Tuesday, January 27, 2009

A funny article from the AP

Let's just start off with the assumption that I am always annoyed when the Anita Silvey article is cited as a source to show that the Newbery hasn't been good for years and everyone knows it--because a. not really a reliable source, since it was more of an opinion piece than a sourced article, and b. the Newbery has had books lots of people love and books that had smaller audiences throughout its history as well as throughout the last few years. (One of my favorite things about the Silvey piece is how she mentions The Story of Mankind as an example of a popular book.)

All the articles that appear today are likely to take one perspective, and because I'm feeling generous, I'm going to say it's because they need a hook, and this year's hook is going to be "Neil Gaiman is famous and popular! Weird!"--not because all the journalists are cruddy and rude.

But this article from the AP is a really funny one.

--apparently, Good Masters! Sweet Ladies! is too "difficult" (first I've heard of it; I bought it for my five-year-old niece, even if not necessarily for her to read to herself)

--and The Higher Power of Lucky is too "disturbing". What? Maybe someone thinks children will be so disturbed by the word "scrotum" that they'll... run off into the desert? There are quite a few objections to Lucky as a distinguished book (I can't wait to find out in the sequel how Brigitte is going to make a go of a restaurant in that impoverished town that no one visits), but "disturbing" is one I've never heard.

But the killer is the last paragraph: "Gaiman, 48, has three children. Two have grown and moved away."

Since most of the article is talking about whether The Graveyard Book is horror, or too disturbing, the emphasis on "grown and moved away" makes it sound like... well... SOMETHING SUSPICIOUS happened. I mean, did NOT happen, and we shouldn't think anything else.


mamster said...

Ha ha ha ha.

Wendy, I like Good Masters Sweet Ladies a lot, but I do think older kids would get a lot more out of it. Laurie tells me it was written to be performed, and I think that would work well for a younger audience, but as I was reading it myself I was imagining more like a 16-year-old getting into it. That's not a criticism of the book at all, which is terrific.

(My first reaction to it, I'll admit, was horror, because I thought it was going to be poetry.)

Have you read this?

Wendy said...

Yeah, when I first read it and was contemplating its "child appeal", I thought that if I'd had it when I was really little, I would have latched on to one or two stories; found others when I reread it a few years later; and by the time I was a teenager, would've finally read the whole thing all the way through and said "This book is awesome!". Kind of like I was with the Treasury of Children's Literature that my parents gave me when I was seven.

I'm curious, what were your favorite pieces?

Jess said...

I thought Good Masters was fantastic - and perfectly suited for what it was intended for - being performed by a class. But it's not a book you can just hand to any child. MOST Newbery winners aren't - it's supposed to cover ages 0-14. While The Graveyard Book might be a more popular pick, it's got enough disturbing elements that I wouldn't recommend it to kids who are easily freaked out.

Monica Edinger said...

I'm so amused that The Graveyard Book is being touted as having massive child appeal versus those other, ahem, recent medal duds. You know who put that book on the best seller list? Fans. Fans. Fans. Grown-up ones. Just listened to NPR interview with Gaiman and most of the callers were adult fans. Only one, I believe, mentioned reading the books with a kid, her 8-year-old.

That said, you know I love it and absolutely think it is for kids. As you know, I read the book to my fourth graders (who, by the way, enjoyed performing Good Masters! Sweet Ladies! almost as much as I suspect those 5th graders for whom the book was written) to see if it was something for the Newbery crowd.

Sandy D. said...

Yeah, saying that "The Higher Power of Lucky" is disturbing - especially in comparison to "The Graveyard Book" - is pretty funny.

mamster said...

Oh, obviously my favorite part of GMSL is the sniggler.