Harry Potter and History Collide at the New York Academy of Medicine

Bezoars, screaming mandrakes, and basilisks all figure in J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series, but their origins date back centuries. Now, the New York Academy of Medicine has launched a digital exhibition exploring the connections between Rowling’s books and historical texts. Read all about it on the Fine Books Blog. 

Reexamining Mother’s Day with Margaret Atwood and “The Handmaid’s Tale”

 

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Motherhood means something other than candy and roses in The Handmaid’s Tale. Read about Hulu’s adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s classic as well as the Folio Society’s illustrated edition–on the Fine Books Blog. 

American Library Association Announces Award Winners

‘Tis the season for award ceremonies, and on Monday the American Library Association (ALA) announced the top books for children and young adults at its Midwinter Meeting, held this year in Atlanta, Georgia. We reported on Tuesday that Kelly Barnhill took top honors with the Newbery; read who else was recognized for their contributions to children’s literature over on the Fine Books Blog.

Kelly Barnhill Awarded 2017 Newbery Medal

Kelly Barnhill Wins 2017 Newbery Medal

At the American Library Association’s (ALA) midwinter conference yesterday in Atlanta, Minnesota native Kelly Barnhil was awarded the 2017 John Newbery Medal for The Girl Who Drank the Moon (Algonquin Young Readers). Like her 2014 debut The Witch’s Boy, this fantasy coming-of-age fairy tale will no doubt secure itself as a modern classic.

I had the great privilege of speaking with Barnhill back in 2014 about The Witch’s Boy and the importance of magic and danger in children’s literature, which ran here in January 2015. That interview also served as a resource for a story I wrote for the Spring 2015 issue of The Sewanee Review that traces the origins of danger imagery in children’s stories, starting with fairy tales by the Grimm Brothers and moving into the present day. I am grateful  to Gregory Maguire, Mac Barnett, and Kelly Barnhill for their powerful and nuanced thoughts on the importance of their craft for shaping the minds of young readers.

Congratulations to all of yesterday’s winners–check out my Friday column on the Fine Books Blog for a full run-down of the ALA awards.

Book News for December 21, 2016

Here’s what’s making news in the book world this week:

From the Houston Chronicle: Houston’s newest bookstore: a Latino ‘cultural hub’ Nuestra Palabra Arts & Books is dedicated to promoting Latino literature and culture. 

Anne of Green Gables is catnip to television producers. Read Read Shoshana Flax’s review over at Horn Book Magazine on this latest incarnation. (Spoiler: there are better versions out there, or read the books instead.)

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The Emily Dickinson Museum in Amherst, Massachusetts celebrated its namesake’s 186th birthday with poetry readings and coconut cake. Read more on the Fine Books Blog.

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photo credit: Nicholas A. Basbanes