End-o'-the-Week Kid-Lit Roundup

In this week's roundup, we check out the latest issue of The Horn Book Magazine, test our "knowledge of child readers," and catch up with Wally and Beaver:

The new Horn Book Magazine. The September/October 2008 issue of The Horn Book Magazine is now out, and you can read some of the contents online. In addition to Web Extras for the print issue, you'll find a couple of the features (I especially liked the one in which a second-grade teacher talks about his favorite fictional teachers), a sampling of reviews (including a starred review for the promising All Stations! Distress!), and a few "Stories Out of School," personal reminiscences from the likes of Megan McDonald (of the Judy Moody books) and Sherman Alexie.

CLAT Level III: Children’s Literature Application Test. Also in the latest Horn Book Magazine but deserving of a special mention is the CLAT Level III, a silly but sharp pseudo-quiz that is "designed to test your knowledge of child readers." For example:


If you enjoy the test, make sure you check out the sites of the people behind it (here and here).

Kid-lit authors on the radio. I just caught two great interviews, one with Lauren Child (Clarice Bean, Don't Look Now) and another with Francoise Mouly, who is behind the Toon Books, with her husband Art Spiegelman. (Thanks to 100 Scope Notes for tipping me off to the Child interview, and thanks to Heidi for always letting me know when she hears something cool on KCRW's excellent Bookworm program.)

"Leave It To Beverly." I can barely remember seeing Leave It To Beaver (on Nick at Nite, at the same time as my short obsession with Bachelor-Father), but my brain had clearly carefully archived the speech patterns of all the characters, seeing as I found this to be hysterical. Peter at "Collecting Children's Books" not only found three forgotten TV-tie-in paperbacks by Beverly Cleary, but he also somehow managed to write a long, informative post about them as an imagined conversation between the Beav, Wally, and Eddie Haskell, mimicking the voices perfectly. And no, I checked, it is not too late to track down copies of these for yourself. (Found via Fuse #8.)


Hosting a spa party vs. surviving a shark attack. I hadn't even heard of the Girls' Book of Glamour or the Boys' Book of Survival, but according to Colleen at Chasing Ray, that's just as well: "There are so many things I could say here but what I'm really wondering is if the people who put these books together thought for even half a minute about how appalling they are."

A free online James Bond game to encourage reading. Charlie Higson, the author behind the popular Young Bond series (Silverfin, Blood Fever), has helped create "The Shadow War," an online game to "help address declining literacy standards in young boys," according to a story in the Guardian. In the UK, the books are on a recommended reading list for schoolboys, and the "Shadow War" is intended to draw them into the Young Bond world, playing as either a British agent or a Soviet spy. (Also noteworthy in the Guardian: How to Cook Children: A Grisly Recipe Book.) --Paul

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The only thing that is "appalling" about the "Girls' Book of Glamour" and the "Boys' Book of Survival" is that somebody thinks they are appalling.

Earth to Colleen, (most) boys and girls are different and always have been!

Sure, it would arguably be advantageous for girls to read about surviving a shark attack, especially beach goers, but good luck getting them to do it!

Book publishing is still of necessity largely mass marketing to the lowest common denominator so girls get the fashion tips while boys get the survival tips. (Anyone who wishes to put her money where her mouth is on flipping the gender roles in children's book publishing is welcome to try. Let us know how that works out.)

"Nails that stand out" as usual have the tougher row to hoe, but even here Colleen's concern is misplaced. The girl who wishes to read about shark survival will get a LOT less flack or dirty looks than the boy who wishes to read about fashion. HE is the one who will have to hide what he is reading, not SHE.

Posted by: FredTownWard | Monday September 1, 2008 at 6:24 AM

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