Well, well, well. It has been a spell since I posted something, hasn’t it? I apologize. For someone who had optimistic plans to put up a post every five days when this blog started, I have fallen WAY off the pace.
Anyway, my blogging mojo has begun to percolate again, so I am going to jump back into it by sharing some curious and fun links I’ve run across in recent days.
- Boing Boing shares a fascinating story from Lapham’s Quarterly about the mysterious disappearance of Barbara Newhall Follett. She was a literary phenom who in 1927 published The House Without Windows at the age of 12. She disappeared without a trace at the age of 25 and exactly what happened to her remains a mystery to this day. There were a couple of places in the article that raised my eyebrows. The first was that Anne Carroll Moore, head librarian of the New York Public Library’s Children’s Room (and subject of a charming biography, Miss Moore Thought Otherwise, in 2013), took a cautionary stance towards young Barbara’s achievement:
“I can conceive of no greater handicap for the writer between the ages of nineteen and thirty-nine,” thundered Anne Carroll Moore in the New York Herald Tribune, “than to have published a successful book between the age of nine and twelve.”
The second is the writing of Barbara herself. It is luminous, disciplined, and doesn’t pull punches. At a young and tender age, she could write something like this which has the power to resonate with the most jaded New Yorkers amongst us today…
“Not even a cat was out. The rain surged down with a steady drone. It meant to harm New York and everyone there. The gutters could not contain it. Long ago they had despaired of the job and surrendered. But the rain paid no attention to them…New York people never lived in houses or even in burrows. They inhabited cells in stone cliffs. They timed the cooking of their eggs by the nearest traffic light. If the light went wrong, so did the eggs…
“I don’t like civilization,” she said, to the rain.”
I live in a studio apartment in Brooklyn, I time heating up dinner to when the next episode of Law & Order begins. GET OUT OF MY HEAD, 12-YEAR OLD CHILD WRITING 88 YEARS AGO!!
Anyhow, The House Without Windows is long out of print, but you can download e-book versions here for free.
- I went on a bit of a Ludwig Bemelmans kick during the Summer of 2014. I read through both Viking’s A Madeline Treasury when it showed up at my branch, and then I put Bemelmens’ charming Hotel Splendide on hold. Then, on a late afternoon in August I found myself on the Upper East Side, walking past the Hotel Carlyle with lots of time to kill. So I stopped in at Bemelmens Bar, bought myself a $19 G & T, chatted with some tourists and the bartender, and took pictures of Bemelmens’ original artwork throughout the bar. It was a lovely outing, well worth $19…
Where am I going with this? Well my summer Bemel-mania was brought back to me a few days ago by an article published by WBUR in Boston, How a Jilted Mom, a Former Nun and a Shattered Childhood Inspired ‘Madeline’. In it we are introduced to how a variety of influences from Bemelmens’ past life and current circumstances combined to form the Madeline we know and cheer for to this day. Thanks to Waking Brain Cells for the link.
- Another link from Boing Boing. Take a look at Twitter feed Dystopian YA Novel (@DystopianYA), which is feeding out one tweet at a time a heavily clichéd novel that strikes me as a mashup of The Hunger Games and Scott Westerfield’s Uglies series…
I am a tennis player and I generally contend that tennis is the best game ever created (because it is). However, if there is one area where tennis MAY be lacking is that we don’t employ kickass nicknames like they use in roller derby. All you bookish types with a penchant for hitting hard need to scan through Book Riot’s 39 Killer Literary Roller Derby Names. I’m partial to Mary Choppins, Pippi Longstompings, or Give ’em Hell Vetica. They make me want to head to the court to pound the fuzz off of some tennis balls.
- The Crafty Crow, a terrific site which labels itself as a ‘children’s craft collective’ has taught me a couple of things in recent days. The first is that the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art has its own blog of arts and craft ideas, Making Art with Children. There are lots of great ideas here! The second thing I learned via the Crafty Crow was that Netflix streams a number of Weston Woods videos of well-known picture books. Huh. Who knew?
- For my final link, please allow me to lay some props on my employer. It is Black History Month and on our website we have some swell resources for families with children in preschool and the early elementary grades about African American inventors and scientists. There are book suggestions, talking points, and games, crafts and activities to do at home on Garrett Morgan, Madame C.J. Walker, George Washington Carver, and Mae Jemison. They did a fantastic job of helping parents and caregivers make these figures accessible and engaging to their young children. I gave a bunch of handouts to the head of a local Universal Pre-K and she was so pleased, she hugged me. It’s an early literacy and STEM win for the Brooklyn Public Library!
I’m happy to be back, y’all! I already have a couple of new posts in their formative stages, so you’ll be hearing from me again soon…probably not in five days, but soon. Thank you for reading!