Tuesday, December 18, 2007

when librarians get riled up

this morning i went to a mock caldecott meeting. the caldecott is a picture book award that is given every year to a book with outstanding illustrations. sometimes librarians like to have meetings and pretend we are on the committee and then decide who we think should win. so about 50 children's librarians were divided up and we all sat at a table and discussed which books we thought deserved to win. you may not think it, but this ALWAYS sparks heated debate.
my personal favorite was Knuffle Bunny Too: a Case of Mistaken Identity by Mo Willems. he cleverly draws charaters onto real pictures, like this one shown here. its really amazing how he is able to make the characters look like they are interacting with their environment.
so as i am going on and on about how much i love this book, this woman next to me is sighing and making all sorts of overdone sounds exclaiming how much she hated the book. (how can anyone hate mo willems? he has been a guest star at a national book cart drill team championship!)
so then she starts saying how ugly she thought the book was and how stupid the story was.
the story is about a young girl who takes her beloved knuffle (pronounced kuh-nuffle) bunny to school and then lo and behold her arch enemy also has a knuffle bunny and then all of her knuffle bunny thunder is stolen by said arch enemy. then there is a knuffle bunny switch and the girl doesn't realize until late at night that her knuffle bunny is really an imposter! she then waked her parents and her father asks (this is my favorite) "do you know what 2:30 am means?" then there is a beautifully illustrated meet up outside prospect park so that the knuffle bunnies can be reunited with their proper owners and the young girl realizes that she and her arch enemy aren't that different after all.
is it war and peace? no. is it a good story for a picture book? yes! what the hell kind of plotting do you want in a picture book? this is what picture books are people! a bear loses his button in a department store. a curious monkey gets in trouble. a baby bird searches for his mother.
then she is going on and on how, get this, the plot is unbelieveable and far fetched. then all the other librarians talk about the time their child lost their blankie here and they had to go back or little timmie left his bear at the mall. or, my favorite, a librarian recalled how when she was little she went to canada and left her cabbage patch kid at a mcdonalds and she would not board the ferry home until her father drove back and retrieved it.
then a second woman kind of jumped on the band wagon and said that the book was not "art" and that she could draw the illustrations herself. i HATE it when people say that. yeah, could you draw a picasso or splatter paint like jackson pollock? yeah .... you could. but guess what? you didn't! you didn't hang a urinal on the wall and call it art! someone else did! and now you're jealous that you didn't think of it first! so this woman continues to copy the drawing, "proving" to us that these are not in fact quality illustrations, since she can copy them. big deal, you can look at an already published highly popular children's book and copy it. who can't? i could probably copy dr. seuss if i wanted to. that doesn't mean he isn't awesome. also, i'd like to point out that mo willems has TWICE, not once, but TWICE won the caldecott "honor" book (meaning he was like a runner up). so its not like he's some hack or something.
anyway, knuffle bunny didn't win our mock caldecott. but it is such a cute book. i highly recommend it. so here is the moral of the story: 1. people are stupid. 2. mo willems rocks.


Kara said...

I hate nothing more in this world than people who say it isn't art because they could have done it.

Becka said...

hell's library misses you.

The Dewey Decimal Mistress said...

and i miss hell's ... oh wait. no i don't. but i miss YOU becka!