Is the news getting you down? Are you experiencing a bit of a summer slump? (Here in the South anyway we are halfway done with summer break.) Or just ennui in general? I’ll be the first to raise my hand and answer my own questions: yes to all of the above!
When this happens, I like to think about the good things going on around me. (We pessimists have to work hard at this.) I’ll share my book-related list here today in the hopes it does someone else some good.
And when you have a blog, as I do, called Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast, you’re fated to frequently have lists of seven. Or maybe not. Maybe I’m just being gimmicky. You decide.
GOOD THING THE FIRST:The Boston Globe-Horn Book Awards. The 2017 winners were announced last month. Did you see them? I was pleased with all of those. Each and every one of them is an excellent choice, so much so that I hate to single out just one, but I will. Note that Deborah Heiligman won in the Nonfiction category for Vincent and Theo, her excellent book which she and I discussed here at Kirkus in late May.
SECOND: The force of nature that is author-illustrator Ashley Bryan. Note that, speaking of the Boston Globe-Horn Book Awards, he won in the Picture Book category for Freedom Over Me: Eleven Slaves, Their Lives and Dreams Brought To Life by Ashley Bryan, which also won a Newbery Honor last year.
I wasn’t at the Annual conference of the American Library Association in late June, but I heard countless stories from friends and colleagues who were there of Ashley, who is about to turn 94 years old, leading people in song or poetry during the multiple times he accepted an award for his work. May we all be as vibrant in our 90s.
THIRD: Javaka Steptoe’s Caldecott speech, speaking of the ALA conference. (He and I chatted here back in December about Radiant Child: The Story of Young Artist Jean-Michel Basquiat, the picture book that snagged the gold, so to speak.) You can read his Caldecott speech here. There’s a lot to like there, and I highly recommend reading it for the full context, but here’s my favorite part:
The job of a child is to learn as much as possible about the world through new eyes that cast no judgment. It is not that they cannot handle inconvenient truths; it is we as adults who shy away from controversial topics and feel uncomfortable — even ashamed. When we tell lies or omit truths about life to children, they are filled with unrealistic expectations of the world. We create angry adults who do terrible things to themselves, or to others. The truth creates peace.
FOURTH: Kane Miller will be releasing four new Anna Hibiscus chapter books this fall. If you’re unfamiliar with this award-winning series about a young girl who lives in “amazing Africa,” I wrote about it here at Kirkus in 2011. These four new books were published in the UK years ago, but now readers in the U.S. can read further about Anna and her adventures.
FIFTH: Katherine Rundell also has a new book coming in the fall. I discovered this yesterday and literally squealed in excitement. The Explorer will be on shelves in September, and I’m eager to read it. I fell hard for her writing, once I discovered The Wolf Wilder, and then proceeded to read backwards every book she’s written. She can certainly turn a phrase, as they say.
SIXTH: If some of the news that has you down is related to our current president, you may enjoy volume two of Resist!, a newspaper of comics and graphics by female artists, edited by Françoise Mouly (publisher of TOON Books) and her daughter Nadja Spiegelman. It’s a powerful thing, and long may the newspaper live.
SEVENTH: All of the issues of the now-defunct Riverbank Review, a children’s book magazine I read fondly during my grad school days, are now online here.
There. Those good things valiantly pushed away a bit of the summer ennui. What about you? What book-related news has made you happy of late?
Julie Danielson (Jules) conducts interviews and features of authors and illustrators at Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast, a children's literature blog primarily focused on illustration and picture books.