Sunday, January 25, 2009

Today's Easy Question

I don't have a compter or typewriter at home and my handwriting is pretty good. Is there a reason I should go out of my way to type my manuscritp before sending it to publishers.
Well, most people would respond, "Because it's more professional," but... that's not the reason.

The only handwritten manuscripts publishers get are from children and incarcerated felons.

That's the reason.

108 comments:

Sarah Laurenson said...

Your local library should have something for you to use. Universities generally have open computer labs. You might need to be a student.

Old computers are sold all the time and relatively cheaply. If all you want is something for word processing, then you shouldn't need much. I haven't looked at what typewriters cost these days. My old typewriter is still sort of functional. Talk about not submitting in the correct font though.

Anonymous said...

Do you really get a lot of manuscripts from felons?

Just_Me said...

Invest.

You want the hard copy saved somewhere.

Editorial Anonymous said...

No, not a lot. But some.

Kimberly Lynn said...

HA! HA! HA! HA!

Loved EA's response to this question.

Another suggestion . . .

I'm sure there are students that would jump at the chance to earn some extra cash. Maybe hire someone to type it for you?

Anonymous said...

Write your first draft by hand and save money in the meantime... then watch the sales. If you only need a computer for writing, you don't need anything fancy. Also, you can likely get in-store financing and you can make monthly payments.

Having typed manuscripts isn't just good (okay, necessary) for agents/editors. With a computer, you can easily make changes, cutting/pasting, etc. I'd hate to have to redo everything with each edit. That's got to be miserable.

Word said...

But it begs the question. If this person doesn't have a computer at their disposal, how then did they send an email to EA?

I suppose it could have been from work. Naughty Naughty. No blogging on company time.

Most likely they just suck at typing...

Erin Shakespear said...

Okay. I don't really have much to add. Just...

hahahahahahahahahaha!

Anonymous said...

Ah, this question brings back such great memories. I used to work for a lawyer's association, and once in a while, we would get a handwritten letter in ALL CAPITAL LETTERS - the incarcerated felon plea for help.

Ebony McKenna. said...

When I meet people writing their masterpieces out in longhand, I silently count to ten.

Hand-written submissions may not (always) be from a felon or a child, but ... they show a respective agent/publisher that you are so far behind the 8-ball it's not funny.

Hand-written says you might be desperately old, and therefore not have the stamina or years left to build a career.

Hand-written says 'this person is going to be hard work'. It says 'if this person is so set in their ways they can't be bothered learning to type, how set in their ways will they be about editing their script?'

Sorry for ranting EA, but this is one of my all-time pet peeves.

One more thing. Hand-written says someone else is going to have to transcribe it.

Christian H said...

Without meaning to sound like an activist, I have to ask what's wrong with a manuscript from an incarcerated felon (other than having to go out of your way to withhold the author's identity because some parents would be ridiculous enough to avoid buying a book if it was written by a felon, of course). So long as the manuscript itself is appropriate, oughtn't the author's legal status be irrelevant?

(And here I am defending felons and insulting activists in the process. My apologies, activists.)

Anonymous said...

No offence to incarcerated felons, but the ones who sent their manuscripts to the slush pile I used to work? Definitely inappropriate for the children's market.

Anonymous said...

I would think publishers would like hand-written manuscripts. It shows that the author has not sent his manuscript to dozens of publishers at a time but has carefully selected the publisher who is just right for his manuscript. How professional!

I would, however, recommend not dotting your i's with little hearts.

Personally, I would hesitate to hand-write the mailing label, let alone the manuscript.

Kelly said...

I imagine a felon would have quite a bit of fodder for a good story. He would just need a REALLY good editor and spell checker.

Laurel said...

Oh, geez, Anon 9:36. You can hand write the address on the envelope. No way am I wasting money on labels for addresses, and I can't stick a large manilla envelope in my printer to print the address directly onto it.

Let's not frighten people more than necessary. Sheesh.

Jo said...

EA,
You're on fire!

jeanne said...

EA already answered the hand addressed envelope question a week ago.

If the general population produces manuscripts that are 80%+ inappropriate and/or horribly written, I can only imagine what the inmate population produces. That's not to say that there aren't gems in there, but I think the chances are even further reduced for kidlit.

Anonymous said...

Laurel, I don't know how many manuscripts you submit, but I'm guessing a single box of labels would last you at least a year. You don't want EA seeing your envelope and thinking it came from an incarcerated felon, do you?

(Actually, you've given me an idea for a rhyming picture book, "The Bully in Cellblock Nine," who is actually a sweet kid who was tried as an adult after being mistakenly accused of stealing lunch money).

Andy J Smith illustration said...

That being said, what is the typical incarcerated felon's (or suppose I was an atypical incarcerated felon?) chance of publication, given a DYNAMITE handwritten MS?

Anonymous said...

Here's what EA said about envelopes, Anon:

"Does it really matter if we very neatly hand write the addresses on the envelope versus using printed labels?
No. As long as "very neatly" does not mean "give it your best shot". If you sometimes write things down quickly and later cannot read your own handwriting, that means you have terrible handwriting all around, and should use a computer for all your business correspondence.

As long as what's inside is neatly typed and professional-looking, do editors care what the envelope looks like or if there is a fold or two in the pages?
No. As long as an SASE is reasonably tidy, fits the manuscript, and is easy to use, nobody cares what else it is."

Anonymous said...

EA, have you seen this?

http://littledemocrats.net/index.html

Now that's the kind of (apparently) self-published book I can believe in 'coz this Mama Voted for Obama, yes she did! (not a sly fox, or a blue ox or a cat named Socks. Hey, it even rhymes!)

Anonymous said...

No, I agree that it's not horrible to address an envelope by hand. I just think it's not ideal. I trust EA that editors will sincerely and honestly report they do not "care" about such things, but any marketer will tell you that people respond to all sorts of packaging details that they are not aware they are responding to. You may not think you "care" what your Coke can looks like, since you care only what the soda inside tastes like, but the fact is that people like their Coke less when the design of the can is changed or obscured. Can an editor be even subconsciously put off by a laser printed, professional label? Of course not. Can an editor be even subconsciously affected by a hand-written label? Maybe not. But maybe yes. Why risk it?

shell said...

"http://littledemocrats."

Wow, and the illustrations aren't cringe-inducing.

azang said...

I have syndicated The Anonymati over to Live Journal, user name the_anonymati
Angela

emmadarwin said...

My agent and both my editors address things to me by hand - it's just easier than doing stuff with printers and labels and envelopes and computers. So I don't think they'll mind if I do the same to them. It's not them who open the envelopes, anyway, it's their assistants.

Deirdre Mundy said...

Um...


'She didn't vote for a Llama, Mama voted for Obama?' isn't cringe inducing? And the pictures aren't either?

I'd say the book is a good example of why politics and picture books should rarely be mixed. (I'd say NEVER, but then some brilliant person would come up with an example of a classic picture book that was blatently political, so I'll say RARELY..........)

Ouch. My eyes still hurt!


Children deserve quality text and illustrations -- whatever their parents' political persuasions!

Anonymous said...

Dierdre, I believe that the previous commenter was employing sarcasm.

At least I hope so.

Marlo said...

Sorry Deirdre, your fears are about to come true... There are some GREAT political PBs:
The Tin-Pot Foreign General and the Old Iron Woman, by Raymond Briggs about the Falkland War; War and Peas by Michael Foreman; The Rabbits by John Marsden (illus. by the great Shaun Tan); The Butter Battle Book by Seuss.

I posted the link about the Obama book because I agree it's not great: not many self-published PBs are (and I thought it was funny), but there are great political PBs out there. :)

nocheerios said...

Given the above discussion about handwritten manuscripts from incarcerated felons, the political PB submitted by an inmate:

My felonious mama
Wouldda voted for Obama
But she was in the slammah.

Yeah, groan. Sorry, couldn't resist.

BuffySquirrel said...

Falklands War. Although it was known as a "police action" all the while it was actually happening. Yeah, cos our police often travel by warship and carry Sten guns. With Harriers for backup.

Deirdre Mundy said...

Mario -- I'll have to check some of those out! (I haven't read Butter Battle since it came out!!! The fauklands one sounds especially interesting to me.....)

I just assumed the original anon who posted the link was the author trying to self-promote.........

=)

Sorry to miss the irony.... Must have been sleep deprivation or something.

Word verify: Bookel would that be what superman's parents read him at bedtime?

Marlo said...

Deirdre, I did wonder if someone would think I was the author self-promoting! Perhaps I'll have to stop being anon when I do post, but as a longtime member of the Anonymati I think it's rather fitting. ;)

I will see if I can think of more political titles. I wrote one myself years ago, which was accepted... but then editor left etc. etc. etc.(everyone's story).

However, I remain a big fan of the political PB, BUT they DO seem to go down better with publishers in places like the UK, Australia etc.

What do you think EA?

Chris Eldin said...

I keep clicking here as a route to the Anonymati room, but decided to stop and read the comments. LOL!
When I (tried) to write PBs in a different lifetime, one of my crit partners was a District Attorney. She wanted to write a PB for the children of incarcerated parents. Never got to read that one though...

Sara said...

"Is there a reason I should go out of my way to type my manuscritp before sending it to publishers."

One very good reason... computers often include programs with spellcheckers. Then you wouldn't be embarrassed by "manuscritp."

Kidlitjunkie said...

Ha! It's funny because it's true!

Kidlitjunkie said...

Ha! It's funny because it's true!

Jeremy Zilber said...

Deirdre,

When I self-promote, I assure you I don't do it anonymously.

I wonder if you (or anyone here) can give me an objective definition of "a good children's book." My book has sold extremely well as far as self-published books go (over 6,000 copies since October, which I imagine many publishers would consider a successful first three months for a children's book by an unknown author), and every day I receive notes from parents saying things like "this is my child's favorite book! She reads it all the time!" Numerous bloggers have posted favorable reviews, and pictures and videos of kids reading the book (happily, I might add) have begun popping up all over the internet. The book is selling extremely well in stores, as well. One bookstore informed me it was by far their best selling children's book over the holidays.

You may not care for it, but if children and parents like it (and read it), what gives you the authority to say it isn't good?

Deirdre Mundy said...

Well, putting on my "mom" hat for a moment, I'd say a good picture book
1. Has compelling text. If it rhymes, it can't consist of rhymes that make me correct meter and word choice as I read. If it doesn't rhyme it should still be clean, crisp, and SOUND unforced. (Though most 'unforced' picturebooks took a lot of rewriting to get that way.)

2. My favorites are all timeless. A child five, ten or 15 years from now would still understand them.

3. The illustrations should be very compelling, carefully designed, and add layers of meaning to the story-- they need to make the story something MORE than it was before it was illustrated.

Now, there are some picture books that rise to the level of good even if they lack one of these things.

(For instance, 'Please, Puppy, Please.' Spike Lee's poetry is pretty terrible, but Kadir Nelson's illustrations make it a keeper anyway....)

I just don't find your illustrations OR text that compelling. And just because some people do... well, I have boxes of terrible books we've been given because SOMEBODY SOMEWHERE liked them... (They go to the library booksale, in the end...) But just because people buy something doesn't mean it rises to the level of beautiful and good......

And, at least personally, if a book isn't good, I don't have time to share it with my kids... there are too many amazing books I haven't gotten to read with them yet!!!

Deirdre Mundy said...

Oh... btw... I tend to take "It's his favorite book" with a grain of salt too.... Because anything you read with enthusiasm and snuggles will become your child's favorite book. (Remember 3 Men and a Baby?)

I could get my son to choose "Critique of Pure Reason" as his favorite book, if I read it to him every day and snuggled him whenever he plopped it into my lap.

(And now, I am overtaken with a horrible, horrible temptation. But it would be wrong to permenantly cripple my son's social life just so I could say "My Toddler just LOVES Immanuel Kant!" at my 10 year reunion..... )

Marlo said...

Hi Jeremy,
I think you bring up an interesting point. I originally saw your advertisement on Facebook. Firstly, I think that was a clever piece of marketing on your part. Like many others, I am a proud, vocal Obama supporter so I even thought about buying your book; I may still. Maybe I’ll pick up a copy for my nephew too… Your book had an automatic market, and I congratulate you on your sales success and being smart enough—and quick enough off the mark—to come up with the idea and execute it what I imagine must have been quite quickly if it’s been on sale since October.

If EA were to do a poll, I suspect we’d find that many us here have been at this for a very long time… years… and received many, many rejection letters. Sometimes, some of us do get frustrated by self-published authors, because sometimes we see some published authors as having taken the easy route, while many of us have spent years studying and honing our craft (perhaps you have too, how could we know). Perhaps you have seen some of EA’s posts on self-publishing, which may shed more light on why some us react the way we do.

To answer your question, I for one consider a great children’s book one with strong narrative structure and clear character development, appropriate and pleasing language style, and a well thought-out partnership between text, nicely executed illustrations and page design. Obviously, it also has to be appealing to its audience.

I didn’t post the original link because I wanted to open your project up to ridicule, but I did think it might inspire some healthy debate. I didn’t think the writing was bad, nor did I think it was literary genius. I didn’t think the illustrations were bad either, nor did I think they were high art. As I said above, I did think there was cleverness in coming up with an idea that, executed reasonably well, would be an automatic seller. I also thought it was funny. And humor helps sell. As do any added exposure and word of mouth. Good luck with it. I hope it continues to sell well. :)

Deirdre Mundy said...

Though if you want an Obama memorabilia book, Kadir Nelson has one illustrated with sketches that compiles bits of Obama's speeches for kids.....

I DO think there's a difference between savvy marketing and quality literature, though....

The Pet Psychic sells a lot of books, but are they good books?

Nancy D'Inzillo said...

There's also the reason that "pretty good" handwriting is also not legible to all parties and even if it's mostly legible, it takes enough effort to make an agent or editor want to throw it in the reject pile. Beyond that, several agents and editors include "typed" in their submission guidelines, and if you're not paying attention to those guidelines, you're as good as rejected anyway.

Anonymous said...

Just on the politics and children's picture books issue ...

I think there is a vast difference between a picture book that describes the experiences of an individual or a group of people that are a direct result of a political action (ie., Shaun Tan's "The Rabbits"), and one that tries to brainwash children in to supporting a specific political party.

Just my two cents :)

Jeremy Zilber said...

Thanks for the explanation, Marlo and Deirdre. However, it seems to me that you're both relying on a very narrow and self-interested definition of a "good" children's book. As I (and I imagine the vast majority of literate and educated parents) see it, a good children's book accomplishes three interrelated goals: a) entertains children; b) spurs greater interest in reading; c) teaches kids something about the world -- or at least encourages them to use their brains in new ways. Any book that can do these things, it seems to me, is a good children's book. This business about "meter," "compelling text," and "compelling images" may be important to a tiny minority who work in the business, but they matter not one whit to a child and certainly don't determine whether a book achieves any of the above goals. My stepdaughter's shelves are full of "great children's books" that meet all of the criteria you've mentioned, but many of them are just sitting there collecting dust because they simply don't interest her. I'd much prefer she own books she'll actually read, even if their meters are all "wrong" and I can't find anything especially "compelling" about the illustrations.

I'm sure you're well aware, but it bears mentioning that Seuss's first book was rejected by almost 30 established publishers who supposedly knew what "great children's literature" looked like. I'm quite sure many of those publishers felt Seuss's work didn't rise to that level, what with all those nonsensical words and silly rhymes and such.
(And no, I'm not comparing myself to Seuss. I'm comparing you to the publishers who wanted nothing to do with him because, according to their rather narrow criteria, he didn't know how to write a good children's book.)

Lastly, consider this: most pet stores are overflowing with amazing (and amazingly expensive) pet toys, designed and manufactured by pet-toy professionals with years of pet-toy experience. Many are extremely detailed and well-crafted, and some are arguably quite beautiful. But you know what? My cat won't play with any of them. I've tried rubber and cloth mice, birds, catnip bags, stringy things, springy things, bouncy things -- you name it. I've been as enthusiastic about these toys as I can possibly be, but he's just not buying it. What he will consistently play with is a chunk of cardboard torn from an old box. He loves it. Bats it around, chases it, chews it, etc. Now, am I somehow wrong to believe the cardboard is actually a better toy for my cat than the colorful felt mouse that sits idly on the floor while he's batting the cardboard around? Or does it sometimes make sense to allow the audience's tastes and preferences to dictate what counts as "good"?

Deirdre Mundy said...

Kids don't care about meter and rhyme? Really????? Mine do. But I am willing to believe that mine are just freaks.......

Part of the point of providing kids with good literature is to teach them to LIKE good literature-- and how to tell "the good" and "the beautiful" from the simply run of the mill -that's how culture is transmitted across generations.

Personally, I think transmitting culture is a worthy goal, in and of itself.

Some kids prefer one STYLE of illustration over another, but even within that style, there are artists who are better than others. (For instance, I never used to 'get' Kadinsky's art... Until recently, when two of my kids decided he was AMAZING. Now, I see what's good about him, and why I my attempts to 'copy' him make my kids wrinkle up their noses in disgust........)

And yes, sometimes the kids will STILL say "Mommy, read me another of those atrocious 8x8 TV show ripoffs (sorry EA!) someone bought us"... But I can say 'no.'

And if I take the time to carefully choose GOOD books that also have what they like about Dora (quests! Helping baby animals! Evil villains who are also comical) we can find a book we ALL enjoy, and pass on some folktales as well.

My love of good literature isn't BECAUSE I write for kids.... it's the other way around, actually. I was inspired by great books, and want to do the same for others.... And I think MOST writers you meet are working for the same reason.

I will admit, you have AWESOME marketing skills and a great niche market going. And that's fine-- that's what capitalism is!

But please don't use your success to argue that "the good" and "the beautiful" have no place in kidlit.........

literaticat said...

oh ed, when you go away I miss you!

Anonymous said...

Where did EA go? Come back...

I hope you've not been without electricity! I know that's been a big issue in some southern & midwestern states. I always imagined you in New York, though...

Word said...

Yeah, but people are the ones buying the pet toys - not pets. So they are marketing the toys to be attractive to the buyer...not the pet. It's business.

And so too is publishing. And yeah - they are marketing to the parents just as much as to the kids who can point and say "oh my teacher read me that one and I really really like it...or...I want this one because it has pretty sparkles on it."

But...pet toys and books are not the same business nor the same customer base and I find it to be an odd sort of comparison.

Got nothing against self publishing. If you've got the money and the time, great. It's not for everyone though.

Editorial Anonymous said...

I am away on a blog vacation called 'where in HELL did all this work come from?!'

(Of course, some people know where all this work came from)

Hoping to surface again soon...

Deirdre Mundy said...

It's OK, EA--- in the meantime we can continue arguing about the place of the "beautiful" in children's literature! =)

(Working????!!!! I just figured you were having a fun and relaxing weekend and maybe an actual social life!)

Anonymous said...

'scuse me... are you on vacation?

I need my EA fix!

Jeremy Zilber said...

Deirdre,

Good books and good art are fairly subjective concepts, are they not? Or are you of the mind that art and literature are like mathematics, with objectively right and wrong answers? If so, I wonder if you can explain the formula that proves your choice of meter is the "correct" meter, whereas the rhymes in my book are "wrong." And please do so without using circular logic, i.e., without simply asserting that a particular meter is correct, and therefore my book is wrong because it doesn't employ that meter. I want objective proof that a particular meter is correct.

In my household, we consider ourselves somewhat snobbish about children's books, and we absolutely adore the illustrations of Mama Voted for Obama. So do lots of other intelligent and well-educated parents (all of whom, no doubt, own lots of classic children's books). If we like it, and if our kids like it, who are YOU to decide the text and/or artwork aren't compelling? Obviously, it's compelling to us. It may not be your cup of tea, but what difference does that make?

A musical example: I've been playing piano for over 30 years, and I don't care at all for Bach. Do my years of musical training and expertise give me the right to declare Bach isn't very compelling or good? Obviously not. Even though I can cite hundreds of "flaws" in any Bach piece (i.e., ways I believe it could be significantly improved), and even though I don't enjoy listening to it, I'm still willing to admit it's good. Why? Because a lot of smart, music-loving people enjoy listening to it. And what, beyond that, do we want from classical music? Is it supposed to cure cancer?

It would be one thing if my books were written with no regard whatsoever for punctuation, vocabulary, grammar, etc., or if the illustrations were violent or pornographic (thus doing some potential harm to the children who read it). Then I'd see your point. But declaring a children's book isn't very good simply because it doesn't meet YOUR standards -- I just don't get that. And, no offense intended, but I don't care what your background is or how long you've been working at your craft. As an intelligent, educated parent, I (along with my child) get to decide which books are "good" for us to be reading, not you. And it seems to me that any book that encourages my child to read and think (assuming it doesn't contain something that may harm her) is a good children's book.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Zilber:

I really wouldn't waste my time trying to have a discussion with Ms. Mundy, if I were you. It isn't going anywhere; she's never going to agree with you. Ignore her, coninue selling your book, and move on.

Do I think your book is the most brilliant and beautiful picture book I've ever seen? No. But I can see why parents would want to purchase it for their children, and I can even see why children would enjoy the book. Children realize that President Obama is important to their parents, and want to share in that with them. With the help of an editor/professional illustrator, perhpas the book would have been better. However, by self-publishing, you were able to begin selling it right away. You've done an excellent job marketing your book, and it's selling.

Pat yourself on the back, ignore your critics (unless you desire to someday be agented and published by a traditional publishing house, in which case you may want to pay a bit more attention to what's being said), and move on to your next project.

christine tripp said...

Looking at the illustration style in the book "Mama Voted for Obama", they are very basic, simple with a lot of white space. I will assume they had to be completed on the computer in very short order. They are fine for the board book age range, say 0-3 years. Older children will not be satisfied with the block figures. They like detail for the most part and that requires months and months and months of work by the illustrator. Of course, at that age the whole president/election thing will be lost on them, but they will like the llama, Godzilla, mouse etc.

pudders said...

There is a whole science and psychology to writing and illustrating children's books. Chris makes EXCELLENT points about the art. EXCELLENT points.

Publishers know things about what sells and why, and how children (as a large group) will react to pbs. They also know that parents choose books (and return them if their kids don't like them).

Deirdre Mundy said...

Are people gettting annoyed with this thread hijack? If they are, I'd be happy to continue this discussion with Mr. Zilber off the blog...

(I admit it, I just like to argue and hardly ever get to! But I don't want to irritate the rest of you while I babble on about meter, rhyme and whatnot.....)

And either way, thanks, for the thoughtful comments, Mr. Zilber---But I'm going to hold off responding until I find out what the rest of the EA community would prefer.....

Anonymous said...

"It would be one thing if my books were written with no regard whatsoever for punctuation, vocabulary, grammar." I wonder why you admit even this much, Mr. Zilber? If you have nothing but scorn for the rules of meter and rhyme, and would answer only to the "we-like-it-and-our-kids-like-it" test, then why do you lack similar tolerance for bad punctuation and grammar? And, having admitted that the folks in your household are "snobbish" about children's books, why do you assail the "snobbishness" of others, like Deirdre, whose only point seems to be that she values the collective judgment of countless millions of ears that have listened to English verse over the centuries and believes, as I do, that the "rules" of meter are not some arbitrary set of regulations concocted by a dour committee of librarians to inflict upon a general public that does not respond to such silliness, but are literally wired into our collective, cultural brains and hearts as fundamentally as musical scales and the urge to dance and tap our feet?

We've all heard small children chant nursery rhymes or jump-rope poems and the like. They rarely miss a beat, and they derive obvious pleasure from it. Your book may be excellent, for all I know. I haven't seen it so I won't judge. But as book may be enjoyable despite bad grammar, bad spelling and bad rhymes, and perhaps could have been even more enjoyable if it had avoided these flaws. I suspect there are many bad books that could be popular among children. Imagine a book whose sole text was the repetition of "Poop!" and "Fart!" with wonderful illustrations showing a child disrupting various gatherings (class, church, movies) by setting off a loud stink, complete with adults glancing over in shock and consternation as the child smirked proudly. Maybe add some scratch-and-sniff to each page so the child can truly interact and participate. I suspect children would absolutely love such a book. And if you used duck whistles and whoopie cushions and poop-incense during school visits, you'd have the children howling with laughter and delight. I doubt you'd approve of such a venture, even if the book sold 6000 copies in a very short period of time. I'd like to think, along with Deirdre, that appealing to children is not enough. We want to appeal to them with qualities that we want them to find appealing and teach them skills and value and tastes that we want them to carry with them forever. When characters in a rhyming book fart, let's let them do it with perfect meter and in the context of appealing syntax and rhyme!

Deirdre Mundy said...

Well, since Anon jumped in I guess SOMEONE is still reading the discussion... And I just came across an excellent teachable moment on Meter while reading with the kiddies, so, here goes:

For what makes meter and rhyme good, take a look at this passage from “The Cat in the Hat comes Back”:

When our mother went
Down to the town for the day
She said,”Somebody has to
Clean all this away.
Somebody, SOMEBODY
Has to, you see.
Then she picked out two Somebodies.
Sally, and Me.

1.The text follows a rhythm of stressed words and unstressed words. The rhythm is predictable… it’s almost like a memody with words….. BUT

2.Stresses fall where they should in a normal speech pattern, so a first time reader can get the rhythm right without hesitation. Poor meter means the reader has to hesitate, hem, haw, and twist themselves into knots---poor meter doesn’t read smoothly on the first go. This can be hard to spot as the author, because you KNOW how it’s supposed to read. That’s why critique groups are a plus… especially if you aren’t great at distancing yourself from your writing….


3. Breaks in meter add emphasis – Sally and Me- and mark paragraphs.

4. Rhymes follow from story. Seuss sets up expectations, so there’s even more drama when they’re broken (see Alphabet progression that ends in the climactic VOOM)

Doesn’t write down to audience. Does his best, tells a complicated story in rhyme. One of the things that made Dr. Seuss so amazing was that he DIDN’T write down to the kids…even his nonsense DOES make sense—good nonsense isn’t just random strings of rhyming words (chinchilla-godzilla), but has an overarching logic to it. (See Edward Lear. Or more recently, Jack Pretzlutzky….)

Kids are people. Like adults, they deserve your best work. They deserve to be surrounded by beauty, and they deserve to be talked to, not at. They deserve nonsense that makes sense, and meter that’s been slaved over. A book is a gift to the readers – it should be a work of art.

(Note on the illustrations-- they have their moments—the Godzilla is very cute – but overall, their quality was pretty uneven. And they had a “I did this on Microsoft Pain” feel to them—very flat. Also, a lot of the layouts seemed off—the eye moved around the page in a disjointed manner—a graphic designer could have helped with that, or even some basic design texts from the library. It’s not that I’m against computer illustration –
My kids and I LOVED Scott E. Franson’s “Un-Brella.” But good computer illustration is not simply painting with a computer… it takes advantage of the extra tools a computer has to offer.)

Oh! For more recent rhyme and meter geared to the very young, try QUACK! And its sequel HOP! By Phyllis Root.

Picture books are HARD – harder than novels, harder than academic papers, IMO -- The problem is that a lot of people seem to think that because the books and their readers are short, anything goes…..

Jeremy Zilber said...

I'll respond to the Anonymous who said "I'd like to think, along with Deirdre, that appealing to children is not enough."

And I agree, which is why I listed other qualities I believe to be relatively universal requirements for a good children's book. Namely, the book should encourage children to read more (rather than turning them off reading), and encourage them to think in new ways (rather than encouraging them not to think at all, such as repeating the word "poop").

As for the question "why do you lack similar tolerance for bad punctuation and grammar?" the answer is that children will almost certainly be better off if we help them learn basic grammar, vocabulary, and punctuation. They'll do better in school, get better jobs, etc. By contrast, I've never heard of a person losing out on a job or being rejected by a good college because their application didn't contain proper meter, or because their illustrations weren't sufficiently detailed. As I said before, these things obviously matter quite a bit to a tiny fraction of the population (and I believe most of you are posting here), but it's the rest of us who get to decide whether they matter in mainstream society. And we've decided they don't.

Oh, and pudders, for what it's worth, I've already received an offer from an established mainstream publisher to submit a children's book manuscript for publication. They approached me, not the other way around. So apparently it isn't just laypeople like me who appreciate my books. Perhaps some of you don't know quite as much about this business as you think you do?

christine tripp said...

Deirdre, I, for one, am interested in what you and the others have to say, hijacked thread or no:) Probably we exhausted the topic of hand lettering a manuscript long ago anyway. Keeps us busy till EA can post again:)

Merry Monteleone said...

Wow, I've been stopping back in occasionally to see when a new post was up - but hadn't read all of the comments here until last night.

Okay, for my two cents:

Mr. Zilber,

I have only been able to see the small segment of your book that's up on your site, and don't want to critique or add anything to the discussion of merit because 1)I haven't seen the whole thing, so my assumptions on what I have seen maybe wrong and 2)You've already published it and obviously don't want critical feedback.

I do think that as an author you should keep in mind that the act of publishing a novel, or any work, opens you up to critique. It doesn't matter whether or not you agree with it and, while it's your right, I don't think there's much point in arguing against the critic. It's part of the business. If you don't want people to form and state an opinion, don't publish.

It's great that you've had success with the book. Good luck with it.

Deirdre Mundy said...

I'd also say that it's awfully utilitarian to say meter and rhyme don't matter because they don't influence a kid's chances of getting into a good college or getting a good job.

At that point, why write in rhyme at all? Why not just use prose? After all, reading poetry won't help kids get into college either, unless their AP English test happens to have an essay question on Keats.....

Anonymous said...

Mr. Zilber,

I was actually going to buy your book, but your last comment has just completely turned me off. That's just rude and I see no need for that in this forum, where people are supposed to be having an intellectual debate.

There's no need to be so touchy. If you can't stand the heat, stay out of the kitchen.

That said, I wish you good luck: I do sincerely wish the best with it.

Jeremy Zilber said...

I'll write more when I have a bit more time, but for now let me just say this to Merry (and a few others who have made similar points): I'm not suggesting anyone is wrong to critique my books. I'm suggesting the critiques I read on this site were wrong. They imply kids wouldn't really enjoy the book, but, from the feedback I've received and read on various blogs, it seems quite a few kids are LOVING the book. I'm not claiming it's the greatest children's book ever written, or that it couldn't be improved. I'm saying the negativity of the critique was way over the top.

And I'll say the same thing right back to you that you're saying to me: if critics don't want to receive negative feedback on their critiques, they shouldn't publish them in a public forum.

Nancy Coffelt said...

Thank you Deirdre for stressing that writing picture books is HARD.

And writing rhyming picture books is even harder. I'm definitely in the "getting your meter right" camp.

Believe me - I've got scads of embarrassingly awkward off-kilter PB mss. lurking in my files. They're zombies that walk my dreams...

Jeremy, going your own way is cool, it's a free country, and I'm happy you're enjoying success. But I think of my writing as a craft - one that I've spent the last 20 years of my life on - and I do and will follow the rules that I think make sense.

Meter just happens to be one of them.

Merry Monteleone said...

Mr. Zilber,

I don't think anyone was taking offense at your disagreeing with a critique, I think they're taking offense at your tone.

You can agree or disagree with a critique. You can argue or listen to the other view. Really, it's your work. And I get it - you found this thread in the first place because someone linked your work and said less than stellar things about your book. I do understand how that can be irksome. I can even understand how you might disagree with the assessment. I don't think getting defensive serves you in any way.

How you react to criticism is your business. If I were in your shoes, I might take a few breaths and step away from the keyboard. You might not like the way your comments make you sound when you read them later down the road... and they'll stay in cyberspace forever... on a blog that's frequented by a great many publishing professionals, including people you may want to work with in the future.

ae said...

Good for you Jeremy.


I know a little about pubs and baby I can guess the rest.

AE Pudders

christine tripp said...

>Oh, and pudders, for what it's worth, I've already received an offer from an established mainstream publisher to submit a children's book manuscript for publication. They approached me, not the other way around. So apparently it isn't just laypeople like me who appreciate my books. Perhaps some of you don't know quite as much about this business as you think you do?<

I agree with Merry, the above is the kind of "talk" that a critiquer (is that a word?:) takes offence to. Most of us (hell all of us) do not especially like being critiqued but, in the end, it's the way we get better as we are always too close to our subject matter to see it's short comings.
I realize you did not ASK for a critique, the Anon poster set your book up for it but... many of US do ask, even pay for critiques. I can only imagine what an Editor (at a conference say) would do if, after she told me what was wrong with some of my work, what pieces were weak and why, and then I turn around and say, "Well I've illustrated 50 books for mainstream publishers so maybe you DON'T know as much about this business as you think you do!!!!" I think she might just pick up my portfolio and slam it squarely upon my head, and rightly so.

I'm not sure why you would go with a mainstream publisher anyway. They will force you to do a lot of editing to make the dreaded meter right... and it doesn't sound like you would want to go there. If they don't edit your work, then they are not a real publisher, in the sense we mean it here.

Deirdre Mundy said...

I don't think Mr. Zilber's tone was that bad--

tone is VERY hard to determine over the internet, and sometimes what comes across as 'defensive' or demeaning is actually just someone who enjoys picking apart opposing arguments.....

As long as people aren't making ad hominem attacks, I think we're in pretty good shape. =)

(says the girl who's frequently run into trouble over internet tone-- which is why I've had to resort to cutesy smileys to let people know there are no hard feelings... =) )

Jeremy Zilber said...

Merry,

People are taking offense at MY tone? Did you read the critique to which I was responding? Are you saying it's okay for someone to go out of her way to say nasty things about my work (recall, this thread wasn't even about my book), but somehow impolite for me to respond with anything other than "well, we'll agree to disagree"? The harshest thing I said in my initial rebuttal was "You may not care for it, but if children and parents like it (and read it), what gives you the authority to say it isn't good?" That seems to me to be showing quite a bit of restraint on my part, since I was responding to "'She didn't vote for a Llama, Mama voted for Obama?' isn't cringe inducing? And the pictures aren't either? I'd say the book is a good example of why politics and picture books should rarely be mixed.... Ouch. My eyes still hurt!"

And I'll just point out that your previous comment didn't say anything about my tone. You suggested I shouldn't be responding to critics at all: "I don't think there's much point in arguing against the critic. It's part of the business. If you don't want people to form and state an opinion, don't publish."

My hunch is that people here just aren't used to having authors respond to a nasty review, and when one of them does, the mere act of responding is considered "rude." But I don't think you'd find too many people outside of the publishing business (or even outside this forum) who'd say my tone is worse than (or even as bad as) the original critique.

Jeremy Zilber said...

Deirdre,

Have you actually heard any children stumbling as they try to read through my rhymes, or are you just guessing they wouldn't be able to do it? In my experience (and I've actually listened to kids read through it for the first time), the rhymes aren't giving them any trouble whatsoever.

But even if they were -- even if you can find children who've stumbled while reading a page in my book -- why is that such a problem? If they'll still read it and like it, what's wrong with challenging young readers a bit? After all, not everything they're going to read in their lifetime will have a perfect rhyme and meter, so why get them into the habit of expecting to find it? What's your evidence that your way is a better way, rather than just a different way?

As for the supposed lack of an underlying logic, I can't even begin to imagine what you're complaining about. The book is about Mama voting for Obama. With the exception of the final page (where the pattern is broken, which you claim to appreciate in Seuss's work), every page lists a set of potential candidates (gorilla-chinchilla-godzilla, sly fox-blue ox-cat named Socks, etc.) for whom mama did not vote. Why? Because, as every other page explains, Mama voted for Obama! What on earth is illogical about this? How is the line "she didn't vote for a gorilla or a chinchilla or Godzilla. Mama Voted for Obama!" (with appropriate breaks in the text, of course) any less logical than "Not in a box. Not with a fox. Not in a House. Not with a mouse"? (And again, I'm not asking about meter -- I'm asking about the "logic," which you apparently find lacking in my rhymes, but so obvious in Seuss's rhymes.)

As for the illustrations: my illustrator has been a professional graphic artist for something like 15 years. In creating his art, he first sketches outlines by hand, then scans his sketches into the computer, where he fills in color and detail. We worked for months on this project, agonizing (along with our families, including kids) over every detail, and the illustrations evolved quite a bit over time. Greg (the illustrator) also modified the pictures slightly for the second printing, but the changes are so subtle that it's likely nobody even notices. So, while the illustrations may not do anything for you, they weren't just slapped together in a few days by someone who just happened to have access to a computer. And while others may share your views, I'm yet to hear anyone other than you complaining about "flatness" or the eye being forced to move in a disjointed manner. What I hear most often is something along the lines of: "my son/daughter and I love the pictures and rhymes! Thanks for making such a nice book!" And a lot of these people are PhD's, teachers, artists, librarians, authors, book enthusiasts, bookstore owners, etc. These are people who know something about books and art.

Now, as I've said before, this isn't to say the book couldn't be improved. Given an infinite amount of time and money, I'm sure I could have produced a better book. But the same could be said of ANY book. So it seems to me you're going out of your way to find things to complain about with this particular book, as most of your complaints are either just a matter of personal taste (the meter isn't perfect! my eye wanders! illustrations are flat!) or simply nonexistent (there's no logic! just random words that happen to rhyme!)

Deirdre Mundy said...

Mr. Zilber, just to clarify -- Are you saying that no book is objectively better than any other, and that the only standard that we should use to judge something is by whether or not people like it?

Does this only apply to books, or other things as well?

Is a big mac as good or better than an organic buffalo burger with aged English cheddar?

Is "Dora the Explorer saves the Snow Princess" a better movie than "Capote"?

Do you recognize any means of comparison other than "lots of people like it?"

christine tripp said...

As for the illustrations: my illustrator has been a professional graphic artist for something like 15 years.

Graphic artists are not often illustrators (though they can be) but Graphic Arts is a whole other profession then illustration. A graphic artist is usually very skilled at page layouts, text, placement of illustrations that and artist creats.
That said, I'm not saying that this art would not appeal to, like I say, the 0-3 board book age group. Many of the board books put out by even the main stream publishers have a similar style.
I did assume though that the style was chosen because of it's blocky simplicity and ease to just move characters around on the pages in Photoshop, to hurry the project along. I supposed you put the book out a few weeks after the election but perhaps you did all these months of work before the election and prayed that he would win:)

Merry Monteleone said...

your previous comment didn't say anything about my tone.

That's because I edited out anything you might misinterpret as even remotely antagonistic... doesn't seem to have worked.

Good luck with your future endeavors.

Jeremy Zilber said...

Christine,

Your comment is actually helping to drive home my point. You said "A graphic artist is usually very skilled at page layouts, text, placement of illustrations...."

And I agree -- Greg is quite skilled at those things, and I think did an excellent job with my book. Which is exactly why I mentioned his background as a graphic artist in response to Deirdre's criticism that "a lot of the layouts seemed off—the eye moved around the page in a disjointed manner—a graphic designer could have helped with that, or even some basic design texts from the library."

You see what I mean? One critic complains about the book's layout and tells me to get a graphic designer, and another critic will say the layout is ok, but the illustrations lack detail, and another critic will say the art is wonderful, and another will say everything about the art is terrible. And all of these critics will claim to know what a "good book" looks like. It really just boils down to personal tastes, doesn't it?

Anonymous said...

please come back, EA.

Deirdre Mundy said...

So, EA, is this the most commented post in the history of your blog?

If we hit 100, will you return to us?

(Btw--I'm actually loving the moderated comments at the moment-- gives tempers time to cool! =) )

Deirdre Mundy said...

BTW- Mr. Zilber, I'm sorry if I hurt your feelings with my comments. I really DO just enjoy a good argument from time to time -
and I thought your book provided an interesting jumping off point for a discussion about how we ought to judge a published work.

I'm sorry if you took the comments personally -- I'll try to be a bit more temperate in the future

(though, in all honestly, if you think that criticism was harsh, you should see what my friends and I do to each others work....)

At any rate, I AM sorry if you're upset. I really do tend to differentiate a person's writings and ideas from the person themselves...

(Except in the case of Rousseau--mostly because it's just fun to discount all his arguments by saying "yes, but he abandoned his children and had a glass catheter! " (snort...glass catheter....giggle,giggle....)

Jeremy Zilber said...

Mr. Zilber, just to clarify -- Are you saying that no book is objectively better than any other, and that the only standard that we should use to judge something is by whether or not people like it?

No, which is why I've repeatedly said things like "I'm not claiming it's the greatest children's book ever written, or that it couldn't be improved." I wouldn't have said this if I believed all books are equally good.

"Is a big mac as good or better than an organic buffalo burger with aged English cheddar?"

As a vegetarian, I find them equally repulsive. I imagine the buffalo burger is healthier -- but this can be proved or disproved in a lab, so my opinion isn't really relevant. Taste-wise, I don't think it's reasonable for me to decide which tastes better in any objective sense, because taste is a matter of taste. I'm sure I could find lots of people who appreciate A more than B, and vice-versa. Who am I (or you, or anyone) to say otherwise?

Is "Dora the Explorer saves the Snow Princess" a better movie than "Capote"?

Haven't seen Dora, so I wouldn't claim to know. I enjoyed "Capote," but that's all I can say.

Do you recognize any means of comparison other than "lots of people like it?"

I do indeed. And I've repeatedly talked about the qualities that seem to be almost universally agreed upon as "good" qualities, i.e., a book that engages children, encourages them to read more, and encourages them to use their brains in new ways. It's hard to imagine any serious person (whether professional critic or layperson) rejecting any of these criteria. But perfect meter? Too much white space? Disjointed eye movements? These fall much closer to the "personal tastes" end of the spectrum. I, for one, do NOT care whether a children's book has perfect meter, and neither does my stepdaughter. As the consumers, are our opinions not factored into the equation at all? Is it only critics who get to decide which books are good and which are bad? Are we just supposed to mind our own business and let you decide which books we should like and which we should hate?

Two movie questions for you:

Is "Capote" a better movie than "Star Wars"? Is there a formula for determining that? Or is it acceptable to say they're both good films, even though they look and sound nothing alike, and generally appeal to different audiences?

And what about "Synecdoche, New York"? Is that a good film? Roger Ebert says it's a "great film." Anthony Lane (of the New Yorker) pans it, saying "There has long been a strain of sorry lassitude in Kaufman’s work, and here it sickens into the morbid." Phillip Kennicott (Washington Post) says "it's one of the best films of the year." Rex Reed says it "could be the worst movie ever."

I could go on. Almost every critic either loved it or hated it, and very few are in between. Now, if experienced, established critics are torn as to whether a movie is "one of the best films" or "one of the worst films," how, exactly, can they possibly be using an objective rubric? Clearly, they aren't. And yet, they'll all insist they are! They've been in the business a long time! They know how to distinguish a great film from a terrible one! They're the experts!

christine tripp said...

What I am saying Jeremy, is that with a publisher, they have an author, an illustrator, a graphics person, a printer to put out a book. You skipped the illustrator.
Not trying to take anything away from the graphic's person who did his best but he is not an illustrator. But.... I also stand behind what I said, that for the very young, pre reader, the art is fine.
One thing I must add is, this book will not be read and read again by a child of the age that can read. This is the text of a very small child, still unable to read. Once they can, they are into books with at least 800 words, the average pic book length.
As the ability to read happens, so happens the need for detailed art.

nocheerios said...

In the spirit of reaching the 100 mark, I add my humble comment.

Let's see, the subject still seems to be Jeremy Zilber's self-published books. The only thing I have to add on that subject at the moment is this: if my mother had read WHY MOMMY IS A DEMOCRAT to me as a child, I would have grown up to be a Republican. And no, not just because of the squirrels.

Speaking of self-published books, there's a blogger who actually reviews them. It's called "The Self-Publishing Review". (He also has another blog "How Publishing Really Works" and AE is on his blogroll.)

Personally, I wouldn't buy a picture book espousing any political party for a toddler, no matter how well it was done. I think my reasons for this are good ones. But that's just me.

Apparently, some people do buy such picture books, no matter how well or poorly they are done. And they think their reasons are good ones. I don't blame anyone for wanting to cash in on that market.

Weston Elliott said...

Zowee! I stumbled here by accident, literally - but I'm thinking I'll stay on now that I've found it.

Love the original post, but the comment trail is really something!

I actually went and looked up the book in question just so I could follow this better. I don't think I'll even bother chipping in - but you all are sure fun to listen to!

Deirdre Mundy said...

So is a book's 'goodness' just measured by how popular it is?

If 15 people liked my book, and a sixteenth person reads it and liked it, did it just get better?

If 100 people have read my book and 75 like it and 25 don't, and ten more people read it and hate it, did my book just get worse?

More people read and enjoy hallmark cards than read and enjoy ee cummings. So, is the average hallmark card a better piece of poetry than the work of cummings?

It seems to me there HAS to be some way to judge a work's quality besides whether people like it....because we DO acknowledge that certain works are better crafted, more meaningful, or more beautiful than others-- and there must be a reason why Macbeth is superior to "Mighty Morphin Power Rangers," right?

(Yes, I'm veering off into the more abstract now. And I apologize in advance to anyone who writes dialogue for the power rangers and reads this blog, or makes a tidy living off of greeting cards!!! )

Word said...

Adding a post just cuz I think 100 would be cool.

And feeling like having a little fun.

Anyone read Is Your Mama a Llama?

I rather enjoyed that one....

Laurel said...

EA, you are truly missed.

Chris Eldin said...

Hi Word!
So, the theme of this post is 'words that rhyme with mama?'
:-)

I heard this riddle in the car yesterday. I actually got this one right, which I never do.

What word is ten letters long and has thousands of words in it?

Jeremy Zilber said...

Christine,

Either I'm missing your point, or you're missing mine. Deirdre had specifically criticized the book's layout, and suggested I'd have been better off if I'd turned the illustrations over to a graphic designer. Upon hearing that I'd actually employed a graphic artist to do the illustrations, you claimed the problem was that I'd skipped the illustrator. My point is that the two of you seem to be criticizing the artwork for completely different reasons (one of you doesn't mind the layout so much, but dislikes the illustrations; the other doesn't mind the illustrations so much, but dislikes the layout), which reinforces my belief that your evaluations are basically just personal tastes.

And let me just add: my "graphic artist" also happens to be an illustrator. His official job title is something like "graphic artist" or "graphic designer," which is why I refer to him as such, but he's been illustrating for years. YOU may not appreciate his style, but plenty of other intelligent people find his illustrations quite appealing. So, as I keep saying, I really believe it boils down to a matter of personal taste.

When Seuss was starting out, many critics complained about his illustrations. Should he have listened to them and hired a new illustrator? (He was also criticized for injecting politics into children's books, but perhaps that's for another thread....)

Deirdre Mundy said...

I like Llama Llama Red pajama too, if we're on a Llama thread now...

Mr. Zilber-- sorry that you already answered my point about popularity-- The delay made our comments cross in the mail....

Only 14 posts to go, people! We can do it!!!! =)

Jeremy Zilber said...

Deirdre,

You can rest easy: you haven't hurt my feelings. If you think you've been rough, just google "why mommy is a democrat" and see what I've been putting up with for the past three years. I think your critique is wrong and way over the top, but at this point it's nearly impossible to offend me. (Not to toot my own horn, but I've been panned by Rush Limbaugh and ridiculed on the Daily Show -- so a comment like "my eyes hurt" isn't going to get to me.)

Anyway, this is starting to seem quite redundant, but Ill try one more time. Yes, it's reasonable for someone to say one piece of writing is objectively better than another, but only at the EXTREMES, such as comparing EE Cummings to Hallmark. But is Cummings better than Poe? Is Poe a better writer than Stephen King? Is King a better writer than Carl Sagan? Is Sagan a better writer than Dr. Seuss? At some point, don't you just have to admit they're all good writers -- with very different objectives and very different styles -- and leave it to the reader to decide which they prefer? Must the critic come along and insist on telling us that one of those writers is "worse" than the others, or insist that one of them is "bad" because he didn't follow an established set of industry norms?

nocheerios said...

Still going for 100...

Go Deirdre! Well done. (And too bad we don't live near each other. We could snort into our coffee over Rousseau.)

Anon @ February 3, 2009 10:43 AM: Good points. Recent article about meter being hardwired into us (Study Suggests Babies Get the Beat at Birth--Even Newborns Have Rhythm, Researchers Say) Link: http://abcnews.go.com/Health/MindMoodNews/story?id=6740379&page=1

Yes, even newborns notice when rhythm is off: "Yet brain scans show that these 2- and 3-day-olds could perceive musical patterns and even take note when a drummer missed a beat, the study in today's Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences shows."

Mr. Zilber: Rap out the beat to GREEN EGGS AND HAM and what do you get? A heartbeat. Rap out any great poem and what do you get? Music. Try rapping out MAMA VOTED FOR OBAMA and what do you get? (Hint: if you are rhythmically-challenged, instead of rapping it out you may mark it up in standard "da DUM" to visualize the meter.)

christine tripp: Excellent points, all. You are right about it being for the very small child. And that leads to another question: who is the book really for? Are two-year-olds interested in politics? It seems to me the book is for Mama, not for the little child.

Word: I remember IS YOUR MAMA A LLAMA? as a charming book with nice internal rhyming. (I hope I'm remembering it right.) Thank you for bringing it up here. I'll have another peek at it next time I'm at the bookstore.

ae said...

Dictionary.

Oh no that is not it.

It is Chriseldin.

;}

Anonymous said...

Jeremy Zilber, I'm not going to argue about the merits of your book. It's certainly not to my tastes at all, but obviously you're proud of it.

However, by coming in here and spending what is clearly a significant chunk of time defending your project from criticism, you're coming off as... what's the word? Overly-sensitive? I think "butthurt" is the current internet slang. You can have whatever opinion of your book that your little heart desires, but it'd probably be better for your blood pressure if you allowed other people the same courtesy.

christine tripp said...

When Seuss was starting out, many critics complained about his illustrations. Should he have listened to them and hired a new illustrator?

I will have to give you that Jeremy, more cartoony art has often been looked down on but parents, publishers and some artist as well. I personally love cartoony, quirky art but many see it as a lower form of art, not suitable for children, not "enriching" the child's mind and tastes. You are also right, that art is always subjective, I don't think writing has as much leway, though some love fiction and others might hate it, it all still has to be done well. I can't comment on writing because I am not an author but I did take a look at the Graphic Designers site and I didn't see any samples of Illustration per say. Only design... but it's excellent, not saying otherwise. Just not my taste for children's books and that's where we get back into personal taste I suppose.

I will add one more thing, being bashed by Limbaugh is something to be PROUD of, I'd be:)

Word said...

I dunno Chris,

What word is ten letters long and has thousands of words in it?

Llamanovel?
Obamabooks?
mammajamma?

Word

Chris Eldin said...

Nobody's venturing a guess?
hmmmm......
Okay, here's a clue I gave to Thing 1 and Thing 2 to help them along.

It begins with the letter "D" and rhymes with 'ictionary.'

Deirdre Mundy said...

On Rousseau --

I had a professor in college(a Freudian, FWIW) who always believed that the reason that Rousseau was so fond of the state of nature and so opposed to marriage, civilization and all those other plots by perfidious women was that his glass catheter made him feel awkward in polite company......... =)

Oh! And while we're talking about enlightenment thinkers and their physical infirmities, I used to LOVE reading about the Astronomer Tycho Brahe (Kepler's teacher, until Kepler decided that epicycles were silly and took Brahe's data to make elliptical orbits instead)

Brahe was a larger than life figure... his nose was cut off in a duel and he had a golden one made to replace it........

(Yes, this is a blatent attempt to get to 100.... but Tycho the Psycho is really cool!!!!!!!)

christine tripp said...

Dictionary? and here I was trying to stuff extra letters into the word "Alphabet" to make it work:)

Deirdre Mundy said...

Oh Frabjous Day! Calloo, Callay!

Thank you for returning, EA--- I missed your snark.

Jeremy Zilber said...

Ok, since I certainly don't wish to be perceived as overly-sensitive, impolite, unprofessional, and/or whatever other awful traits I've supposedly displayed here, I won't be posting again. In fact, you can have at me all you like, because I'll never look at this blog again, lest someone accuse me of taking too great an interest in critical reviews of my work. Anyone wishing to contact me is welcome to do so at jzilber@littledemocrats.net, but of course if you contact me to say anything other than words of encouragement, it might be a sign that you're hyper-sensitive, overly concerned with my opinion of you, and/or need to learn how to relax and graciously accept criticism.

So, with that, I'll leave you all to enjoy your closed-minded banter about "good" children's books, i.e., books that conform strictly to your narrow set of arbitrary guidelines. Meanwhile, I'll be writing more of my "bad" children's books that seem to be delighting children and parents across the country. If only THAT were something to be proud of....

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iTvAJX4P_O4&feature=related

http://www.flickr.com/photos/wanderandwonder/3213276762/

http://kiddosandbooks.blogspot.com/2008/11/book-mama-voted-for-obama.html

http://www.amazon.com/Mama-Voted-Obama-Jeremy-Zilber/review/product/0978668820/ref=dp_top_cm_cr_acr_txt?ie=UTF8&showViewpoints=1

http://www.photoblog.com/bamommy/2008/11/05/mama-voted-for-obama.html

http://www.tokoni.com/story/6278/out-of-the-mouths-of-babes.html

http://www.womenandchildrenfirst.com/NASApp/store/IndexJsp

Anonymous said...

Coincidentally, Nathan Bransford has a piece on critics today that you should read, if you've been following this back and forth.

informed criticism vs. uninformed opinion. They are not the same.

David Macinnis Gill said...

Do incarcerated misdemeanorons handwrite, as well?

Weston Elliott said...

There's one facet of this that no one has mentioned yet, and that is the "gimmick" of this particular book. And I don't mean that in a bad way.

This election was one for the history books - our country has finally come far enough to elect a black president! How amazing is that when you look at what was taking place 50 years ago?

There is some intrinsic collectable value, therefore, in a book that memorializes that. For that purpose, rhyme, grammar and the rest really don't matter. It will someday be considered a collectible just because of the subject matter.

Now - could it have been done better? Yes, I think it could have, for many of the reasons already mentioned. Would I buy it? No. Does it favorably compare to the masters of the trade such as Milne and Seusse? Let's not kid ourselves. Of course not, not many kids books do.

Taste being what it is, you will always have differeneces of opinion. Does this all mean this particular book has no merit or value because it doesn't measure up to some set of criteria on an intellectual front? Not at all!This particular book may end up being some child's absolute undying favorite.

It takes all kinds to make the world go round. Viva la differance!

Word said...

Dang - Dictionary. I'm a diot that starts with 'i'.

In an effort to reach 100.

What kind of building has the most stories?

Chris Eldin said...

Word, You better come back here with the answer!!!

Sarah Laurenson said...

Chris - see my very first comment on this thread for a hint.

Word said...

Answer:

Library

:-)

working illustrator said...

106 comments... good god. Is that a record for this blog?

107 now, I guess.

toink girl said...

Today's Easy Question

I don't have a compter or typewriter at home and my handwriting is pretty good. Is there a reason I should go out of my way to type my manuscritp before sending it to publishers.

--
Well, now, if I were to be asked this question, my reply would be (by way of also giving advice on the writing of this person): Encoding or typing your manuscript on a computer will definitely benefit you by way of spell check. And I think Word can also help you to some extent on dealing with correct punctuation. If a computer isn't available, a typewriter is the next best thing, AND a correction fluid will come in handy!