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All stories relating to children’s books

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Way to Display! Chester at Mabel’s Fables

As part of Quillblog’s ongoing commitment to filling our site with ephemera, sundries, and both flotsam and jetsam from around the book world, we are instituting a semi-regular feature entitled Way to Display!, in which we feature striking and eye-catching window displays (or, indeed, interior displays) from bookstores around the country. If you have seen a great display (or have just made one yourself), feel free to send it our way. (Dropping them in our Flickr pool is one way to get the pictures to us, or you can mail them directly to nwhitlock at quillandquire.com)

We kick things off with this fat cat display for Mélanie Watt’s Chester’s Masterpiece in the window of Toronto’s Mabel’s Fables. (Photo courtesy of Kids Can Press)

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The ashes of Tasha Tudor and the wisdom of Solomon

Anyone who’s had them knows that children are greedy, ungrateful, little creeps. Especially so when they are all grown up and bickering over a recently deceased parent’s estate.

This is what happened in the case of Vermont children’s illustrator Tasha Tudor, who died in June of 2008 at the age of 92, leaving a $2-million (U.S.) estate . Her will stipulated that the bulk of the money go to her eldest son, with only small amounts going to the rest of the children, who are contesting the will in court.

Tudor, who lived a very proto-hippie existence with a number of beloved animals, had a few other stipulations in her will: she asked to be buried alongside the remains of her favourite dog and rooster. Even this fairly simple request got muddied, however. From the Canadian Press:

When author Tasha Tudor’s ashes were finally buried, it wasn’t in one place. Her bickering survivors couldn’t agree on when, where and how, so a judge ordered her cremated remains divided in half.

On Oct. 17, sons Seth Tudor and Thomas Tudor and daughters Bethany Tudor and Efner Tudor Holmes buried some under a rosebush she loved in her garden and the rest on Seth’s neighbouring property, where her precious Pembroke Welsh corgi dogs were already buried.

“(Seth) got the ashes, we went outside and he gave us half the ashes and he went down to his property and scattered or buried the ashes there and we scattered ours,” said Thomas Tudor, 64. “It was really an unpleasant situation.”

That’s right: they even fought over the ashes.

Despite all this trouble, things still appear bucolic on the Tasha Tudor and Family website, though it’s worth nothing that the rooster’s bio appears before any of the kids.

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Event photos: Evan Munday, Natalie Ghent, and Mélanie Watt teach the children well

Evan Munday, Natalie Ghent, Bronwyn Cragg, Noam Flear, Sophia Jantzi & Sophie Chase

Illustrator Evan Munday (who sunlights as Coach House Books’s publicist) and YA author Natalie Ghent ran the Test Pilot edition of Small Print’s Volume One Project, a new writing workshop series for pre-teens and tweens, at Humber College in Toronto on Nov. 22. Above (from left): Munday and Ghent, along with the Test Pilot participants and their newly created books. (Photo by Chris Reed)

Picture 18

On Nov. 24, Mélanie Watt dropped by Indigo’s Bay and Bloor location in Toronto as part of Kids Can Press’s partnership with Indigo’s Love of Reading Foundation, which aims to get books into the hands of needy kids. Above: Watt shows the assembled elementary school kids how to draw her best-known character, Scaredy Squirrel.

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Caillou’s mom won’t let it go

Though the long and bitter custody battle over Caillou, that loveable and very bankable little character, has long been settled, it’s clear that bitter feelings remain. Though Hélène Desputeaux, who first drew the grapefruit-headed munchkin, and Christine L’Heureux of Éditions Chouette, who wrote some of the early stories, agreed to split royalties back in 2005, after being told by a court-appointed arbitrator back in 1997 that each could claim to be the boy’s “mother” (Caillou has two moms!), Desputeaux still takes every opportunity to make clear the  boy is hers.

Q&Q recently received a press release from desputeaux + aubin, the company Desputeaux set up with her husband, Michel Aubin, to publish her books, trumpeting a new, 20th anniversary edition of the first Caillou book. In it, we counted no less than 10 references to Caillou’s “genuine” lineage. Fun activity time: see if you can find them all!

Picture 14

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Scholastic [U.S.] tries to censor kids’ book with same-sex couple characters [UPDATED]

Publishers are often called upon to defend their books against people and organizations (parents, school boards, governments, self-appointed morality squads, etc.) who attempt to ban or suppress them.

In the case of a new tween novel by Colorado author Lauren Myracle, however, it’s another publisher that is doing the censoring:

Don’t expect to see Lauren Myracle’s new book Luv Ya Bunches (Abrams/Amulet, 2009) at Scholastic school book fairs this year. It’s been censored – at least for now – due to its language and homosexual content.

Luv Ya Bunches, about four elementary school girls who have little in common, but bond over the fact that they’re all named after flowers, is the first installment of a four-book series. But Scholastic says the book, released on October 1, failed to meet its vetting process because it contains offensive language and same-sex parents of one of the main characters, Milla.

The company sent a letter to Myracle’s editor asking the author to omit certain words such as “geez,” “crap,” “sucks,” and “God” (as in, “oh my God”) and to alter its plotline to include a heterosexual couple. Myracle agreed to get rid of the offensive language “with the goal – as always – of making the book as available to as many readers as possible,” but the deal breaker was changing Milla’s two moms.

UPDATE: Under pressure, Scholastic U.S. has released a statement saying it will include Myracle’s novel in its middle school book fairs (though presumably not its elementary school fairs), and furthermore, that the company “does not censor books.”

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Event photos: Bird Child takes flight

Nan Forler launched her picture book Bird Child (Tundra Books) on Saturday Sept. 19 at the The Great Hall in Conrad Grebel University College in Kitchener-Waterloo. Though the birds in the book (illustrated by Francois Thisdale) are more symbolic than literal, the event was a full on birdztravaganza, with bird-shaped cookies, bird crafts, and songs about birds playing in the background.

Activities for Kids

Some of the planned activities. (Is it just us, or do #2 and #4 seem a little off-theme?)

Signing Line

The signing line.

Peter Carver and Kathy Stinson

Peter Carver and Kathy Stinson get Nan Forler to sign their copies.

Nan Forler

Forler, flowers, and frustrated-looking kid.

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Bookmarks: Superhero Bill Cosby, scary Margaret Atwood, and the Poet of Swinging Suicides

Sundry links from around the Web:

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Bookmarks: Britain’s most avid reader, library-themed ice cream flavours, and more

Some quirky bookish links from around the Web:

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E-love you forever: website will read bedtime stories to your kids

From Your Local Guardian:

Hardworking fathers can still read their children a bedtime story in their absence, thanks to a new invention by a Kingston father-of-two.

Chris Coombs, 44, has come up with a personalised audio book that fathers can record through the internet and email to their offspring at home.

He came up with the idea in 2001, after being called away from Kingston to visit his father, who had fallen ill in Canada.

His daughter Mia, now seven, had been born the day after the September 11 attacks in America and Mr Coombs was about to board a plane.

He said: “I wanted to reassure my four-year-old daughter that I had to leave the country for a few weeks but everything was fine.

“As an audio mixer and dubbing editor I recorded myself reading a story and then added sound effects and prompts.”

He discussed the idea with four other friends who often missed out on bedtimes stories and fivedads.com was born.

Putting aside the absurd idea of e-mailing bedtime stories to kids, it’s nice to see utterly gratuitous references to 9/11 making a small comeback.

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Jeremy Tankard in the L.A. Times

Grumpy Bird author/illustrator Jeremy Tankard recently chatted with Sonja Bolle of the Los Angeles Times. Here are some highlights:

SB: Is Grumpy Bird based on anyone in your life?

JT: I’d probably be in trouble if I answered that honestly.

[...]

SB: What kind of a reader are you?

JT: The irony was that [as a kid] I was not a big reader at all. There were a million things I’d rather do than read a book. I still love being read to, but it wasn’t until I was 30 or 31 that I started to enjoy reading. [He's 36 now.]

[...]

SB: What are you working on now?

JT: Possibly an illustrated novel, maybe a chapter book taking advantage of my love of comic books. My editor at Scholastic did The Invention of Hugo Cabret with Brian Selznick, so she’s open to doing something unusual. I’ve got a story mostly written.

The great thing is that what I thought would be a hobby to supplement my work turns out to be a viable career.

Tankard also lays out the genesis of the Grumpy Bird character and series, something he talked about in Q&Q‘s Jan/Feb cover story on children’s illustrators.

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Book Pictures

Do you have great photos from a recent book event in Canada that you'd like to share with us? Submit them to the Quill & Quire Flickr pool and they'll show up here.

Steve Artelle

Chris Jennings

Kaie Kellough

Jenna

Hall of Honourers

Brandon Wint

Eva Stachniak's Empress of the Night

Eva Stachniak poses with a copy of her book, Empress of the Night

Tea and snacks inspired by Eva Stachniak's Empress of the Night

Rimma Burashko with author Eva Stachniak

Eva Stachniak talks to the audience about the best and worst of Catherine the Great's favourites

Eva Stachniak smiles as she signs a copy of Empress of the Night for a fan

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