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CCB Newsletter
July/August 2011


In this Newsletter…



 Marcus Lecture

Audio Now Available from Leonard Marcus’ Lecture
If you weren’t able to attend the lecture by Leonard Marcus to enjoy the vintage experience of an old-fashioned slide presentation and hear all about author Margaret Wise Brown, editor Ursula Nordstrom and the growth of the children’s publishing industry in the early and mid 20 th Century, you can now listen to an audio recording of the talk, which is also available on the CCB website. We are not able to provide digital images of the slides shown during the lecture.

New Faces at the CCB and the Bulletin
The CCB and the Bulletin are pleased to welcome three new employees in August, though we will be sad to say goodbye to outgoing staff. Anna Holland will be our new CCB Staff GA; you will see her at the CCB front desk working with Laurel. Melissa Funfsinn will take over at the Bulletin and Lauren Chenevert will take over as the CCB Outreach and Communications Coordinator. Please introduce yourself and welcome them to GSLIS and to the CCB! We wish the best for our three outgoing GAs as they set out in new directions. Claire Gross is moving on to new frontiers as a GSLIS PhD student; Ayanna Coleman is forging a path in the publishing world and has started a summer internship in New York City; and Miriam Larson will be working as a graduate assistant at University Laboratory High School starting in August.


July/August Calendar

Stay tuned for orientation events and the CCB Open House, which will take place in early September!  

Summer Hours
Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday - 9am – 1pm
Wednesday - Closed

Events take place at the CCB unless otherwise noted. For complete descriptions of calendar events, visit the calendar on our website.

New Bibliographies on the CCB Website

Technical difficulties have prevented us from posting this month's bibliography of short story collections. We will post the link on the CCB homepage as soon as as possible and we will also link to the bibliography in the September newsletter. Thanks for your patience.



Interview with PhD Student April Spisak: Celebrity Picture Books

Interview by Miriam Larson, CCB Outreach GA
June 2011

"What I realized was that, while picture books written by celebrities aren't unique . . . they are unusual in that they are not really written for the same audience as most picture books. They are written for the gatekeepers."

How did you become interested in your topic?

I came to GSLIS intending to get my master’s degree and be a children's librarian. A couple years into being a librarian I realized that I wasn't quite able to achieve the balance between day-to-day librarianship and pursuing my own research. I love librarianship. I am passionate about public libraries, but what was feeding me, what was keeping me interested, were the research projects I was pursuing through presentations at ALA and writing articles. And so I decided to combine my passion about libraries, my enthusiasm about teaching, my interest in research, and come back for my PhD.

When I worked at the main branch of the Clarke County Library in Springfield, Ohio, I had noticed a pattern with books that I specifically remembered had gotten bad reviews and yet were getting huge numbers of requests. So books that we wouldn't have purchased at all – or we would have bought a single copy – suddenly I was ordering three or four copies and I sat down to look at that more carefully and I realized that they were all celebrity books. They were Madonna and Paul Simon.

And so I did what I usually do when I find an interesting topic, I threw it to my kids, may patrons. . . read more.

Tell me about your research.

I kind of view it as an inverted triangle. First, I'm interested in identifying celebrity. I'm specifically interested in folks who aren't authors but are coming to this clean. For better or worse, what comes along with celebrity picture books are these huge publicity tours. What sparked the ire of the library world was Madonna going on David Letterman when English Roses came out and she said, "You know, Dave, I started reading to my daughter and I realized there's nothing good out there."

What I see as the second level of my inverted triangle is the book reviews of these titles. I only selected books that were reviewed by at least three of the big review journals. Then I’ll do a simple content analysis of whether the celebrity factor is mentioned consistently in the reviews, if these books seem to be reviewed consistently across journals, how editors are selecting them, and whether celebrity picture books are being reviewed or not. I've talked to Deborah [Editor, Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books] some about it and I'll talk to Roger Sutton [Editor, Horn Book Review]. I'll also be using some of the transcripts I have from my book discussion groups, responses by librarians, and responses by kids themselves.

And then finally, I've selected twenty-five books that represent the scope of these picture books in terms of the publishing dates, reprints and reviewing results. I'll be specifically looking at 25 and doing a picture book analysis. We know why these books exist, and we know how folks are responding to them, how do these books actually work on their own? Are they successful? Is the interplay between text and illustration effective? . . . read more.

Read the complete interview or skip to a question . . .

Do you have a sense, having been a librarian yourself, of how this research might inform the work of practicing librarians?
Could you tell me a little bit about one of these books? Something about the story and how it might illustrate what you've been talking about?
For celebrities of color, it seems like their ability to be role-models may be especially relevant. Does that make the books more effective or less shallow?
Are there other things that I haven't asked that you ask yourself?
Do you have anything that you would say to students who are considering research in youth services or library science more broadly?
Further Reading: A Selection of Celebrity Books



Our Affiliates Out and About

SHARP (Society for the History of Authorship, Reading and Publishing) Conference
July 14-July 17, Washington , D.C.
A number of CCB Affiliates will be presenting at this year’s SHARP Conference. GSLIS Professor Carol Tilley will present a session entitled “ Where Science Meets Culture: Frederic Wertham and the Pathologization of Comic Book Readers .” Professor Kate McDowell, doctoral student Loretta Gaffney and adjunct instructor Debra Mitts Smith will present on a panel called “ Struggle for Survival: Art, Science, and Politics in Children’s Books about Evolution and Endangered Species.” Our Research Spotlight lists the scheduled times for these sessions and has the full session descriptions. For a schedule and full conference description, visit the conference website.


New Books We Just Had to Read

Every month, the CCB Graduate Assistants highlight books reviewed in the most recent issue of the Bulletin that we were excited to read. These decisions are based on personal preference, but all books listed are Recommended by the Bulletin. For complete reviews, visit the Bulletin website ( to learn how to subscribe.

Laurel ’s Choice: Mr. Sam: How Sam Walton Built Wal-Mart and Became America’s Richest Man by Karen Blumenthal
Reading Level: Gr. 6-10
Pages: 192
Publisher and Year: Viking, 2011
ISBN: 978-0-670-01177-3
Price: $17.99

The big box superstore, Wal-Mart, comes with its fair share of both controversy and staunch support from consumers. Blumenthal includes perspectives from both advocates and antagonists of the store, but her true focus is on the man behind the mega-mart, Sam Walton. Blumenthal details Walton's rise from an ultra competitive and hard-working boy from small-town American to the head of a retail empire. Tenacious, frugal, and sometimes cut-throat, Walton ultimately helped Wal-Mart surpass all competition. Even after attaining great success, Walton remained highly involved in the company, personally visiting stores and setting lofty company goals. Some think the values Walton instilled into his business were lost after his death in 1992; others argue a company with such enormous power cannot be compared to its past. Blumenthal provides a detailed account of Walton's life while seamlessly integrating historical climates and clearly explaining important business components. Black-and-white photographs help readers follow Walton’s rise and an extensive bibliography and index are included.

Miriam’s Choice: Putting Makeup on Dead People by Jen Violi
Reading Level: Gr. 8-12
Pages: 336
Publisher: Disney Hyperion, 2011
ISBN: 978-1-4231-3481-7
Price: $16.99

Donna Parisi is still weighted down by her father’s death three years ago and now she has to figure out whether to go to college or follow a different path. Donna’s situation calls for a parent, friend, mentor, or counselor who can connect with her and help her process her feelings. But that person never comes along. Donna’s relationship with her mother becomes increasingly strained, in large part because Donna decides she doesn’t want to go to college and instead wants to study mortuary science. Donna finds bits and pieces of support from other people, but most importantly, she begins to rely – shakily at first – on herself. She makes friends with a new girl at her high school, Liz, whose self-assurance keeps Donna a bit in awe of her. Donna starts dating an older college guy who introduces Donna to intimacy and pleasure but whom Donna never trusts to share her emotional burdens. Throughout, Donna’s simple and observant reflections are honest, they are often uncomfortable, but they are genuinely reflective of the imperfect process of healing grief, growing older, and being in difficult and rewarding relationships with family, friends and lovers. Donna’s attention to certain details also hones in on the physicality of her experience – whether she is observing a classmate’s earlobes or locating her grief as a feeling in her chest – and in this way Violi reminds us of our own very physical – and mortal – existence.


Highlighted Book from Our Wish List

San Vicente, Luis. The Festival Of Bones (El Festival De Las Calaveras): The Little-bitty Book For The Day Of The Dead. El Paso, Tex: Cinco Puntos Press, 2002. ISBN 978-0938317678.

Created by Mexico City native and first published in Mexico, this lively book for young readers illustrates and explains the traditional Mexican celebration of the Day of the Dead.

For more book selections or to order this one, visit the CCB’s Amazon Wish List.


CCB Summer Hours and General Information

Monday: 9 am – 1 pm
Tuesday: 9 am – 1 pm
Wednesday: Closed
Thursday: 9 am – 1 pm
Friday: 9 am – 1 pm

To read the CCB’s mission statement and find out more about our collection and services read About Us on our website.

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