Shelf Life Book news, reviews, trends, and talk

Tag: Children's Books (11-20 of 98)

On The Books: Jimmy Carter talks biblical misogyny and an author imagines Hitler is a comedian

It’s a weird collection of book news this Monday. To start with, Jimmy Carter has a new book, A Call to Action: Women, Religion, Violence, and Power, which hits shelves tomorrow. The 39th President has published more than 25 books during his career, covering everything from history to politics to “The Virtues of Aging.” But his newest book is on the subjugation of women around the world, looking closely at how religion is used as a tool of oppression. NPR interviewed the former president this weekend and you can listen to an excerpt on their website.

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On the Books: Keith Richards wrote a children's book and Anne Rice's Lestat lives!

Keith Richards is publishing a children’s picture book, called Gus & Me: The Story of My Granddad and My First Guitar. Richards’ grandfather was in a jazz big band and was a childhood role model of the rocker’s. “I have just become a grandfather for the fifth time, so I know what I’m talking about,” says Richards in a press release. “The bond, the special bond, between kids and grandparents is unique and should be treasured. This is a story of one of those magical moments. May I be as great a grandfather as Gus was to me.” His daughter Theodora Richards will do the illustrations in pen and ink. The book will be released in hardcover and ebook on September 9, 2014, with the hardcover edition including an exclusive audio CD featuring bonus book content.

City Room’s Big City Book Club had a funny little Q&A with Gary Shteyngart on Jay McInerney’s Bright Lights, Big City. Shteyngart reminisces on the good old days when Manhattan was “a genuine mix of pathology and creativity.” Now the craziest thing that might happen to you is “a Citi Bike might run over your foot on the way to the Equinox and then you’ll tweet about it pretty hard.” True. [New York Times]

That Amtrak writers residency is now a real thing. They’re accepting application on their website and 24 “winners” will receive round-trip tickets to a mystery location that Amtrak chooses based on availability. So get ready for a romantic ride to Bakersfield, CA.

George Saunders is going to have to install a second mantle in his house to hold all his trophies. He has now won his second award in as many weeks. First it was the Story Prize and now it’s the inaugural Folio Prize from the UK, which comes with a $67,000 reward. Slow clap for the Tenth of December. [New York Times]

LESTAT LIVES! Anne Rice is publishing a new Lestat novel, Prince Lestat, which will be out in October (go figure.) The book will be a sequel to her Vampire Chronicles and the start of a new series. [Guardian]

I had to read all the Vampire Chronicles over again and I had to kind of … I don’t want to be irritating or pretentious talking about a character as if he’s a real human being, but I really had to wrestle Lestat to the ground, and beat him up, and say ‘look, you’ve got to talk to me, I’ve got to know what you’ve been doing’. Because I can’t really write novels about that character unless he wants to come through, and it really is like he’s a living breathing being somewhere, and suddenly he did, he came through, and he started to talk and I was taking the dictation, and everything went splendidly well and it was very exciting.

On The Books: Grasshopper Jungle might be a movie

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Hollywood hasn’t finished with the story trend of teens struggling to find their identity in a post-apocalyptic dystopia yet.  The most recent YA novel to get snatched up by movie executives is Grasshopper Jungle, which was just optioned by Sony. Scott Rosenberg (Con Air, Beautiful Girls, High Fidelity) plans to adapt the script. The novel is about a 16-year-old boy who inadvertently unleashes a plague of insects that turn the populace into mindless super-soldiers looking to eat, have sex and kill things — basically a bizarre take on the Pandora’s Box myth. Apparently author Andrew Smith carries it off with some verve though because we gave it an A- in our review. Movie-wise, I’d say this would come in around Planet of the Apes mixed with 28 Days Later and multiplied by that Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode, “Teachers Pet.” Can’t wait.

A new campaign called Let Books Be Books aims to end gender bias in the presentation of children’s books. They’re calling for publishers to remove “for boys” and “for girls” labels from kids books, as well as make the covers more gender neutral. This idea has been swirling for a long time, but it seems to be gaining more momentum recently…or maybe I’m just thinking of that amazing GoldieBox commercial for girl’s toys. [Guardian]

On that note, there’s a great essay by Anna Holmes in The New Yorker called “How to be a Good Bad American Girl.” Holmes looks at the legacy of troublesome little girls in American literature, specifically Harriet the Spy and To Kill A Mockingbird. “Harper Lee and Louise Fitzhugh taught their readers that difference, nonconformity, and even subversion should be celebrated in young girls,” she writes. “These qualities are the prerequisites for, and not the enemies of, creativity, curiosity, and insight.” [New Yorker]

The longlist of 20 nominees for the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction was just announced today. Lots of great women made the cut. I don’t envy the judges’ job of narrowing this down to a winner for June, 4th. Check out the nominees below.

  • Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Americanah
  • Margaret Atwood, MaddAddam
  • Suzanne Berne, The Dogs of Littlefield
  • Fatima Bhutto, The Shadow of the Crescent Moon
  • Claire Cameron, The Bear
  • Lea Carpenter, Eleven Days
  • M.J. Carter, The Strangler Vine
  • Eleanor Catton, The Luminaries
  • Deborah Kay Davies, Reasons She Goes to the Woods
  • Elizabeth Gilbert, The Signature of All Things
  • Hannah Kent, Burial Rites
  • Rachel Kushner, The Flamethrowers
  • Jhumpa Lahiri, The Lowland
  • Audrey Magee, The Undertaking
  • Eimear McBride, A Girl Is A Half-Formed Thing
  • Charlotte Mendelson, Almost English
  • Anna Quindlen, Still Life with Bread Crumbs
  • Elizabeth Strout, The Burgess Boys
  • Donna Tartt, The Goldfinch
  • Evie Wyld, All The Birds, Singing

'Harriet The Spy' turns 50: A tribute to Louise Fitzhugh's perfectly prickly heroine

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Harriet M. Welsch would eat Anne of Green Gables for lunch.

Not literally, of course: Anne isn’t a tomato sandwich. But if the two went toe-to-toe in some sort of battle royal for 11-year-olds, Lucy Maud Montgomery’s plucky orphan wouldn’t stand a chance. Unlike Anne — and Pippi Longstocking, and Pollyanna, and countless other cheery kid-lit protagonists — Louise Fitzhugh’s Harriet isn’t friendly or agreeable. She’s rude, impatient, temperamental, arrogant, and sharp, especially when taking vengeance on the classmates who read her meticulously kept notebook.

Harriet is, in short, a jerk — but a smart, perceptive, lovable jerk, one who’s wholly relatable whether you’re 11 or several times that age. When I’m snaking my way through a crowd of cement-footed commuters, I can hear Harriet’s indignant voice whispering in my ear: “Fast. That’s the way I move, fast. What’s wrong with that?” When I surreptitiously write down snippets of strangers’ conversations — what, doesn’t everybody? — I can sense her silent nod of approval.

Harriet’s edge has won her scores of fans, including novelist Jonathan Franzen. “I don’t know of a better novel about the costs and rewards of being a truth teller,” Franzen says in a cover blurb for Harriet the Spy‘s 50th-anniversary edition, which will be released Feb. 25. “I love the story of Harriet so much I feel as if I lived it.”

I get where he’s coming from. When I first discovered Harriet circa second grade, I had never even heard of her favorite drink (the egg cream) or the contraption she uses to spy on crazy old Mrs. Plumber (a dumbwaiter). She was an only child in 1960s New York; I was the youngest of three in 1990s Pittsburgh. While we both sported glasses, hers were merely cosmetic; she wore them “because she thought they made her look smarter.”

But those surface details hardly mattered. Like Franzen, I identified so fully with Harriet — her emotions, fear of change, frustration, and loneliness — that she instantly felt like an old friend. Inspired by her, I even started keeping a journal in which I carefully wrote mean things about my friends. During a fateful fifth-grade camping trip, that choice came back to bite me…hard. (P.S. Katy, Julia, Whitney, Kate — I’m still sorry.)

Despite that episode, Harriet wasn’t a bad influence. My bond with her was so strong precisely because her faults and virtues mirrored my own. Later incarnations of the character penned by people other than Fitzhugh — the 1996 film that introduced me to fan rage (Ole Golly does not look like Rosie O’Donnell), two wan sequels by Helen Ericson and Maya Gold, a horrific 2010 TV movie called Harriet the Spy: Blog Wars — fail to capture what made the original so captivating because they turn her into someone the real Harriet would find insipid. Thank heavens, then, for this anniversary edition, which I hope will introduce a new generation to my endearingly jerky little heroine.

On The Books: Dr. Seuss' hats hit the road!

From there to here, from here to there, funny hats are everywhere! Dr. Seuss was a fiend for hats, which shouldn’t come as a surprise. But for the first time in history 26 of his hats will tour the world. These guys have rarely been outside of his house in La Jolla, and they’re pretty excited to visit six states in the next seven months. Can’t you just picture a Seuss book about his hats flying around the world? He used the hats as the basis for The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins. Reacquaint yourself with some of his art and design work here. You will not want to miss this exhibit. [NPR]

James Patterson, who’s sold a bajillion novels, is donating $1 million to 50 independent bookstores across the nation. A worthy cause supported by a man who is “one of the industry’s wealthiest writers.” [New York Times]

Wikipedia wants a book deal. Indiegogo wants to print the entire English Wikipedia in 1,000 books with 1,200 pages each. Trees around the world are shuddering. Even though they have proposed to use “sustainable paper,” this sounds like a total waste. Upshot: you could now reference Wikipedia as a legitimate bibliographic source. [The Guardian]

Neil Gaiman, the king of multimedia artistic endeavors, will be doing a live reading of The Truth Is a Cave in the Black Mountains backed by a string quartet playing music to accompany the tale of a search for hidden treasure. Illustrations by Eddie Campbell will  be projected during the performance. Shows will be at New York’s Carnegie Hall on June 27 and San Francisco’s Warfield on June 25. Stop it, Neil. We love you enough already! [SF Chronicle]

Hero Worship: Brad Meltzer takes on Abraham Lincoln, Rosa Parks, and ... Batman

Brad Meltzer has a hang-up about heroes. He keeps looking for real ones.

The thriller novelist (The Inner CircleThe Book of Fate) and conspiracy investigator (the non-fiction History Decoded) has  regularly explored the dynamics of good vs. evil in the comic book world, penning stories about Green Arrow and the Justice League of America. But as the father of three young kids, Meltzer says he started to rethink what it means to be one of the good guys. Superhuman crimefighters may be fun, but they’re fantasy.

As part of a new series of picture books, he decided to focus on real-life iconic leaders, adventurers, and trailblazers. But he found his stories of heroism in an unlikely place — their childhoods.

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On The Books: B.J. Novak lands children's book deal

The most exciting book news today? Film and television star B.J. Novak has partnered with Penguin Young Readers Group to publish a new picture book called (wait for it) The Book With No Pictures. As the title implies, the children’s book will be text-only, designed to provide children with a more enthralling reading experience.

Before you start shaking your head with confusion, let Novak explain: “I wanted to write a book that would introduce the youngest of kids to the idea that words can be their allies — that the right words can be as fun, exciting, and ridiculous as any pictures,” the actor said in a statement released by his publishing company. “Also, I can’t draw.”

The Book With No Pictures, which will be published in the fall of 2014, is the first of two books that Novak will release with Dial, an imprint of Penguin Young Reader’s Group.

More book news below!

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Barbara Park, 'Junie B. Jones' author, dead at 66

The author of the million-selling Junie B. Jones children’s series has died.

Random House Books for Young Readers says Barbara Park died Friday at age 66 after a long battle with ovarian cancer.

The publisher says Park’s stories of the smart-mouthed young girl sold more than 55 million copies just in North America. She wrote dozens of books and received numerous awards, although parents and educators occasionally worried that Junie was a bad influence on her young fans.

Park helped found a charitable organization, Sisters in Survival, to raise money women with ovarian cancer. Random House announced that contributions can be made to SistersInSurvival.org.

'What Does the Fox Say?' children's book on the way

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You’ve probably seen that YouTube video about what the fox says. Soon you’ll get to read about it.

Simon & Schuster’s Children’s Publishing has acquired a picture book based on the online sensation devised by the Norwegian comedy team Ylvis. The publisher announced Monday that the upcoming release, What Does the Fox Say?, will come out Dec. 10.

Ylvis, alias for brothers Vegard and Bard Ylvisaker, have scored more than 200 million YouTube hits since September of them prancing in fox suits singing: “Ring-ding-ding-ding-dingeringeding! Gering-ding-ding-ding-dingeringeding!”

Watch the video below:
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Phyllis Reynolds Naylor talks finishing the 'Alice' series -- a 28-book, 28-year-long opus

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If you’re a woman of a certain age, you’re probably familiar with Alice McKinley — the strawberry-blond everygirl first introduced in 1985’s The Agony of Alice.

Though Newbery Medal-winning author Phyllis Reynolds Naylor originally envisioned the novel as a standalone story, she followed it with a sequel, Alice in Rapture, Sort of, in 1989. Fans still wanted more — so in 1991, Naylor began releasing one Alice book every year, following her creation from middle school to the summer after her high school graduation. In the early aughts, she also released a series of prequels about Alice’s life in elementary school — the perfect solution for girls not yet ready to read their older sisters’ favorite books. Over nearly three decades, the books have won legions of fans for their colorful depiction of a regular girl’s trials and tribulations, as well as their frank discussions of topics like sex — passages that frequently landed Alice among the ALA’s list of most frequently challenged books.

28 years later, Naylor is finally wrapping the series with an ambitious, 523-page volume that follows Alice from ages 18 to 60. The book, which hits shelves today, is called Now I’ll Tell You Everything – a title that’s both evocative and refreshingly straightforward, much like the Alice series as a whole.

Naylor is happy with the way her magnum opus turned out, though naturally, saying goodbye is bittersweet. “I suppose it’s like having a child go off to college,” she told EW in an interview last month. “For the last 28 years, six months of every year was dedicated to an Alice book. And suddenly, I have six whole months more to do whatever I want! So that’s exciting, but there’s still times I wish she were home.”

Read on to learn more about the series’ long-awaited conclusion. Spoiler alert: We discuss the contents of Now I’ll Tell You Everything, so read on only if you’ve already read the book… or if you’ve always wanted to know how everything turns out for Alice.

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