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Maurice Sendak

May 4 2012

Dear Genius

by Patricia D

The very beginning of children’s literature was based on a need for instruction, not just in reading, though of course that was a great thing to achieve, but for turning out a person of high morals and sound character.    Early examples of Good Books for Children are, to my way of thinking, the very best of adults sermonizing.  Even my beloved Louisa May, who gave us Little Men, Jo’s Boys, Eight Cousins and Rose in Bloom (and that other book Little Women) can never stop herself from holding forth on the dangers to a young person’s character that come with reading popular books instead of “sweet, simple, wholesome tales.”  However, dime novels flourished, French novels (le gasp!) were translated into English and children’s publishing moved forward, leapfrogging from sweet and simple to the here and now concepts pushed forward by writers such as Margaret Wise Brown.  From there it gets worse.  Shel Silverstein not only contributed to Playboy but also created witty, adult-undermining poetry and pictures for sly ten year olds.  Maurice Sendak explored the terrifying emotional landscape of a small boy in Where the Wild Things Are (but remember at the end, Max’s dinner was still hot) and drew a naked kid in In the Night Kitchen.   Louise Fitzhugh’s Harriet the Spy was not a “nice” little girl, and M E Kerr and Robert Cormier were downright depressing and sometimes really mean.  Captain Underpants was too much potty humor and in Tamora Pierce’s Song of the Lioness quartet not only does Alanna make a space for herself as a knight in a world that would deny women quite a lot, she also takes three different lovers over the course of the four books.  Clutch the pearls, mama, how can that be?

To trace some of this evolution, including the “invention” of young adult literature, one must read Dear Genius: The Letters of Ursula Nordstrom.  I know, I’ve mentioned her before, as well as Minders of Make-Believe by Leonard Marcus, but truly, this bears repeating.  Nordstrom’s letters to her authors are whip smart, coy, cajoling and have lots of teeth.   She begged for manuscripts from difficult authors, she took chances, sometimes staking her career on something in particular and she made mistakes, which she openly confesses.  You could read it in one setting but I wouldn’t.  Read a few letters at a time and savor them.  She wrote as well as any one of her Dear Geniuses.

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Nov 6 2009

Stir it once, stir it twice

by Lesley B

Just about the last thing I want to do in the summer is fire up the oven, but in cooler weather soup sounds better to me than salad.  There’s always my thrifty Surprise Soup – want the recipe?  Look in the refrigerator, see what’s left over, add chicken broth and if it’s good, surprise! Occasionally I want to make soup that’s a little more, ah, planned. Looking in our catalog for ideas, I found:

Love SoupLove Soup: 160 all-new vegetarian recipes from the author of The Vegetarian Epicure

A collection of soup recipes, many vegan, from a renowned vegetarian cook. According to the reviews, it includes a pickle soup recipe. I’m not sure I want to eat that but I do want to read the recipe.

exaltation soupAn exaltation of soups: the soul-satisfying story of soup, as told in more than 100 recipes

This book comes from a fascinating blog (formerly a website) called SoupSong. Patricia Solley has been writing about soup online for more than 10 years, mixing soup history and local culture in with the recipes. Want to make a soup that’s a little out of the ordinary? Try Yemen’s saltah or a Turkish balik corbasi.

Closer to home, you could head to Buckhead to eat at Souper Jenny, recently featured in the AJC . The article includes some of Jenny Levison’s recipes and we’ve got her cookbook at the Library.

And while you stir, you can sing:

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Aug 19 2009

Wild Things

by Nancy M

wherethewildthingsare_l200904071204While the movie adaptation of Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are is not due to be released for another two months, there are plenty of Wild related things to keep our anticipation at bay and ensure that we will be ready to experience Spike Jonze’s movie to its fullest. If it has been awhile since you’ve read Sendak’s 1964 Caldecott winning book, you can check it out at the Library which has copies in English, Spanish and Chinese. If you haven’t seen the original movie trailer yet, which is pretty awesome, you can do so here.  And lucky us! A new trailer was released a couple of weeks ago, giving us a little bit more insight as to how they’ve taken a 10 sentence book and turned it into a feature-length film.

There are numerous people out there blogging about pretty much everything Wild related, but one of the coolest sites I’ve found is Terrible Yellow Eyes. The blogger was so inspired by Where the Wild Things Are that he set up a site that pays tribute to the book and its author. Artists from all over the world send in their own artistic reproductions of the book and the site is updated frequently.

The movie has been an enormous undertaking which has spanned many years and has involved hundreds of people. Check out Spike Jonze’s Where the Wild Things Are blog, We Love You So, to learn how the movie came to be.

And don’t forget to pre-order your Where the Wild Things Are figurines!

Do you have any fun Where the Wild Things Are sites to share?

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