J. K. Rowling Just Can’t Let Harry Potter Go [The New York Times] J. K. Rowling always said that the seventh Harry Potter book, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows,” would be the last in the series, and so far she has kept to her word. But though she’s written many new things in the intervening nine years, including four adult novels, she’s never been able to put Harry to rest, or to leave him alone. [more inside]
Out with bourgeois crocodiles! How the Soviets rewrote children's books (Guardian). A new exhibition, A New Childhood: Picture Books from Soviet Russia, will be at the House of Illustration. [more inside]
Russian Purge Part 1: Putin Doesn't Need to Censor Books. Publishers Do It For Him. by Masha Gessen [The Intercept_] [more inside]
Why the British Tell Better Children’s Stories by Colleen Gillard [The Atlantic] Their history informs fantastical myths and legends, while American tales tend to focus on moral realism.
If Harry Potter and Huckleberry Finn were each to represent British versus American children’s literature, a curious dynamic would emerge: In a literary duel for the hearts and minds of children, one is a wizard-in-training at a boarding school in the Scottish Highlands, while the other is a barefoot boy drifting down the Mississippi, beset by con artists, slave hunters, and thieves. One defeats evil with a wand, the other takes to a raft to right a social wrong. Both orphans took over the world of English-language children’s literature, but their stories unfold in noticeably different ways.
In 1963 Tove Jansson wrote and illustrated a letter from Santa Claus for the Finnish post office, which was inundated with letters to Santa. It has now been scanned and posted by the Moomin company on its blog as part of its regular series of letters from Tove Jansson.
The Velveteen Rabbit read by Meryl Streep (24 min. 39 secs.); a shorter, more official source of the video is at Meryl Streep Info blog, with promotional material. Online edition of the 1922 book by Margery Williams, complete with original illustrations by William Nicholson, at the Digital Library at UPenn. [more inside]
"London has become a literary playground: a project by the National Literacy Trust has scattered 50 book-shaped benches across the capital for the whole summer, each dedicated to an iconic London-related author or character." (The Guardian). The BBC report about the literary benches; the full list of benches from the Books about Town website. CNN has a slideshow that includes a nice photo of the Paddington Bear bench in use.
Walter Dean Myers, a best-selling and deeply respected children's author and tireless champion of literacy and education, died on July 1, 2014, following a brief illness. He was 76 years old. [more inside]
Gender-specific books demean all our children. So the Independent on Sunday will no longer review anything marketed to exclude either sex [more inside]
Today is, of course, December 31st, the new year's eve. And tomorrow will be December 32nd, the day after — December 33rd, and so on, until someone brings me a basket of blooming snowdrops. [more inside]
"People don't like their beloved childhood memories messed with, and when you adapt a classic like Wrinkle, that's what you're doing." An interview with Hope Larson, whose graphic novel adaptation of Madeleine L’Engle’s "A Wrinkle in Time" was released earlier this month. More: "How 'A Wrinkle in Time' Was Made Into a Graphic Novel." Even more (with lots of images): "‘A Wrinkle in Time: The Graphic Novel’: Hope Larson inks a classic."
Children's author Judy Blume writes about her struggle with breast cancer: "As I've told my friends who've also been treated for breast cancer, I've joined The Club - not one I wanted to join or even thought I would ever be joining - but here I am."
Nina Bawden, writer of novels for adults and children, born in 1925, died on 22nd August 2012. “As a child, Nina said, she had felt wicked because the children in the books she read were all so good, and she was one of the first writers for children to create characters who could be jealous, selfish and bad-tempered” (Guardian obituary). [more inside]
The Renowned History of Little Goody Two-Shoes. Commonly called, Old Goody Two-Shoes. (No mention of drinking or smoking.)
The term is common enough: Goody Two-Shoes, one who is possibly too good and too nice (Google books). But the original children's tale is worth a read, if nothing else to appreciate the hard life of the original (fictional) little Goody Two-Shoes. Here is a facsimile reproduction of the 1766 edition, with an introduction giving some account of the book and some speculations as to it's authorship (Google books scan of an 1882 publication). More versions and tangents inside. [more inside]
Oz and Ends is a blog about fantasy literature for kids. My favourite part of the site is the "Weekly Robin" feature, which muses on the well-known kid sidekick(s), from storytelling props and costume design to origins and possible futures.
Discover the charming children's literature of Thornton W. Burgess, author and naturalist, whose books embodied the Naturalist / Conservationist movement of the first half of the 20th century. His works are available through Project Gutenberg, The Literature Network (excellent biography on main page, navigate to books on the left sidebar (and within books also on the left sidebar)), and even several free audio book downloads through LibriVox. [more inside]
Mr. Hargreaves takes us on a Jungian journey to the integrated self. A series of entertaining Amazon reviews written by Hamilton Richardson for the Mr. Men classic library.
Martin Amis hates children, ok, not children but children's literature. "People ask me if I ever thought of writing a children's book," Amis said, in a sideways excursion from a chat about John Self, the antihero of his 1984 novel Money. "I say, 'If I had a serious brain injury I might well write a children's book', but otherwise the idea of being conscious of who you're directing the story to is anathema to me, because, in my view, fiction is freedom and any restraints on that are intolerable." Remarks about children's books made by Martin Amis on the BBC's new book programme Faulks on Fiction, broadcast this week, have caused anger and offence among children's writers.
Brian Jacques, author of many children's books about heroic small furry creatures, has died. Jacques, who grew up in Liverpool, England, was 71. [more inside]
The children's book illustrators archive. Czeschka - Die Nibelungen; Nielsen - Hansel and Gretel; Goble - Japanese Fairy Tales; Dulac - Arabian Nights; Pavlishin - Folktales of the Amur; Finlay - The Ship of Ishtar; Detmold - The Arabian Nights; Crane - Flora Feast; Kirin - Croatian Tales of Long Ago; Clarke - Poe's Tales of Mystery and Imagination; Collard - British Fairy Tales, and; more Rackham in the gallery then you can shake a pen at.
You Wouldn't Want To Be ... an Eqyptian Mummy, a Slave in Ancient Greece, or even an Aztec Sacrifice ... would you? The "You Wouldn't Want To" series of children's educational books is written by various experts and viscerally illustrated by David Antram. Conveniently enough, "You Wouldn't" contributor and former Cambridge professor Fiona Macdonald has also written a series of "How To Be" books. (via JessicaHarbour)
"It was really a tragedy waiting to happen...It might have been more appropriate to scoop and run to the emergency department. Orthopedic surgeons would have perhaps have had a better chance of putting Humpty Dumpty back together again." - Sarah M. Giles, co-author of Head injuries in nursery rhymes: evidence of a dangerous subtext in children's literature (appears in the latest Canadian Medical Association Journal).
Children's Books Online: The Rosetta Project is an incredible online resource for 19th century children's books. From the site: "The Rosetta Project's collections currently contain about 2,000 antique children's books which were published in the 19th and early 20th century. We shall be putting these combined collections on line as funding permits. Our current goal of putting 2,000 volumes on line will create an online library of aproximately 65,000 html pages. However, as we are still collecting books from around the world, we expect the Rosetta Project online library to eventually reach millions of html pages." (via coudal.)