Children’s Books


23 August 2016

From Inquisitr:

Netflix is planning to bring the classic Anne of Green Gables to a new audience with their remake, Anne. Based on the books by Lucy Maud Montgomery, Anne will air next year in an eight-episode, one-hour series.

. . . .

According to Deadline, Netflix’s Anne will “honor the foundation of the book, but will incorporate new adventures reflecting themes of identity, sexism, bullying, prejudice, and trusting one’s self.”

Anne is a collaboration between Netflix and CBC. Award-winning director Niki Caro (Whale Rider, McFarland USA, Zookeeper’s Wife) has signed on to direct the two-hour premiere episode of Anne. Three-time Emmy Award and Golden Globe winner Moira Walley-Beckett (Breaking Bad, Flesh & Bone), is tasked with writing the entire first season of the series. It will be produced by Miranda de Pencier (Beginners, Thanks For Sharing) under her Northwood Entertainment banner. That means Anne will be brought to life on Netflix by an all-female powerhouse trio, something fans of the original books should be excited about.

. . . .

“Anne Shirley is one of Canada’s greatest gifts to the world, known and loved internationally, so we’re thrilled to be working with the CBC and Northwood to bring this charismatic character to both new and old fans around the world.” Bradley said in the press release from Netflix.

Link to the rest at Inquisitr and thanks to Julia for the tip.

Indie Booksellers: Book Clubs Are for Children Too

22 August 2016

From Publishers Weekly:

Most of the five million Americans whom the New York Times recently estimated as belonging to at least one book club are adults wishing to mix reading with socializing. While book clubs are not as prevalent among children and teens, who have to contend during the school year with classes, homework, and after-school activities, and then summer’s outdoor distractions, a number of bookstores around the country have launched book clubs for young customers – with varying degrees of success.

Some readers, according to Lisa Baudoin at Books & Company in Oconomowoc, Wis., need “a social aspect” to their reading, which book clubs provide. “It’s especially important for kids,” she added. The store hosts an in-store group for middle grade students and teens, in which the members read the galleys of their choice provided by the store and then discuss them. The store also partners with a school librarian who distributes six copies of a galley at the end of the school year to rising fourth-graders and sets dates during the summer to meet to discuss it. There are eight children as well as teachers and librarians in the group, called the Meadow View Book Club.

. . . .

“It’s heavy on the boys,” Baudoin noted about the club members, ascribing that to the personality and efforts of the librarian who moderates the group. But, she wonders, “Why do we have them when they’re younger and lose them when they’re older?”

It’s a sentiment echoed by Clarissa Murphy, a bookseller at Brookline Booksmith in Brookline, Mass., who spoke to PW about a book club of boys moderated for several years by one of her bookselling colleagues that is now in hiatus: its members ranged in age from eight to 12 years old. “Then they turned 13,” she said, “And they were interested in other things.”

In contrast, Holly Myers, a buyer at Elliott Bay Bookstore in Seattle, says that the club she moderates for customers in grades six up to 12 has been doing well for the past two years with no signs of a loss of interest in its membership. Its dozen or so members are primarily female, though; they meet monthly to discuss the book of their choice. Many of them also have their own blogs, upon which they post reviews of the books they read.

Link to the rest at Publishers Weekly

We’ve Stopped Translating Children’s Books Into English. Where Will We Get the Next Tintin?

19 August 2016

From Slate:

This is a story about Moomins. I just love Moomins. I always have.

But perhaps you have no clue what I’m talking about? Moomins were important in my childhood, but I know that many people grew up without them. (Though, as is so often the way with childhood reading, I can’t imagine how.) Moomins feature in one of my favorite series of books, created in the ’40s by a genius called Tove Jansson, and they are funny. They’re trippy, and dreamy, sometimes melancholy and often wise. They’re also Finnish.

I shall return to the Moomins shortly. Because meanwhile, in another part of the forest, a small Gaulish village is still holding out against the invaders. A warrior calledAstérix, his friend Obelix, the druid Panoramix, the dog Idéfix … they’re funny, too. (And punny.) Yes, Astérix was another favorite of mine. As were Pippi Longstocking,Tintin, Pinocchio, various books of fairy tales … and possibly The Little Prince? But yeah, mostly Asterix. Or rather “Astérix,” with the accent—if we’re going to be properly French about it.

When I call it “Astérix” rather than “Asterix” it’s not an affectation. It’s an attempt to draw a distinction between Astérix, and Asterix, just as I might distinguish betweenThe Little Prince and Le Petit Prince. They’re the same, and not the same.

Because what I really read, growing up in London, was Asterix, not Astérix. I read The Little Prince—not Le Petit Prince—and I read English Finnish Moomins and English German fairy tales and Danish fairy tales and French fairy tales. All of them, as far as I knew, great landmarks in English children’s literature, sitting comfortably alongsideWinnie-the-Pooh and Maurice Sendak, Roald Dahl and Eric Carle and Alice. I didn’t know, I think, what translation was. I didn’t know that the Asterix jokes that made me laugh were by a brilliant woman called Anthea Bell. You may know that the words to the original Tintin were written by his Belgian illustrator, Hergé—but who wrote the English Tintin? If you once read The Little Prince rather than Le Petit Prince, to whom are you indebted for those words?

. . . .

What we read defines our horizons. As a child I had no idea that Asterix was translated but Little Women wasn’t, that Ursula Le Guin wrote in English but Pippi Longstocking needed a second writer to make her exploits readable by the likes of me. I didn’t know, or care. I knew, however, that with every new book I loved I was discovering a new way for a story to be funny, or to be exciting, or to make me wonder. These translated books—just like their English-language cousins—were just more worlds of experience. They were story and characters and voice, and the questions they asked and the pictures they painted and the emotions they stirred in a reader.

. . . .

Last year I published a reference book, The Oxford Companion to Children’s Literature. When I set out, I knew I wanted to talk about a whole world of children’s books. But it turns out that most of the whole world is hard to find nowadays. I included entries on those foreign books that enriched the old canon: The Little Prince, Astrid Lindgren, the Brothers Grimm, and all the rest. They made us readers, these books—they made a lot of us writers, too. But they came to English 40, 60, 100 years ago—where’s all the stuff that’s happened since?

I recently went to a major London bookshop, a good one, and did some counting. I found 2,047 children’s books, of which 2,018 were by English-language writers and 29 were translations. Of those 29, the number of living writers represented was … 6.

Is this because nobody else in the world is writing anything for children worth reading? Well, even if you argue that the Anglophone world is atypical for the number and quality and—by some metrics—the variety of its children’s books, still it seems improbable. Six point seven billion people in the world whose first language isn’t English, and none of them are writing good children’s books? Nobody but us—however you choose to define that problematic “us”—has a story worth telling?

How many languages are now spoken in homes and schools in New York, say, or London? But where do kids in those cities go to find the brilliant new stories by Polish or Colombian or Syrian or Turkish or Chinese children’s writers? These writers exist, I can assure you.

. . . .

[S]omething happens between those native French and German and Brazilian books and the British and American markets—or rather, doesn’t happen. The channels through which we were first brought Tintin and Asterix and those Moomins, those German and Danish fairy tales, The Little Prince, are all but closed. Where, then, will we find the Moomins of tomorrow?

Link to the rest at Slate and thanks to Matthew for the tip.

Airline buys 2,000 copies of self-published bedtime story for night flights

6 August 2016

From The Guardian:

A father who tried self-publishing the bedtime story he made up for his daughters has landed a surprise order of 2,000 copies from Virgin Atlantic to help children sleep on night flights.

Stephen Holmes, who works in data management, has been telling his daughters Madison and Ella a tale about two children who go on a magical balloon ride for years. Madison, who is now seven, finally convinced him to publish it earlier this year. They found an illustrator, Kev Payne, online, and Holmes ordered a print run of 1,000 copies of The Great Hot Air Balloon Adventure, thinking he would sell the book to family and friends, and at local fairs and fetes.

Holmes has now sold around half of that number, but after he decided to “try his luck” and send the book to Virgin Atlantic, he was shocked to discover that the company loved it, and ordered 2,000 copies to give away on night flights.

Link to the rest at The Guardian

Harry Potter & Cursed Child Sold 2M Copies in 2 Days

4 August 2016

From GalleyCat:

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Parts One and Two sold more than 2 million copies in two days in North America alone.

The eighth Harry Potter story is a script for a theatrical production written by J.K. Rowling along with John Tiffany and Jack Thorne. To put these sales figures in perspective, this is more than a book script has ever sold. The first printing included 4.5 million copies.

Link to the rest at GalleyCat

The Hidden Adult Themes in Beatrix Potter

28 July 2016


From The BBC:

“Your father had an accident there; he was put in a pie by Mrs McGregor.”

Old Mrs Rabbit’s frightful warning to her children Flopsy, Mopsy, Cotton-tail and Peter appears on the opening page of Beatrix Potter’s first book, The Tale of Peter Rabbit. Aside from featuring perhaps the most dramatic use of a semicolon in children’s literature, it sets the tone for her work from the start: that horrors abound in a world of Darwinian struggle, but that these must be faced calmly. Your parents, and perhaps your children, may be devoured by a vengeful property owner, or sold for tobacco; you may have your tail ripped off by an angry owl; an invading rat might tie you up in string and include you as the key ingredient in a pudding. But life goes on – disappointments must be faced and tragedies overcome.

. . . .

Potter’s tales have been consistently popular with adults, as well as children, since The Tale of Peter Rabbit was published in 1902 when she was 36 years old. This is not just because they feature adorable creatures in harrowing situations; her talking-animal stories also comment on the era’s class politics, gender roles, economics and domestic life. Did she examine British society through animals because she spent more time with animals than children, aside from her brother Bertram, when she was young? Because she wanted to rebel against the bourgeois values and morals of her wealthy middle class family – which had made its money in the textile industry – but only dared do so through furry surrogates? Because she could only publish children’s stories since her true passion, science, was a career field closed to women in the late 19th Century? Because she had a German tutor who introduced her to the back-to-nature ethos of the Romantics?

. . . .

Commentary on British social relations of the early 20th Century appears everywhere in Potter’s work. Her writing style has a tone of observational detachment, as if she were a journalist profiling these animals. (In The Tale of Ginger and Pickles she writes of the cat Ginger, following his financial bankruptcy, “I do not know what occupation he pursues,” as if she were reporting this story rather than making it up.) She rarely focuses on the very rich, nor the very poor; her characters work for a living. Like Kenneth Grahame’s anthropomorphic animals in The Wind in the Willows, published six years after Peter Rabbit, Potter’s characters have been shaped by the transfer of power in British life from the landed aristocracy to the bourgeoisie, the class from which Potter herself had sprung. “Nearly all of [the stories] are preoccupied with hierarchy and power,” writes Kutzer – and they reflect and embody middle-class values. Industriousness is a cardinal virtue in Potter’s characters – whether it’s the lovable tailor of Gloucester, the domestic goddess Thomasina Tittlemouse, or the squirrels who diligently gather nuts on Owl Island and whose ingenuity the author clearly admires.

Link to the rest at BBC and thanks to J.A. for the tip.


Indie bookshops turn a new page to fight off threat from Amazon

18 July 2016

From The Guardian:

It’s children’s story hour at the Book Nook in Hove and the owner, Vanessa Lewis, is doing a reading of Julia Donaldson’s rhyming picture book The Detective Dog.

“Sniff, sniff, sniff!” cry a gaggle of excited kids, in unison.

The parents sip lattes in a cafe at the back of the shop, while Lewis, a former teacher, bellows theatrically. Tucked away on a quiet street in the south coast town, the Book Nook is indicative of a growing breed of what Lewis describes as “destination” bookshops. People go out of their way to come here. “You can’t just exist as a bookshop nowadays; you have to make it a place where people want to hang out,” she says.

Last year, this small independent store beat national rivals such as Waterstones and Foyles to win children’s bookseller of the year. Battered over recent years bycut-throat competition from Amazon and the supermarkets, and by a huge rise in ebook sales, indie bookstores have had it tough. Now they’re fighting back, boosted by a surge in printed book sales – particularly children’s books – and innovative approaches to getting people through the door.

Figures to be released this month from Nielsen Book Research show that, in the first half of this year, Britons bought more than 78 million books. That’s almost 4 million more than in the same period in 2015. In cash terms, sales are up by more than 9%, the best performance in a decade – and sales of printed books are now growing faster than those of ebooks.

. . . .

Sensing a resurgence, author Betsy Tobin and artist Tessa Shaw took the plunge and opened their bookstore, Ink@84, at the end of last year in Highbury, north London. But it’s a bookshop with a difference. Alongside the fiction and fancy drinks – including craft beers, gourmet coffee and artisan gin – they also screen films and run writing workshops, poetry evenings and children’s painting classes.

. . . .

“We took over what used to be an estate agent, and people in the community practically fell on their knees with gratitude. They couldn’t believe something like this was opening on their doorstep,” says Tobin. They feel part of a renaissance of independent booksellers. Three have opened in this part of London in the past six months.

Link to the rest at The Guardian and thanks to Dave for the tip.

Why kids may learn more from tales of fantasy than realism

29 June 2016

From Aeon:

Children have a lot of learning to do. Arguably, this is the purpose of childhood: to provide children with protected time so that they can focus on learning how to communicate, how the world around them works, what values their culture finds important, and so on. Given the massive amount of information that children need to absorb, it would seem prudent for them to spend as much of this protected time as possible engaged in the serious study of real-world issues and problems.

Yet anyone who has spent time around young children knows that they hardly look like a set of serious, focused scholars. Instead, children spend a lot of their time singing songs, running around, and making a mess – that is, playing. Not only do they take great joy in uncovering the structure of reality through their exploratory play, children (like many adults) also tend to be deeply attracted to unrealistic games and stories. They pretend to have magical, superhero powers, and imagine interactions with impossible beings such as mermaids and dragons.

For a long time, both parents and researchers assumed that these flights of fancy were, at best, harmless episodes of fun – perhaps necessary to let off a little steam now and then, but with no real purpose. At worst, some have argued that these were dangerous distractions from the important task of understanding the real world, or manifestations of an unhealthy confusion about the barrier between reality and fiction. But new work in developmental science shows that not only are children perfectly capable of separating reality from fiction, but also that an attraction to fantastical scenarios might actually be helpful to their learning.

. . . .

A large body of literature in psychology has shown that the more similar the learning context is to the context where the information is eventually going to be applied, the better. This strongly suggests that the realistic books should have helped children learn the meanings of words better and report them more accurately on the post-test. But our study showed exactly the opposite: the fantasy books, the ones that were less similar to reality, allowed children to learn more.

In more recent work, our lab has been replicating the effect. One ongoing study is finding that children learn new facts about animals better from fantastical stories than from realistic ones. Other researchers, using a variety of methods and measures, have shown that representations of seemingly impossible events can help children’s learning. For example, infants are more prepared to accept new information when they are surprised, thus violating their assumptions about the physical world.

What can be going on? Perhaps children are more engaged and attentive when they see events that challenge their understanding of how reality works. After all, the events in these fantastical stories aren’t things that children can see every day. So they might pay more attention, leading them to learn more.

A different, and richer, possibility is that there’s something about fantastical contexts that is particularly helpful for learning. From this perspective, fantastical fiction might do something more than hold children’s interest better than realistic fiction. Rather, immersion in a scenario where they need to think about impossible events might engage children’s deeper processing, precisely because they can’t treat these scenarios as they would every other scenario that they encounter in reality.

Link to the rest at Aeon

Painting Pepette

13 June 2016

War Stories: A Reading List for All Ages

29 May 2016

From BookRiot:

Like many parents, I sometimes struggle with the right words to use when talking to my kids about scary or difficult things. When they were younger, I found it much easier to shield them from whatever troubling story was playing out over those darn TV screens (invariably showing CNN) that are suddenly omnipresent in pizza shops and convenience stores. Now that my son is a new reader, he is suddenly much more tuned into to everything around him, the good and the scary. Waiting in line at the grocery store, he sounds out newspaper headlines: Soo-iii-ciiide boooomm-errrrs,” he says. “Mama, what’s soo-ii-cide?” Just hearing those words in his sweet child’s voice are enough to make my blood pressure rise. Alas, we can only pull the wool over their eyes for so long. Sooner or later, we have to find a way to talk with our kids about the scary, the sad and the difficult.

As a children’s librarian, parent, and bonafide book zealot, I look for books to read that will help both my children and I explore difficult topics like war and other violent conflicts. Books are the ultimate safe space to play out fears and anxieties. Over and over, parents ask me why children’s books are so disturbing and violent, and over and over I say “Do you watch the news? Do you read the internet? So do your kids, whether you realize it or not.”

With Memorial Day approaching, the subject of war will be in the news more often than usual. Documentaries will air on TV and newspapers and magazines will run remembrances. If you are a parent, you might get some questions. Although Memorial Day is an American holiday dedicated to honoring those who have lost their lives in US-fought wars, I have always considered it a day for somber reflection on conflicts everywhere, past and present. The effects of war never quite dissipate in the lives of those affected and the anger, pride, and sadness often trickle down through the generations. To help sort through some of those emotions, and in honor of Memorial Day, I’ve created a reading list with books about war for kids of all ages and their grown ups.

Link to the rest at BookRiot

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