Showing posts from February, 2008

Fantasies and other random amusements

Next fall, I'll be teaching a course on Fantasy Books and Media for Youth. This means that I am trying out lots of recent fantasies to see what I want to teach. Of course, I'm also thinking about the children's lit and young adult lit classes at GSLIS and doing my best to avoid overlap in specific books if not specific authors. I'm already amassing a long list of 25+ books I want to teach, and sometime soon I'll have to fine-tune it as I turn in my texts for fall. The Imp That Ate My Homework by Laurence Yep I'm searching for two things that I hoped to find in this book, fantasies for younger readers and fantasies that representing something other than a purely Western set of imagery or magical elements. Lewis and L'Engle have pretty much covered the Christian fantasy approach, and many other books by White writers either consciously or unconsciously base their books on Arthurian legends or other European myths and legends. Yep brings a great perspecti

Preschool to the Rescue!

Yesterday I gave a talk to 60 preschool teachers in Danville, and it was a fabulous event. I was their last speaker of the day, which suited me just fine since I had some interactive components planned and I always enjoy the challenge of firing up an audience. I brought them books that I knew they could use as read-alouds in their preschool classrooms, and tied it to the very concrete things that children are interested in, such as animals, food, trucks, dinosaurs, big things and small things and differences in size... actually, that last idea deserves some expansion and explanation, and maybe even a paper. We talked about humor for preschoolers, and especially the kind where it's funny because the kid knows better than the book. For instance, many books use the trope of having an animal make the wrong noises, and preschoolers love this because they know it's wrong, so it's both funny and empowering. It felt so extraordinarily practical and meaningful to be back in fron

Newbery Honors are Okay.

Yeah, just okay. Not bad at all, but not the best ever either. It all depends on the year, I suppose... Elijah of Buxton by Christopher Paul Curtis The setting, a free village in Canada populated by former slaves who have escaped from America, is extraordinary. Curtis must have researched the dickens out of this location and these free Canadian communities. Protagonist Elijah was born into freedom, which makes him an unusually naive character when he comes to interface with the wider world. This takes 3/4 of the book to happen, however, and though it's a nice meander, the page count is mighty high by the time the main action of the plot ensues. Still, Curtis takes on the topic of slavery like no one yet has in children's literature, and his naive protagonist is the perfect character to have encounter the brutality of slavery. And it is brutal, to the tune of brief nightmare-inducing images of a man who was tortured, mutilated in a way that I wish I could get out of my