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  • Jeff Somers 2:00 pm on 2017/03/02 Permalink
    Tags: dr. seuss, , sam i am   

    Celebrate Read Across America Day with 10 Authors Carrying on the Spirit of Dr. Seuss 

    Few people have done more to encourage our children to read than the late Dr. Seuss (Theodore Geisel). With iconic picture books like The Cat in the Hat, One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish, and Green Eggs and Ham, Dr. Seuss made words magical and taught generations of children that reading was fun.

    For the past twenty years, the National Education Association (NEA) has honored Dr. Seuss by promoting Read Across America every March 2nd—Dr. Seuss’ birthday. The idea is to encourage kids of all ages to read more through events and partnerships and by making resources available to anyone who wants to help a child read more. But this doesn’t require anything fancy! If you want to help your child—or someone else’s—appreciate books more, the easiest thing you can do is read with them. And while Dr. Seuss’ books are an excellent choice for younger kids, you might want to spice things up a little with some modern masters who are carrying on the good doctor’s work—like these ten children’s authors who will also make books seem like magic to your kids.

    Ed Shankman & Dave O’Neill (Suggested Book: I Met a Moose in Maine One Day)
    Shankman and O’Neill understand something that Dr. Seuss knew perfectly well—kids love the absurd. With simple rhymes and a fun sense of the unexpected, like a moose that puts on sunglasses and begins dancing, they show young kids that reading isn’t drudgery—it’s a window into a world just slightly more interesting than the one they live in.

    Mo Willems (Suggested Book: Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!)
    Dr. Seuss had a way of convincing kids that they were part of the story. Willems writes books for a range of ages, but Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus and its sequels achieves the same immersion when a bus driver goes on break and asks them—the readers—to watch his bus for him. When a pigeon arrives and begs to be allowed to drive the bus, the kids have a ball telling him “No!”

    Sean Ferrell and Charles Santoso (Suggested Book: The Snurtch)
    Dr. Seuss managed a lot of psychological complexity in his simple books. Ferrell, an accomplished adult novelist, writes a fanciful story about a being who plagues little Ruthie’s day with mischievous pranks and other misbehaviors that she gets blamed for. There’s a clear love of language and a deep lesson for kids under all the mayhem and fun, and a lot of kids will recognize Ruthie’s predicament.

    Anna Dewdney (Suggested Book: Llama Llama Red Pajama)
    An overlooked aspect of the Seussian vibe is the sense of danger he hints at, and the underlying feeling of things being out of control. This hits home for kids, and Dewdney—who passed away in 2016—captures those fears and anxieties in this adorably-rhymed story of a baby llama worried his mama isn’t coming back to his room despite is repeated calls. Fun Awesome Fact: It’s also one of the only children’s books regularly rapped by rising hip hop stars.

    Jeanne Willis and Tony Ross (Suggested Book: Big Bad Bun)
    Another team that gets the Seussian sense of anarchy that bubbled under every story, Willis and Ross have created the story of Fluff, who wants to be called Big Bad Bun as he runs off to join the Hell Bunnies and say rude words and generally be bad. The slight edge to the story will appeal to kids, the sweetness of the resolution ensures a good time for all, and the occasional clever moment that leans adult will make parents snort in appreciation.

    Peggy Rathman and Anthony Edwards (Suggested Book: Good Night, Gorilla)
    Dr. Seuss understood that simple was better, and Rathman does too, offering a simple story about animals being released from their cages at the zoo by a playful gorilla and following the zookeeper home. This is a more visual book, but the words Rathman does include are perfectly chosen to give little readers a sense of adventure that will excite them for the next book.

    Julia Donaldson (Suggested Book: The Gruffalo)
    The simple through-line of this clever tale will remind you of the way Dr. Seuss always managed to surprise. Donaldson borrows an old folk tale and reinvents it: a mouse walking home through the forest encounters a series of animals, all of whom wish to eat the mouse. To discourage them, the mouse says he’s having dinner with a Gruffalo, a terrifying creature the mouse has invented whose favorite food always happens to be the animal the mouse has encountered. When the mouse encounters an actual Gruffalo, the clever twist will delight young brains.

    Giles Andreae and Guy Parker-Rees (Suggested Book: Giraffe’s Can’t Dance)
    Andreae’s rhymes have the bouncing rhythms of prime Seuss, and that rhythm is a subtle nod to the theme of the story about an annual animal dance in Africa. Gerald the Giraffe wishes he could participate, but he has “four left feet” until he meets a friendly cricket who offers encouragement—and a beat.

    Scott M. Fischer (Suggested Book: Jump!)
    The madcap energy that Dr. Seuss brought to his stories has made them evergreen—no one can forget the Cat in the Hat causing havoc that seems to get bigger and bigger with each page. The feat is replicated by Fischer, who tells a simple story of animals jumping to evade enemies that starts small, with a ladybug, and scales up to a whale in a stirring and memorable fashion.

    Jan Thomas (Suggested Book: Here Comes the Big, Mean Dust Bunny!)
    Finally, Thomas’ book has the brightly-colored sensibility of a great Seussian ride, as the second book featuring his rhyming, nervous dust bunnies finds them dealing with a cranky gray bunny who finds ways to turn all of their rhymes against them, a perfect short adventure for rowdy kids that will show them that reading can simply be fun.

    The post Celebrate Read Across America Day with 10 Authors Carrying on the Spirit of Dr. Seuss appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

     
  • Jeff Somers 8:03 pm on 2016/06/09 Permalink
    Tags: , , dr. seuss, , , ,   

    8 Kids’ Book Characters Who are Basically Kidnappers 

    Ah, children’s literature, realm of innocent fun and magical beings who bring a sense of wonder and adventure to bedtimes everywhere. Assuming, of course, that your idea of innocent fun involves things like death, torture, monster attacks, and that most popular profession among characters in children’s books—kidnapping. The fact that many kids’ books sport seriously dark subtext isn’t news, but once you start thinking about it, it’s surprising how many of the characters most beloved by children are basically kidnappers. Sure, they’re whisking kids off on exciting adventures…but aren’t they also teaching generation after generation that kidnapping will 100 percent of the time lead to magic and fun, and never to being tied up at the bottom of a well? Consider the troubling implications of these eight books.

    Peter Pan in Peter Pan, by J.M. Barrie
    There’s a lot of darkness in Peter Pan. Barrie, who based the character somewhat on his brother David, who passed away at the age of 14, intentionally made Peter very much a typical child: selfish, self-centered, and occasionally cruel. There’s a clear implication that Peter kills off Lost Boys if they get too old, assuming they aren’t dead already, as it is also suggested they’re all abandoned infants Peter kidnaps after they’ve fallen from their carriages and remained unclaimed for seven days. Although the Darling children accompany Peter to Neverland voluntarily, he’s still very likely an epic kidnapper.

    Willy Wonka in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, by Roald Dahl
    Roald Dahl’s books are filled with delicious sugary darkness, of course. Although the vile children in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory walk into the factory eagerly and are accompanied by parents, Willy Wonka might as well be a guy driving around in a van with blackout windows, offering free candy to all the kids in the neighborhood. In the movie adaptation, he even sings ironic songs about them after he dispatches them in gruesome, candy-themed ways. Where do all those naughty children turn up after they’ve been sucked into pipes, processed, shrunk, or otherwise tortured?

    The Big Friendly Giant in The BFG, by Roald Dahl
    Just to bang home the point that Roald Dahl hated children, consider the BFG, who is easily the nicest giant, and the least likely giant to eat a human child—yet he’s still a kidnapper. When little Sophie sees him, he panics and takes her with him, and only the fact that Sophie’s not all that unhappy to be kidnapped from her horrible life (and the fact that he’s the only giant who doesn’t routinely eat children) make it seem like fun, until you consider that most children see the grown-ups already around them as gigantic, leading to a far more horrifying interpretation of the story.

    Mrs. Trottle in The Secret of Platform 13, by Eva Ibbotson
    One of the great things about this classic children’s book is the inverted kidnapping—the magical prince is kidnapped from a magical world by a woman from ours, and the magical creatures have to come here looking for him. Mrs. Trottle’s crime is inspired by her desire to have a child, and as awful as she is (she makes her nanny’s son, Ben, miserable simply because he’s a much better kid than her stolen, adopted child), she spares no expense to give the prince (who she names Raymond) whatever he wants. Still, she’s a kidnapper, and chances are, Raymond wouldn’t have turned out nearly so bratty if he’d remained merely a magical prince.

    Miss Frizzle in The Magic School Bus, by Joanna Cole
    We would very much like to see the permission slips that Miss Frizzle sends home to parents. Except we’re fairly certain there are none, and that Miss Frizzle is essentially taking her charges on dangerous trips into exotic places, usually without asking if any of them actually want to go. At this point, we wouldn’t be surprised to discover that Miss Frizzle doesn’t even teach at the school, and just drives around in her school bus kidnapping children.

    Aslan in The Chronicles of Narnia, by C.S. Lewis
    Four kids vanish into an alternate universe and, from their perspective, live for decades, unable to contact their parents, friends, or anyone else. Sure, they live as kings and queens, but at some point, the whole thing becomes psychologically disturbing—especially when these monstrous children return home, middle-aged inside but suddenly physically 10 years old. Over the course of the seven Narnia books, Aslan kidnaps quite a number of children for various lengths of time and forces them to take on dangerous tasks he’d prefer not to do himself. In other words, what you’ve always suspected is quite true: Aslan is a monster, and the Chronicles are essentially all about Stockholm Syndrome.

    The Man in the Yellow Hat, in Curious George, by H.A. Rey
    The Man in the Yellow Hat doesn’t get a name in the original Curious George stories, but he did get one in the 2006 film version (Ted Shackleford). Named or not, he’s awful. George (who we’ll note is not a monkey, as he has no tail) is a gentle, cheerful soul…who is literally kidnapped from his jungle home by The Man without so much as a moment’s hesitation, informed he will now live in a zoo, and almost drowned—all within the first few pages of the first book. George’s antics are undoubtedly the desperate attempts of a miserable animal to understand what’s happened to him as he navigates an unnatural world he never asked for.

    The Cat in The Cat in the Hat, by Dr. Seuss
    The children never leave the house—true. But if some weirdo in a hat barged into your house when you’d thoughtfully left your children home alone completely unsupervised and “entertained” them for hours, you might not see it as an innocent jaunt, but rather as an in-home kidnapping. Dr. Seuss may be great for kids learning to read, but the moral of this story is, if strangers come to the house offering to take you on an adventure, by all means, open the door and invite them in.

     
  • Jeff Somers 8:03 pm on 2016/06/09 Permalink
    Tags: , , dr. seuss, , , ,   

    8 Kids’ Book Characters Who are Basically Kidnappers 

    Ah, children’s literature, realm of innocent fun and magical beings who bring a sense of wonder and adventure to bedtimes everywhere. Assuming, of course, that your idea of innocent fun involves things like death, torture, monster attacks, and that most popular profession among characters in children’s books—kidnapping. The fact that many kids’ books sport seriously dark subtext isn’t news, but once you start thinking about it, it’s surprising how many of the characters most beloved by children are basically kidnappers. Sure, they’re whisking kids off on exciting adventures…but aren’t they also teaching generation after generation that kidnapping will 100 percent of the time lead to magic and fun, and never to being tied up at the bottom of a well? Consider the troubling implications of these eight books.

    Peter Pan in Peter Pan, by J.M. Barrie
    There’s a lot of darkness in Peter Pan. Barrie, who based the character somewhat on his brother David, who passed away at the age of 14, intentionally made Peter very much a typical child: selfish, self-centered, and occasionally cruel. There’s a clear implication that Peter kills off Lost Boys if they get too old, assuming they aren’t dead already, as it is also suggested they’re all abandoned infants Peter kidnaps after they’ve fallen from their carriages and remained unclaimed for seven days. Although the Darling children accompany Peter to Neverland voluntarily, he’s still very likely an epic kidnapper.

    Willy Wonka in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, by Roald Dahl
    Roald Dahl’s books are filled with delicious sugary darkness, of course. Although the vile children in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory walk into the factory eagerly and are accompanied by parents, Willy Wonka might as well be a guy driving around in a van with blackout windows, offering free candy to all the kids in the neighborhood. In the movie adaptation, he even sings ironic songs about them after he dispatches them in gruesome, candy-themed ways. Where do all those naughty children turn up after they’ve been sucked into pipes, processed, shrunk, or otherwise tortured?

    The Big Friendly Giant in The BFG, by Roald Dahl
    Just to bang home the point that Roald Dahl hated children, consider the BFG, who is easily the nicest giant, and the least likely giant to eat a human child—yet he’s still a kidnapper. When little Sophie sees him, he panics and takes her with him, and only the fact that Sophie’s not all that unhappy to be kidnapped from her horrible life (and the fact that he’s the only giant who doesn’t routinely eat children) make it seem like fun, until you consider that most children see the grown-ups already around them as gigantic, leading to a far more horrifying interpretation of the story.

    Mrs. Trottle in The Secret of Platform 13, by Eva Ibbotson
    One of the great things about this classic children’s book is the inverted kidnapping—the magical prince is kidnapped from a magical world by a woman from ours, and the magical creatures have to come here looking for him. Mrs. Trottle’s crime is inspired by her desire to have a child, and as awful as she is (she makes her nanny’s son, Ben, miserable simply because he’s a much better kid than her stolen, adopted child), she spares no expense to give the prince (who she names Raymond) whatever he wants. Still, she’s a kidnapper, and chances are, Raymond wouldn’t have turned out nearly so bratty if he’d remained merely a magical prince.

    Miss Frizzle in The Magic School Bus, by Joanna Cole
    We would very much like to see the permission slips that Miss Frizzle sends home to parents. Except we’re fairly certain there are none, and that Miss Frizzle is essentially taking her charges on dangerous trips into exotic places, usually without asking if any of them actually want to go. At this point, we wouldn’t be surprised to discover that Miss Frizzle doesn’t even teach at the school, and just drives around in her school bus kidnapping children.

    Aslan in The Chronicles of Narnia, by C.S. Lewis
    Four kids vanish into an alternate universe and, from their perspective, live for decades, unable to contact their parents, friends, or anyone else. Sure, they live as kings and queens, but at some point, the whole thing becomes psychologically disturbing—especially when these monstrous children return home, middle-aged inside but suddenly physically 10 years old. Over the course of the seven Narnia books, Aslan kidnaps quite a number of children for various lengths of time and forces them to take on dangerous tasks he’d prefer not to do himself. In other words, what you’ve always suspected is quite true: Aslan is a monster, and the Chronicles are essentially all about Stockholm Syndrome.

    The Man in the Yellow Hat, in Curious George, by H.A. Rey
    The Man in the Yellow Hat doesn’t get a name in the original Curious George stories, but he did get one in the 2006 film version (Ted Shackleford). Named or not, he’s awful. George (who we’ll note is not a monkey, as he has no tail) is a gentle, cheerful soul…who is literally kidnapped from his jungle home by The Man without so much as a moment’s hesitation, informed he will now live in a zoo, and almost drowned—all within the first few pages of the first book. George’s antics are undoubtedly the desperate attempts of a miserable animal to understand what’s happened to him as he navigates an unnatural world he never asked for.

    The Cat in The Cat in the Hat, by Dr. Seuss
    The children never leave the house—true. But if some weirdo in a hat barged into your house when you’d thoughtfully left your children home alone completely unsupervised and “entertained” them for hours, you might not see it as an innocent jaunt, but rather as an in-home kidnapping. Dr. Seuss may be great for kids learning to read, but the moral of this story is, if strangers come to the house offering to take you on an adventure, by all means, open the door and invite them in.

     
  • Jen Harper 3:00 pm on 2016/03/02 Permalink
    Tags: , dr. seuss, , , , read across america day   

    In Honor of His Birthday (and Read Across America Day), 9 Surprising Facts about Dr. Seuss 

    March 2 is an important day for book nerds—it’s both the National Education Association’s Read Across America Day and Dr. Seuss’s birthday! The wildly popular author, who brought us perennial picture-book favorites like The Cat in the Hat, The Lorax, and How the Grinch Stole Christmas, would have been 112 this year. And what better way to celebrate his birthday than to partake in the NEA’s nationwide celebration of reading?

    We have Dr. Seuss to thank for so many amazing books, kooky characters, tongue-twisting rhymes, and invented words. So dust off your red-and-white striped hat, grab yourself a good book and a piece of birthday cake—“made of guaranteed, certified strictly Grade-A peppermint cucumber sausage-paste butter!”—and check out some surprising facts about the good doctor himself.

    1. Dr. Seuss wasn’t the only pen name Theodore Geisel used. He also wrote under Dr. Theophrastus Seuss, T. Seuss, Theo LeSieg, and Rosetta Stone.

    2. The book Green Eggs and Ham was the result of a bet between Dr. Seuss and his editor Bennett Cerf, who bet the author he couldn’t write a book using fewer words than The Cat in the Hat, which had 225. Green Eggs and Ham has only 50!

    3. He may have originated the word “nerd”—the first known use was in his book If I Ran the Zooin 1951.

    4. Seuss had no biological children of his own, though he would make up fanciful stories about his invented daughter, Chrysanthemum-Pearl, even dedicating the book The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins to her: “To Chrysanthemum-Pearl, age 89 months, going on 90.” He later became stepfather to the two daughters of his second wife, Audrey.

    5. In response to the oft-asked question “Where do you get your ideas,” Seuss said, “I get all my ideas in Switzerland near the Forka Pass. There is a little town called Gletch, and two thousand feet up above Gletch there is a smaller hamlet called Über Gletch. I go there on the fourth of August every summer to get my cuckoo clock fixed. While the cuckoo is in the hospital, I wander around and talk to the people in the streets. They are very strange people, and I get my ideas from them.”

    6. The last book published in Dr. Seuss’s lifetime was Oh, the Places You’ll Go!

    7. Dr. Seuss even inspired a theme park! Seuss Landing is one of the seven themed “islands” at Universal’s Islands of Adventure in Orlando, Florida.

    8. Seuss was honored with various awards during his career, but he never won the Caldecott Medal or the Newbery Award. He does, however, now have an award named in his honor—the Theodor Seuss Geisel Award, which is given annually to the author and illustrator of the most distinguished American book for beginning readers.

    9. Dr. Seuss wasn’t a real doctor—he added the Dr. to his name in honor of his father, who wanted him to practice medicine. But Dartmouth College did grant the author an honorary doctorate in 1956.

    What’s your favorite Dr. Seuss book?

     
  • Lindsey Lewis Smithson 6:00 pm on 2015/12/09 Permalink
    Tags: almost doesn't count, and to think that I saw it on mulberry street, , , dr. seuss, east wind: west wind, , , , pearl s. buck, , , , the diary of a young girl   

    More Essential Books that Almost Never Saw the Light of Day 

    The best, most beloved books often have one thing in common: a struggle to be published. Some of our most important stories, from Anne Frank’s unforgettable diary, to the wanderlust classic On the Road, and even early books by childhood idol Dr. Seuss, were passed over by multiple agents and publishers. Yet sometimes it’s those books that break rules, the ones labeled “too different” for a mainstream audience, that become the ones we really needed. Check out some of the books below, (or some from our earlier post on books that almost never were), and fall in love with something a little “different.”

    The Bell Jar, by Sylvia Plath
    Plath, the Pulitzer Prize-winning idol of many poets and readers in search of a coming of age story, had to publish her novel The Bell Jar under the pseudonym Victoria Lucas. The novel faced rejection because the publishing house saw it as “disappointing, juvenile and overwrought.” Now it’s compared to The Catcher in the Rye, (another frequently rejected title, ahem).

    Animal Farm, by George Orwell
    When T.S. Eliot was the editing director of Faber & Faber, he rejected Animal Farm because he “did not want to upset the Soviets in those fraught years of World War II.” There was no mention of a problem with Orwell’s writing, and he was already a household name with five other books in print. In this case, in contrast to other rejected writers, politics—not style—almost stopped this required reading staple from ever hitting bookshelves.

    The Diary of a Young Girl, by Anne Frank
    Anne Frank’s dairy faced unusual hurdles on the road to publication. After her hiding place was discovered, the remnants of her notebooks left behind by the Nazis were kept hidden for years. Eventually her father reclaimed them and worked to bring her voice to light. Under his watchful eye, though, many of the teenage struggles he thought might offend more conservative readers were edited out of the book. A text with fewer edits was later released, giving readers more insight into this vibrant, inspirational young girl.

    On the Road, by Jack Kerouac
    The jewel in the Beat generation’s literary crown, One the Road was initially said to be too provocative and nontraditional. In one very harsh rejection letter Kerouac was told, “this is a badly misdirected talent and…this huge sprawling and inconclusive novel would probably have small sales and sardonic indignant reviews from every side.” The passionate fanbase that exists to this day might disagree with that sentiment.

    East Wind: West Wind, by Pearl S. Buck
    Pearl S. Buck struggled to find an American publishing house for her debut. As one of the few Americans living in China, and one who had close relationships with Chinese writers, Buck was positioned better than anyone to bring China to America with her epic, cross-cultural coming of age story. She was told in a rejection letter that American readers “aren’t interested in China,” but clearly this proved to be untrue. Buck became the first American woman to win the Nobel Prize for literature.     

    And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street, by Dr. Seuss
    Pretty much everything Dr. Seuss wrote in his early career faced rejection. His first book was passed over 27 times before finally finding a home. Rumor is, he was told his books were “too different” to be published. The Cat in the Hat, Horton, and the Grinch may have never been, just for being different, though ultimately that’s what made them great. Considering the way Dr. Seuss has become a cornerstone of early literacy, a world without him in it would be one with fewer people whose passion for reading began with his giddy, rhyming tales.

    What books do you love that were once overlooked by publishers?

     
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