Jane Austen's Pride & Prejudice: Looking Better Than Ever

Pride and Prejudice is 200 years old and looking better than ever thanks to a beautiful new board book edition.

I may have mentioned once or twice how much I love the new Cozy Classics series created by Holman and Jack Wang (and published by Simply Read Books).

The Wang brothers are making it their business to introduce the toddler set to the classics of literature through simple 12 word elucidations of the tales accompanied by beautiful needle-felted illustrations.

To give you a sense of how well this works, here's a two page spread from their recently released Pride and Prejudice.

The books are garnering all kinds of attentions and I look forward to seeing the shelf of Cozy Classics grow.  Coming soon are Les Miserables and War and Peace and just announced are fall releases: Emma, Jane Eyre and Oliver Twist.  Check out Cozy Classics over on Facebook for details.  If you "like" their FB page this week you could be entered in a draw for six highly covetable posters!


Family Literacy,Welcome Baby, YA Writing, and a De-Gingered Anne Shirley

Things I've been meaning to tell you:

Family Literacy Day is this week.  I forget which day so let's just celebrate all week long.  Here's a nice poster from the talented Mélanie Watt to remind you.  There's also a nice list of recommended books from Canadian Children's Book Centre here.

There's a new book coming from the wonderful Barbara Reid.  It's called Welcome, Baby
and it looks like a perfect shower or baby gift. Go and see for yourself!

You can take an online YA writing class from Mariko Tamaki at U of T School of Continuing Studies.  Details here.

I'm a big fan of Skim which was written by Mariko and illustrated by her cousin Jillian Tamaki and has one of my all-time favourite covers.

And speaking of covers, who gave Anne Shirley this very ill-advised makeover?  Among other horrors, they have de-gingered her!


Briefly Noted: Bottled Hearts

Cozy Classics co-creators Jack and Holman Wang have been selected to participate in the illustrator's exhibition for the Bologna Children's Book Fair.  It's a huge honour and I'm very pleased for them and for our shared publisher, Simply Read Books.

Speaking of Simply Read, they are talking about doing an app for The Henry Books.  How cool would that be?  The app for Oliver Jeffers's book The Heart and Bottle was narrated by Helena Bonham Carter.  I'm just thinking about who my dream narrator might be.

I do love the Heart in a Bottle necklace by Oliver Jeffers for Digby and Iona.

Son is re-reading Stuart Little and explaining to me all the ways in which it is better than the movie - primarily its lack of a "mushy ending."  He also likes the implication that Stuart is on his way to Canada.  We disagree about which origin story is creepier, though.  He thinks it's odd of them to go out and adopt a mouse while I have always been mightily freaked out by the idea of accidentally birthing one.

I was interviewed by Chirp editor Katherine Dearlove about a story that ran in their Jan/Feb issue here.


Nancy Drew Saved My Life

I tried very hard not to buy this book at the most recent book sale.

"Leave it for some young Nancy Drew enthusiast," I told myself.  But then I realised that such creatures may no longer exist and that I probably was the target demographic for this book, having spent one lost summer of my childhood devouring Nancy Drew books at such a prodigious rate that my mother would buy them and hide them from me to dispense as needed.

Nancy Drew saved my life by taking me somewhere else entirely during a time when that was required.  And beyond that, she made me think that girls could be clever enough to sort things out for themselves.

Anyway, I turned to the back of this book and saw this postcard collection and knew it was coming home with me.  Leave a comment if you'd like me to send you a card!


A Jane Gardam Künstlerroman for Readers Young and No Longer Young

A Long Way From Verona by Jane Gardam is a brilliantly funny novel about a thirteen-year-old girl named Jessica Vye.  I think of all the books I have loved by Gardam this is the one I love best.  But I am confused by descriptions of it as a children's book or a young adult novel.  It is only a young adult novel in the way that Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man is a novel for young adults.  Like that book, A Long Way from Verona is a Künstlerroman (such a useful word, although difficult to pull off in casual conversation) or a novel of formation of an artist, in this case a writer.

I am now going to set aside part of my day to considering what makes a novel a young adult novel and whether it is possible to draw such conclusions from the age of the protagonist.  There are many young adult novels that I love deeply: Meg Rosoff's What I Was, Susan Juby's Alice, I Think, and Sonya Harnett's The Ghost Child spring immediately to mind.  I have no qualms about the idea of offering those novels up to the thirteen-year-old reader but my fear is that because of their categorization they will be missed by the thirty or forty-something reader who could reap their wisdom in quite a different way.  

To demonstrate this theory I offer up the painfully funny opening paragraphs of Gardam's novel and suggest that whatever your age you might want to search for a copy of the book for your own enjoyment.


A is for Abecedary

There's a fantastic gallery of images from recent ABC books and flashcards up on The Guardian.
I confess that I aspire to being an abecedarian at some point in my career.   

Of course, my all-time favourite alphabet set comes from Julie Morstad (images via Buy Olympia).

Still, some of the Guardian's selections are pretty charming!

Alphabet : F is for Finches
F is for finches
From Woop Studios
Published by Chronicle Books

Also, as long as we are talking about ABC books, could someone please publish this one?