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Fight Evil: Read Books

The Year in Children’s Book Festivals

Believe me when I say this: I am grateful to be invited to participate in children’s book festivals, keenly aware that someday these opportunities will stop coming. Glad to get out there, meet readers, sign books. It’s an honor.

Here’s how the year in festivals is shaping up so far. I am always eager to link school visits with these festivals (hint, hint). Feel free to contact me for more information.

 

Kids Read: A Book Festival

April 13, Poughkeepsie, NY.

This is a brand new festival, some folks in the Poughkeepsie area trying to do good things for their community. The festival will be located at Our Lady of Lourdes HS. Happy to lend my support.

 

Hudson Children’s Book Festival

May 4, Hudson, NY.

This one has a special place in my heart, and is closest to my home. Always glad to be a part of it. Oh, and sweet poster by the sagacious Wendell Minor.

 

Chappaqua Children’s Book Festival

October 5, Chappaqua, NY.

They always guarantee beautiful weather. That’s how Chappaqua rolls! And every year somebody says, “Maybe Hillary Clinton will come.” She might!

Warwick Children’s Book Festival

October 12, Warwick, NY.

Sweet town, worth a visit if you’ve never been. There’s a place on the corner that makes the best egg sandwiches. I arrive an hour early just to grab one.

 

Happy Valentine’s Day

Cartoon by Paul White, brought to my attention by the great Mommywise page on Facebook. Carry on!

Mary Oliver: Teach the Children

GUILTY AS CHARGED: “The Wizard of Oz” named most influential movie of all time

According to the researchers at the University of Turin in Italy, The Wizard of Oz has been named the most influential movie of all time. This was determined by the amount of references made to it in other movies (47,000 were reportedly taken into account in the study).

Rounding out the Top Ten were:

1. The Wizard of Oz

2. Star Wars

3. Psycho

4. King Kong

5. 2001: A Space Odyssey

6. Metropolis

7. Citizen Kane

8. The Birth of a Nation

9. Frankenstein

10. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

 

One thing that happens to a writer after a lifetime of words have been spilled — in my case, I published my first book in 1986 at age 25 — you begin to see patterns in the work. Sometimes it’s a worrying thing, falling back on familiar phrases or images, a troubling sense that you might be repeating yourself. That’s a sign of a lazy mind, returning to the old bag of tricks, and I try to be vigilant against it. And yet at the same time it makes perfect sense. If a writer is drawn to water images, for example, and spent a lifetime moved by water, heart filled with water, it only makes sense that watery imagery would leak into the writing.

I can see that with references in my books to The Wizard of Oz, which I’m sure I’ve done multiple times. Most recently, in Better Off Undead, I borrowed the basic plot structure from the film and loosely applied it to my story: the assembled characters going to meet the Wizard.

Here’s a page from The Fall, a book that’s based on a boy’s journal entries. This page contains the entire chapter:

I’m sure I’ve casually sprinkled references to the iconic movie in other books — did I ever use it in Jigsaw Jones? I can’t remember — though none spring immediately to mind. Oh, wait, there’s a brief reference in The Courage Test, page 169: “She leans into the camera. Her face looms larger, Oz-like.”

So many huge, iconic moments in that film. Think of the yellow brick road. The wicked witch. Dorothy’s quest to return home. Clicking her heels together three times. Flying monkeys and fierce, apple-tossing trees. A tin man absent a heart. The quest, the mission, the dark passage. What a story!

And my favorite: “Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!” That line kills me every time. Maybe I’ve said it a hundred times. Probably more. It’s an idea that comes up a lot, perfectly illustrated in that one revealing scene.

Oh yes, for me, there’s no question: The Wizard of Oz is clearly the most influential movie of my life.

Lastly, okay, I admit the list is pretty ridiculous and not an accurate measurement of a film’s “influence” on popular culture. Metropolis over Jaws? The Birth of a Nation more influential than The Godfather?

Oh well. As long as The Wizard of Oz comes out on top, I’m good with it.