Tuesday, January 31, 2012

William's Doll

About William's Doll
"William wanted a doll.
He wanted to hug it
and cradle it in his arms..."
So begins Charlotte's quietly revolutionary book --- still selling briskly four decades after its publication in 1972. What's so special about a boy who wanted a doll ? Well, then, as now, a boy's wish for what's too often seen as a girl's toy makes many people uneasy. (Left, the cover of William's Doll, gently illustrated by William Pene du Bois.) But though the topic was, and remains, controversial, Charlotte's approach was not. She tells the story softly, in an almost old-fashioned manner, and the satisfying circular structure of the narrative is timeless and deeply pleasing to children. As Zena Sutherland remarked in the Bulletin for the Center of Children's Books, the book is "as endearing for its tenderness as for the message it portrays."
What makes the book as timeless and endearing as it is? Just ask Kimberlee Ent, the 43-year old elementary school librarian at Hampden Elementary, in Mechanicsburg, PA. After Kimberlee visited this site, she noted, "I love to share Charlotte's books with all my students. The older I get.... the more her books mean to me." But William's Doll, is, she says, her favorite. It embodies one of her core beliefs, which are shared by so many of us who write for, teach, parent or otherwise spend time with the young "As I work with so many different children and realize all their unique gifts, abilities, and needs, I hope for someone to be in each of their lives who celebrates them as an individual. We all need someone to support us and love us, unconditionally." In the case of William's Doll, that 'someone' turns out to be William's grandmother.
What happens when a boy wants a doll?
William's brother and friends and the boy next door call him a creep and a sissy. His father gets him a basketball ("He practiced a lot / and got good at it / but it had nothing to do / with the doll. / William still wanted one, and electric train set ("The tiny train/ threaded around and around the tracks/ with a clacking sound./ William made cardboard stations / and tunnels/ and bridges / and played with the train/ a lot. But he didn't stop wanting / a doll..." ). Below, William plays with his trains.
Finally, his grandmother comes to visit --- and at last William is understood. She gets William the doll (he "loved it right away"). And she explains to William's father (who "was upset. 'He's a boy!' he said / 'Why does he need a doll?'") why William needs it:
"so that
when he's a father
like you,
he'll know how to
take care of his baby
and feed him
and love him
and bring him
the things he wants,
like a doll
so that he can
practice being
a father. "
How Charlotte came to write William's Doll
"I remember lots of little pieces that went into it, and into my thinking.
"The first was this. My husband, Maurice, desperately wanted children, which was unusual in the crowd we moved in then. But even so, he had a hard time with the physical side of it. For instance, he never changed a diaper, and would leave the room when the baby was being changed. This is not a put-down of him: it was the custom of the time, fathers just didn't have much to do with their children, especially infants, in that way back then. But I used to think that both he and the baby were missing something because something else always happened. For example, one day when I was changing my first child, Stephen, he smiled --- his first smile. I remember feeling sad that Maurice missed that.
"The second was this. A few months before my daughter, Ellen, was born, my son Stephen fell in love with a large stuffed animal, a lion, which he saw in one of the store windows on Eighth Street in Greenwich Village. He went crazy over it. The lion was very expensive, and Maurice didn't approve of giving boys stuffed animals, so we didn't buy it. Stephen cried and cried and cried. A few weeks before I went to the hospital to have Ellen, I started to get worried about leaving Steve. It would be the first time I wasn't at home, and all the routines he was familiar with would be broken. I remembered the lion and I thought that might comfort him. So I bought it and gave it to Steven beforehand and he did love it. He named it Leo, and kept it for years." (Stephen, at about the age where he fell in love with Leo the lion, is pictured above.)
"A third episode, the one that drove me towards the book most clearly, happened in Washington Square Park, where I used to take Stephen to play when we lived in the Village. I don't remember the particulars, but there was a little boy there who wanted a rag-doll. I overheard the father say, oh get him a gun instead . It did make me mad. It all came together: how men missed out on the pleasure of being with very young children, and how, because they missed it and because they had never had it with their fathers, they had no concept that war and harshness and so much unpleasantness came out of playing with guns as children, and growing up thinking it was unmanly to play with a doll or stuffed toy bear or lion. (Photo, above, shows Washington Square Park in the springtime, and appears courtesy of Readio.com.)
"I did not write the book to be feminist ideology, although I am a feminist, and though I am very glad feminists have found a message in it. But I wrote it out of a direct emotional sorrow."
The dedication: William's Doll is dedicated "To Billy and Nancy." Who are they? Surprise --- Charlotte doesn't know!
Today, there are often two sets of dedications on children's books, one from the illustrator and one from the writer. But in 1972, the accepted practice was that only the writer issued a dedication. William Pene du Bois, who illustrated several of Charlotte's books, including It's not Fair and My Grandson Lew, asked her if this dedication could be used, she agreed.
Adaptations & awards
William's Doll was adapted for film/video in 1981 by Phoenix Films, produced and directed by Robert Carlo Chiesa. A version of the book was also made into a song, and is included on the best-selling recording Free to Be You and Me. (Below, William's grandmother saves the day by picking out a doll for William.)

E-mail charlottesdaughter@charlottezolotow.com
© Dragon, Pen & Inc, 2001-2007

Free To Be You and Me - William Wants A Doll

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

New Signage!

New hanging signage has been installed in the children's room; what do you think?

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Schooled, the book that wishes it were Stargirl

Gordon Korman's Schooled (2007) features a kid who has been homeschooled navigating his way through 8th grade in a public middle school; Jerry Spinelli's Stargirl (2000) has a 10th grade protagonist who has been homeschooled and is in a public high school for the first time.  The ages and genders may be different, but the plots are similar: outsider hippy kid enters the mainstream for the first time, failing miserably at fitting in.  At first rejected by the kids, then embraced by kids and becoming influential.  Stargirl outshines Schooled by far.  Schooled''s main character, Capricorn Anderson, has been raised on a commune by his grandmother.  Except that they are the only two people living there.  The commune that Capricorn's grandmother founded has long been disbanded, and Capricorn's parents are both dead.  Yet throughout the book, Capricorn refers to his home as "the community."  Schooled is filled with so many of these types of details that I found them to be distracting and false-sounding.  Capricorn is given a checkbook by the school principal, in order to write checks for things such as the vendors for the Halloween dance.  Capricorn ends up writing checks willy-nilly to charities, giving generously.  He also uses one check at a jewelry store; the unbelievability of a jewelry store accepting a check from a 13 year old boy with no identification and the name of his middle school on the check made me pause. While Schooled is a sweet story, even a page-turner at some points, I found the incongruity of the "facts" of the story to make the book much weaker than it would have been had Korman tightened up some of these details.

While Schooled treats Capricorn like he has been raised on another planet ("What's a Starbuck?" he asks), Stargirl treats Stargirl Caraway as just different.  She is here, she is part of this world, but she is just doing it her own way.  A much more believable book, Stargirl presents its heroine as contemporary, yet utterly unique.  While Capricorn Anderson seems to have time-traveled from the 1960s (although born in 1994), Stargirl Caraway is just straight out of central casting as a non-conformist.  Stargirl is a more thought-provoking story about how people react to an outsider, and it completely captures the Icarian highs and lows of the laws of the teenage social world with a sparkly magical realism.  Both titles have been on middle school summer reading lists in recent years --- read both and see if you agree with my analysis!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Notable Newbery Books

On Monday, January 23, 2012 the American Library Association will announce the winner of the Newbery Medal for 2012.

In an unscientific survey of the Wellesley Free Library staff, I’ve created a list of Notable Newbery books. These are our favorite titles from the winner list since the Medal was first given in 1922. Forty eight titles were voted favorites with 9 receiving 3 votes each and another 5 receiving more than 3 votes. Here is the list:

More that 3 votes each:

Sarah Plain and Tall by Patricia MacLachlan

The Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson

Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor

A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeleine L’Engle

The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare

Three votes each:

The Grey King by Susan Cooper

Julie of the Wolves by Jean Craighead George

Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH by Robert C. O’Brien

The Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell

King of the Wind by Marguerite Henry

Johnny Tremain by Esther Forbes

The White Stag by Kate Seredy

Caddie Woodlawn by Carol Ryrie Brink

Hitty, Her First Hundred Years by Rachel Field

The complete list of Newbery Medal winners is on the ALA website: http://www.ala.org/alsc/awardsgrants/bookmedia/newberymedal/newberywinners/medalwinners
Do you have a favorite or several favorites from the list?

PRESS HERE by Herve Tullet -- Book Trailer

By Hervé Tullet

Press here. That's right. Just press the yellow dot, and turn the page. The single touch of a finger sparks a whimsical dance of color and motion in this joyful celebration of the power of imagination.

"A tour de force of imagination and playfulness that belongs on every family bookshelf."
—Seattle Times
"An elegantly conceived picture book."
—The New York Times
"Irresistible. . . A cross between a high-concept picture book and an iPhone, only more charming."
—The Wall Street Journal
—School Library Journal, starred review
star"A breath of fresh air."
—Kirkus Reviews, starred review
—Publishers Weekly, starred review
star"An interactive book that gives the iPad a licking."
—The Horn Book, starred review
Click here to find out why teachers, librarians, and bloggers love this special book.
About the Author:
Known as "The Prince of Preschool" Hervé Tullet has been an ad agency art director and magazine illustrator. He lives with his wife and children in Paris.

On Sarah Garland

Sarah Garland

Sarah Garland is a much-loved British author/illustrator who has published more than 40 books. She lives in Chedworth, Gloucestershire. Her books published by Frances Lincoln include Eddie's Garden and Eddie's Kitchen; Going to Playschool, Doing the Garden, Going Swimming, Coming to Tea, Doing the Shopping, Doing Christmas, Having a Picnic and Doing the Washing; Billy and Belle; Dashing Dog; Splash and Zoom.



Mother superior

From The Observer

As her best loved books are republished, children's writer and illustrator Sarah Garland talks to Kate Kellaway about the joy of drawing messy families

Sarah Garland's books could not find a French publisher because her mothers were judged insufficiently chic. What French madame would be seen in a shapeless green duffel coat, pushing a buggy uphill, with the baby's bottle (lid off) peeping out of her pocket? Garland is one of the best and most sympathetic chroniclers of English family life precisely because her pencil doesn't lie about the slog of bringing up children. She has a loving, unsentimental eye. She can be festive but is never false. I have always been profoundly grateful to her for drawing a mother I can relate to - as have millions of others who adore her work.
She has written 40 books during her career but it is a particular cause for celebration that her irresistible series of seven - what she thinks of as her 'Coming and Going' books (Coming to Tea, Doing Christmas, Going Swimming...) - are all to be republished along with two delightful newcomers: Eddie's Garden and How to Make Things Grow and Eddie's Kitchen and How to Make Good Things to Eat. This Garland renaissance offered me the excuse I need to meet her - something I have always wanted to do.
She lives in Chedworth, Gloucestershire. I half expected to find her in chaos, as if the tangle of toddlers that she has always drawn so well were a permanent condition. But her four children are grown up now, and two of her three grandchildren are at a tidy distance in New Zealand. She lives in a tranquil grey stone house with bright blue lobelias spilling out of pots outside her door, white painted wooden floors, a trusty Aga, and her husband, David Garland, a ceramicist whose plates and pots boldly make their presences felt. David is the model for the grandfather in her newest books. But Sarah does not look like anyone's granny. It is far easier, as she sits with her legs tucked under her in an armchair, to picture her as a schoolgirl - sparky, lanky, with boyish hair. She wears black-and-white-striped tights and shocking pink socks.
She has always loved drawing people, she says, appreciating 'shapes of bodies.' But as a child she flirted with 'becoming an animal psychologist.' There is a lanky dog in the 'Coming and Going' books (the Society for Retired Greyhounds wrote to salute her for including him). She modestly quotes a Thomas Hardy line to describe her work as 'humbly recording unadjusted impressions.' I'd say she is more interpreter than recorder. And, besides, some pleasurable adjusting of impressions has been going on. In the newly republished series, she has changed parts of illustrations that have 'bothered me over the years.' An Asian mother has had a furtive makeover, 'sticking a sweet new head on her throughout Going to Playschool.' Less satisfactory in my view - though Garland doesn't grumble - is the publisher's intervention to Doing Christmas. In the first draft, the mother at the end of the day was slumped in an armchair, sipping wine. Now, thanks to over-abstemious editorial intervention, she clutches a cup of tea.
Garland grew up in a 'very small and ancient, terraced cottage' at the foot of Clay Hill in Bushey, Hertfordshire. 'It was quite bohemian - packed with paintings, books, a piano and peculiar furniture made of thin bits of wood by my very unhandy Dad. The lav was part of a coal hole and the bath was in the kitchen.' She was brought up by her grandmother because her mother, who was an illustrator, was 'troubled, not a bringing-up type.' Her father was a writer of strip cartoons, children's books and a naval historian. One of her sisters is the novelist Deborah Moggach. She loved her childhood until, at 11, she was sent to boarding school. She felt 'cast into outer darkness'. She ran away but was returned to school immediately. At 16, she successfully 'fabricated a nervous breakdown' and left. She contentedly completed a secretarial course, then trained as a typographer at the London College of Printing. The two lasting results of that time are that she 'sets shopping lists to the left' and that she met her husband. She married, like her mother before her, at 19. She was 21 when she became pregnant with her first child, after David was hurt in a car crash. 'I got pregnant in case he was going to die. I was very happy to make my own family,' she says. 'In my life my most intense experiences have been about family.'
Bringing up children and working as a writer meant that 'we lived in a shameful mess.' But she has always loved drawing the mess. Today her house is too neat to be a model. And the model for the mother in Eddie's Kitchen is no longer herself - it is one of her daughters. But this delectable book with robust recipes - including crusty white bread and orange drizzle cake - is a perfect antidote to the excesses of Christmas.
This year, on Christmas Day, she will be flying to New Zealand, returning in the new year. What are the advantages to home life once the children have gone? 'Calmness. Being able to listen to music. Being able to cut all your toenails at once. Not being interrupted.'

Thursday, January 12, 2012

New Toys at the Hills Branch!

Stop by the Hills Branch and play with our new toys!!!

"I have a dream" in honor of Martin Luther King Day

Every year in honor of Martin Luther King's birthday, biographies and books about the Civil Rights Movement are popular. Here are some more books you might also want to read. You can find the books and the descriptions in the Minuteman Library Catalog

Sit-in : how four friends stood up by sitting down / by Andrea Davis Pinkney ; illustrated by Brian Pinkney.
"This picture book is a celebration of the 50th anniversary of the momentous Woolworth's lunch counter sit-in, when four college students staged a peaceful protest that became a defining moment in the struggle for racial equality and the growing civil rights movement."--Amazon.com.

Today the world is watching you : the Little Rock Nine and the fight for school integration, 1957 / Kekla Magoon.
The Little Rock Nine were a group of African-American students who were enrolled in Little Rock Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas, in 1957three years after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against segregation in public schools. The ensuing Little Rock Crisis saw the students initially prevented from entering the racially segregated school by Arkansas Governor Orval Faubus. Through the intervention of President Eisenhower and the National Guard, the students were allowed to attend. This is considered to be one of the most important events in the African-American Civil Rights Movement.

These hands / written by Margaret H. Mason ; and illustrated by Floyd Cooper.
An African American man tells his grandson about a time when, despite all the wonderful things his hands could do, they could not touch bread at the Wonder Bread factory. Based on stories of bakery union workers; includes historical note.

Birmingham 1963 : how a photograph rallied civil rights support / by Shelley Tougas.
"Explores and analyzes the historical context and significance of the iconic Charles Moore photograph"--Provided by publisher.

Belle, the last mule at Gee's Bend / Calvin Alexander Ramsey and Bettye Stroud ; illustrated by John Holyfield.
In Gee's Bend, Alabama, Miz Pettway tells young Alex about the historic role her mule played in the struggle for civil rights led by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Includes factual information about the community of Gee's Bend and Martin Luther King, Jr.

Viola Desmond won't be budged! / Jody Nyasha Warner ; pictures by Richard Rudnicki.
In 1946, Viola Desmond bought a movie ticket at the Roseland Theatre in Nova Scotia. After settling into a main floor seat, an usher came by and told her to move, because her ticket was only good for the balcony. She offered to pay the difference in price but was refused: “You people have to sit in the upstairs section.” Viola refused to move. She was hauled off to jail, but her actions gave strength and inspiration to Canada’s black community.

Child of the civil rights movement / by Paula Young Shelton ; illustrated by Raul Colón.
Paula Young Shelton shares her memories of the civil rights movement and her involvement in the historic march from Selma to Montgomery.

Rosa's bus / Jo Kittinger ; illustrated by Steven Walker.
The story of an ordinary bus... until a woman named Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat which became a pivotal event in the Civil Rights movement. Follows the bus's history from the streets of Montgomery to the Henry Ford Museum.

Birmingham Sunday / Larry Dane Brimner.
Learn about the bomb blast that rocked the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church on Sunday morning, September 15, 1963, killing four young girls.

One crazy summer / Rita Williams-Garcia.
In the summer of 1968, after travelling from Brooklyn to Oakland, California, to spend a month with the mother they barely know, eleven-year-old Delphine and her two younger sisters arrive to a cold welcome as they discover that their mother, a dedicated poet and printer, is resentful of the intrusion of their visit and wants them to attend a nearby Black Panther summer camp.

We shall overcome : a song that changed the world / by Stuart Stotts ; foreword by Pete Seeger ; with illustrations by Terrance Cummings.
Traces the history of the inspiring anthem, exploring the influence of traditional African music and Christian hymns in shaping its lyrics and tune and offering insight into the song's role in civil rights, labor, and anti-war movements in America.

Back of the bus / Aaron Reynolds ; illustrated by Floyd Cooper.
From the back of the bus, an African American child watches the arrest of Rosa Parks.

Freedom song : young voices and the struggle for civil rights / Mary C. Turck.
Melding memorable music and inspiring history,Freedom Song presents a fresh perspective on the civil rights movement by showing how songs of hope, faith, and freedom strengthened the movement and served as its voice.

Selma's bloody Sunday / by Lucia Raatma.
The 1870 passage of the 17th Amendment to the Constitution, that no man could be denied the right to vote, was a big step forward in the civil rights movement. However, nearly 100 years later, most African Americans in the South still could not vote. In March 1965, a march from Selma, Alabama, to the state Capitol in Montgomery was planned to demand voting rights. But the marches only made it six blocks before they were stopped and brutally attacked by state troopers. March 7 became known as Bloody Sunday. The beatings outraged Americans who rallied to support the civil rights movement.

My mother the cheerleader : a novel / by Robert Sharenow.
Thirteen-year-old Louise uncovers secrets about her family and her neighborhood during the violent protests over school desegregation in 1960 New Orleans.

Marching for freedom : walk together, children, and don't you grow weary / by Elizabeth Partridge.
Award-winning author Elizabeth Partridge leads you straight into the chaotic, passionate, and deadly three months of protests that culminated in the landmark march from Selma to Montgomery in 1965. Focusing on the courageous children who faced terrifying violence in order to march alongside King, this is an inspiring look at their fight for the vote. Stunningly emotional black-and-white photos accompany the text.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012