Outside Over There: Maurice Sendak and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Maurice Sendak signs books at the UConn Coop bookstore on April 28, 1981. Photo: Jo Lincoln, Archives & Special Collections, UConn Library.

“All of my pictures are created against a background of music. More often than not, my instinctive choice of composer or musical form for the day has the galvanizing effect of making me conscious of my direction. I find something uncanny in the way a musical phrase, a sensuous vocal line, or a patch of Wagnerian color will clarify an entire approach or style for a new work.”

-The Shape of Music, Maurice Sendak, 1964

Maurice Sendak, celebrated and renowned author and illustrator of children’s books such as the revolutionary 1963 Where the Wild Things Are and 1970 In the Night Kitchen, held a life-long and deeply intimate and interwoven relationship with music. Holding in high esteem composers such as Wolfgang Amadeus Wolfgang and Franz Schubert, he was in the habit of listening to music while working on his creations, and often, references to music crept into his preliminary and final drawings. A significant example occurs in the artwork for the 1981 Outside Over There.

Musically inspired and layered with resounding personal overtures, Sendak was already working on Outside Over There when stage director Frank Corsaro asked him in 1978 to design the costumes and sets on a production of “The Magic Flute” for the Houston Grand Opera. A catalyst for the creation of Outside Over There, Sendak explained: “In some way, Outside Over There is my attempt to make concrete my love of Mozart, and to do it as authentically and honestly in regard to his time as I could conceive it, so that every color, every shape is like part of his portrait. The book is a portrait of Mozart, only it has this form-commonly called a picture book. This was the closest I could get to what he looked like to me. It is my imagining of Mozart’s life.”[i]

In the 1964 essay, The Shape of Music, Sendak describes in beautiful terms the definition of “quicken” as it relates to illustration and animation and that to him to quicken “suggests a beat-a heartbeat, a musical beat, the beginning of a dance.” In other words, to “quicken” is to bring life into the inanimate – a source of rhythm so that a picture grows alive in the flow of imagery, color, and shape, or more succinctly, music in physical form. Outside Over There follows Ida, a young girl bearing the brunt of responsibility for caring for her baby sister while her father is away at sea and her mother immobile from melancholy. While music, or rather the act of Ida playing on her wonder horn and neglecting to attend to her sister, helps to cause the kidnapping of the baby by the goblins, music is the tool or action which redeems Ida. For by playing on her wonder horn, Ida drives and melts the goblins away and results in the siblings’ reunion and reconciliation.  

Sendak acknowledged that “right in the middle of Outside Over There, everything turned Mozart. Mozart became the godhead.”[ii] Dully, Mozart is seen in profile during the children’s return journey from “outside over there,” omnipresent to the scene and story but in shadow across the river in his Waldhütte, the creative cabin in the woods that becomes a recurrent Romantic theme for Sendak.[iii] In the final artwork for Outside Over There, for some drawings Sendak included not only notations for the creation dates, but also, the exact music which helped to inspire his illustrations. For example, for the artwork for page 13, a scene where Ida is playing the wonder horn and an ice baby is substituted by the goblins for the real child, the notation reads “Dec. 28, 77-Dec 30, 77 (tracing & inking)-Jan. 2, 78-Jan. 18, 78.” Above these dates, “string quartet in C- Mozart” is written in pencil. Mozart, by way of this inscription, receives his due acknowledgement as muse.

Outside Over There, after Where the Wild Things Are and In the Night Kitchen, is heralded as the final book in a trilogy of “variations of a theme” in which children cope with the day-to-day pressures of life by way of fantasy.[iv] Maurice Sendak, in speaking of Ida, says, “What she did is what I did and what I know for the first time in my life I have done. The book is a release of something that has long pressured my internal self. It sounds hyperbolic but it’s true; it’s like profound salvation. If for only once in my life, I have touched the place where I wanted to go, and when Ida goes home, I go home too.”[v] If Sendak’s love of Mozart helped to guide the textual and visual feel of Outside Over There and Ida’s journey, it is the underlying touch of the intangible which roams within the other world only to finally return home and perhaps, it is this element which ultimately touches the images and “quickens” them within their physical boundaries.

A curated playlist is available on Spotify based on notes made by Maurice Sendak on final drawings on deposit at UConn Archives & Special Collections. Follow the link to listen: https://open.spotify.com/playlist/3YCXQ975xKzXhsWZ4aciG3?si=nrc-j7aKR7i5O0TZ8MYRjw


[i] Jonathan Cott, Pipers at the Gates of Dawn: The Wisdom of Children’s Literature (New York: Random House, 1983), 74.

[ii] Steven Heller, ed., “Maurice Sendak,” in Innovators of American Illustration (New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1986), 81.

[iii] John Cech, Angels and Wild Things: The Archetypal Poetics of Maurice Sendak (Pennsylvania: The Pennsylvania State University Press, 1995), 218.

[iv] Heller, ed., “Maurice Sendak,” 81.

[v] “Sendak on Sendak as Told to Jean F. Mercier,” Publishers Weekly, 10 April 1981, 46.

Harry Allard Is Missing! Collaborations of James Marshall and Harry Allard in the Northeast Children’s Literature Collection

The following guest post is by Jerrold Connors, an award-winning application developer, writer and children’s book author and illustrator from California. He was recently awarded the James Marshall Fellowship to pursue a picture book project based on Harry Allard’s Miss Nelson stories. The James Marshall Fellowship encourages the use of unique materials in the Northeast Children’s Literature Collection and provides financial support to authors and illustrators for travel to University of Connecticut’s Archives and Special Collections to conduct their research.

James Marshall, considered by Maurice Sendak to be one of the wittiest and most genuine children’s book author-illustrators, created the popular George and Martha stories, the charming Fox readers and the everlasting Miss Nelson picture books. He wrote and illustrated most of his stories himself, collaborated on several others with his friend and co-author Harry Allard, and illustrated the works of a few others. Marshall published upwards of 80 books from 1967 until 1992 when he died, aged 50, from AIDS. Though awarded few professional honors, Marshall is considered by many as one of the picture book greats—his works are held alongside those of Maurice Sendak and Arnold Lobel (with whom Marshall shared close friendships) as classics.

Miss Nelson Gets a Telephone Call (2014)

Despite growing up an avid reader in the early 1980s, I have no memories of reading any James Marshall books. It was only later, as a teenager reading to my nephew and niece, that I would discover the Miss Nelson books. And it was much later as a young adult reading picture books for my own enjoyment that I would discover George and Martha. I became a confirmed James Marshall fan and sought to find as many of his works as I could. I can think of very few creators whose entire body of work—unmistakable for its sense of fun, economy of language, subtle play between words and illustration and great respect for his young audience—I hold in higher regard.

Relatively little has been written about Marshall’s life and works but I have tracked down what I could and have come to consider myself something of a Marshall expert, so it was with great surprise and interest that I discovered a fourth Miss Nelson book, Miss Nelson Gets a Telephone Call, written, illustrated and self-published by Harry Allard in 2014, twenty two years after James Marshall’s death.

Miss Nelson Gets a Telephone Call is a peculiar work. It features all the Miss Nelson standards: a kind teacher, a befuddled principal, an elementary school setting, and a mystery surrounding a secret identity (the hallmark of the Miss Nelson series). But it also has an enormous cast of characters, a generous amount of exposition, a bizarre wordiness (gothic adjectives such as graustarkian, eldritch and stygian abound) and a distinctly creepy tone. And it is missing, notably, any children.

All these facts made me wonder how similar Miss Nelson Gets a Telephone Call is (if at all) to the original Miss Nelson trilogy. It’s a known fact that James Marshall heavily edited the authors’ texts that passed his drawing table (an unusual practice for an illustrator) but I wanted to know just how far Marshall went in shaping Allard’s manuscripts into the illustrated stories we have come to know. The books credited to Marshall and Allard are nearly identical in voice, pacing and humor to those credited solely to Marshall. So much so that it has even been suggested that Harry Allard might have been an invention, like Marshall’s “cousin” Edward Marshall, to serve as a pseudonym. While this would be wholly appropriate given the Miss Nelson tradition of dual-identity and disguise, it is not true. Harry Allard was a real person.

The two became acquainted at Trinity College in San Antonio, Texas where Allard taught French and Marshall was an undergraduate. An academic, Allard held a Masters degree and PhD in French from Northwestern and Yale. He was an admirer of French illustrators and drew and sketched as a hobby and in this sense found a kindred spirit in the artistically minded Marshall. They collaborated on a few picture books with Allard credited as author and James Marshall as illustrator before developing the character of Miss Nelson. As the story goes, Allard called Marshall at three in the morning and said “Miss Nelson is missing!” This bizarre non sequitur became the seed that would grow into three books about the teacher and her class.

The Northeast Children’s Literature Collection holds a rich and rewarding amount of materials related to the working relationship between James Marshall and Harry Allard. Of those materials related to the Miss Nelson book, the most complete were those for the second Miss Nelson book Marshall and Allard worked on together, Miss Nelson Is Back.

Miss Nelson Is Back: In the collection in Archives and Special Collections at the University of Connecticut is a series of dummies for Miss Nelson Is Back. The earliest of these dummies hints at what must have been Harry Allard’s original manuscript for this story. The story opens with Miss Nelson having to leave her class for a tonsillectomy. Filling in for her is a new character, Mr. Otis Delancey, a well-intentioned if inexperienced substitute teacher. The kids of Room 207 are more than ready to take advantage of him. Rounding out the cast is Miss Gomez, the school’s secretary, Detective McSmogg (a private investigator from the first Miss Nelson book, this time acting as a truant officer), and Mother Judkins, “special investigator” for the Board of Education.

Dummy for Miss Nelson Is Back

With all these characters, the strictest substitute teacher in the world, Viola Swamp (the true star of the Miss Nelson books), gets very little screen time; in fact, her appearance is gratuitous. There is none of the guessing and second-guessing of double identities that made the first Miss Nelson book so much fun.

Looking through the collection of dummies and storyboards, I saw that within two drafts Marshall had put Harry Allard’s story through its paces, trimming the number of characters to a splendid few, namely, Principal Blandsworth, Miss Nelson, Viola Swamp and, of course, the kids of Room 207. The greatest fun in the story—the kids impersonating Miss Nelson in a terribly obvious and obviously terrible disguise—had been fully fleshed out and the text had been trimmed to nearly what would appear in the final printed version.

Book dummy for Miss Nelson Is Back

The edits on these dummies are all executed in Marshall’s distinct handwriting. Entire sections have been cut, others invented on the fly, hastily scribbled in between and alongside blocks of discarded text. Editing happens not just of Allard’s work but also of Marshall’s own. Marshall writes several versions of the line “So this is your little game?”, trying “What is this?” and settling on “So thats your little game!” (In method it is very similar to a book done entirely by Marshall alone, The Cut Ups Carry On, which also exists in the archives and is splendidly detailed by Sandra Horning in her blog entry here.

Tracking changes through these drafts, it is very clear that what would appear as the final version of Miss Nelson Is Back was very much a Marshall story. For his part, Allard must have been okay with Marshall’s reworking of his script. Miss Nelson Is Back was their ninth book together, their second Miss Nelson book and they would go on to do another. I noticed also that Marshall sought to preserve some of Allard’s inventions through his drafts. Otis Delancey survived the transition from first draft to a storyboard before he was cut.

Last appearance of Mr. Otis Delancey, Storyboard, Miss Nelson Is Back

Miss Nelson Has a Field Day: The first pages of the dummy for Miss Nelson Has a Field Day* (Marshall and Allard’s third Miss Nelson book) is a combination of pencil illustrations with pasted down clippings from a typewritten manuscript. Whether or not the manuscript came directly, unedited, from Allard is unknown, but some clues indicate that it did. For one, the school in this story is named “Alice J. Gomez Elementary.”  According to Marshall’s partner William Gray, Allard could become fixated on certain details such as odd words or funny names—that he would bring Miss Gomez back to the Miss Nelson universe seems in keeping with this habit. And, as in Miss Nelson Is Back, Allard has attempted to enlarge the faculty, this time with Miss Witherspoon, the cheer squad coach.

Dummy and final print comparison, Miss Nelson Has a Field Day

Dummy and final print comparison, Miss Nelson Has a Field Day

Eight pages into this dummy Marshall begins composing the pages by typing directly onto his drawing paper. A few pages beyond that and Marshall begins writing in his distinct hand, using shorthand to get his ideas quickly onto the paper as they occur to him. As with Miss Nelson Is Back, Marshall appears to be inventing on the fly, using this stage of his process to both trim and flesh out the story and ultimately make it his own.

*footnote: Holding the original cover concept for Miss Nelson Has a Field Day up to the light revealed that the working titles to this story were at one point Miss Nelson Tackles Trouble and Miss Nelsons Secret Play.

Cover concept sketch, Miss Nelson Has a Field Day

Cover concept sketch closeup, flipped, Miss Nelson Has a Field Day

Miss Nelson Takes a Back Seat: The collection also held a three page typewritten manuscript by Allard for an unpublished story titled Miss Nelson Takes a Back Seat. Dated 1989, this story expands Horace B. Smedley Elementary’s world to include a school bus service, an appropriate enough story device, but there is little else in the way of character or plot. The entire story is mainly a vehicle for some gags about members of a circus sideshow.

“Better watch your ‘P’s’ and ‘Q’s’’ , kids,” the midget threatened, brandishing his bull whip.”
Typewritten draft by Harry Allard, Miss Nelson Takes a Back Seat

There are no marks by Marshall on this document, and no evidence I could find in the abundant collection of sketchbooks (used often for brainstorming and testing story ideas) that he ran with the idea. Whether this was because Marshall at this point in his career was focusing on retelling fairytales or because he felt the Miss Nelson adventures had been played out is unknown. Although not a trilogy in a strict storytelling sense, the three Miss Nelson books form a tidy whole. Miss Nelson Takes a Back Seat doesn’t add anything to the Miss Nelson world.

Miss Nelson Is Missing!: From the previous examples, it is obvious that the majority of  work that shaped the Miss Nelson books into what the public has come to know was executed by Marshall. This isn’t to say that Marshall didn’t value Allard’s contribution. Allard was a brainstorming partner, a writer who could turn out pages of script allowing Marshall to indulge in editing, evidenced many times in the collection as one of Marshall’s great strengths.

Cover concept sketch, Miss Nelson Is Missing!

Late in my research I discovered a single page near the back of one of James Marshall’s sketchbooks. This book, sitting nondescriptly in the middle of Box 20, held a cover concept sketch for Miss Nelson Is Missing! Dated July 27, 1976, the sketch would have been made about one year before the first Miss Nelson book was to be published. At the top of the page Marshall had written “Written by James Marshall and Harry Allard”.

He then drew a double headed arrow to transpose his and Allard’s name to give Allard top billing. Eventually the cover page would remove the “written by” and “illustrated by” lines and feature the two names as collaborators with Allard’s name featured generously at the top of the page.

But despite the vast source of materials related to the Marshall/Allard collaborations, it was a very small thing that most informed my understanding of their relationship. In the seventeen minute James Marshall In His Studio video (one in a series produced by Weston Woods/Scholastic to introduce authors to their audience) Marshall speaks directly to the camera, explaining his process in creating picture books. In talking about where his ideas come from, Marshall describes the infamous 3am phone call from Allard. I’ve alway read the line “Miss Nelson is missing!” as an exuberant, even manic, exclamation on Allard’s part. But as Marshall tells the story (at the nine and half minute mark if you should ever be so lucky to find a copy of this recording) it is far more nuanced. Marshall does an impression of Allard’s voice. It is theatrical, a little affected, mysterious. It’s done with a smile and, clearly, affection for his friend.

Marshall appreciated in Allard all those things I found peculiar. His eccentricities delighted Marshall. What’s more, Allard’s inspirations—whether they ultimately served to chart the inappropriate, or uncover the promising—informed Marshall’s talents. Given the amount of work Marshall put into their collaboration, that he would give his friend top billing is testimony to Marshall’s generosity. But it would be shortsighted to consider it charity. Marshall truly valued his partnership with Allard. Like Miss Nelson and Viola Swamp, in this story one could not have existed without the other. If Harry Allard were missing, so too would be missing these three books.

Still image from video, James Marshall In His Studio

Human Rights, Children’s Literature, and the Art of Youth Activism

CLHR-Image-300x214Join us for the presentation of the 2016 Raab Associates Prize and a discussion of Human Rights, Children’s Literature, and the Art of Youth Activism featuring Professor Jonathan Todres, Author of Human Rights in Children’s Liteature: Imagination and the Narrative of Law (Oxford University Press, 2016), Pegi Deitz Shea, author of numerous books for young people including Abe in Arms (PM Press, 2010) and The Carpet Boy’s Gift (Tilbury House, 2003), and Reven Smith Spoken word poet, musician, writer, social activist, and UConn student.

TODAY, November 10, 2016
4:00pm to 6:00pm
Konover Auditorium, Thomas J. Dodd Research Center
University of Connecticut

Public reception to follow.  Directions to the Dodd Research Center and event details can be found at Thomas J. Dodd Research Center Events.

ABOUT THE RAAB PRIZE:
The Raab Associates Prize has been given since 1999 to give University of Connecticut students the opportunity to learn about illustrating for children and the children’s literature field. The competition was created and sponsored by Susan Salzman Raab, founder and co-owner of Raab Associates, a children’s book marketing agency based in Swarthmore, Pennsylvania.

This year, for the first time, the prize has focused on human rights, and specifically children’s rights, and represents a joint effort between UConn’s Thomas J. Dodd Research Center and the School of Fine Arts.  Ms. Raab, who is also a 1980 UConn alumna with a degree in English, especially wants to encourage and support people who have interests in the arts and in human rights. The competition is held annually and the prize is awarded to students enrolled in the University of Connecticut’s School of Fine Arts’ illustration courses.

 

Puppets in the reference room!

Puppet exhibit

In support of the National Puppetry Festival, we have joined other exhibition venues on campus to show off puppet related materials in our collection.  In the reference room you’ll see books describing how to make puppets of all kinds and the theaters and plays to go with them as well as hand puppets from the Phyllis Hirsch Boyson Artifact Collection.  The show will be up through August 31.

For more information about the National Puppetry Festival visit http://www.nationalpuppetryfestival2015.com/

You can view the puppet exhibit during the hours that our reference room is open: Monday through Friday, 9a.m. to 4p.m.

Puppet exhibit

“The most important value of the practice of puppetry for a child is his introduction to the world of art.  In his work, a puppeteer creates and uses many forms of art: he writes, he designs sets, he sculptures his puppets, he costumes them, he uses carpentry techniques to build sets and props, he uses artists’ techniques to color his backgrounds.  The puppeteer also becomes a producer, an actor, and a director; perhaps a singer, a musician, or even a lighting director or stage manager.  On top of all this, the puppeteer must be skillful with his hands; he must be a manipulator of puppets.

The study of puppetry is not just a hobby; it is a most enjoyable initiation to the world of fine arts.”

Sir George’s Book of Hand Puppetry, George Creegan, 1966

Terri J. Goldich to retire

 

Terri J. Goldich, June 2015

It is with heavy hearts that we will soon bid farewell to our colleague Terri J. Goldich, who currently serves as Curator for the Northeast Children’s Literature Collection, when she retires on July 1.  Terri has greatly contributed to many successes in Archives & Special Collections and the UConn Libraries, where she has been an employee in many different capacities for the last 38 years.

Hired in March 1977 to participate in the Pioneer Valley Union List of Serials cooperative program, the first ever effort for libraries in the region to automate information about serials, Terri soon moved on to other positions in the UConn Libraries, including as the Connecticut List of Serials coordinator and to serve on the reference and information desks.

Terri was among the first staff in the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center, dedicated in October 1995 by President Bill Clinton, which opened in January 1996 to house Archives & Special Collections.  Her first position in the building was as Events and Facilities Coordinator but she soon became Curator for the Northeast Children’s Literature Collection, and for a time the Alternative Press Collections, working under former Director Tom Wilsted.

Terri’s tenure as Curator for the NCLC was a period of great growth and distinction, as evidenced by an expansion of the archival collections from 30 to its current number of 128 and the acquisition of the papers and illustrations of such well-known authors and artists as Tomie dePaola, Natalie Babbitt, Richard Scarry, and Suse MacDonald.  Terri was also responsible for the great growth of the children’s book research collection from 13,000 to 46,000 under her oversight.

Terri played a pivotal role in the prominence and popularity of the Connecticut Children’s Book Fair, held the second weekend in November every year since 1992.  Terri joined the Book Fair Committee in 1998 and became Co-Chair in 2006, taking on the responsibilities of fundraising and as a primary contact with the authors and illustrators invited to present their books.

Other important contributions undertaken by Terri while at the UConn Libraries was as a judge of the Rabb Prize, a contest for UConn students in the illustration program, and as head of the library’s Exhibits Committee for many years.

When asked for a noteworthy reminiscence of an event that occurred while at the UConn Libraries, Terri told us that in 1996, on her second day of work in Archives & Special Collections, Tom Wilsted asked her to spend a day with a Norwegian gentleman who turned out to be Dr. Francis Sejersted, the Chair of the Nobel Peace Prize Committee.  Dr. Sejersted was visiting campus to participate in one of the symposia organized around the closing of the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center’s Year of Introspection, in which Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev also played a part.  He had a free day and wanted to see the local sights; Tom was unavailable and so corralled Terri to act as chaperone.  They scared up a limo and driver and went off on a lovely daytrip to Sturbridge Village.  Terri noted that the Dr. Sejersted had a particular fascination with the sawmill operations.

Terri tells us that after a short visit to her daughter Rose, who currently lives and works in Montana, she plans to enroll in the state’s foster parent program.

Terri’s coworkers will sorely miss her deep knowledge of the children’s literature collections, her spirit of collegiality and kindness, her wicked good party planning expertise as well as her infectious laugh and delightful humor.  We wish Terri the best for her retirement and thank her for her hard work and good humor through her years at the UConn Libraries.

Meet Sandra Horning, James Marshall Fellow for 2014

Sandra Horning, of Chaplin, Connecticut, is the author of three children’s books:  The Biggest Pumpkin, a picture book illustrated by Holly Stone-Barker and due out later this year; Chicks!, a beginning reader illustrated by Jon Goodell and published by Random House in 2013; and The Giant Hug, a picture book illustrated by Valeri Gorbachev and published by Knopf in 2005.  The Giant Hug won several awards and has been translated into Dutch, Italian, Chinese, Korean and Japanese.

Ms. Horning is studying the Papers of James Marshall to support the completion of a new beginning reader with the working title Crab and Snail.  She is researching word choice and length, Marshall’s revision process and his creative process from the first idea to publication.  This is Ms. Horning’s first of three blog posts in fulfillment of the Marshall Fellowship.  Welcome, Sandra!

 

Blog Post 1: Kids are Really Smart These Days

 

Most people think of James Marshall as an illustrator and vividly remember his characters, George and Martha, Miss Nelson, and Fox, among others, but I, as a children’s author myself, think of his words and how well crafted his stories are.  Since he wrote many of his stories under the name Edward Marshall, there may be people who don’t realize the large number of stories he wrote and illustrated. I’m thrilled to now have an opportunity to research how James Marshall may have created such memorable stories and characters.

As I dig into the collection, which is quite vast, I’ve been looking at story plots and character development, but Marshall’s endings are what keep jumping out. One of the reasons his books can be read over and over again is that his endings are always satisfying and funny. Since I am currently in the midst of writing a beginning reader, for the last few weeks I’ve been closely looking through drafts and dummies of Marshall’s beginning reader stories of Fox. I’ve noted several times how Marshall made a small comment in the margin near the ending: “Funnier ending” and “Make better.” When I compare the dummy to the final version in print, indeed, Marshall has always made a change to a better and funnier ending, just as he noted.

For example, in the story “Monday Morning” in the book Fox All Week, Fox jumps out of bed eager for the school field trip. When he looks out the window it is pouring down rain. He says, “This isn’t funny.” Fox is sure the field trip will be canceled and it will be school as usual. He then pretends to be sick so he can skip school.  Reading comics and having his mom wait on him, Fox is having a great time in bed when he hears voices outside his window. The last page of the story reads,

It was Miss Moon and the class.

“We are off on our field trip!” called out Carmen.

“A little rain can’t stop us!” said Miss Moon.

 

Marshall had many different lines ending the story:

“That’s just dandy!” said Fox.

And Fox felt just awful.

Fox couldn’t believe his ears.

“I could just die,” said Fox.

 

James Marshall dummy pg. 10.  All rights reserved.

James Marshall dummy pg. 10. All rights reserved.

A page from the dummy for the story “Monday Morning’ in  James Marshall’s book Fox All Week. Note “funnier ending?”  in the margin above the number 10. (James Marshall Papers:Box 7:Folder 131).  All rights reserved.  No reproduction of any kind allowed.

 

 

 

 

The ending in the final version is “This isn’t funny,” said Fox.  It is simple and subtle, and it ties into the beginning of the story, repeating Fox’s line when he thought the rain canceled the trip. It lets the reader know how Fox felt without saying it. It assumes the reader has the ability to get the understatement and humor.

 

In another story, “The Friday Dinner,” from the same book, Fox’s mother burns the dinner. Fox steps in and announces that he will make dinner. Then he clears everyone out of the kitchen. The reader hears Fox banging pots and pans. The last page of the dummy reads,

When dinner was served it was simply delicious. 

 

The last page as it was printed reads:

 Finally dinner was ready.

 “Fox,” said Mom, “These peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are simply delicious.”

 

The dummy ending was funny, but it is much funnier to have Mom refer to the peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Plus, the illustration  might not be able to make it clear that it is a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Again, as in the first example, the child reading it has to understand the humor: you don’t need pots and pans to make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

In my final and favorite example, “Tuesday’s Lunch,” again from the same book, Fox and his friends are sick of the tuna sandwiches their mothers give them for lunch. They decide to teach their moms a lesson and throw the sandwiches over the schoolyard wall. Of course, later they are hungry and unhappy. As they leave school, the dummy with “Make Better” in the margins ends with the following:

On the way home Fox and his friends met a poor old cat.

“You look hungry,” said the cat.

“Would you like a tuna sandwich?”

“Oh yes!” They cried.

And they ate every bite.

 

James Marshall dummy pg. 16.  All rights reserved.

James Marshall dummy pg. 16. All rights reserved.

A page from the dummy for the story “Tuesday’s Lunch” in  James Marshall’s book Fox All Week. Note the “Make better” at the end of the text. (James Marshall Papers:Box 7:Folder 131).  All rights reserved.  No reproduction of any kind allowed. 

 

 

 

Below is the ending in print:

 On the other side of the wall they met a poor cat.

“I’m so happy,” said the cat.

“A nice lunch fell from the sky.”

“Three tuna sandwiches?” said Fox.

“Gosh,” said the old cat. “Kids are really smart these days.”

 

Once again, Marshall successfully made a better and funnier ending, one with additional meaning. Fox and his friends were not too bright when they decided to throw out their tuna sandwiches. The line “Kids are really smart these days.” adds an ironic note to the humor.

 So what is the secret behind his perfect endings? I think the secret is that Marshall trusts that the child reader is intelligent enough to understand the humor without spelling it out in a didactic way.  Children love to be in on a joke. Books with great endings are the books children remember and read again. This has led me to review some of my unpublished manuscript endings. Reading through them, I am taking a lesson from James Marshall and writing “Make better” and “Make funnier” next to my endings that need it! And, of course, I will keep in mind what Marshall himself stated: “Kids are really smart these days.”

Katie Davis exhibit opens at the Dodd Center

The Katie Davis exhibit is up and running in the Dodd Center Gallery.  Original materials from the Davis Papers for her books The Curse of Addy McMahon, Party Animals, Mabel the Tooth Fairy, Who Hoots and Who Hops are featured as well as books and some great “Scared Guy” items.  The exhibit runs from October 29, 2012 to February 22, 2013.  There will be a reception and gallery talk by Katie on Saturday, Nov. 10, from 2-4 in the Dodd Center.  Her books will be for sale at the Book Fair.  For more information to go bookfair.uconn.edu.

Katie Davis exhibit, Dodd Center Gallery

Katie Davis exhibit, Northeast Children’s Literature Collection

Levy and Marshall Travel and Research Grants available

Archives, Special Collections and Digital Curation of the University of Connecticut Libraries, housed in the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center, supports the research of scholars throughout the United States and from abroad. In recognition of the substantial contribution Ms. Billie M. Levy has made to the Northeast Children’s Literature Collection and the genre of children’s literature in general, an annual travel and research grant has been established to facilitate the use of the Collection by worthy applicants. Travel Grants are intended to encourage use of unique materials in the Northeast Children’s Literature Collection and to provide partial support to researchers who must travel long distances to consult them. Research Grants are intended for those researchers in the vicinity who need financial support in order to undertake a research project within the Collection.  Follow these links for Levy Grant details and application.

 

James Marshall Fellowship Grants are intended to encourage use of unique materials in the Northeast Children’s Literature Collection and to provide significant financial support to a promising author and/or illustrator at the beginning of their career to assist him or her in the creation of new children’s literature. Grants are awarded on a competitive basis to promising authors and illustrators who plan to conduct research at the Dodd Research Center.  Follow these links for Marshall Fellowship details and application.

Chris Raschka wins 2012 Caldecott Medal!

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Congratulations to Chris Raschka for winning the 2012 Caldecott Medal for A Ball for Daisy, a wordless book about a little dog whose favorite possession is accidentally destroyed.  When interviewed on NPR, Raschka tells Robert Siegel of All Things Considered that creating the book was “certainly a challenge. It went through many, many variations.”  This is Raschka’s second Caldecott Medal; his first was for Hello, Goodbye Window in 2006 and in 1994 he received a Caldecott Honor  for his Yo! Yes?  Raschka appeared at the 2008 Connecticut Children’s Book Fair and we hope to see him again soon.  Congratulations, Chris!