Friday, January 2, 2009

Oh, Did You Want to Play in This Field? I'm Sorry, the Adults Aren't Done "Discussing" It Yet.

Over at Evil Editor at 4pm EST today, there's going to be a live bookchat about The Higher Power of Lucky.

If I think of it, I'll be sticking my head in to see if there's anything interesting going on. I'm afraid, though, that the same lingering questions will almost certainly come up:
  • Is a book which contains the word scrotum appropriate for 9-12 year olds?
  • Just who are the uptight hysterics who think it's not?
  • It's a good book, but would it have won the Newbery if Susan Patron wasn't a very well-liked librarian?
  • Haven't the Newbery choices been inexplicable enough times to completely kill everyone's curiosity about what goes on in the committee's chambers?
  • Why when everyone involved in a discussion is up on his/her high horse does nobody notice until the field is thoroughly trampled into mud?

34 comments:

Sarah Laurenson said...

I'll be there. I specifically bought it to see what went into a Newbery and was appalled by the whole controversy. EE's minions do make for lively discussions.

Paul Michael Murphy said...

I thought the description of setting in that book was exceptional. Worth the read just for that.

Editorial Anonymous said...

That brings up another good question: why don't I have minions?

Sarah Laurenson said...

Ah, but you have slavishly devoted followers. You just need a name for them.

Miss Snark had Snarklings. EE has Minions. Does Moonrat have Moonies?

I think you need a 'name the followers' post.

mb said...

Knowing the minions, I'm sure the discussion will veer somewhat from the expected.

Colorado Writer said...

You have followers. Devoted ones.

Editorial Anonymous said...

Yes, and I like their free-thinking selves just the way they are.

But couldn't I have some minions, too, to do my bidding and some odd grovelling?

Editorial Anonymous said...

Can you rent minions?

kt horning said...

I still don't understand why HPOL has inspired such high pitched feelings. It struck me as a good old-fashioned children's book, the kind I read back in the 1960s. It's definitely a well-written book accessible to middle-grade readers. So why all the fuss? The whole scrotum controversy was largely manufactured by the New York Times. It's unfairly become the Newbery High-Horse crowd's whipping boy. (And why don't they use "The Whipping Boy" as their whipping boy?)

Sarah Laurenson said...

Odd grovelling? I think that can be arranged. Especially if you rent a few minions to do it.

dana p said...

Sorry, EA, you can't have minions, because you're not evil. (A bit naughty, maybe, but that's not enough...)

Editorial Anonymous said...

Harumph!
New Year's resolution: be more eeeevil.

Chris Eldin said...

I don't think it's possible to be evil with a cute slush monster as an avatar.
Just saying...

Will work on answers to your questions in the post so we can talk about more interesting things on EE's, like watching Sarah have a massage...
:-)

Anonymous said...

I plan to peek in on the discussion, too. There's one minion who gets on my last nerve though; she states her opinions as though they are facts.

No, Sarah, I'm not talking about you :)

Chris Eldin said...

OOO! Anon, the discussion over here could be SOOO much fun!
hhehehe

BuffySquirrel said...

anomytes?
(word ver: supecto... supectos?)

Marissa Doyle said...

"Minions" has always sounded like a contraction of "minced onions" to me. We have to find a better word for your disciples. :)

(disclaimer: I'm a EE minion too, but somehow minced onions seem okay in connection with him.)

Editorial Anonymous said...

Because of the tears?

Colorado Writer said...

ooohhh...disciples.

Anita said...

Am completely bummed that I just read this post about THE HIGHER POWER OF LUCKY and missed the discussion!!! My 7-year-old and I read it and looooved the book. What?! Do people really not say "scrotum" (or some variance, thereof) in their households? I think NOT using those words is weird. Trust me, my daughter and I were not scarred by the book. It was magic.

nicobulus said...

You could call them the "Slush Puppies" but I fear that would lead to some TM issues with http://www.slushpuppie.co.uk/

And it's always best to use the correct name for body parts; saves on grief when your children become teenagers.

lkmadigan said...

I believe Heather Brewer has minions. You can check with her.

Anonymous said...

The biggest problems with LUCKY are the unfortunate logic problems in the story, as well as the author's uneven characterizations of Lucky, Bridgett, and the rest of her actors.

Jordan K. Henrichs wrote a very thoughtful Amazon review (23 April, 2007). I wrote the following in the comment string on his review:

(Mr. Henrichs wrote)"...There's so much I could say about this book because there's just so much that doesn't make sense..."

And I wrote in response:

"The one that left me scratching my head was: here's a child who's lived her whole life in the Mojave Desert. She's nine years old and fairly aware of her surroundings (all that interest in the natural sciences, and she's protrayed as loving the desert), so she must be well aware of how dangerous and uncomfortable dust storms can be...and yet she decides to run away in a dust-storm so bad that her school closes early.

Oh. And never mind protective clothing. Lucky puts on a red silk slip dress and a dishtowel over her head. Would a fairly intelligent, scientifically minded child who's born and bred in the desert wear *that* in a dust storm? There's some powerful logic problems going on in that scene."

And as for the whole scrotum thing, it really is just another problem the author had with the unevenness of her characters. From the same comment string...

"Well, since we're talking about stuff that doesn't add up, it was also jarring that the character Short Sammy would use the word 'scrotum' while telling his hard-luck story during an AA meeting.

"Has any guy ever used the word 'scrotum' in a conversation? Plus, Short Sammy has a real western twang thoughout the book. Frankly, he struck me as less of a 'scrotum' and more of a "family jewels" sort of guy."

Ariel

RA said...

Excellent points, Ariel. I hope you'll remember to put them in your Newbery-Award winning novel.

Anonymous said...

"Excellent points, Ariel. I hope you'll remember to put them in your Newbery-Award winning novel."

Hee!

The thing that always surprises me about Newbery discussions is how very superficial they are: we spent the last two years on scrotums and
scansion(s) for instance, but rarely got into the good stuff---

Are the characters alive?

Does the story make sense?

Do you care about the story and characters without having to grow up, grow old, and get a degree in library science?

Ariel


(Plus, don't you just love having a conversation at the bottom of a blog? Just you and me and the asthenosphere shifting endlessly beneath our toes....)

Anonymous said...

Hey, you aren't alone Ariel and RA! I'm reading, too. And I agree with Ariel. The story doesn't really work because it replaces internal logic with "Whimsy.' So you get a slip dress and a dishtowel because this isn't about "real" this is more of a fable (like Boy in the Striped Pajamas). I also agree with KT Horning. Since I read her comment I realized that what Lucky reminds me of most is Secret of the Andes by Ann Nolan Clark from all the way back in the 50's. But I can't tell if that means these books are "bad" or perfectly good things of a kind that I happen to despise. (I was going to write "happen not to like," but despise is accurate. I might as well be honest while I am being anonymous.)

h

Anonymous said...

"The story doesn't really work because it replaces internal logic with "Whimsy.' So you get a slip dress and a dishtowel because this isn't about "real" this is more of a fable (like Boy in the Striped Pajamas)."

This is especially well put. Substituting whimsy for logic can work well if you're doing fabulist sorts of work (Think: THE TRUE MEANING OF SMEKDAY), but in a realistic novel, you get stuff like PENDERWICKS and LUCKY---okay stuff as long as you don't think whilst reading.

"...what Lucky reminds me of most is Secret of the Andes by Ann Nolan Clark from all the way back in the 50's."

I am going to blow my annoymous cover here bigtime, but ANDES and LUCKY (and WATERLESS MOUNTAIN and LIKE THIS CAT and CRISPIN and KIRA KIRA and UNIVERSE o! so many other slings and arrows of outrageous Newberies) actually point out how deeply flawed the system is: all that nonsense of trying to make one book and one book only (and yeah, okay a couple of three honors) be the year's most distinguished contribution to chilren's literature.

I'm going to blow my annoymous cover here bigtime (fortunately, no one's reading it all the way down here!) and stump once again for taking a page from the Academy Awards.

Appy Academy thinking to the Newbery, and we could honor lots of books for lots of different reaasons.

We could have a Newbery for Characterization, a Newbery for Story, a Newbery for Cover Art (I insist! I just adore cover art!), a Newbery for Narrative Themes----For Historical Ficiton, For Fantasy/Science Fiction, for Mystery...and yeah yeah yeah, we could still have a Newbery for Best Book of the Year.

But if we could honor more worthy books for the things they do so worthily, get the word out that there's a bunch of terrific books worth reading out there (and all with that universally recognized and blindly-trusted-in brand---the Newbery!) we could relax and stop putting the whole weight of Katie Couric (and the ALA) on the signatures of some poor, overworked novel.

Plus, we'd do our varied, wonderful, diverse kid readers a big, fat service. More books within radar range! All right!

The ALA tries to do some of this already with the named awards (the Siebert, the O'Dell, etc), but they don't have the cache (nor the sales potential) of the magic word "Newbery".

And frankly, we need all the cache we can get in this godless pagan world.


Ariel

Anonymous said...

Sorry. Now I can't agree. If you had all those awards, all you would find is that none of them had the cache of the Newbery. It's fine with me that there is just one Newbery, and it's fine with me that they give it to Lucky or Kira Kira or some other book I don't particularly like. When I look back over the years at the medals and the honors, I think there are about a million librarians that have done a fabulous job picking really great books. And I think that because of the tremendous drag the Newbery has, there are great books published every year that otherwise wouldn't see the light of day. I wouldn't mess with something that works just because it doesn't work perfectly.

h

Anonymous said...

"Sorry. Now I can't agree. If you had all those awards, all you would find is that none of them had the cache of the Newbery"

Pillow fight!

How have all those Academy Award categories (best actress, best actor, best screenplay) been diluted the cache of the Oscars?

Though I agree, you can't start giving the AA equivilent of best stagehand (...a Newbery for best typeset??? Har!) but if you limit it to a handful, say:

Best Characterization
Best Story
Best Humorous Book
Best Historical
Best Sci/fic/Fantasy/Mystery
Best Book of the Year

wouldn't that be a wonderous thing?

" think there are about a million librarians that have done a fabulous job picking really great books"

Oh yeah! My intent is not to bash librarians (except the one at my main branch: a more sanctimonious, censuring old biddy...who served on the Newbs in the '80's and don't you forget it, so don't go telling *me* what the kiddie-o's (and yep, she calls 'em kiddie-o's) ought to be reading), but to bash the *system*.

Up the revolution.

To the barricades!

Ariel

Anonymous said...

Oh, no! I went away and didn't check back! I would totally meet you on those barricades. Name your seconds!

h

Anonymous said...

"I would totally meet you on those barricades. Name your seconds!"

All right!


http://www.mtholyoke.edu/courses/rschwart/hist255/la/bigliberty.jpg

EA, you can totally be Lady Liberty (hey, it's your blog, should it forever resound with la glorie, ya know?);

Roger Sutton can be the little kid (With. The. Two. Big. Pistols);

The dead guy sans culotte (and one sock? How does one lose one's pants and the left sock during pitched battle?) can be Carol Ann Moore, the pictorial metaphor of sanctimonious and dead-wrong gatekeepers immemorial;

and the others? Who swoons in blue at the feet of the the brave and iconoclastic editor?

Who wears top hat and tails for the cause of literature de jejune?

Who is our raffish bystander with bandolier and pistol stuck in his waistband (ow!), the perennial outsider in the noble cause of kiddie lit?

And most of all: who's the dead guy in the immediate foreground, and what the heck was he reading just before he bought it? (see the book? Peeking out of the lower right hand corner?)

All questions to ponder. And in pondering, I leave you with the very last verse of La Marsellaise, The Song That Never Ends:

______

We will enter the pit
When our elders are no longer there;
There, we will find their dust
And the traces of their virtues.
Much less eager to outlive them
Than to share their casket,
We will have the sublime pride
Of avenging them or following them!
_____



Delacroix

Anonymous said...

Um, okay it'd be way more amusing if I hadn't put a corrupted link up to Eugene Delacroix's *Liberty Leading the People* (1830).

Try this:

http://www.art-wallpaper.com/6328/Delacroix+Eugène/Liberty+Leading+the+People-1024x768-6328.jpg

mmmwah!

D

Anonymous said...

Psst. I think that's Anita Silvey in Blue. She's passing as someone's comrade, but watch out EA,she will totally stab you in the back and tell you you aren't popular enough. And Roger Sutton is the guy in the top hat. The one with the pistols is Christopher Paolini--note the book bag--he's finally on his way to school. Poor San Culotte's thought he could have it on with the EA--here representing the entire publishing industry- and produce lots of lame board book for babies, but no, she has rebuffed him and he is fallen on the slushpile. May thus fall all who hope to sully our dream of pure literature for children!

h

Anonymous said...

"And Roger Sutton is the guy in the top hat. The one with the pistols is Christopher Paolini--note the book bag--he's finally on his way to school."

Oh man, I just snorted a big glass of wine out of my nose!

And the guy in the middle back, holding a sword in one hand, rock in the other, staring avidly at Slushie's family jewels?

Total vampire....or is the hot fantasy du jour werewolves these days? Maybe it's zombies...I just can't keep up anymore (being well over two hundred years old and pretty darned immortal myself!)

Del