31 May 2008
One of the trickiest questions I often get at work is, "Which is the first Narnia book?" It's a tricky question because there is a correct answer--The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe--but it is being undermined by the insistence in recent years of publishing them in chronological order within the narrative, rather than as originally released; hence, starting with The Magician's Nephew, whose action predates that in "Lion", Prince Caspian, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, The Silver Chair, and The Horse and his Boy. I'm not sure who came up with this idea--I have even seen it floated somewhere that it was Lewis' wish to re release them so. But in this age of prequels, alternate endings, and companion volumes, I find it difficult to believe that today's savvy young readers would be confused by reading a history of Narnia's inception after they have already read the previous five books. So, when some poor, unsuspecting soul asks me which is the first Narnia book, I give them the spiel about the debate.....and then hand them whichever of the two is actually on the shelf (mustn't send them away empty handed.) The release of "Lion" in the theatre has helped to reassert it's position as the lead-off title. And now, The Horn Book, the children's literature Bible, has taken its stance on the issue. How nice to be right ^_^
Of course, the second part of this issue is: "What?! You mean you don't intrinsically know all of the Narnia books by heart? They're not etched on your soul?!" That incites the same feeling of being flabbergasted as when someone asks me for a recommendation for a 2nd-4th grader, and they answer the statement, "Well, I'll assume you have already read Charlotte's Web," with, "No."
How is that possible?!
Has there ever been a book responsible for so many lawsuits?! If the book isn't being banned or causing some sort of copyright ruckus, now it is supposedly getting people suspended. Weird. I wonder how many copies of the books have been sold through controversy alone.
14 May 2008
The Guardian reports the Children's Laureate (UK) Michael Rosen is on a mission to find the funniest children's book. Is this to replace the now defunct Smarties Prize? The prize will be awarded in two categories: books for children 6 and younger and books for children 7 to 14. I will start the nominations with Gorgonzola: A Very Stinkysaurus by Margie Palatini and Tim Bowers (illus) for the 6 and under crowd. For older readers I will nominate Jasper Dash and the Flame-Pits of Delaware by M.T. Anderson. Okay, so I've not even read it yet--not due for release until July--but his other Thrilling Tales have been absolute screams, and I have great faith for this title, too. I reckon Jeff Kinney stands to do well from this prize. I'm sure they are reading Diary of a Wimpy Kid in England, too.
12 May 2008
Hurrah! My prayers have been answered! A Random House Summer Catalog was in my inbox this morning, and on page two was the announcement and brand new ISBN number for a reissued edition of John Burningham's outstanding John Patrick Norman McHennessy--the boy who was always late. This has been on my "Lost Treasures" list since the early days of this blog. I take no credit for it's reissue, only immense pleasure that someone in a position to bring it back did so.
I hope it has been left as originally published and not revised to meet modern day sensibilities. I'm thinking of the bit where the disbelieving teacher threatens to thrash JPNM for telling lies. Children today need not fear corporal punishment, and I suspect that when the book was originally written in 1987 there really wasn't much danger of it then either. But you never know how far the bubble-wrapping of children will go. The revising of books is an ongoing controversy in Children's Literature, from Tintin in the Congo to whether or not editions of Good Night Moon should feature a picture of illustrator Clement Hurd holding a cigarette.
10 May 2008
After reading in Publisher's Weekly about the success of foreign language translations of Jeff Kinney's Diary of a Wimpy Kid, I had a look on the net for some of them. How kind of Chad Beckerman of Mishaps and Adventures--he has a lovely collection of cover images at his website.
I had hoped the Maximum Ride books were flying off our YA shelves because they were being read by YA readers. I suppose, in the bigger picture, a circ is just a circ, and that's a good thing. But I still feel cheated by a nefarious marketing ploy. I've been irritated by this before.