes about children's letters... wonderful stuff.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Funding - science fiction writers' workshop

Australia's Clarion South needs financial help to keep running.


Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Not a statement of academic feeling in Week 2

My copy of Wishful Drinking just arrived. I've been really looking forward to this book. And no, not simply because Princess Leia has a martini glass on the front cover (although, I personally think this may have led to said martini glass). However, the cover is particularly wonderful. But I've also been looking forward to it because I read Postcards from the Edge a scary number of years ago and have happily reread it (developing a brief compulsion to overdose on MSG and diet cola) and her other novels since.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Storybook Fashion

How could I not love this? Follow the link and blogger, Blaze Danielle, offers you fashion for your favourite childhood lit., including Mary Lennox, Lucy Pevensie and Nancy Drew.

Oh, and while I was inspecting Jezebel this morning, I also spotted this piece about the reading of college students. I wonder how you all compare? I particularly liked this bit: "Charles relies on data from the Chronicle of Higher Education about the best selling books on college campuses, which are 'mostly about hunky vampires or Barack Obama.'"

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Anyone going to Paris?

If you are going to Paris, Shakespeare & Co is worth a visit - it's really just about opposite Notre Dame. There's a current article in The Guardian about it. The idea of the author of the article - in fact, Jeanette Winterson - being conked on the head with a book by the owner is not unremarkable. I've been to Shakespeare & Co a few times and each time, managed to happily avoid him. Yes, some may wear being hit on the head by him or yelled at by him as a badge of pride - I just wanted to get out in one piece.

But it is a remarkable book store. In fact, I found there a book that became the basis of both my Masters and PhD theses. It wasn't until my third visit, however, that I managed to actually get the Shakespeare & Co stamp in a book bought there. People kept stealing the stamp.

The store itself is a motley collection and I've always loved the uneven flagstone floor. I've never had the urge to stay there, sleeping among the shelves, though. I guess I lack the spirit that makes a true Shakespeare & Co initiate.

I'd just take myself off to Les Deux Magots for hot chocolate (they serve it from a little jug). Writers often met there. In fact, I went in the memory of F. Scott Fitzgerald, though he's rarely mentioned in connection with the cafe now. The honour appears to go to Hemingway. Fitzgerald has become a bit obscure now (despite Benjamin Button), which is a shame. I love his glittering prose and brittle characters. I wanted for a while - at seventeen - to be Fitzgerald, so to speak. Well, not to be a guy living in the roaring 20s... but you know what I mean.

Living in the roaring 20s, yes.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Rights and Covers

Thinking about children's literature shouldn't occur in total isolation to thinking about the status of children: their rights and how childhood itself is legalised. This piece on how children in England are represented in the media is therefore important to think about.

In another note, if you're interested in how book covers are designed, I discovered a fantastic blog called FaceOut Books. They interview designers and talk about how the look of covers are created.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Hope at the check out

I'm not even going to comment on the implications regarding the fate of literature students in this piece in The Times. However, the outcome is very happy and worth sharing.

Not so guilty secrets

The Guardian has a piece discussing a survey showing that people often say they've read books they actually haven't. That didn't surprise me. Seriously.

What did amuse me was that the survey, run by World Book Day, found that "When asked to name the writers they really enjoyed, 61% of people ticked JK Rowling and 32% John Grisham." This information was, I think, more to the point. People lie about having read books they think they ought to have read in order to be considered intelligent and well educated. Hence the numbers lying about having read Nineteen Eighty-Four. It's not that they find the book too difficult to read, I'll guess, but that they've simply not had the inclination to read it, but sometimes feel guilty about that. On the other hand, they actually do have the inclination and enjoy books by Rowling and Grisham. Is this bad? Does it mean that these particular people are less well educated or intelligent?

For I admit to a little smile about anyone going by the moniker 'babybooshchick' writing "I am a bit of a book snob and refuse to read any Rowling." Rowling is a wonderful story teller. Why would a 'book snob' not read Rowling?

As for Nineteen Eighty-Four, I've been trying to remember if I have read it. I think I have. Alas, I have no memory of it, other than the niggling feeling that I did at some point read it. That doesn't mean it's not a wonderful book. Simply that at the time I read it, it didn't have as great an impact upon me as other books. I think I was a bit weary at the time of the whole pessimistic future schtick (which may reveal I didn't read it and simply put it aside because I had the suspicion it was like that). We are individuals. We do not all respond to books in the same manner. And sometimes we read a book at the wrong time. Hence, if I do get around to reading or rereading Nineteen Eighty-Four, I'm sure I'll have a different opinion. But there are other books I want to read first.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Baba Yaga's houses

There's a wonderful plushie realisation of Baba Yaga's house here. You have to admire a house that gets about on chicken feet!