Thursday, April 29, 2010

Tim Burton to Do "Sleeping Beauty"

Flushed with the success of his Alice in Wonderland, Tim Burton is poised to tackle another childrens' classic with his live-action version of Sleeping Beauty. Angelina Jolie is reportedly in talks to star as Maleficent, the wicked fairy who takes her revenge on an adolescent princess.

Tatar on Bluebeard

THERE once lived a hideously blue-bearded man who slit the throats of his half-dozen wives, stashing their corpses in the basement of his castle one by one. So goes the legendary folk tale “Bluebeard” (“La Barbe Bleue”), published by Charles Perrault in 1697 to become an enduring European bedtime story.
“When I was growing up in the 1950s, it was a fairy tale that was specifically aimed at little girls,” said the French director
Catherine Breillat, 61, whose film adaptation of the tale opened in New York on Friday. “I found it very strange that in the end it’s about teaching little girls to love a man who will kill them. Because that is the story that it tells” . . .

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Natalie Merchant Sets Children's Poems to Music

from Alida Allison...

Natalie Merchant, Ghost Ghost: Setting Poems to MusicBy Rocco Staino -- School Library Journal, 4/19/2010 2:05:00 PM
Natalie Merchant and the Brooklyn indie band Ghost Ghost have each made a musical contribution to National Poetry Month that may also help teachers and librarians expose their students to poets and their poems. Merchant, who was lead singer in the alternative rock band 10,000 Maniacs before going solo in 1993, released her latest album “Leave Your Sleep” (Nonesuch, 2010) on April 13th. The 26-track album is based on a collection of songs adapted from poems by Jack Prelutsky, Edward Lear, Ogden Nash, e.e. cummings, and Robert Louis Stevenson, and is inspired by Merchant’s desire to expose her young daughter to complex poetry. The singer/songwriter says poetry has a larger and more vivid life when it’s set to music.
“Leave Your Sleep is the most elaborate project I have ever completed or even imagined,” Merchant explains. “Nearly seven years ago I set out to create a piece of work I hoped could capture the universal experience of childhood through poetry and music.” The album spans the musical spectrum­and includes jigs, jazz, and klezmer. In addition to setting Lear’s “ Calico Pie” and Prelutsky’s “ Bleezer’s Ice Cream” to music, she researched more obscure Victorian and early-20th-century poets who were children themselves or who wrote for children. One includes “ Janitor Boy,” written by child prodigy Nathalia Crane in 1923 at the age of 10. The somber poem “ Spring and Fall to a Young Child” by the Victorian Jesuit poet Gerard Manley Hopkins, explains death to a child, and is also set to music.

Fall 2010 Class Offerings in Child & Adol Lit

ENGL 401. Children's Literature. MWF 1200-1250. Mary Galbraith.
ENGL 502. Adolescence in Literature. MWF 1300-1350. Phillip Serrato
ENGL 727. Seminar: Adolescence in Chicano Lit. W 1600-1840. Phillip Serrato
Descriptions below...

English 401. Childhood's Literature: The Neverending Fantasy. Oral tales, novels, picture books, comic strips, anime, graphic memoirs, live-action movies--the formats for telling childhood's most compelling fantasies have changed and diversified over the centuries. This semester we'll survey many of the ways a story can be told, and we'll take a look at issues of authenticity, homage, and adaptation. Some of the stories we'll explore: "Cinderella" (French, German, English, Italian, Chinese texts of oral tale); Pinocchio (Italian author--book; American director and animator--movie); Little Nemo (American cartoonist--comic strip); In the Night Kitchen (American author/illustrator--picture book); The Wizard of Oz (American author--book; American director--movie); The Neverending Story (German author--book; German director--movie); Howl's Moving Castle (Welsh-English author-- book; Japanese director--movie); Spirited Away (Japanese director--movie); The Fellowship of the Ring (South-African-born English author-- book; New Zealand director--movie); Nina Complot (Mexican author and illustrator--graphic novel in Spanish)

English 502: Adolescence in Literature. This semester we will explore the aesthetics, politics, and implications of an array of texts for, about, and even by adolescents. By the end of the semester, you are expected to be able to articulate an understanding of the myriad critical stakes involved in texts for and/or about adolescents as well as demonstrate proficiency with the various theoretical methodologies introduced in the course of the semester. Tentative List of Readings:
S.E. Hinton, The Outsiders
Brian James, Zombie Blondes Francine Prose, After Lori Carlson, American Eyes
Virginia Euweer Wolff, Make Lemonade
Francesca Lia Block, Weetzie Bat
Joseph Bruchac, Skeleton Man
Laurie Halse Anderson, Speak
Horatio Alger, Ragged Dick
Laura Whitcomb, A Certain Slant of Light
Maureen Johnson, 13 Little Blue Envelopes
Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland
For a finalized reading list, feel welcome to email the instructor ( over the summer break.

English 727: Adolescence in Chicana/o Literature. This course examines the depiction of adolescence (and adolescents) in Chicana/o literature from the early twentieth century to the present day. We will start the term scrutinizing classic texts such as Américo Paredes’s George Washington Gómez, Victor Villaseñor’s Macho!, and Tomás Rivera’s …y no se lo trago la tierra . As these early texts are by male writers and focus on adolescent male protagonists, we will especially concern ourselves with the ways that Mexican-Americans’ socio-political subordination in the United States in the wake of the Treaty of Guadulpe-Hidalgo precipitates authors’ preoccupation with adolescent Mexican-American masculinity. Soon enough, these conversations about masculinity and Mexican-American socio-political realities will expand into more nuanced explorations of issues of gender, sexuality, cultural identity, and the emergence of literature written for adolescent readers as we engage works such as Sandra Cisneros’s The House on Mango Street, Luis Alfaro’s Down Town, Juan Felipe Herrera’s Cinnamon Girl: Letters Found Inside a Cereal Box, Benjamin Alire Saenz’s Sammy and Juliana in Hollywood, Irene Beltrán Hernández’s Woman Soldier, and Carla Trujillo’s What Night Brings. Readings of primary texts will be supplemented with critical/theoretical work by the likes of Genaro Padilla, Ramón Saldívar, Kaja Silverman, Judith Halberstam, and José Esteban Muñoz. For a finalized reading list, feel welcome to email the instructor ( over the summer break.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Jerry Griswold Sorts Twain's Twins

As part of the Mark Twain Centenary organized by San Diego State University's Love Library, Jerry Griswold delivered a talk on April 20, 2010, titled "Twain's Twins, But I Repeat Myself." Discussing everything from the Evil Twin to Siamese Twins, Griswold (or his double) amazed the audience with his memory and his gift for invented facts. Afterwards, Griswold (the editor of Penguin Books' edition of The Prince and the Pauper) invited everyone to partake in the provided smorgasbord of cookies and coffee.

Flynn on "The Bat Poet"

Richard Flynn gave a lecture on The Bat-Poet--Randall Jarrell's much loved children's book--to a full house in SDSU Library's Leon Williams Room on April 22, 2010. The title of his talk was "Randall Jarrell’s The Bat-Poet: Poets, Children and Readers in an Age of Prose." Lively discussion ensued after Dr. Flynn delivered his remarks. A Professor at Georgia Southern University, Flynn is the author of Randall Jarrell and the Lost World of Childhood (U of Georgia P, 1990), former editor of the Children's Literature Association Quarterly, and current editor of the forthcoming Critical Edition of L. Frank Baum's The Wizard of Oz.

UCRiverside to Host Arbuthnot Lecture

RIVERSIDE, Calif. – Kathleen Horning, director of the Cooperative Children’s Book Center at the University of Wisconsin, will deliver the 2010 May Hill Arbuthnot Honor Lecture on Thursday, May 13, at 7 p.m. in the UCR Extension Center, 1200 University Ave. This is only the fourth time since the national lecture was established in 1969 that it has been located in Southern California...

Past Arbuthnot Lectures have been given by Maurice Sendak, Phillip Pullman, Virginia Hamilton, & a host of other stellar folks:

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Survey Yields List of 100 Top Children's Books

#1 Charlotte's Web by E.B. White
#2 A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle
#3 Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling
#4 The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
#5 From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E. L. Konigsburg
#6 Holes by Louis Sachar
#7 The Giver by Lois Lowry
#8 The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
#9 Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery
#10 The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster

Read more in School Library Journal:

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Children & Philosophy (& Children's Lit)

One afternoon this winter, the students in Christina Runquist’s classroom read Shel Silverstein’s “Giving Tree,” about a tree that surrenders its shade, fruit, branches and finally its trunk to a boy it has befriended. The college students led the discussion that followed — on environmental ethics, or “how we should treat natural objects,” as Professor Wartenberg puts it — with a series of questions, starting with whether the boy was wrong to take so much from the tree...

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Local Does Good: Lerer Wins Capote Award

“Children’s Literature: A Reader’s History from Aesop to Harry Potter” by University of California, San Diego faculty member Seth Lerer, published by the University of Chicago Press, is the winner of the 2010 Truman Capote Award for Literary Criticism ...Children’s Literature” was chosen by an international panel of prominent critics and writers – Terry Castle, Garrett Stewart, Michael Wood, John Kerrigan, Elaine Scarry and Elaine Showalter – each of whom nominated two books....The book, which previously won the 2009 National Book Critics Circle Award, is a scholarly volume also aimed at an audience beyond academe....Maria Tatar of Harvard University called the book “a breathtakingly powerful and complex history of children’s literature that energizes rather than depletes.” “Lerer gives us the facts,” Tatar said, “but he also weaves experiences and stories into an account that moves in registers ranging from the ecstatic to the elegiac. An ideal guide for students new to the field of children’s literature as well as for scholars familiar with the territory.”

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

NCSCL Donates Books for SDSU Kids

One of the activities of SDSU's National Center for the Study of Children's Literature (NCSCL) is the "Book Review Service"--an online source for evaluations of children's books and the oldest site of its kind on the internet. Parents, teachers, librarians, and the public at large can go to this website for objective reviews of hundreds and hundreds of books. Have a look:

What happens to all those books after they are reviewed?

For more than a decade, Alida Allison (the Director of the Book Review Service) has donated books to San Diego schools and to non-profit agencies that work with kids. But more than 3000 of those books have gone to a special children's archive on the 4th floor of SDSU's Love Library. This children's collection is open to teachers as well as SDSU parents and students.

On April 13, 2010, NCSCL and Love Library sponsored a special event for SDSU's Children's Center. Dozens of the Center's kids and parents (SDSU students, faculty, and staff) visited the Library and the Children's Collections.
  • Longtime NCSCL friend and former schoolteacher A.K. Jones read "The Runaway Bunny" to the gathered pre-schoolers.
  • Alida Allison invited parents to consult the book reviews that appear on the website of the Book Review Service.
  • And librarian Linda Salem acknowledged the thousands of books the Lbrary has received from NCSCL over the years and invited parents to make use of the collection.

Good work. Lots of fun. Milk and cookies.

See more pictures at:

Monday, April 12, 2010

Make Way for Dim Sum Ducklings

DEAR DIARY:I was looking through the cookbook section at T. J. Maxx while in the city and saw a copy of “ Make Way for Ducklings,” a children’s classic and one of my son’s favorites.I asked a clerk why it was in the cooking section. “Because it tells you how to cook duck,” she said.“No,” I said, “it’s a children’s book.”She answered: “Oh, maybe I’ll buy it for my daughter. She likes to cook.”

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Julie Just on YA's Bad Parents

"Judging from The New York Times children’s best-seller list and librarian-approved selections like the annual “Best Books for Young Adults,” the bad parent is now enjoying something of a heyday...In Neil Gaiman’s novel “Coraline,” from 2002, the lonely title character wanders into danger in a creepy new house because the parents are busy and preoccupied. “Go away,” the father says cheerfully the minute she appears. This theme was made more explicit in the 2009 movie version, in which both parents seem to be transfixed by their computers. “Hey Mom, where does this door go?” Coraline asks, and her mother replies without looking away from the monitor: “I’m really, really busy.” ... A children’s book came out last year that seemed almost magically to bridge the distance between the modern high-achieving household and the old laissez-faire model — appropriately enough, it was a time-travel story: Rebecca Stead’s “When You Reach Me.” The novel became a best seller, and then in January it won the Newbery Medal ..."

Read more in the New York Times Book Review:

Children's Lit to Sell IPad

"Apple's iBooks electronic-book reader application ... may be the most intriguing program available for the iPad because it directly challenges the most popular tablet computer so far, Amazon's Kindle. The free iBooks ships with a copy of A.A. Milne's "Winnie-the-Pooh" that shows a big iPad advantage compared with the color-deprived Kindle: the ability to display the book's artwork."

"Among the many children's literature apps launching with the iPad are ICDL for iPad, which links to a library of children's literature in 54 languages, and A Story Before Bed, a service that allows users to record themseves reading a book for play back any time..."

See also Willy Wonka and AT&T:
See also AOL News:

Friday, April 2, 2010

On the death of Sid Flieschman

"The well known children's writer Sid Fleischman was a graduate of San Diego State University, where I teach, and we met on one of his return visits..."

Jerry Griswold on the death of Sid Flieschman. More at Parents' Choice:

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Illustrations Exhibit at the Huntington (until July 26)

Thanks to Tamra Pica for pointing this out....

Child's Play? Children's Book Illustration of 19th-Century Britain
April 3–July 26, 2010Huntington Art Gallery, Works on Paper RoomIn the 19th century—with the work of Brothers Grimm, Hans Christian Andersen, Lewis Carroll, and others—children’s fairy tales and nursery rhymes began to be widely published, documenting what was originally a rich oral tradition across western cultures. In Britain, such publications were enlivened by the work of some of the most talented artists and illustrators of the period, including Walter Crane (1845–1915), Arthur Rackham (1867–1939), and Kate Greenaway (1846–1901). Drawing on the collections of The Huntington’s art and literary collections, “Child’s Play?” includes a selection of rare drawings as well as the books themselves. Although beguiling, some of the stories and their illustrations represent the often complicated layering of the joys and fears related to childhood and child rearing.

April 1, April's Fools

"Laughter is certainly one of the pleasures evoked when parents read to their offspring about the moronic behavior of the Stupids in the series of picture books written by James Allard and illustrated by James Marshall. In the first of these (The Stupids Step Out), the Stupid family readies for their day’s travels by assembling at the bottom of the stairs and then mounting the bannister (they are stunned when they can’t slide up); they then join in the bathtub (but do not add water since this would get their clothes wet). As both the pictures and other incidents suggest, these characters are genuinely stupid; and stories like these offer a zany liberation from the humdrum of everyday behavior and logic.

"Stupidity, however, can be a kind of wisdom in the folk tradition where the fool figure often has a conspicuous place. Among the best of these may be Nasrudin, the legendary wise fool of the Muslim tradition, whose stories have been collected in various books by Idries Shah. There is, for example, the story about the time Nasrudin opened a lecture agency and was asked by a group of people to send a wit to entertain them. Unable to quite accommodate their request, Nasrudin sent, instead, two half-wits. . .