Sunday, May 20, 2012

Children's Lit-Spiration: The Dream Keeper

I promised more non-Seuss inspiration, so I['m delivering! Here's a little inspiration for those of you chasing your hopes and dreams, a message that might be especially relevant for our recent grads. By the way, if you're looking for a great children's poetry anthology, I highlight recommend The 20th Century Children's Poetry Treasury with poems selected by Jack Prelutsky, one of my personal favorite poets. We used Janet Schulman's The 20th Century Children's Book Treasury in our children's lit class and didn't focus a lot on poetry, but if the course is offered in the future, this would be my go-to text for examining poetry for children. Enjoy!

Bring me all of your dreams, 
You dreamers, 
Bring me all of you
Heart melodies
That I may wrap them
In a blue cloud-cloth
Away from the too-rough fingers 
Of the world.
--Langston Hughes, "The Dream Keeper"

Tributes to and Interviews with Maurice Sendak

Many tributes to Maurice Sendak have been cropping up in the wake of his recent passing, and as these tributes describe Sendak's groundbreaking contributions to the world of children's literature much more eloquently than I could, I'll let them speak for themselves. From interviews with NPR and PBS to The Colbert Report, it's clear that, like his Wild Things protagonist Max, Sendak wasn't afraid to "let the wild rumpus start!"

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Children's Lit-Spiration

Congratulations to Denison’s Class of 2012 on their graduation this afternoon! I know nearly all of the “Children’s Lit-Spirations” so far have been from Dr. Seuss, and I promise that I have a greater variety lined up for future posts, but it seems foolish not to share a bit from Seuss’s Oh, the Places You’ll Go! on this exciting occasion. Best of luck, everyone! The hill won't be the same without you.

Today is your day!
You're off to great places!
You're up and away!
You have brains in your head,
and feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself in
any direction you choose.
You're on your own.
And you know what you know.
And YOU are the one
who'll decide where to go."

--Dr. Seuss, Oh, the Places You'll Go!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Lights, Camera, Action!

For me, movie sets have always had a certain glamour and allure, and for as long as I can remember, I've always wanted to get to actually be on a movie set. For some, there’s a luster to standing in a Hogwarts corridor or dining in the same restaurant where Edward and Bella shared their first date. Popular movie sets or locations have sometimes been turned into tourist sites and fan shrines for people who want to enter a literary world, whether that be a magical boarding school or a future dystopic society.

Harry Potter fans, for instance, don't have to wait for their Hogwarts letter to visit Hogwarts. They can experience the wizarding world by traveling to  Harry Potter: The Exhibition now in Sydney, Australia; the Wizarding World of HarryPotter at the Universal Orlando theme park and planned to open in 2015 or 2016 at Universal Studies Hollywood and Universal Studios Japan; and the recently opened Warner Brothers Studio Tour in London.  Gloucester Cathedral,  Alnwick Castle, and King's Cross Station all also offer access to sites featured in the films. For a Harry Potter tourbook of sorts, check out Steve Vander Ark’s In Search of Harry Potter , which chronicles his journey throughout the U.K. to find the locations described in the books.

In the US, Twilight tourism is alive and well in Forks, Washington, where you can see where the movies were filmed. A special guidebook  was created for fans interested in taking a “Twilight Tour” around Washington, and even the Food Network Magazine featured an article on eateries from the Twilight books and films.

The U.S. also provided the backdrop for scenes filmed in the cinematic adaptation of The Hunger Games, and a decrepit town in North Carolina served as the backdrop for Panem’s District 12 , a town that is currently up for sale. Fans of The Hunger Games trilogy can travel through locations used in the film and have a hands-on Hunger Games experience by taking a day-long or weekend-long Hunger Games Fan Tour that includes a lottery, survival training, and a Hunger Games simulation.

So, whether you're hoping for your Hogwarts letter, an eager Twi-hard, or an aspiring Tribute, literary tourism has something for you!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Children's Lit-Spiration

In honor of finals week, remember a little engine who huffed and puffed and persevered, thanks to the power of positive thinking: 

“I think I can. I think I can. I think I can. I know I can.”
--Watty Piper, The Little Engine That Could

Monday, April 23, 2012

Save a Childhood Studies' Program!

Only a handful of Childhood Studies programs exist across the country, and one of the pioneering programs and the first to offer a PhD in this area--the Department of Childhood Studies at Rutgers-Camden--faces the threat of being dismantled completely with a possible merger between Rugters-Camden and neighboring Rowan University. Find out more about the proposed merger and its implications for the Rutgers’ Childhood Studies program, and sign a petition against this here

Tales of the Titanic for Children

April 15, 2012 marked the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic, and various children’s book outlets compiled lists of picture or chapter books that tell the tale of the Titanic. In the March/April 2012 edition of The Horn Book Magazine, editors created an annotated bibliography of picture books about the Titanic, and a book blogger suggested a group of books that also work well supplemented with other reference books that aren’t specifically written with a child audience in mind. While you’re at, take a look at a book recently published by Marlene Tromp—a former professor of English and Women’s Studies at Denison—called Untold Titanic.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Children's Lit-spiration: Earth Day Style

Another Dr. Seuss Children's Lit-spiration, but I couldn't resist quoting from The Lorax on Earth Day. Keep in mind the wise words of the one who "speaks for the trees":

Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, 
nothing is going to get better. It's not.
--Dr. Seuss, The Lorax

Green Book Awards

In honor of Earth Day, exercise your green “thumbs” by paging through the winners of the Green Book Award presented annually by the Newton Marasco organization. The Green Book Award recognizes picture books, children’s chapter books, and young adult books that encourage environmental stewardship and “raise awareness of the beauty of our natural world and the responsibility that we have to protect it.”

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Children's Lit-spiration: Oh, the Places You'll Go!

And will you succeed? 
Yes, you will indeed!
(98 and 3/4 percent guaranteed.)
be your name Buxbaum or Bixby or Bray
or Modercai Ali Van Allen O'Shea,
You're off to Great Places! 

Today is your day! 
Your mountain is waiting, 
So... get on your way!

--Dr. Seuss, Oh, the Places You'll Go!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

I Mustache You A Question...

What do you think of the latest change to Disney's dress code? While male employees were allowed to sport well-groomed mustaches beginning in 2000 (followed by cornrows a few years later), the newest change allows men to have beards and goatees, provided they're clean and professional looking, of course.  The company's last alteration to the "Disney Look" came in the summer of 2010, when female theme park employees no longer had to wear pantyhose!  In honor of this revision to the Disney Look, The Daily Beast compiled a list of Disney's "craziest corporate rules" which you can also find more information about in Janet Wasko's Understanding Disney: The Manufacture of Fantasy in a chapter titled "Corporate Disney in Action" (though it's a bit outdated now, given the recent changes to the dress code).

Children's Lit-spiration: Listen to the MUSTN'Ts

Listen to the MUSTN'Ts, child, 
Listen to the DON'Ts
Listen to the SHOULDN'Ts
Listen to the NEVER HAVEs
Then listen close to me--
Anything can happen, child, 

--Shel Silverstein, Where the Sidewalk Ends

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Lions and Tigers and Bears...Or Not

In a study recently published in Sociological Inquiry and highlighted in last Tuesday’s USAToday, researchers examined 296 Caldecott Medal winning or honored picture books from 1938-2008 and found that images in children’s books increasingly depict “built” (indoor) environments and decreasingly depict nature and wild or domestic animals.

In other environmental news, an animated film adaptation of Dr. Seuss’s The Lorax hit theaters this past Friday on what would’ve been Seuss’s 108th birthday. The film features the voices of Danny DeVito as the Lorax, Betty White, Taylor Swift, Zac Efron, and Ed Helms. So far, it has largely opened to mixed reviews, some of which hail Hollywood for successfully and charmingly adapting Seuss's story and some of which express disappointment in the film for not living up to the original.

Speaking of Seuss, for those of you in need of encouragement, remember that Seuss's first book was rejected 27 times before it was finally accepted by a publisher--never give up! :)

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Denison Children's Lit One-Year Anniversary!

Hi all!

It's hard to believe that it's already been a year since our children's literature class debuted at Denison! I've been working at Denison since August, and I've been feeling nostalgic, and I wanted to write to invite you all to continue participating in this blog. So much of elevating the status of children's literature in academia begins with simple information sharing, which is what this blog was all about during our semester together and what I hope it can continue being. I'll still periodically post interesting links and tidbits, and I'd be delighted if you'd do the same.

Our class was really unlike any other than I had at Denison, and I attribute that to all of you and your willingness to challenge your conceptions of children's literature and negotiate that tricky balance between fondness for a book and examining the same book critically. I also loved that our class was composed of all seniors and that we were able to spend the second semester of senior year together.

Best wishes, and thanks for all you did to make our class a success!