The End: Children’s Authors’ Last Words

Following the deaths this month of Brian Jacques, Janet Schulman, and Margaret K. McElderry, we turn to the last words of those who wrote for the young — Seuss, Dahl, Thurber, Montgomery, Nesbit, Charles M. Schulz, Crockett Johnson, and others. “Yes. I’m not going to die tomorrow.” — Dr. Seuss (Theodor Seuss Geisel, 1904-1991) “Ow,…

Eight Facts About Roald Dahl

Last week, I finally finished Donald Sturrock’s Storyteller: The Authorized Biography of Roald Dahl.  I highly recommend it.  In addition to being well-written and carefully researched, it’s a heck of a story.  In it, you’ll encounter such facts as these: During World War II, Dahl was a spy.  (This has previously been documented in Jennet…

Here Comes the Barnaby Truck

“Barnaby exclusively in the Chicago Sun!” Here’s a photo of a Chicago Sun delivery truck in the 1940s. The occasion for sharing the photo is the quest for original Barnaby strips!  As readers of this blog know, Eric Reynolds and I are co-editing The Complete Barnaby for Fantagraphics.  We’re currently working on gathering strips from…

Goodbye, Yellow Brick Road?

What would Kansas be like without Langston Hughes, William S. Burroughs, or The Wizard of Oz?  What would Kansas be like without art?  That’s what the blog Imagine Kansas Without Art is considering, in light of Governor Brownback’s order to eliminate the Kansas Arts Commission (which, if approved by the state legislature, will go into…

How to Talk Nonsense

Last Friday, in my English 703: Critical Approaches to Children’s Literature class, the students and I spent 5 minutes talking nonsense.  We’d been reading theories of nonsense, and Lewis Carroll’s Alice books — I thought it would be both fun and educational to put those theories into practice. So, based on our readings of Tigges,…

Syd Hoff’s Teeth: The Leftist Satire of A. Redfield

While he was contributing to the New Yorker as Syd Hoff, he was also contributing to the Daily Worker and New Masses as A. Redfield — the pseudonym he adopted for his radical work.  The Ruling Clawss (Daily Worker, 1935) collects his cartoons originally published in the Communist daily.  Contrary to what all published biographies (except…