Wednesday, May 10, 2017

And the 2018 Newbery Goes To...

You heard it here first.  The 2018 Newbery is going to go to Anne Fleming's The Goat. Set in New York City, mostly in a single apartment building, it is funny yet deep, smart yet wacky and whimsical (without being annoying), surreal yet realistic, and utterly, completely original.

It is not a typical coming-of-age story.  There is no divorce, no friendship triangles, no crushes, no school drama.  In fact, there's no school.  There is no sibling rivarly (there are no siblings).  There is no conflict between a tween and her parents, no embarrassment as they all skip to Follow the Yellow Brick Road in public.  This all makes for a nice change from the usual middle-grade chapter book fare.

There *is* an orphan and death and 9/11, but ten years on, in a totally matter-of-fact, non-tear-jerker-ish way.

There is a musical about soccer (Americanized from hockey) moms.

There is a man who's had a stroke, a blind science-fiction-writing skateboarder, and an immigrant grandmother from an unnamed country.

There is an 11-year-old girl named Kid and her parents, Lisa and Bobby, and a dog named Cat.

And yes, there is a goat.

Or is there?

Monday, May 8, 2017

The Funny Formula

As we stepped out of the subway station near Lincoln Center, as we do every Thursday, my daughter started to laugh delightedly.  It took me a minute and then I saw it: a new piece of public art, a sculpture of a hippo wearing a tutu.

When I posted the picture to Facebook and asked my friends what fictional character they thought it reminded me of, I was surprised by the number of answers.  While I had thought of Martha of George and Martha, dancing hippos are apparently everywhere - in Fantasia, in Sandra Boynton's work, and in Karma Wilson's Hilda Must Be Dancing.

Martha doing the Dance of the Happy Butterfly

George in the studio

George performing the Mexican Hat Dance
Hilda disco-ing
Hilda doing the flamenco
Sandra Boynton's Dancing Hippos
Dancing hippos are just funny.  It makes sense.  Large and unwieldy + graceful activity = funny.

And for good measure, one more hippo, not dancing this time, but still wreaking havoc and making readers laugh.