Friday, June 30, 2006

Get off my b(log) and read

Well, I haven't much been on my blog to get off it, but I made many promises of various sorts at the ALA conference in New Orleans, and since I've been unmasked by Roger Sutton, here goes.

fusenumber8 suggests in her comments to my last post that Frank Beddor (author of Looking Glass Wars) is British and therefore ineligible...but nothing could be farther from the truth. He's from LA, a Hollywood man through and through. I had the pleasure of dining with him at Dial Books' expense in New Orleans, where nearly everyone opted for the very fancy chicken with waffles. He told, in fact, of his villifying ordeal being interviewed by the BBC.

I'll continue to compile your suggestions for titles to look at (as I figure out how to work this darn thing--helpful comments appreciated!)... but I'm intrigued by the carnivorous vitriol I've heard directed at little china rabbits. That would be DiCamillo's The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane.

I think a discussion of this title deserves some backstory. DiCamillo won the Newbery Medal in 2004 for The Tale of Despereaux. I was on that committee, and though I can't share with you the committee's discussion of this title (which shall remain forever all committee discussions are for very good reasons), I can happily share my own. I was, frankly, less than enthusiatic upon my first reading of this (is Kate reading? It gets better...) but was turned onto a second reading by a third-grade teacher friend of mine. He'd been similarly un-enthralled by the direct and stylized narration, but tried it on his students, who were compelled in exactly the places that he'd been turned off. I tried reading a second time as a third grader--a very difficult thing to do for us jaded grown-ups--but it works, I tell you. Try looking at Edward Tulane the same way. Are you thinking of Hitty? Velveteen Rabbit? Well, third graders aren't. The fact is: Kate DiCamillo is a great writer. Her language is unique, compelling, vivid, funny, tender...and with a dark edge. Third graders are open-hearted, silly, fearful, naive, and love their schmaltz. What better pairing? If it's too sweet for you, then, by all means: china rabbits with a bitter brew. But expect a night of bad dreams digesting that.

(Now, some of you have expressed to me that you've tried to post a comment but couldn't. You do have to set up a blogger account to post here, but it's very easy, and you don't have to have a blog. Just follow the links. I know who you are, and expect a swift response!)


Blogger fusenumber8 said...

My bad. You're absolutely right. The man is as American as apple pie.
However, the book WAS originally published overseas. Does that mean it's still eligible here? Me so confused.

10:21 AM  
Blogger Nina Lindsay said...

Of course, you're right. Off it comes. The official criteria (check out the link to the Newbery Medal Home Page if your interested) states: "American literature published in the United States" means that books originally published in other countries are not eligible.

1:13 PM  
Blogger Monica Edinger said...

Just read and loved Robert Lipsyte's Heroes of Baseball so now considered it nominated!


6:46 AM  
Blogger Disco Mermaids said...

"...but tried it on his students, who were compelled in exactly the places that he'd been turned off."

I love discovering the beauty in books I originally didn't "get." It's like that scene in Finding Neverland where it wasn't till the adults saw the children laughing at the play that they started to enjoy it for what it was.

- Jay

12:44 PM  

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