Syd Hoff, A. Redfield, and Me: Part II

Inspired by BoingBoing’s notice of my post on Syd Hoff’s leftist cartoons, I’m sharing another letter from the late Mr. Hoff, along with a cartoon from 1939.  As those who remember his first letter to me might recall, he and I corresponded — and spoke over the phone a few times — when I was working on…

Halloween Mix VIII: A Shot in the Dark

Last year, Nine Kinds of Pie presented seven Halloween mixes.  This year, it’ll be just one new Halloween mix.  (Feel free to check out the old ones, though.  They’re still up on the blog!)  The theme this year is all instrumental.  Henry Mancini, Combustible Edison, Big Lazy, and others present some (mostly) spooky tunes without…

A Title Is to Read

In honor of what would have been Crockett Johnson‘s 105th birthday, I can exclusively reveal both the title of the book and the name of the winner of my Invent Title for My Book, win a Signed Copy of the Book contest.  Yesterday (Wednesday), my editor emailed the title that he and his colleagues liked…

Little Rebels, Little Conservatives, and Occupy Wall Street

The headline reads “Occupying children’s minds: ‘Radical children’s literature at Wall Street protests.’”  Featured prominently is Julia Mickenberg’s and my Tales for Little Rebels.  After reading the piece (though, not, I suspect, the book itself), one commenter, writing under the name of “forcerecon2,” worrries that Tales for Little Rebels represents “the indoctrination of our children.”  Coming from the left but…

“You’re going to want to relax. But you can’t.”

Moments after I finished my the oral portion of comprehensive exams, Professor Michael Kreyling (a member of my committee) turned to me and said, “You’re going to want to relax.  But you can’t.”  He then listed many reasons for not relaxing: I needed to write a dissertation proposal, start working on the dissertation itself, send…

10 Tips for Writing a Biography

As we await a verdict from my editor on the official title of the book formerly known as The Purple Crayon and a Hole to Dig: The Lives of Crockett Johnson and Ruth Krauss (forthcoming 2012), I thought I’d share a few tips with any aspiring biographers out there. Since I’ve only written one biography…

Eat, drink, and be merry

Bumble-Ardy gets adopted by his Aunt Adeline after his “immediate family gorged and gained weight. / And got ate.”  When he throws himself a birthday party without her permission, Aunt Adeline threatens his guests: “Scat, get lost, vamoose, just scram! / Or else I’ll slice you into ham!”  On the next two-page spread, Bumble tells…

Desert Island Picture Books

On her blog today, Anita Silvey asks her “readers to weigh in with their list of five books that they can’t live without or the ones they read again and again.”  So, first, let me encourage you to weigh in over on her blog.  As soon as this post is up, I’ll do the same….

“This is the kind of book I like”: Crockett Johnson, famous cartoonist & bookseller

Although I wouldn’t argue that once upon a time “illustrators were celebrities,” it’s definitely true that they were once more celebrated than they are now.  Predictably, one illustrator who comes to my mind is Crockett Johnson (my biography of Johnson and his wife Ruth Krauss will be published in the fall of 2012).  In 1947, Johnson’s…