Thursday, November 20, 2008

Fabulousness All 'Round (and Round)

There has been all manner of excitement in the world o' George this week: some in-house, some in the wide world of books, and some things that we can only hint at!

First, we would like to congratulate Judy Blundell on receiving the National Book Award for Young People's Literature for What I Saw and How I Lied. The past few years have seen some fairly serious realistic or historical fiction take the proverbial cake: what a jump from 2005's Penderwicks to 2006's Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation! I wonder if this says more about the children's literary climate as a whole, or what award committees want to see in said climate...

For a full list of the other winners and their interviews, head over to The National Book Foundation.

Also, if you didn't get to hear our general manager, Bindy, on UMass Lowell's Sunrise Bookshelf on Tuesday morning, you can get the podcast here. She gives her take on the most popular and most unusual George items we carry, and just why this good little monkey has had such an enduring appeal to children everywhere.

This was not the only interview this week; we actually had cameras in here, too! We can't say more about it yet, but stay tuned! You may be seeing more of us soon...

A few staffers high-tailed it out of the store Tuesday night to turn an eager ear to authors/illustrators David Wiesner and Susan Meddaugh, renaissance woman and Houghton alum Anita Silvey, and school librarian Susan Moynihan, at a panel discussion about the wondrous James Marshall. To round out the celebrity circuit, the Horn Book's Roger Sutton moderated -- and made a few hearts pitter-patter with that jaunty bowtie. The conversation ranged from anecdotal to academic; my favorite moment had to be when Wiesner, a three time Caldecott winner, two time honoree, was put on the spot to elucidate why Marshall only ever received a Caldecott Honor for Goldilocks and the Three Bears. All agreed that is quite unfortunate that humor often gets the short stick when it comes accolades, considering the skill required for pitch perfect delivery.

For further reminiscences and tributes, come in and peruse the collector's edition of George and Martha: The Complete Stories of Two Best Friends, with contributions from Meddaugh and Wiesner as well as Maurice Sendak, Jon Scieszka, Jack Gantos, and others. If you prefer the classic cover styles, we have the original individual books and early readers, too.

In honor of the original funny man, here are some of our all-time favorite chuckle-fests:
Jon Scieszka and Lane Smith: The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales
While no one actually wants to chase the stinky cheese man, you should certainly chase down these ridiculous (and occasionally meta) short stories. Make sure you catch the secret ending!

Dav Pilkey: The Adventures of Captain Underpants
Combining a superhero created by fourth graders with potty humor = pure genius. The comic book style is great for reluctant readers.

Arnold Lobel: Owl at Home
I like to think of earnest Owl as a forerunner of Mo Willems's Pigeon: beginning readers just want to yell out to him, "those bumps at the end of your bed are your FEET, silly owl!"

Ogden Nash: The Tale of Custard the Dragon
Told in verse, this tale of a cowardly dragon (he cries for a "nice, safe cage") who saves his "brave" friends is a hoot! Pirates beware!

Russell Hoban: How Tom Beat Captain Najork and His Hired Sportsmen
Hoban doesn't just do adorable badgers! This story, illustrated by Quentin Blake, is sure to please fans of Roald Dahl's cheeky humor.

Shel Silverstein: Uncle Shelby's ABZ Book
Billed as a "primer for ADULTS ONLY," Silverstein reveals a flippant side unseen in The Giving Tree: "L is for Lollipop! Lollipops are good to eat just before supper!"

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