Fantasy, Science Fiction, and Children’s Literature at the National Book Awards

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 Woodson, who won for “Brown Girl Dreaming,” her memoir in verse of growing up African-American in the nineteen-sixties and seventies, said, “It’s so important that we talk to our old people before they become ancestors, and get their stories.” 

I have framed those words and placed them above my desk while I work on Annotated African American Folktales.

And here’s Ursula LeGuin…

I was a fan of Lemony Snicket until I watched this:…


The Grimms Straight Up

The Guardian reviews Jack Zipes’s translation of the first edition of the Grimms’ fairy tales and folktales.…

The original stories, according to the academic, are closer to the oral tradition, as well as being “more brusque, dynamic, and scintillating”. In his introduction to The Original Folk and Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm, in which Marina Warner says he has “redrawn the map we thought we knew”, and made the Grimms’ tales “wonderfully strange again”, Zipes writes that the originals “retain the pungent and naive flavour of the oral tradition”, and that they are “stunning narratives precisely because they are so blunt and unpretentious”, with the Grimms yet to add their “sentimental Christianity and puritanical ideology”.

But they are still, he believes, suitable bedtime stories. “It is time for parents and publishers to stop dumbing down the Grimms’ tales for children,” Zipes told the Guardian. The Grimms, he added, “believed that these tales emanated naturally from the people, and the tales can be enjoyed by both adults and children. If there is anything offensive, readers can decide what to read for themselves. We do not need puritanical censors to tell us what is good or bad for us.”


The Grolier Club Hosts 100




Powerful narrative, unforgettable characters, illustrations that stir the imagination, and insights that engage the mind and heart—literature for children is forged from the same enduring elements as literature for adults.  Children’s books with these qualities often shine for generations, with some achieving landmark fame.  A few such books ultimately go on to enter the canon of classics of children’s literature

The Grolier Club’s milestone public exhibition, One Hundred Books Famous in Children’s Literature, showcases one hundred books of this caliber, printed from 1600 to 2000.  On view from December 10, 2014 through February 7, 2015, the show includes such beloved books as Robinson Crusoe, Grimm’s Fairy Tales, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Tom Sawyer, Treasure Island, Peter Rabbit, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, Peter Pan, Winnie-the-Pooh, Charlotte’s Web, The Cat in the Hat, Where the Wild Things Are, and Harry Potter.  These classics and others—many famous today, some only in their time—will bring smiles of enjoyment to adults and children alike.

A Colloquium, “Journeys Through Bookland: Explorations in Children’s Literature,” takes place Tuesday, January 20, 2015 from 1-5 pm, with a cocktail reception to follow. This colloquium brings together six international children’s literary experts who will lead participants through highlights in the history, present, and future of the book for children. Please contact the Grolier Club to register for the colloquium.…



Childhood Treasures: The Role of Illustration in Children’s Literature

Sterling Hundley Treasure Island

                                                                   Here’s the announcement for the Boston Book Festival’s forum event!



Harvard professor and folklore expert Maria Tatar and Sterling Hundley, illustrator of The Folio Society’s new edition of Treasure Island, explore the role visual imagery plays in how we read children’s literature. How can illustrations help us navigate the pleasures and perils of literary worlds? What challenges do artists face in reinventing classic stories, and how do they animate other worlds, unsettling readers and surprising them? Johanna Geary, managing editor at The Folio Society, will moderate this discussion. Sponsored by The Folio Society.

Siri and Other Sidekicks


19JPSIRI-blog427Here’s Judith Newman on the friendship that has developed between Siri and her autistic son, Gus.

It’s not that Gus doesn’t understand Siri’s not human. He does — intellectually. But like many autistic people I know, Gus feels that inanimate objects, while maybe not possessing souls, are worthy of our consideration. I realized this when he was 8, and I got him an iPod for his birthday. He listened to it only at home, with one exception. It always came with us on our visits to the Apple Store. Finally, I asked why. “So it can visit its friends,” he said.…

The developers of intelligent assistants recognize their uses to those with speech and communication problems — and some are thinking of new ways the assistants can help. According to the folks at SRI International, the research and development company where Siri began before Apple bought the technology, the next generation of virtual assistants will not just retrieve information — they will also be able to carry on more complex conversations about a person’s area of interest. “Your son will be able to proactively get information about whatever he’s interested in without asking for it, because the assistant will anticipate what he likes,” said William Mark, vice president for information and computing sciences at SRI.

Audacious Kids: Now Even More Audacious

CoFC9781421414577ngratulations to Jerry Griswold on the revised edition of Audacious Kids: The Classic American Children’s Story.  Here’s what the New York Times wrote when it was first published:

“Lucid and persuasively argued.  Indeed he manages that difficult thing in writing about children’s literature.  He manages to provide the reader with an interesting new intellectual angle on these books, without condescending to his material or diminishing its elusive and potent magic.”

The publication of the volume is particularly relevant at a time when we hear howls of despair about the rise of YA literature and register deep anxieties in the media about adults reading books about children or (gasp!) for children.  Here’s an excerpt from Griswold’s new preface:

In the afterword [to Audacious Kids], I considered phenomena appearing in the late 1980s and early 1990s and predicted the rise of a second Golden Age of children’s books akin to the first Golden Age described in this study.  I foresaw the return of times when children’s and adult publishing would merge, when juvenile books would head the bestseller lists, when the interests of kids would take the main stage, and when divisions between old and young would begin to dissolve in shared cultural interests.

Peter Pan Prequel from Warner Brothers


Before either of those films arrives in theaters, Warner’s movie team plans to fill the pipeline with updated perennials like “Tarzan” and “Pan,” about Peter Pan. Directed by Joe Wright, who is known for sophisticated dramas like “Anna Karenina” and “Atonement,” “Pan,” set for next July, is supposed to take viewers where Peter Pan films from Disney, Universal and Sony never went.

Even its Hook, played by Garrett Hedlund, is more intriguing — in theory, at least, as the film has not yet been screened for executives — than almost anything in Warner’s recent summer. “We think of him like a Han Solo,” Ms. Kroll said.

And more from Deadline Hollywood:

Principal photography will begin April 28 on Warner Bros Pictures’ live-action Peter Panfeature from director Joe Wright. A revisionist version of the J.M. Barrie tale, Pan follows the story of an orphan who is spirited away to the magical Neverland. There, he finds both fun and dangers, and ultimately discovers his destiny — to become the hero who will be forever known as Peter Pan.

Amanda Seyfried is the latest to be set to play Mary in the cast, which sees Hugh Jackman star as Blackbeard; Garrett Hedlund is Hook; Rooney Mara is Tiger Lily; Adeel Akhtar is Smee; and newcomer Levi Miller is Peter.In addition Jack Charles plays The Chief/Tiger Lily’s father; Taejoo Na is Kwahu; Nonso Anozie is Bishop; Kathy Burke is Mother Barnabas; Kurt Egyiawan is Murray; Lewis MacDougall is Nibs; and newcomer Leni Zieglmeier is Wendy Darling. Jason Fuchs wrote the script, and Greg Berlanti, Paul Webster and Sarah Schechter are producing, with Tim Lewis serving as executive producer.

Filming will take place at Warner Bros Studios Leavesden. The film is set for a worldwide release on July 17, 2015.