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Two sisters, one in L.A. and one in NYC, both move to the Chicago area and start a podcast. The premise? Picture books and are they really that great? Join Kate and Fuse 8 (Betsy Bird) as they track down a picture book "classic" each episode and try to determine if it deserves to remain in the canon of children's literature. Profile image by Andrea Tsurumi
 
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There is a certain type of picture book that can be best described as a Love It or Loathe It title. These are books that some people adore with their whole heart without irony. And there are books that some people loathe deep down to their very souls without apology. It had been a long time since Betsy had handed Kate a Giving Tree or Rainbow Fish.…
 
Betsy already loved all three of today's potential Caldecott Award winners down to the cold cockles of her shriveled little heart. The track record on this show hasn’t been too shabby either. In 2020 Kate and Betsy identified Going Down Home With Daddy as a winner (just don’t ask how they did in 2019). In the course of this recording the sisters di…
 
After one of our listeners made the point that the bulk of books we've done on our podcast have been illustrated by male artists we've been trying to make a conscious effort to increase the number of women we read. And WHAT book, I ask you, could have more classic potential than Barbara Cooney's best known? We talk invasive species, seed bombing, h…
 
"Christmas was coming, and money was more scarce than ever." How we hadn't thought to do this picture book for the Christmas holiday season yet is beyond us. Betsy simply adores the Jim Henson adaptation of this book . . . and Kate loathes it. Knowing that, Betsy still gave her the book and the two discover that this is the ultimate 2020 COVID Chri…
 
Happy Hanukkah! Having read the recent PW Children's Bookshelf announcement that a new edition of Latkes and Applesauce by Fran Manushkin is due to be republished in 2022, I thought this might be the perfect time to revisit the old book. The announcement said it was a classic, so we figured we'd check and see how well it had stood up so far. Along …
 
An orange fellow is told to leave over and over and over again. So it clearly has nothing to do with the state of the world today. As we mention on today’s podcast episode, when it finally occurred to Betsy to have Kate read this book, she was slightly worried that maybe it would no longer be timely. HA HA! No worries there! We go through all the p…
 
We don't care what any of you say. Sweet potatoes shall never cross these Thanksgiving plates of ours. To celebrate the season, though we all know it's pared down terribly this year, Kate requested a Thanksgiving picture book classic. We got some great suggestions from our readers all of which Betsy is placing on the back burner for next year. That…
 
Last week Betsy gave Kate a book so chock full of details that one listener said it was the literary equivalent of The House on the Rock. In other words, just STUFFED full of stuff. This week, Betsy went an entirely different direction. She'd been avoiding doing Freight Train by Donald Crews on the podcast for a while. Why? Because it is an exceedi…
 
Betsy's attempts to break Kate go nowhere this week, even when the book is being discussed is the most detail-heavy title of this podcast to date. Now Kate starts off this episode saying that she does NOT want to talk about the presidential race. Indeed, this was recorded on Thursday, and you all know how different the world was then. Quote Kate, s…
 
The first time Kate encountered Madeline, she did not care for her. But what if she encountered yet ANOTHER Madeline title? Would she like it better? Before selecting this week's book, Betsy hadn't remembered that there is significantly less Madeline inside of it. Will that help or hurt the book's chances of becoming a classic? Betsy and Kate spend…
 
I've saved the scariest book this month for last! "I'm not saying that Spooky Old Tree doesn't give you the jim-jams (because it doesn't), but ..." It's our very first Paul Galdone too! Took us long enough to get to him. As Kate says of today's book, "Well, THAT didn't end how I thought it would!" We discuss how this book relates to the film Best i…
 
Spooky season continues here on the podcast. Interestingly Betsy had never done a Chris Van Allsburg book with Kate for October before. Every year she has to come up with spooky classic picture books, and today's was a recommendation from one of the fans (that would be their mom). It's less spooky than it is autumnal, but that's okay. Show Notes:Th…
 
Not long ago Betsy ran across an article in the Deseret News that was called "How a breakup led to winning a Newbery Honor for this Utah author". It's all about Newbery Honor winning writer Christian McKay Heidicker (who created Scary Stories for Young Foxes and this year's Thieves of Weirdwood by "William Shivering"). In the course of the article …
 
The spooky season begins with our first October surprise! Kate points out that this book is definitely relatable in 2020. "I'm tired of living in a hole." Aren't we all? Who wouldn't want to escape to a tropical isle? This is the book that also contains the world's saddest sentence: "I decided it was better to be alone than to be afraid." Oh, honey…
 
Good Yuntif! The show has never celebrated this holiday on the show before, but this week Kate and Betsy decided to do something extra special. That something special comes in the form of special guest star, Erica Perl! And when it came to suggesting a book, the answer was this 1977 Caldecott Honor winner a.k.a. The Official Picture Book of 2020 (w…
 
Another book by the man who spit in the face of the House of Un-American Activities Committee (not literally, pretty close). Our love of P.D. Eastman continues. Kate delves real real deep into the marital status of dear Mr. and Mrs. Bird here (including Mr. Bird's "extracurricular activities", if you get my gist). The women discuss how this is like…
 
Betsy and Kate can say with complete confidence that this is the first picture book about a Black kid on the autism spectrum either have ever seen. Recently Kate saw a list from Black Education Matters listing several books that featured Black children with disabilities and she asked Betsy if any were possible for the podcast. And lo and behold, My…
 
Happy Labor Day! Or, as we say on the podcast, Merry Labor Day! Today is not the first song-turned-picture-book we've done on the show (that honor went to The Fox Went Out on a Chilly Night). However, it is most certainly the first (and quite possibly last) to include die-cuts. Kate wonders whether or not the "old lady" feels pissed off about being…
 
First and foremost, happy engagement to Kate and the Penguinologist! She'll soon be a Coronabride with her very own microwedding.Now just to catch the rest of you up, Kate is not a huge fan of clowns. Actually, that's a bit of an understatement. She HATES clowns. Naturally that meant that Betsy had to find a classic clown book for her birthday. She…
 
Today's book has been on Publisher Weekly's top selling picture book list for 240+ weeks. Even so, it is not a household name here in America by any stretch of the imagination. Betsy had been seeing its name on the bestseller lists for years, so she finally decided to bite the bullet and hand the title over to Kate. What results is speculation as t…
 
While this may not be the first time we've ever covered an illustrator that I've collaborated with (remember when we discussed Dan Santat and After the Fall?) this is one of the few cases where we've done a collaborator of mine who has an honest-to-goodness classicky classic. We discuss the strength of Imogene's neck muscles, you get to hear an imp…
 
When we consider classic Latinx picture books that would qualify as #ownvoices, only a few have been covered on this show. I mean, sure we did Pura Belpre's Perez and Martina a while ago, but let's get a little more contemporary, eh? Today's book premiered in 2000, which means it just barely squeezes in under the 20 year rule for inclusion. Now, gr…
 
A lot of this show consists of Betsy thinking up an author (say, Patricia Polacco) then saying to herself "What's their most famous book?" In the case of Ms. Polacco, she was a bit stumped. This book was definitely in the top five, and she figured it would make for an interesting choice. Particularly since its shiny Sydney Taylor Award on the cover…
 
If you had to pick all the Peggy Rathmann books that exist, you probably wouldn't begin with her title The Day the Babies Crawled Away (which Kate and Betsy did do on a previous episode). Instead, you'd probably want to do today's book! Is it her most famous? Dunno. Probably a toss up between this and Office Buckle and Gloria. Today Kate and Betsy …
 
"Bring me a bad book. Like, a really good bad book." So Kate asked Betsy. Well, we don't want to give anything away but Betsy may have hit on something. If you were born in the late 70s or early 80s, the odds are good that somebody you know read it to you. And this all ties in quite closely to current discussions of picture books with racist elemen…
 
Betsy didn't want to have a whole conversation about elongated eye tubes. She really, really didn't, but that's the price you pay when you show Kate the book Owl Babies. Today the two tackle the ebook edition of the picture book (rather than board book) version of this title and it makes for an interesting read. They end up wondering about where th…
 
Funny to think about the authors and illustrators we've never quite gotten to on the show. Sometimes the trick behind selecting a book isn't so much which artist to do but what book to do from a given artist. After much soul searching Betsy decided that George Shrinks trumps Dinosaur Bob and the Family Lazardo in terms of sheer fame. It's a funny k…
 
Betsy broke the rules. Under normal circumstances she won't consider a children's book for this podcast unless that title is less than 20 years old. But since she made that rule in the first place, I guess she's the one who gets to break it. And today's book is, in its blood, a rule breaker. In the course of this episode Betsy attempts to encapsula…
 
In honor of Pride this month, we figured it would be a good idea to check out one of the first big-time LGBTQIA+ picture books published in America. We've already covered Heather Has Two Mommies in a previous episode, so what's left? Well, if Heather Has Two Mommies came out in 1989, Daddy's Roommate followed just a year later in 1990. It was on AL…
 
Kate gave Betsy a tricky challenge this week. She wanted her to find a book worth discussing that was pertinent to the times in which we live. So, after a great deal of soul searching, Betsy decided to focus on a book by a Black author. Even better, a book that was ahead of its time when it came out and may only find its true audience today. And fe…
 
For whatever reason, Kate and Betsy spoke for a whopping 45 minutes about today's book. Somehow, Kate (who is our editor on all this) cut it down to mere 28 minutes, which is a feat worth remarking. The sisters tackle whether or not "Helen Palmer" was or was not Dr. Seuss (the answer is far more complicated than you might think). They delve into wh…
 
Kate and Betsy haven't done a cult classic picture book in a while. Really, the ultimate compliment any book can receive from its fans is that their love allows it to see life once more, decades after publication. This was one of the rare titles from the 1950s republished by the publisher Enchanted Lion. Betsy has always been a big fan of this book…
 
Today's 1981 classic turned out to be a surprise to Kate. She, like many people in America, had no idea that Jumanji was a picture book before it was a movie (or two, or three). Thanks to her read, a lot of questions about this book were cleared up. For example, there is the fact that the parents must be going to a matinee (which explains why the k…
 
"I'm giving myself extra points for doing this springy book in spring . . . which I did not realize until this moment. Patting on the backy of me!" Prior to today's episode the only Jerry Pinkney title Betsy and Kate had done on the podcast was Sam and the Tigers (as part of their Little Black Sambo round-up). As for Ms. Patricia McKissack, they'd …
 
Because it was recently Betsy's birthday, she got to choose a book that was her favorite when she was growing up. And let us say this about Tasha Tudor. The Queen of England herself is second only to Tasha Tudor in terms of corgi love. Tasha was the original corgi lover. The sisters spend a great deal of time trying to explain some of the oddities …
 
Seems to us that bats are shouldering a great deal of the blame for our current COVID-19 crisis. Considering the fact that their P.R. wasn't all that great to begin with(Batman aside), Betsy decided this week's episode would combat this problem with the most famous bat-related picture book in America. It doesn't hurt matters any that this entire ep…
 
True Fact: The longest book written in the English language is the easy book One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish by Dr. Seuss. Other True Fact: That first fact is untrue, but it's certainly what Kate believed in her heart when she finished reading that book during this recording. While many people remember all too well the title of today's book…
 
In honor of Tomie dePaola, who left us last week, Betsy wanted to do one of his possible classics. The show had already done Strega Nona, but one other book might qualify for "classic" status. Trouble was, all the libraries are closed and Betsy couldn't get a physical copy of this book. Happily, Overdrive offered this ebook for borrowing. The title…
 
For WEEKS Kate has been bugging Betsy to find her a celebrity picture book. The catch was that Betsy was insisting that the book be considered a "classic". So she asked the listeners what the most classicky classic was and they managed to come up with today's book. Published in 1996 this definitely falls within the 20 year rule (a.k.a. don't read a…
 
Since Betsy's library is all closed up and she has no access to the books inside, she wasn't able to do a celebrity picture book with Kate this week. Such is the state of the world in which we live today. Not to worry! In this episode you will find a multitude of plover adjacent ideas, thoughts about developmental issues and when it's right to seek…
 
To help out families stuck in their homes with small children, avoiding COVID-19, people have been creating videos of people reading picture books. And WHAT, I ask you, is a better readaloud than this storytime classic? Nothing, I tells ya! Nothing! Kate gets introduced to Michael Rosen and Helen Oxenbury for the very first time. Imagine showing so…
 
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