The SpyGlass

- tHe MaD hAtTeR, column editor


Shades of formal wear! Holy tuxedos! The Mad Hatter got the shivers when he learned that best-selling author Margaret Mahy, author of 150 children's books (no mean feat in itself, let me tell you!) went to Antarctica earlier this year to don a penguin suit and mingle with 300,000 Adelie penguins on Bird Island. Couldn't she have gone to the zoo? Rumour has it -- and you and I know what that's worth! -- that she's writing a series of stories about a penguin which our source tells us is going to be called Crozier. Her trip was financed by New Zealand's Artists to Antarctica program, which believes that a tuxedo is a must no matter where you are!


Some children's book imprints have the most unimaginative names but the Mad Hatter in his most recent researches into kids lit discovered that Ten Speed Press has an excellent line for younger readers -- Tricycle Press. Ten-speed bikes may have gone the way of the dodo -- just like a good topper -- but tricycles never go out of style.


It has come to the Hatter's attention that there are too many clowns in the children's book world! Candlewick publisher David Lloyd, was a professional clown called "Turkey Sandwich"! Award-winning author/illustrator David Wisniewski actually trained at Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Bailey Clown College. He was even hired by his future wife, Donna, to clown around with a travelling puppet theatre. And within the Hatter's own inner circle, children's librarian-and-author-turned-therapeutic-clown, Camilla Gryski, aka Posy, who has traded in her string games, felt board and library card for a fake red nose and difficult but rewarding work with terminally ill young patients at Toronto's Hospital for Sick Children. 


The Mad Hatter learned from a close colleague that Jo Taylor Marshall, immortalized as one of the children in the All-of-a-Kind Family books by her mother, Sydney Taylor, made a surprise appearance at the Association of Jewish Libraries national convention in Boca Raton, Florida, in June. The Hatter loves to meet immortals but you can imagine how surprised the audience was to learn that little Jo confessed that she personally answers the hundreds of letters children still send to her mother, as if she were Sydney Taylor herself! The children seem to accept her responses as the real thing, and indeed, they sound like the genuine article. Is there an appearance on Jenny Jones in the works here? "Children's Authors I've Impersonated!!!" The Hatter is eagerly awaiting the guest list!


Author, storyteller and psychotherapist Joan Bodger is setting the children's literature world on fire with three books that will gain pride of place on the Hatter's bookshelf. Where the Heather Lies, Bodger's classic account of her family's search for the geographical sources of English children's books, was published to critical acclaim this past spring. Her original children's novel, The Forest Family, is the pinnacle of a life devoted to storytelling and intertwines stories from around the world in a wonderful narrative that will delight children and adults alike. And next year, to celebrate the millennium, Joan will release her memoirs -- and she has lots to tell -- she's a good friend of the Hatter's and a gossip par excellence! "I'm seventy years old", Bodger told the Hatter, "and it's about time that I got this kind of recognition." The Hatter couldn't agree more -- if Canadian Carol Shields could win the Pulitzer, wouldn't it be fine for friend Bodger (who holds "duel-citizenship") to take the Newbery!

Have you got something you want to share among friends? Something you might not want just anyone to know? Contact me, the MaD hAtTeR . I promise to be really discreet and it'll be for my eyes only!

Volume 3, Issue 2, The Looking Glass, 1999

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The Looking Glass: new perspectives on children's literature

ISBN 1551-5680