Monday, March 28, 2016

Make Way for Ducklings Turns Seventy-Five

Those of us who grew up with Make Way for Ducklings may not remember all eight of them:  Jack, Kack, Lack, Mack, Nack, Ouack, Pack, and Quack. But we recall the adventure with their parents, Mr. and Mrs Mallard all of whom lived  on an island in Boston’s Charles River.

 Written and illustrated by Robert McCloskey (1914–1983), who published Make Way for Ducklings with Viking in 1941, who can forget Mrs. Mallard’s daily excursions to the Boston Public Garden, followed by her brood. The kind police officers who stopped traffic to allow them to cross the road, has become synonymous with American childhood.

On March 29, the publisher will release a 75th-anniversary edition of the classic, which includes a CD-audio recording of the book read by Brian Hatch, and a fold-out poster map featuring Boston landmarks – and of course the ducklings – created by Paul O. Zelinsky.
Illustrated with sepia drawings rather than the traditional black-and-white pictures found in most children’s books of the day, McCloskey’s picture book earned him the 1942 Caldecott Medal. There are five million copies of Viking’s edition of the book in print, and in 2003 Make Way for Ducklings was designated the official book of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
McCloskey bought four mallards, which he observed and sketched swimming in his bathtub and waddling through his studio, to make sure he captured their movements accurately in the book.
Fans can also honor the classic on Boston’s annual Duckling Day, held this year on May 8, Mother’s Day, when McCloskey’s daughter, Sal McCloskey (who inspired Blueberries for Sal), will lead the parade recreating the Mallard family’s journey. In another tribute, the Eric Carle Museum in Amherst, Mass., will display more than 90 original artworks in an exhibition, “Americana on Parade: The Life of Robert McCloskey,” from June 19 through October 23.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Simon & Schuster to Launch Imprint for Muslim (and Other) Kids

We Americans find ourselves in the middle of a presidential season where, among other issues, radical Muslims and the threat of terrorism are central issues.  Enter Simon & Schuster, the august publisher, that is launching a new imprint focusing in feel-good, Muslim-themed children's books.

Simon & Schuster says Salaam Reads will be "the first imprint at a major publisher focused on Muslim characters and stories.

"[It will] introduce readers of all faiths and backgrounds to a wide variety of Muslim children and families, and offer Muslim kids an opportunity to see themselves reflected positively in published works."

The imprint, which takes its name from the Arabic word for "peace," will release an annual minimum of nine titles for young readers of all ages — including picture and chapter books, and middle-grade and young adult titles.

Simon & Schuster executive editor Zareen Jaffery said:

Our aim with the Salaam Reads imprint is in part to provide fun and compelling books for Muslim children, but we also intend for these books to be entertaining and enriching for a larger non-Muslim audience.

Among Salaam's first titles to be published next year are:
  • "Salam Alaikum" — a picture book celebrating peace, community, and love based on the popular song of the same name by global social media sensation and recording artist Harris J.
  • "Musa, Moises, Mo and Kevin" — a picture book introducing four kindergarten best friends who share their holiday traditions for Eid, Christmas, Rosh Hashanah, and Pi Day, written by H.A. Raz.
  • "The Gauntlet of Blood and Sand" — a middle–grade adventure about a 12-year-old Bangladeshi American from New York and her quest to save her brother from a supernatural board game, written by Karuna Riazi.
  • "Yo Soy Muslim" — a lyrical picture book in which a parent shares with their child the joy and pride in having a multicultural heritage, written by Mark Gonzales, an HBO Def Jam poet.