ACL Institute this Friday, April 10th; Out of the Ordinary – Reissues and More

2015 ACL InstituteReminder: ACL Institute this Friday, April 10, 2015 at San Francisco Public Library
Date: April 10, 2015

Time: 8:30am -4:30pm

Location: San Francisco Public Library – Main Library

Presentations by Jacqueline Woodson, Maya Gonzalez, Malinda Lo, Aya de Leon

Cost :ACL Members: $55; Non-Members: $65; Students: $25, limited space available at the door for $75.

Register NOW – online  .

Out of the Ordinary:

TuckBabbitt, Natalie. Tuck Everlasting: 40th Anniversary Edition. Square Fish/FSG, 1975/2015. $19.99, ISBN 978-0-374-30167-5.

If a publisher wants to put out an anniversary edition of a beloved children’s novel, this is the way to do it. First, the novel itself is still popular and relevant, and secondly, this edition is packed with extras to make it a worthy purchase.

This edition kicks off with an introduction by Gregory Maguire, author of several tween novels as well as the adult novel Wicked, which was turned into the hit Broadway musical. He discusses Babbitt’s writing style and sophisticated themes, which acknowledges the intelligence of her young readers.

At the end of the book is an in-depth interview with the author. Here Babbitt expresses her respect for children as readers and her distain for those who underestimate the emotional intelligence of children.

The other extra that concludes the book is a selection of excerpts from Babbitt’s other books, which serve as a form of booktalks; readers will be motivated to check out her other books based on these selections.

The plot has definitely stood the test of time – the question of a Fountain of Youth and living forever is still relevant. The writing never talks down to the reader and is especially good at incorporating challenging vocabulary in context so it is easy to discern what a word means.

Like many of the classic novels this column has reviewed, this is relatively brief at 139 pages. It is another reminder that the “doorstop” tween novels of 300 and 400 pages are not always better or more challenging just because they are long. Writing a concise story is often stronger than some of the rambling narratives being published today for the same age group.

Although the film version, also titled “Tuck Everlasting,” wasn’t a hit, it is relatively true to the original with the exception that the main character Winnie is a teen, not an 11-year-old. But the actors are exemplary – Sissy Spacek and Jonathan Jackson are especially good in their roles. This edition would be great for a tween book discussion group that also watches the film and compares the two.

Lester, Helen. Pookins Gets Her Way. Illus. by Lynn Munsinger. HMH, 1987/2015. $8.99, ISBN 978-0-544-32406-0.

Lester, Helen. Score One for the Sloths. Illus. by Lynn Munsinger. HMH, 1987/2015. $8.99, ISBN 978-0-544-32405-3.

Two of Lester’s and Munsinger’s humorous picture books have been reissued with downloadable audio recordings, available on the publisher’s website (www.hmhbooks.com/freedownloads ). These two titles join eight of their previous books reissued with audio; along with the solid narration, the recordings contain subtle sound effects, as well as a light bell sound to signal when to turn the page. These will work well for libraries since the password allowing one to download the recording is on the verso of the title page, and the download isn’t assigned just to one computer.

There is also a download PDF that contains discussion and activity guides for each title. The guide seems best suited to classroom use as the activities are discussions or writing exercises, not arts and crafts or games. The books with downloadable recordings are under an umbrella series called “Laugh-Along Lessons.”

Both titles are popular and fun with sly lessons on proper behavior. For example, Pookins learns it is not always good to get one’s demands, and the Sloths learn to give activity a try. Lester is very good at making these messages subtle, and tempered with humor, and Munsinger continues the fun with her cartoon illustrations. These make nice replacement editions for libraries that need new copies.

Lowry, Lois. Anastasia Krupnik. HMH, 1979/2015. $6.99, ISBN 978-0-544-33668-1.

Lowry, Lois. Anastasia Again! HMH, 1981/2015. $6.99, ISBN 978-0-544-33667-4.

Anastasia Krupnik is one of Lois Lowry’s most popular characters; the series is being reissued in paperback with new cover art and with new introductions by the author. The first two titles came out in January 2015, and books three and four will be available July 2015: Anastasia At Your Service and Anastasia Off Her Rocker.

Anastasia was always an intriguing, likable character in part due to her intelligence – she wasn’t the average clueless girl getting into trouble. Her parents were somewhat unusual and she had an independence that readers envied, which makes these books still popular. Also, they had a calm humor that was very relatable.

The new jacket art is done in a color cartoon style featuring a skinny girl with long blond hair – the artwork evokes the style of fashion design drawings. The new introductions are different in the two books I was able to see, and it is nice that the publisher didn’t skimp by giving readers the same intro for both books. Lowry talks about her character and the motivation for writing the series. Plus, she briefly describes a few things that may seem “dated” to new young readers who don’t remember the 1970’s and ‘80’s.

These paperback versions would be great purchases for summer casual reading, and the strong female main character is certainly timely and welcome.

There are nine books total in the initial series of “Anastasia” books, followed by a spinoff starring Anastasia’s baby brother Sam, which began with All About Sam (1988), followed by Attaboy, Sam!(1992). These last two titles will be reissued in paperback with new cover art in January 2016.

O’Connor, Jane. Fancy Nancy: 10th Anniversary Special Edition. Illus. by Robin Preiss Glasser, Harper, 2006/2015. $17.99, ISBN 978-0-06-235214-9.

What started as a story for preschool girly-girls has turned into an industry, with more than 15 picture books, a transitional fiction series starring the character, and several easy readers. The books have been translated into 18 different languages, and Tina Fey has optioned the book for a live-action feature film. There is even a “Fancy Nancy” stage musical! So it is no surprise that the publisher would reissue the book for its 10th anniversary.

This new edition is very similar to the original book; in fact, it only contains one new element. On the back endpapers are the lyrics to one song from the musical, “Anyone Can Be Fancy.” If you go to the website http://www.fancynancyworld.com you can download a recording of the song. Because there is only one minor new element, this is not worth purchasing by most libraries, unless you need replacement copies of the original.

Penny Peck,  SJSU iSchool

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