Denshosha–Memory Keeper Chiharu Shiota Disembarks in Paris

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Shiota exhibit at Savannah Museum of Art. Reproduced courtesy of Galerie Templon.

Japanese artist Chiharu Shiota stages a new exhibition at Galerie Templon in Paris. Read all about it on the Fine Books Blog

Foxy Behavior

Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Fox? by Benjamin Renner; First Second Books, $15.99, 188 pages, ages 5-8.

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copyright 2017 Benjamin Renner. Reproduced with permission from First Second Books.

 

Can’t a fox get a break? Apparently, no–not even the fluffy egg-laying hens are afraid in Benjamin Renner’s mapcap graphic novel making it’s English-language debut next month. Originally published last year in French as Le Grand Méchant Renard, the book chronicles the woes of a wannabe terror, a hungry fox whose antics only provoke the ire of his intended victims. Even under the tutelage of the old master of fairy-tale disaster, the wolf, this fox “as ferocious as a geriatric tortoise,” appears destined to nosh on berries and twigs for the rest of his days. At least, until the wolf hatches a plan to steal some eggs. The fox succeeds, but can he bring himself to eat these fluffballs? And what happens when he develops an attachment to his brood–who soon enough believe themselves to be baby foxes? Will the new family escape the clutches of the scheming wolf? Will the hens have pity on a poor fox seeking redemption? Renner’s slapstick, subversive, and sly saga will keep readers of all ages clucking with joy. While the artwork certainly has the feel of a cartoon strip, there’s a freshness and sophistication here that reveals a master at work.  Pre-order this finely executed graphic novel to ensure hours of summer reading enchantment.

Peter O’Toole Collection Arrives at Harry Ransom Center at UT Austin

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Peter O’Toole. Unidentified photographer. Courtesy Harry Ransom Center.

Head on over to the Fine Books Blog and check out my interview with HRC curator Eric Colleary, who discusses how this latest acquisition will compliment the library’s T.E. Lawrence collection.

https://goo.gl/fb/Pfoibw

First Words

First Words; Lonely Planet Kids, $12.99, 208 pages, ages 4-8.

Lonely Planet Kids has expanded its product line-up in recent years with an intense focus on the pre-k to third grade demographic with interactive travel journals, guidebooks, and now, phrasebooks. In the age of Google translate (which is no substitute for learning a second language, but that’s another topic altogether), it’s reassuring to see publishing houses recognize that language acquisition is a skill best learned young. The First Words series enters the market with three languages–Spanish, French, and English–and each volume introduces the same 100 words. Each book uses the same images, so there’s continuity across the series if not cultural diversity. (But really, a gato is a chat is a cat, right? Sometimes it’s best not to overthink these things.) Every page is devoted to one word with a pronunciation guide, and Lonely Planet’s website offers free audio clips spoken by a native language-speaking child, for all 100 words. (Check it out here.)

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The First Words series is a cute introduction to second language acquisition, and Lonely Planet plans to add Italian, Mandarin, and Japanese to the lineup in the near future. The trick now is for Lonely Planet to follow up with an equally engaging series that takes readers to the next level of language acquisition, because it’s at this secondary stage that many companies falter, and kids lose interest. Here’s hoping Lonely Planet will change the trend.

Keats for Kids

Literary Features Syndicate

A Song About Myself, by John Keats, illustrated by Chris Raschka; Candlewick Press, $17.99, 40 pages, ages 7-9. 

9780763650902 (3).jpg A SONG ABOUT MYSELF. Illustrations copyright © 2017 by Chris Raschka. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Candlewick Press, Somerville, MA.

British poet John Keats (1795-1821) published fifty-four poems during his brief life, yet those pieces secured his place among the “second generation” of Romantic poets like Lord Byron and Percy Bysshe. Keats wrote the three-part A Song About Myself while traveling through Scotland and included it in a letter to his fifteen-year old younger sister, Fanny. The whimsical, cheeky verses about Keats as a naughty boy wandering the world are a departure from the poet’s better-known odes and sonnets. Keats describes the world outside of London and reveals that no matter where he is, some things remain the same.

9780763650902 (4).jpg A SONG ABOUT MYSELF. Illustrations copyright © 2017 by Chris Raschka. Reproduced by permission of…

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Keats for Kids

A Song About Myself, by John Keats, illustrated by Chris Raschka; Candlewick Press, $17.99, 40 pages, ages 7-9. 

9780763650902 (3).jpg
A SONG ABOUT MYSELF. Illustrations copyright © 2017 by Chris Raschka. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Candlewick Press, Somerville, MA.

British poet John Keats (1795-1821) published fifty-four poems during his brief life, yet those pieces secured his place among the “second generation” of Romantic poets like Lord Byron and Percy Bysshe. Keats wrote the three-part A Song About Myself while traveling through Scotland and included it in a letter to his fifteen-year old younger sister, Fanny. The whimsical, cheeky verses about Keats as a naughty boy wandering the world are a departure from the poet’s better-known odes and sonnets. Keats describes the world outside of London and reveals that no matter where he is, some things remain the same.

9780763650902 (4).jpg
A SONG ABOUT MYSELF. Illustrations copyright © 2017 by Chris Raschka. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Candlewick Press, Somerville, MA.

So, how does an early nineteenth-century poem hold up in 2017? Not bad–the rhyming pattern is easy to follow (“There was a naughty Boy/ A naughty boy was he,/ He would not stop at home, / He could not quiet be –“), simple verses that quickly build into a playful ramble through the land to the north of London. Some words, like pother (a fuss) and rivetted (hold close) might trip up readers, but most of it is straightforward enough–this is a poem written by a feisty young man intent on making his reader laugh. Two-time Caldecott Medal winner Chris Raschka’s watercolors flow unencumbered through the pages, abstract yet thoroughly engaging, and expertly match this bizarre little road trip. (Don’t miss the end papers where a condensed map of New York and the British Isles begs close examination.)

A Song About Myself is a wonderful introduction to Keats and proving that some things just don’t go out of style.