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  • Despite the claims that the Internet has hurt reading, I say it’s the best thing that ever happened to used-bookstores. Between, Alibris, Amazon, and Bookfinder.com, it’s near impossible to come up empty when looking for a favorite.
  • When was the last time you saw anyone (young or old) reading a book by Maurice Sendak? On the other hand, parents and teachers will get ten times more mileage for kids’ hearts and souls from Patricia Polacco’s books than from Sendak’s. Just a personal opinion.
  • When I’m shopping or browsing, I’m always influenced first by the book’s cover, followed by the rest of the book. So what happens when we go all-digital and there are fewer and fewer physical covers to catch our eye?
  • I’ve always wondered why paperback covers are so much more attractive than hardcovers. It’s like public radio’s Saturday afternoon opera versus “Car Talk.”
  • I just got around to reading The Franchise by Michael MacCambridge, the history of Sports Illustrated’s first four decades. (My teen years were spent devouring the magazine’s first decade.) Along with much ado about editorial and office politics, the book documents the sad slide of popular American magazine writing from lengthy and complex sentences to shorter and shallower writing, accompanied by a plethora of photos—something like slo-mo TV with pages. Poor Mr. Luce must rotate in his grave weekly.
  • My favorite part of book promotion tours was meeting the tour escorts and quizzing them on their favorite touring authors as well as the ones they dreaded. Every year the escorts would “honor” the latter with an award called The Golden Dart. My favorite anecdote was the author who got off the plane, discovered her book wasn’t on display in the airport bookstore, and cancelled the city. A Dart-winner if there ever was one.
  • My favorite question at a dinner party is “What was your favorite book as a child?” It’s always sad when someone confesses, “I never had one,” but most people can come up with at least one. And then the debate starts.
  • An old newspaper colleague once observed wisely: “The age we read a particular classic is inverse to our present age. That is, when we are 40, we recall reading Little Women when we were ten. When we are 60, we read it when we were six.”
  • I believe the last decade of Dr. Seuss full-length movies has done nothing to enhance his legacy. Please, Mrs. Geisel, don’t let Hollywood mess up Oh, the Places You’ll Go!
  • Most authors who talk to me about their books-made-into-movies sheepishly confess to a single motive: CASH, the very subject that feeds most author insecurities.
  • Why is it that doctors, scientists, and judges never think of writing a children’s book but celebrities keep writing them?
  • It’s a shame English novelist Michael Morpurgo and Australian picture book artist Bob Graham are not better known in the U.S. They’re as good as our very best. I’d take Morpurgo’s Kensuke’s Kingdom over any Harry Potter book, and Graham’s A Bus Called Heaven is nothing short of great.
  • Can you remember why book-banners protested Trina Schart Hyman’s Caldecott-winning Little Red Riding Hood? Trina, who loved sneaking mischief into our illustrations, tucked away a bottle of wine in the basket headed for Grandma. Trina’s passing has left a painful void that is yet to be filled.
  • Speaking of censors, there’s a fascinating Webcast with E. B. White’s stepson about the time America’s most influential children’s librarian tried (and failed) to stop the publication of White’s first book, Stuart Little. Junie B. Jones would have given that librarian, Ann Carroll Moore, a good case of apoplexy or shingles.
  • I can name a dozen great dog novels but not a single cat book. How come?
  • You take Little House on the Prairie; I’ll take Caddie Woodlawn every time. As my son once observed when we were reading one of the Wilder books: “Dad, do we really need to know this much about hay?”
  • With 24/7 sports coverage on TV and the Web, someone ought to resurrect the out-of-print work of sports novelists Thomas J. Dygard and Alfred Slote.
  • Am I the only one who thinks we’ve reached the saturation point with apocalyptical novels for preteens and teens, to say nothing of the nasty-girl books. The slogan seems to be: If it sells, clone it. Is there an original thought in the house?
  • Kadir Nelson’s book illustrations are as close to fine art as you can get in kids’ books yet remain thoroughly accessible. He’s a treasure for our time!
  • After being missed for decades, Philomel has brought Doris Burn’s Andrew Henry’s Meadow back into print. If you’re unfamiliar with it, chase it down and revel in the glory that can be made from plain old black lines on white paper and a story that celebrates little kids who dare to find a life of their own. Oh, yes—Hollywood is preparing a film version, which means the children’s happy meadow probably will have wolverines and vampires lurking in the deep.
  • If you’re going to read Wilson Rawls’ Where the Red Fern Grows, then you simply must follow it up with his Summer of the Monkeys.
  • It’s headed for the courts, so eventually publishers, authors, and e-tablet makers will allow us to digitally give away the e-books we’ve already purchased (probably if we first pay a little extra when we buy the book). But will they ever allow us to gift it to a public or school library, as we do with dead-tree books?
  • Who was the president that put James Bond on the bestseller list just when its publisher was about to retire the series? Jack Kennedy told Life magazine how much he loved reading the series and — bestseller list! Ah, for Presidents who share their reading.
  • How many famous “orphan” stories can you name, beginning with Harry Potter and going backward? For Dickens it was a magic ingredient. Still is.

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