“The Boundaries of Imagination”; or, the All-White World of Children’s Books, 2014

Christopher Myers, Where Are the People of Color in Children's Books? (art, photographed, from New York Times, 16 Mar. 2014)

Books transmit values. They explore our common humanity. What is the message when some children are not represented in those books?

— Walter Dean Myers, “Where Are the People of Color in Children’s Books?”

too often today’s books remain blind to the everyday reality of thousands of children. Children of color remain outside the boundaries of imagination. The cartography we create with this literature is flawed.

— Christopher Myers, “The Apartheid of Children’s Literature”

In case you missed it, yesterday’s New York Times (16 Mar. 2014) carried two essays that should do what Nancy Larrick’s famous “All-White World of Children’s Books” (Saturday Review, 11 Sept. 1965) did nearly 50 years ago: Sound the call to the publishing business to increase representation of people of color in children’s books. If you haven’t read these articles, please take a moment and do so.

As Walter Dean Myers notes, though there are now more people of color in books for young readers than there were in 1969 (when he entered the children’s book field), there are also more young readers of color. So, “Today, when about 40 percent of public school students nationwide are black and Latino, the disparity of representation is even more egregious.”

Christopher Myers, Where Are the People of Color in Children's Books? (art, photographed, from New York Times, 16 Mar. 2014)

These articles — and many others that I’ve read over the last few years (links below) — should point to a critical mass of support for increased representation of non-white people in children’s books. There are already efforts under way, like The Birthday Party Pledge (promise to give multicultural books to the children in your life) and Hands Across the Sea (promoting literacy in the Caribbean).

The pressing need for books featuring children of color inspires me to share some resources I’ve gathered for my own research and for students in my graduate-level African American Children’s Literature class — a course I’m teaching for the first time this semester (and which will, I promise, improve in subsequent years; this is my first attempt).  I’m aware that these resources are not comprehensive, and so please feel free to add suggestions in the comments.  Indeed, I’d be grateful if you would.

Essays on the Need for More People of Color in Children’s and YA Books

  • Laura Atkins, “White Privilege and Children’s Publishing: A Web 2.0 Case Study,” write4children 1.2 (April 2010). Note: document is a pdf. Scroll down to page 21.
  • Regina Sierra Carter, “YA Literature: The Inside and Cover Story,” The Journal of Research on Libraries and Young Adults, 18 Apr. 2013. “America is steadily becoming more diverse. So should YA literature. “
  • Jen Doll, “The Ongoing Problem of Race in Y.A.,” The Atlantic Wire, 26 Apr. 2012.  Great overview, with lots of links to relevant articles.
  • Zetta Elliott, “Decolonizing the Imagination,” Horn Book, Mar.-Apr. 2010. “My goal as a writer of speculative fiction is to engage the tropes of captivity, migration, and transformation in a narrative that is thrilling, compelling, and revealing…. I believe speculative fiction generates the kind of narrative possibility that enables us to revise, re-view, and reclaim the past.”
  • Zetta Elliott, “Stranger Than Fiction: Depicting Trauma in African American Children’s Books” or “One Hot Mess,” Fledgling: Zetta Elliott’s Blog, 16 June 2012.
  • Josh Finney, “Yes, But Is It Racist? Science Fiction and the Significance of 9%,” Broken Frontier, 10 Sept. 2013. “Over the years, I’ve known plenty of writers who’ve shied away from creating black characters due to the perceived consequences of getting it wrong.”
  • Malinda Lo, “A Year of Thinking About Diversity,” Diversity in YA, 19 Dec. 2011. “The concept of diversity is complex, messy, and charged. It means different things to different people. “
  • Jason Low, “Why hasn’t the number of multicultural books increased in eighteen years?” Lee & Low Books, 17 June 2013. Seeking answers, Low talks to Kathleen T. Horning, Nikki Grimes, Rudine Sims Bishop, Debbie Reese, Betsy Bird, Sarah Park Dahlen, Jane M. Gagni, and others.
  • Jessie-Lane Metz, “Ally-phobia: On the Trayvon Martin Ruling, White Feminism, and the Worst of Best Intentions,” The Toast, 24 Jul. 2013. “When a person of colour speaks to their own experiences of racism, they are speaking to a collective pain, and speaking truth to power. When a person with white skin privilege gives an anecdote about racism, whether their own or someone else’s, they are exposing more racialized people to this discrimination, and reasserting their own privilege. The narrative is no longer about Black victims of racist crimes and a deeply flawed justice system, it is about white feelings about Black bodies and their experiences.”
  • Christopher Myers, “The Apartheid of Children’s Literature,” New York Times, 16 Mar. 2014. “children of color… recognize the boundaries being imposed upon their imaginations, and are certain to imagine themselves well within the borders they are offered, to color themselves inside the lines.
  • Christopher Myers, “Young Dreamers,” Horn Book, 6 Aug. 2013. “The plethora of threatening images of young black people has real-life effects. But if people can see us as young dreamers, boys with hopes and doubts and playfulness, instead of potential threats or icons of societal ills, perhaps they will feel less inclined to kill us.”
  • Walter Dean Myers, “Where Are the People of Color in Children’s Books?,” New York Times 16 Mar. 2014. “this was exactly what I wanted to do when I wrote about poor inner-city children — to make them human in the eyes of readers and, especially, in their own eyes. I need to make them feel as if they are part of America’s dream, that all the rhetoric is meant for them, and that they are wanted in this country.”
  • Walter Dean Myers, “I Actually Thought We Would Revolutionize the Industry,” New York Times, 9 Nov. 1986. “if we continue to make black children nonpersons by excluding them from books and by degrading the black experience, and if we continue to neglect white children by not exposing them to any aspect of other racial and ethnic experiences in a meaningful way, we will have a next racial crisis.”
  • Mitali Perkins, “Straight Talk on Race: Challenging the Stereotypes in Kids’ Books,” School Library Journal 1 Apr. 2009. “Here are five questions that’ll help you and your students discern messages about race in stories. Try these in the classroom, and my guess is that you may end up engaging teens who had seemed reluctant to share their literary opinions.”
  • Alyssa Rosenberg, “Malinda Lo on Why White Creators Default to Colorblindness,”  ThinkProgress.org 20 Feb. 2013. “Race-blindness is more risk management strategy than a means of actually making television, movies, and books more diverse.”
  • Meg Rosoff, “You can’t protect children by lying to them — the truth will hurt less.” Guardian, 20 Sept. 2013. “There is a theory that children’s literature should uphold the idyll of childhood, offering charming scenarios and happy endings to protect the innocent from life’s harsh realities. But children have extraordinary antennae for the things no one will explain.” This essay isn’t about race. It’s about not lying, and its insights are applicable in this list — that’s why I’ve included it.
  • Shadra Strickland, “Do Great Work and the Rest Will Follow,” Horn Book March-April 2014. “It’s strange being black and a woman in a field that has historically celebrated white male contributions. Before I was published, I wondered if the only way in was to write and illustrate stories about slavery and black history. When all of my graduate school friends landed book contracts before me, at times I thought, ‘Is it because I paint black people?’ I talked myself down from that ledge, but why was I up there to begin with?”

Essays on the Need for More People of Color on the Covers (a.k.a. Essays Against Whitewashing)

Numbers

Resources, Both Historical and Ongoing Projects

Publishers

Twitter

Penultimate note: I’ve not included most of the critical texts on our syllabus, because my students already know what those are (and so will you, if you follow the link!).

Final note: As I said above, suggestions welcome. Thanks!

Page last updated, 4:15 pm CDT, 21 Mar 2014. For their suggestions, thanks to Laura Atkins, Sarah Hamburg, Sheila Barry, Kate Pritchard, Keilin H., Hannah Ehrlich (Lee & Low Books).

Image credits: Art by Christopher Myers, from New York Times, 16 Mar. 2014. I decided to photograph my copy of the newspaper rather than just lift the art from the Times‘ website simply because I like print culture. You can find clearer digital images on the Times‘ site.

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Stylish Academic Writing

Helen Sword, Stylish Academic WritingNo, the title of this post is not an oxymoron. Academics can write with style. Some of us do. All of us should. In Stylish Academic Writing, Helen Sword offers advice for all who aspire to write with grace and economy. The book is smart, funny, and — even better — applicable beyond academe.

Many of us write the way our disciplines taught us to write, but, as Sword points out, there’s a good degree of variance within any given discipline. People don’t write articles all the same way. In every discipline, there’s room for creativity, space for departing from the formula. Writing bland, jargon-y prose is not the only way to get published. To quote Sword, “academic writing is a process of making intelligent choices, not following rigid rules” (30). That’s the key advice here. You can write well and get published in any discipline; the path to publication involves smart choices, not the strictures of jargon.

Here are six pieces of advice from her book:

  1. Open with something catchy: As Sword puts it, “recount an interesting story, ask a challenging question, dissect a problem” (8).
  2. Prefer active verbs to passive ones: no one likes sentences that erase human agency.
  3. As Richard Lanham famously asked, “Who’s kicking who?” That should be “Who’s kicking whom?,” but the point is sound: nouns and verbs form the backbone of a strong sentence. If your sentence construction obscures cause-and-effect, then rewrite it.
  4. Jargon for its own sake is lazy. Use it when it serves your purpose — as Sword notes, it’s a “highly efficient form of disciplinary shorthand” (117). That’s great. But don’t use it as a substitute for thought. Draw upon the insights of critical theory, philosophy, medicine, and any relevant discipline, but express those insights in clear, concrete prose.
  5. You don’t need to use long sentences all the time. Short ones are nice. Varying sentence lengths works well, too.
  6. Avoid extraneous words and phrases. As Sword writes, “Avoid using that more than once in a single sentence or about three times per paragraph, except in a parallel construction or for stylistic effect. Sentences that rely on subordinate clauses that in turn contain other clauses that introduce new ideas that distract from the main argument that the author is trying to make . . . well, you get the idea” (62).

From my earliest days as an academic, I’ve aspired to write clear sentences. So, in part, Sword’s book has (for me) affirmed what I’ve always tried to do. I know of course that (despite my efforts) I have written sentences that fall short of this goal.  For that matter, I know that I will never be as deft a stylist as Martha Nussbaum, Louis Menand, or Robin Bernstein (to name a few academics who are also graceful writers), but I also know I can be better.  Sword’s book can help us all be better.

This is why, since I started reading the book, I’ve been recommending it to my fellow academics.  (To give credit where it’s due, Robin Bernstein’s Facebook post of the video below alerted me to Sword’s work.)

The Humanities need scholars who can communicate well. Our professional lives and the futures of our disciplines depend upon our ability to convey our ideas with clarity and grace to legislators and to the general public. The Humanities are not a luxury. As Adam Gopnik wrote so eloquently earlier this week, “We need the humanities not because they will produce shrewder entrepreneurs or kinder C.E.O.s but because [...] they help us enjoy life more and endure it better. The reason we need the humanities is because we’re human.”

Stylish Academic Writing has renewed my commitment to writing well.  If more of us take Sword’s advice to heart, perhaps over time, we can help our governments renew their commitments to the Humanities, and to a way of living that puts human beings first — rather than putting first, say, corporate profits, easily quantifiable utility, expensive surveillance, or lethal technologies.  Perhaps.

Even if we fail, it will have been worth the effort.


Bonus: a video on zombie nouns.

Another bonus: some links.

  • Stylish Academic Writing: Harvard University Press’s page, featuring many links.
  • The Writer’s Diet Test: Sword’s automated feedback tool asks “Is your writing flabby or fit?” and invites you to “Enter a writing sample of 100 to 1000 words” and find out.

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The Edwin Mellen Effect

Edwin Mellen Press

 

It’s Opposites Day at The Chronicle of Higher Education. The headline reads, “Edwin Mellen Press Drops Lawsuit Against University Librarian.”

Chronicle's Misleading Headline

The article reports that Edwin Mellen Press has withdrawn the suit against McMaster University and Dale Askey, BUT Edwin Mellen Press is still suing Dale Askey.  Beyond the fact that the Chronicle should have let its readers know it was celebrating Opposites Day, this development raises several questions about the allegedly scholarly press known as Edwin Mellen Press.

  1. The news release’s internal contradictions are remarkable.  Without any irony whatsoever, Edwin Mellen Press in its press release says that “EMP remains resolute that all have the right to free speech.”  How is suing a librarian for $1 million an affirmation of that principle?  For that matter, how did suing Lingua Franca over its characterization of Edwin Mellen Press uphold “the right to free speech”?  This doesn’t make any sense.  And when you follow that claim about “right to free speech” in the very next sentence with “all have the right to take steps, including legal action, to protect their good names and reputation,” you’re reminding your audience that Edwin Mellen Press launches lawsuits at its critics in order to shut them up.  So, not a very effective piece of rhetoric.
  2. Even before Edwin Mellen Press launched this suit, it did not have a “good reputation.”  As Timothy A. Lepcyzk pointed out at EduHacker, when Edwin Mellen Press launched this suit against Askey, punching the words “Edwin Mellen Press” into Google would elicit the following suggestions: “edwin mellen press quality,” “edwin mellen press review,” “edwin mellen press reputation,” “edwin mellen press vanity,” “edwin mellen press vanity press.”  Edwin Mellen’s news release speaks of “EMP’s good reputation” and of the right to protect that reputation.  However, it didn’t have a good reputation when it filed this suit, and its reputation has only declined since then.
  3. You can’t erase the internet.  When you punch the publisher’s name into Google now, you get these automatic suggestions:  “edwin mellen press,” “edwin mellen press reputation,” “edwin mellen press review,” and “edwin mellen press vanity.”  Below that, the first hit is the press’s website, but all other hits are other websites, each of which reference the press’s litigious behavior.  There are scores of articles on the Press, and they’re not flattering.  Did it seek to cement its reputation as a litigious bully or further delegitimize its allegation that it’s a “scholarly press” (a claim made in its latest press release)?  If so, then it has succeeded.  If it had other aims, it’s failed.Google: Edwin Mellen Press Vanity
  4. If the press cannot manage its own damage control, what does that say about its publicity department?  If dropping one suit (but not the other) was an attempt to control some of the damage that Edwin Mellen Press has inflicted on itself, it has instead inspired further speculation about its incompetence.  As Rick Anderson notes in his really nice close-reading of the Mellen news release, the publisher’s behavior “is simply bizarre.”
  5. This isn’t over yet.  Sign the petition!  There are currently over 3100 names on the petition.  Let’s keep those numbers rising.
  6. Finally, the Streisand Effect should be renamed the Edwin Mellen Effect. This PR debacle that the press has chosen to inflict upon itself will, I suspect, ultimately result in its undoing.  Its attempts to silence its critics have only amplified those critics’ voices.

More information on Edwin Mellen Press & Its Attempts to Silence Its Critics:

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Vanity, Thy Name Is Lawsuit

Edwin Mellen Press

As you may have heard, the Edwin Mellen Press is suing librarian Dale Askey and his employer, McMaster University, for damages in excess of $4 million.

Why?  The suit alleges that Askey is guilty of libel for calling Edwin Mellen Press “a vanity press” and suggesting that it lacks “academic credibility.”  There are several problems with this claim.

  1. In the blog post in question (since removed, but still available via Archive.org), Askey does not call Edwin Mellen Press “a vanity press.”  He acknowledges that “they are not technically a vanity publisher” because they don’t require authors to underwrite the cost of their books.
  2. A serious academic press values academic freedom. It does not (for example) try to silence its critics with a multi-million dollar lawsuit.  A serious academic press builds its reputation on reputable titles.  If Edwin Mellen Press seeks to earn the title of “litigious bully,” filing this lawsuit will aid its cause.  However, if it seeks to improve its reputation, such legal action seems unlikely to further its aims.  As Inside Higher Ed and Academic Librarian have both reported, this is not the first time it has filed a lawsuit to defend its reputation.  The press’s last such lawsuit failed.  (A 1993 article in Lingua Franca called Edwin Mellen “a quasi-vanity press cunningly disguised as an academic publishing house.”)
  3. Making judgments about the quality of scholarship is a professional librarian’s job.  As Leslie Green notes, Askey in a 2010 blog post said “that Mellen was a poor publisher with a weak list of low-quality books, scarcely edited, cheaply produced, but at exorbitant prices.  Librarians are expert at making such judgments; that’s what universities pay them to do.  And the post made a key point about the public interest: ‘in a time when libraries cannot purchase so much of the first-class scholarship, there is simply no reason to support such ventures.’”
  4. Academics do not take threats to academic freedom lightly.  Librarians, Professors, and other academic professionals can advise their libraries not to buy books published by Edwin Mellen Press.  One way to do this would be to ask that, if a library’s vendor has Edwin Mellen Press on a list of books to be purchased automatically, then it should ask that the books of Edwin Mellen Press be removed from this “automatically purchase” arrangement. What it might do instead is, should a faculty member (or, to set the threshold a little higher, several faculty members) recommend a particular book, then the library will purchase it.  But the library will only purchase specific volumes recommended by faculty members — or by a particular number of faculty members. That way, should Edwin Mellen Press publish reputable scholarship (which it does do, on occasion), a library could purchase it.  Edwin Mellen can't spellBut Edwin Mellen could no longer rely upon automatic purchases from libraries.
  5. The Streisand effect.  As in the case of Barbra Streisand’s attempt to remove a photograph of her house from the web, the Edwin Mellen Press’s attempts to silence Dale Askey’s criticism has simply given more publicity to that criticism.  In sum, the more we blog about this and the more it gets report, the more that people will learn about the critique and the behavior of Edwin Mellen Press.  John Dupuis’s post “Publisher hits new low” has collected all of these links, and is adding new ones as Mr. Dupuis becomes aware of them.  UpdateThis point added on 11 Feb. 2013.
  6. I can think of no evidence to contradict Askey’s claim that while “they occasionally publish a worthy title,… so much of what they publish is simply second-class scholarship (and that is being kind in some cases).”  To judge from the comments I’ve seen elsewhere as well as from informal conversations with peers, this view of Edwin Mellen Press is widely held.  As William Pannapacker tweeted in response to the lawsuit against Askey and McMaster,

Heck, the website is so poorly edited that it misspells the institutional affiliation of a professor who endorses it (see image above right).  The word is Massachusetts, not Massachusettes.

What We Can Do to Help

So, for those of us who value academic freedom and feel comfortable speaking up, there are several steps we might take:

  • There is a petition asking Edwin Mellen to drop the lawsuit.  Sign it.
  • Who is paying for Dale Askey’s legal costs?  McMaster has just published a statement affirming their commitment to academic freedom, but Inside Higher Ed notes that Askey is paying for his own legal fees.  Full disclosure: I’ve met Dale Askey before and am a friend of his wife’s. (They both used to work at Kansas State.)  Earlier today, she indicated on my Facebook wall that they were indeed paying for their own legal fees.  Should that still be the case, could someone with knowledge of how these things work please set up a site where we might contribute to cover his legal fees?  Call it the “Dale Askey Legal Defense Fund,” perhaps.  And when you do this, please let me know so that I can add a link, here.  Thank you.
  • Let other concerned people know about it.  Use Facebook, Twitter, blogs, and so on.  I’ve been using the #FreeDaleAskey hashtag each time I tweet about it.  Perhaps we might adopt that?  Would be great to see this trending on Twitter.
  • Speaking of legal fees, I wonder if this is the sort of case which someone like Lawrence Lessig might take on?  I realize that Professor Lessig is a busy man, and I have never met him myself.  So, I don’t mean to suggest that he’s obligated to add to what is already a considerable workload, but perhaps he — or someone like him — might take an interest in the case?
  • Contact your professional organization and ask that they address it.  So far, there have been statements from the Canadian Library Association, the Progressive Librarians Guild, McMaster University, the York University Faculty Association, and other faculty associations. UpdateThis point added on 11 Feb. 2013.
  • Other ideas?  Please share them in the comments section.  Thank you.

Update, 11 Feb. 2013: Added point no. 5 and the “Contact your professional organization” point (above).

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A Brief Inquiry Into the Paradoxes of Academic Achievement

Front cover by Chris Ware for: Crockett Johnson and Ruth Krauss: How an Unlikely Couple Found Love, Dodged the FBI, and Transformed Children's Literature (forthcoming from UP Mississippi, Sept. 2012)When I started writing what was then a biography of Crockett Johnson (back in the late 1990s), I thought: When I finish this, I really will have achieved something. Even as I wrote other books, I continued to think of the biography — which became a double biography of Johnson and Krauss — as The Big Achievement. Sure, Dr. Seuss: American Icon (my third book, published 2004) was OK, and, yes, the media attention it received was certainly flattering. But the biography would be the Truly Important Work.

So, you might (or might not) be asking: (1) Why make this distinction between the biography and my other work? (2) Do I still make this distinction? (3) And, now that the biography is published, does it feel as “Truly Important” as I thought it would?

1. Why make this distinction?

The degree of original research required far surpassed that needed for my other books. I interviewed over 80 people, investigated over three dozen archives and special collections, read everything written by or about Crockett Johnson and Ruth Krauss, and consulted additional hundreds of articles and books. I looked at birth certificates, marriage certificates, census data, property deeds, wills, century-old insurance company maps, and Johnson’s FBI file. If I hadn’t gathered (some of) this information, it would be lost forever. Coping with the mortality of one’s sources is a big challenge for the biographer. Maurice Sendak, Remy Charlip, Syd Hoff, Mischa Richter, Else Frank (Johnson’s sister), Mary Elting Folsom (author who knew Johnson in the 1930s), Gene Searchinger (filmmaker who knew them both), and so many others taught me much about Johnson and Krauss. They have since passed away. If I hadn’t recorded their stories, that information would be gone.

The biography has been more challenging than any other project I’ve tackled, bar none. As I’ve observed before (probably on this blog, and certainly in the talk I gave last month at the New York Public Library), a biography is a jigsaw puzzle, but this puzzle has no box, missing pieces, and no sense of how many pieces you’ll need. There are also the challenges of creating character, knowing which details to omit, and finding a narrative structure. Life has no narrative, but biography has to have a narrative. I have no training in creative writing, but — for this book — I had to try to think like a creative writer.

In sum, there are reasons that a biography takes so long to write….

2. Do I still make this distinction?

Dr. Seuss: American IconSort of. The distinction reflects a tendency to devalue the discipline in which I was trained — the sense that Dr. Seuss: American Icon, though it does draw on considerable original research, is ultimately “just interpreting texts.” In contrast, rigorous historical research, actually uncovering new information, is much more important work. But I say “sort of” because of course there are truly insightful ways of interpreting texts, illuminating formal strategies, transformative critical approaches — Robin Bernstein’s Racial Innocence is one such book. It’s a paradigm-shifter. As I’ve noted before, I don’t have the kind of mind that writes a paradigm-shifting book.

My strength is that I work hard. A biography plays to that particular strength — and perhaps this is one reason that it interests me. It interests me for other reasons, too (the “detective work” part, for example). But it is one intellectual arena where I can do something well: work really hard. Superior intelligence may elude me, but I can put in the hours! So, in some ways I still make the distinction (the amount of research, the box-less puzzle, etc.), but in other ways I do not.

3. Now that it’s published, does it feel like such a Big Achievement?

The response (mostly positive) has been a good feeling. In addition to nice reviews from Anita Silvey, Roger Sutton, Maria Tatar, Kirkus, and the Wall Street Journal, other Notable People Whose Work I Admire have been very complimentary. With apologies for the name-dropping, those people include Chris Ware (who also created the beautiful cover), Dan Clowes, Mark Newgarden, Paul Karasik, Lane Smith, Susan Hirschman, George Nicholson, and Michael Patrick Hearn. Given that Maurice Sendak even responded positively to an early, detail-clogged, incomplete draft, it is of course possible that these folks are simply being kind, and forgiving the book’s many infelicities (as I expect Maurice was). But I’m accepting their kind assessments as genuine because, well, it makes me happy to do so!

That said, as I’ve documented on this blog, the editing process was not entirely harmonious. Some cuts were good ones; others were not. My copy-editor was an historian by training; I needed a writer of fiction. My changes to her edits resulted in some errors, including (as one audience member pointed out at the NYPL last month) a typo in the first sentence. The press refused to change some errors I found in the page proofs (though it did change others). The paperback is priced not at $27, as I had originally been told it would be, but at $40 — this makes it harder to schedule signings because who buys a $40 paperback? These problems make me not want to think about the book at all.

I realize that I should let this go. Publishers introduce errors into manuscripts. Bureaucracies do not always function smoothly. Humans are prone to error, fatigue, and failures of judgment.

Fortunately, despite my irritations, the book does feel like an achievement. Given how long it took to write (I started in 1999), it is thus far my life’s work. It is a big deal.

But there is little time to dwell upon one’s achievements. There are new projects (such as The Complete Barnaby, volume 1 of which is due out early next year), tenure-and-promotion letters to write, letters of recommendation to write, (other people’s) book proposals to review and manuscript to edit, (my) conference abstracts to create and talks to write, planes to catch, meetings to attend, syllabi to revise, syllabi to invent, papers to grade, classes to teach, students to meet. Being an academic is a great job, the work is rewarding, and I feel privileged to do it — even though I rarely have the time to notice those rewards or recognize that privilege. It’s one of the paradoxes of being a professor.

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Harry Potter, the American translation

Lana Whited, ed., The Ivory Tower and Harry Potter (2002)In remembrance of a great university press, I’m posting:

  1. my essay, “‘You Say ‘Jelly,’ I Say ‘Jello’?: Harry Potter and the Transfiguration of Language,” and
  2. a full list of each difference between the Bloomsbury (UK) and Scholastic (US) editions of J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter books — well, to be accurate, the first three Harry Potter books, and part of the fourth.  (Only four had been published at the time I wrote the essay.)

My essay appeared in The Ivory Tower and Harry Potter, edited by Lana Whited and published in 2002 by the University of Missouri Press. In late May, University of Missouri president Tim Wolfe announced the closing of the press, a non-profit enterprise which operated with a $400,000 annual subsidy — which, to place that in perspective, is $2.1 million less than the head football coach’s annual salary.  (For further perspective, the university last month announced a $72 million upgrade to its athletic facilities.) Mr. Wolfe fired the staff, and — following public outcry and authors leaving the press — said that no, he wasn’t really closing the press, but reinventing it … without consulting any of the current staff (who had been fired).  So, until Mr. Wolfe invents another rationale for shutting it down, an organization named “the University of Missouri Press” will exist.  The name and geographic location are all it shares with the entity that published The Ivory Tower and Harry Poter. In its belated announcement (in a release thick with corporate doublespeak), the faux University of Missouri Press seems an afterthought designed to minimize all the negative PR that met the original press’s closure. (Mr. Wolfe seems to be saying: Did I say closing the press?  No, not closing, exactly — er,… reinventing!  I meant reinventing!  See!  The press is stil here!)

However, in reality, the publisher of works by Langston Hughes, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Mark Twain is closing.  The future of any book under the “University of Missouri Press” imprint (or “brand,” as the organization now calls it) is doubtful.  So, I thought I would make my sole work published by this press available for free, right here.  (A pdf is below.)

Since that piece has been in print for a decade, of greater interest may be this page-by-page comparison of the UK and US editions of the first three Harry Potter books, a comparison I am here making publicly available for the first time.  My hope is that others may benefit from this without having to go through the labor that I did — treating the texts like variants of a medieval manuscript, and making careful notes on the differences.

I intended to do a complete page-by-page comparison of the first four (book five didn’t appear until the year after the article’s publication), but my side-by-side readings of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire found far fewer differences — indeed, some words changed in earlier books were not changed in Goblet of Fire‘s US edition.  As this was proving less interesting (and Goblet is much longer!), I did not make a complete list of the differences between the editions of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.

A note on my notes: “in verse” means that the text was formatted as verse, but not that it is in fact poetry.  The books used are the original UK and US editions of the Harry Potter books (corrections have been made in subsequent editions).


Harry Potter and the Transfiguration of Language:

Comparison between UK and US versions

BLOOMSBURY

SCHOLASTIC

Philosopher’s Stone Sorcerer’s Stone
“neighbours” (7) “neighbors” (1)
“get-ups you saw on young people” (8) “getups you saw on young people” (3)
“buy himself a bun from the baker’s opposite” (9) “buy himself a bun from the bakery” (4)
“normal cat behaviour, Mr. Dursley wondered”(10) “normal cat behavior? Mr. Dursley wondered” (6)
“Dudley had learnt a new word (‘Shan’t’)” (10) “Dudley had learned a new word (“Won’t”)” (6)
“realise he was being watched” (12) “realize he was being watched” (9)
“swapping rumours” (13) “swapping rumors” (10)
“sherbet lemon” (13 twice, 14 twice) “lemon drop” (10, 11 thrice).
“sounding half-exasperated, half-admiring” (14) “sounding half exasperated, half admiring” (11)
“motorbike” (16 X4, 17, 19, 24 X3) “motorcycle” (14 X4, 16, 19, 25 X3)
“he had hands the size of dustbin lids” (16) “he had hands the size of trash can lids” (14)
“Young Sirius Black lent it me” (16) “Young Sirius Black lent it to me” (14)
“wearing different-coloured bobble hats” (19) “wearing different-colored bonnets” (18)
“on a roundabout at the fair” (19) “on a carousel at the fair” (18)
“frying pan being put on the cooker” (19) “frying pan being put on the stove” (19)
“held together with a lot of Sellotape” (20) “held together with a lot of Scotch Tape” (20)
“asking his Aunt Petunia how he had got it” (20) “asking his Aunt Petunia how he had gotten it”(20)
“a cine-camera, a remote-control aeroplane” (21,28) “a video camera, a remote control airplane” (22, 31)
“and a video recorder” (21) “and a VCR” (22)
“hamburger bars, or the cinema” (22) “hamburger restaurants, or the movies” (22)
“Sellotaped glasses” (23) “taped glasses” (24)
“revolting old jumper of Dudley’s (brown with orange bobbles)” (23) “revolting old sweater of Dudley’s (brown with orange puff balls)” (24)
“a glove puppet” (23) “a hand puppet” (24)
“jump behind the big bins outside” (24) “jump behind the big trash cans outside” (25)
“gigantic beetroot with a moustache” (24) “gigantic beet with a mustache” (25)
“a cheap lemon ice lolly” (24) “a cheap lemon ice pop” (26)
“had a tantrum because his knickerbocker glory wasn’t big enough” (24) “had a tantrum because his knickerbocker glory didn’t have enough ice cream on top” (26)
“and crushed it into a dust-bin” (25) “and crushed it into a trash can” (27).
italics for writing on snake’s sign (26) no italics for writing on snake’s sign (28)
“Smeltings stick” (30 X2, 33 X2) “Smelting stick” (33, 34, 38 X2)
“who was holidaying on the Isle of Wight” (30) “who was vacationing on the Isle of Wight” (34)
italics for letter (34, 36, 43) handwriting for letter (34, 42, 52)
“cine-camera” (32) “video camera” (37)
“favourite programme” (32) “favorite program” (37)
“small window in the downstairs toilet” (34) “small window in the downstairs bathroom” (40)
“speeding towards the motorway” (35) “speeding towards the highway” (41)
“video” (35) “VCR” (41)
“a packet of crisps each” (37) “a bag of chips each” (44)
“yer mum’s eyes” (39) “yer mom’s eyes” (47)
“mint humbugs” (49) “peppermint humbugs” (62)
“Harry had learnt from Uncle Vernon” (51) “Harry had learned from Uncle Vernon” (64)
“hamburger bars and cinemas” (53) “hamburger restaurants and cinemas” (67)
“looked like a gummy walnut” (54) “looked like a toothless walnut” (68)
“a dustbin and a few weeds” (55) “a trash can and a few weeds” (70)
“in the wall above the dustbin” (55) “in the wall above the trash can” (71)
italics for items on sign (56, 63) no italics for items on sign (71, 72, 82)
“look at yer mum!” (61) “look at yer mum!” (79) [remains the same]
“apothecary’s” (62) “Apothecary” (80, 81)
“He Who Must Not Be Named” (65) “He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named” (85)
“realised where they were” (66) “realised where they were” (86)
“Harry’s trunk on to a trolley” (68) “Harry’s trunk on to a cart” (90)
“Harry pushed his trolley after them” (69) “Harry pushed his cart after them” (92)
“Mum, can’t I go” (70) “Mom, can’t I go” (92)
“woman, call yourself our mother?” (70) “woman, you call yourself our mother?” (92)
“Er — OK” (70) “Er — okay” (93)
“smash right into that ticket box” (70) “smash right into that barrier” (93)
“leaning forward on his trolley” (70) “leaning forward on his cart” (93)
“his trolley was out of control” (71) “his cart was out of control” (93)
“where the ticket box had been” (71) “where the barrier had been” (94)
“Harry pushed his trolley” (71) “Harry pushed his cart” (71)
“Mum” (72, 73 — several times each page — 75) “Mom” (95, 96, 97 — several times each page –99)
“Anything off the trolley, dears?” (76) “Anything off the cart, dears?” (101)
“Famous Witches and Wizards” (77, 78) “famous witches and wizards” (102, but not 103)
Albus Dumbledore card in verse (77) Albus Dumbledore card, different format (102-03)
“had a bogey-flavoured one once” (78) “had a booger-flavored one once” (104)
spell indented a normal amount (79) spell italicized, very indented (105)
“Maybe…get a rabbit out of it” (87, plain text) “Maybe…get a rabbit out of it” (117, italicized)
“chips” (92) “fries” (123)
“mint humbugs” (92) “peppermint humbugs” (123)
“jelly” (93) “Jell-O” (125)
“Me dad’s a Muggle.  Mam didn’t tell” (93) “Me dad’s a Muggle.  Mom didn’t tell” (125)
“a cosy, round room” (96) “a cozy, round room” (130)
Dear Harry, (it said, in a very untidy scrawl)” (101) “It said, in a very untidy scrawl:Dear Harry” (135, handwriting)
“about football” (107) “about soccer” (144)
“West Ham football team” (107) “West Ham soccer team” (144)
note from McGonagall, in verse (122) note from McGonagall, with signature (164)
“about the size of a football” (124) “about the size of a soccer ball” (167)
“Hallowe’en feast” (127) “Halloween feast” (172)
“jacket potato” (127) “baked potato” (172)
“Urgh — troll bogies” (130) “Urgh — troll boogers” (177)
Potter for President” (136) “Potter for President” (184)
            “Down in the stands, Dean Thomas was yelling, ‘Send him off, ref!  Red card!’‘This isn’t football, Dean,’ Ron reminded him.  ‘You can’t send people off in Quidditch — and what’s a red card?’” (138)             “Down in the stands, Dean Thomas was yelling, ‘Send him off, ref!  Red card!’‘What are you talking about, Dean?’ said Ron.‘Red card!’ said Dean furiously.  ‘In soccer you get shown the red card and you’re out of the game!’‘But this isn’t soccer, Dean,’ Ron reminded him.”  (188)

 

“had been looking for a fortnight” (146) “had been looking for two weeks” (198)
“bread, crumpets, marshmallows” (146) “bread, English muffins, marshmallows” (199)
“Happy Christmas” (147) “Merry Christmas” (200)
“Sellotaped to the note” (147) “Taped to the note” (200)
“mum” (147) “mom” (200)
“Weasley jumper,” “hand-knitted sweater,” us a jumper” (147) “Weasley sweater,” “hand-knitted sweater,” us a sweater” (200-201)
“present also contained sweets” (147) “present also contained candy” (201)
italicized note (148) handwritten note (202)
“Weasley jumper,” “Harry’s jumper,” “lumpy jumper,” “forced the jumper,” “by his jumper” (149) “Weasley sweater,” “Harry’s sweater,” “lumpy sweater,” “forced the sweater,” “by his sweater” (202-203)
commas in list of food items (149) semi-colons and commas in list of food items (203)
“These fantastic crackers” (149) “These fantastic party favors” (203)
“flimsy paper hats” (149) “flimsy paper hats inside” (203)
“on a silver Sickle embedded in” (150) “on a silver sickle embedded in” (203)
“grow-your-own-warts kit” (150) “Grow-Your-Own-Warts kit” (204)
“her eyes are just like mine” (153) her eyes are just like mine” (208)
“‘Mum?’ he whispered.  ‘Dad?’ (153) “‘Mom?’ he whispered.  ‘Dad?’ (209)
“is the only known maker of the Philosopher’s Stone!” (161) “is the only known maker of the Sorcerer’s Stone!” (219)
description in verse (161) description in prose (220)
Philosopher’s Stone” (161 X2) Sorcerer’s Stone” (220 X2)
“Philosopher’s Stone” (161, 162 X2, 165, 166, 167, 169, 189, 195) “Sorcerer’s Stone” (220 X2, 221, 226, 227, 228, 231, 259, 267)
“snuff-box” (191) “snuffbox” (262)
“Alas!  Earwax!” (218) “Alas!  Ear wax!” (301)
“impressed at how mad his hero was” (218) “impressed at how crazy his hero was” (302)
“Dumbledore’s barking, all right” (219) “Dumbledore’s off his rocker, all right” (302)
“D’yeh like it?” (230) “d’yeh like it?” (304)
“Thanks for the fudge and the jumper” (223) “Thanks for the fudge and the sweater” (308)
Chamber of Secrets Chamber of Secrets
“top-of-the-range Nimbus Two Thousand” (8) “top-of-the-line Nimbus Two Thousand” (3)
“house Quidditch team” (8) “House Quidditch team” (3)
“never given him a proper present” (9) “never given him a real present” (5)
“Of course, he thought bitterly, Uncle Vernon was talking about the stupid dinner party” (10) Of course, he thought bitterly, Uncle Vernon was talking about the stupid dinner party” (5)
“Happy birthday” on same line (11) “Happy birthday” at new paragraph (7)
            “‘Jiggery pokery!’ said Harry in a fierce voice.  ‘Hocus pocus … squiggly wiggly …’” (13)             “‘Jiggery pokery!’ said Harry in a fierce voice.  ‘Hocus pocussquiggly wiggly –’” (9)
“‘Wish they could see famous Harry Potter now,’ he thought savagely” (13) Wish they could see famous Harry Potter now, he thought savagely” (10)
“fruitbats” (22) “fruit bats” (22)
“a bowl of tinned soup” (22) “a bowl of canned soup” (22)
“stone cold” (22) “stone-cold” (22)
“You Know Who (27 & passim) “You-Know-Who” (29 & passim)
“one man ended up in hospital” (29) “one man ended up in the hospital” (31)
“Dad’s mad about everything to do with” (29) “Dad’s crazy about everything to do with” (31)
“peering through the windscreen” (29) “peering through the windshield” (31)
“jumble of wellington boots” (29) “jumble of rubber boots” (32)
“‘It’s brilliant,’ said Harry” (29) “‘It’s wonderful,’ said Harry” (32)
“I sleep at the –” (30) “I sleep at the — at the top –” (32)
quotation marks for items on clock (31) Italics for items on clock (34)
“at the washing-up in the sink, which began to clean itself” (31) “at the dishes in the sink, which began to clean themselves” (34)
typo: “Geoge groaned” (32) “George groaned” (35)
“Mum fancies him” (32) “Mum fancies him” (36)
“little fat Father Christmases with fishing rods”(33) “little fat Santa Clauses with fishing rods” (36)
“nothing like Father Christmas” (33) “nothing like Santa Claus” (37)
“shaking it off until –” (33) “shaking it off — until –” (37)
“of frogspawn on the window-sill” (35) “of frog spawn on the windowsill” (40)
“still in their pyjamas” (38) “still in their pajamas” (43)
“And mind you get out at the right grate” (41)throughout, ellipses (41-42) “And be sure to get out at the right grate” (41)throughout, dashes (49)
“and felt his glasses shatter” (42) “and felt the bridge of his glasses snap” (49)
“pulled the doors to” (42) “pulled the doors closed” (50)
“business elsewhere today.” (44) “business elsewhere today –” (52)
“Come, Draco!” (44) “Come, Draco –” (53)
“Molly’s frantic — she’s coming now.” (46) “Molly’s frantic — she’s coming now –” (55)
Brilliant!” (46) Excellent!” (55)
“second-hand robe shop” (47) “secondhand robe shop” (57)
“strawberry and peanut butter ice-creams” (48) “strawberry-and-peanut-butter ice creams” (58)
“broken wands, wonky brass scales” (48) “broken wands, lopsided brass scales” (58)
“mind the books, now” (48) “mind the books, now” (59) [stays the same]
“He and his school fellows” (50) “He and his schoolmates” (60)
“to pay for that lot” (50) “to pay for all those” (61)
“opened the boot” (53) “opened the trunk” (66)
“trolleys for their trunks” (54) “trolleys for their trunks” (67) [stays the same]
“‘if it’s a real emergency, section nineteen or something of the Restriction of Thingy …’Harry’s feeling of panic turned suddenly to excitement” (56) “‘if it’s a real emergency, section nineteen or something of the Restriction of Thingy –’‘But your Mum and Dad…’ said Harry, pushing against the barrier again in the vain hope that it would give way.  ‘How will they get home?’‘They don’t need the car!’ said Ron impatiently.  ‘They know how to Apparate!  You know, just vanish and reappear at home!  They only bother with Floo powder and the car because we’re all underage and we’re not allowed to Apparate yet….’”Harry’s feeling of panic turned suddenly to excitement” (69)
“wheeling his trolley around” (56) “wheeling his trolley around” (69) [stays the same]
“villages with tiny toy churches and a great city alive with cars like multi-colored ants” (57) “a great city alive with cars like multicolored ants,  villages with tiny toy churches” (72)
“pulled off their jumpers” (57) “pulled off their sweaters” (72)
“Harry pulled his jumper back on” (58) “Harry pulled his sweater back on” (73)
“windscreen wipers” (58) “windshield wipers” (73)
“MIND THAT TREE!” (59) “WATCH OUT FOR THAT TREE!” (74)
“crumpled bonnet” (59) “crumpled hood” (74)
“he had hit the windscreen” (59) “he had hit the windshield” (74)
“luggage from the boot” (60) “luggage from the trunk” (75)
“‘Brilliant!’ yelled Lee Jordan” (66) “‘Brilliant!’ yelled Lee Jordan” (84) [stays same]
“Good on you” (66) “Good for you” (84)
“Post’s due any minute” (68) “Mail’s due any minute” (86)
“My Gran sent me one” (69) “My gran sent me one” (87)
“ENQUIRY” (69), “enquiry” (70) “INQUIRY” (88), “inquiry” (89)
“telephone box by a werewolf” (73) “telephone booth” (94)
“Spellotaped wand” (76) “Spellotaped wand” (97) [same in both]
“double portrait, can’t say fairer than that” (76) “double portrait, can’t do better than that” (98)
“diagram of a Quidditch pitch” (83) “diagram of a Quidditch field” (108)
“back on the Quidditch pitch” (84) “back on the Quidditch field” (109)
“walking on to the pitch” (85) “walking on to the field” (110)
“But I booked the pitch!” (85) “But I booked the field!” (110)
today on the Quidditch pitch” (85) today on the Quidditch field” (111)
“A pitch invasion” (86) “A field invasion” (111)
“Common blood.  It’s mad” (89) “Common blood.  It’s ridiculous” (116)
“Oh no — can’t I go and do the trophy room” (91) “Oh n — can’t I go and do the trophy room” (119)
“Harry didn’t fancy his shepherd’s pie” (91) “Harry didn’t enjoy his shepherd’s pie” (119)
“Ah, here’s the scallywag!” (92) “Ah, here’s the scalawag!” (119)
“pulled on his pyjamas” (93) “pulled on his pajamas” (121)
“Took ages to shift the slime” (93) “Took ages to get the slime off” (121)
“who had been looking peaky” (94) “who had been looking pale” (122)
“shooting through the air like jump jets” (94) “shooting through the air like missiles” (123)
Kwikspell letter (97) Kwikspell letter in cursive (127)
“he spluttered” (98) “he sputtered” (128)
“Hallowe’en” (100 & passim) “Halloween” (131 & passim)
“trying to go to the loo” (101) “trying to have a pee” (133)
“You’ve missed out ‘spotty’” (103) “You’ve forgotten pimply” (135)
“yelling, ‘Spotty!  Spotty!’” (103) “yelling, “Pimply!  Pimply!” (135)
“remove his hairnet” (108) “remove his hair net” (142)
“the copies of Hogwarts: A History” (112) “the copies of Hogwarts, A History” (147)
quotation marks for italicized words of SH (116) italicized words of Sorting Hat (153)
“into a dirty great spider” (117) “into a great big filthy spider” (155)
“doors to the cubicles” (118) “doors to the stalls” (155)
“floating on the cistern of the toilet” (118) “floating above the tank of the toilet” (156)
“we’ve got what we needed.” (123) “we’ve got what we needed –” (163)
“student in the year” (123) “student of the year” (163)
Madam Pince sentence at top of 124 Madam Pince sentence part of same para (163).
“in her cubicle” (124) “in her stall” (164)
“But not toenails, OK?” (125) “But not toenails, okay?” (166)
“crowd to speed them upwards” (126) “crowd to speed them upward” (167)
“careering out of Harry’s way” (129) “careening out of Harry’s way” (171)
“Harry a pair of pyjamas” (131) “Harry a pair of pajamas” (174)
“He Who Must Not Be Named” (133) “He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named” (178)
“squeezing into the cubicle” (138) “squeezing into the stall” (183)
“Bicorn horn and the Boomslang skin” (139) “bicorn horn and the boomslang skin” (186)
“faster than you could say ‘unfair’” (140) “faster than you could say ‘Unfair’” (186)
“stopping a dirty great snake biting Justin’s head off” (147) “stopping a massive snake from biting off Justin’s head” (196)
“‘Sherbet lemon!’ she said.  This was” (152) “‘Lemon drop!’ she said.  This was” (204)
“brass knocker in the shape of a griffon” (153) “brass knocker in the shape of a griffin” (204)
“put him in the right house.” (154) “put him in the right House –” (206)
“in the high-backed chair behind the desk” (156) “in the high chair behind the desk” (208)
“there isn’t anything, Professor.” (157) “there isn’t anything, Professor….” (209)
“a new, hand-knitted jumper” (159) “a new, hand-knitted sweater” (212)
“Crabbe and Goyle-sized feet” (161) “Crabbe- and Goyle-size feet” (213)
“of the bubbling, treacle-thick potion” (161) “of the bubbling, glutinous potion” (215)
“the khaki color of a bogey” (161) “the khaki color of a booger” (216)
“ENQUIRY AT THE MINISTRY” (165) “INQUIRY AT THE MINISTRY” (221)
“bearing its Out Of Order sign” (171) “bearing its out of order sign” (229)
“before I came down hard on them” (176) “before I came down hard on him” (235)
“seemed to have come over rather giggly” (176) “seemed to have been overcome with giggles”(236)
“ink bottle smashed over the lot” (177) “ink bottle smashed over everything” (237)
“OK” (180) “OK” (242) [stays same b/c of previous line]
“… If it all stopped …” (182) “– if it all stopped –” (244)
“who asked him to grass on Hagrid” (185) “who asked him to squeal on Hagrid” (250)
“if he was rubbish at them” (187) “if he was lousy at them” (252)
“Headmaster was here” (194) “headmaster was here” (262)
“There’ll be killin’s next!” (195) “There’ll be killin’ next!” (263)
“any — ah — ‘killin’s’” (195) “any — ah — killins.” (264)
“about a fortnight after Dumbledore” (198) “about two weeks after Dumbledore” (266)
“and off they went, crocodile fashion, with Harry, Ron, and Dean” (198-99) “and off they marched, with Harry, Ron, and Dean” (267)
“swallowed hard and looked sideways” (200) “swallowed hard, and looked sideways” (270)
“its headlamps ablaze” (203) “its headlights ablaze” (274)
“worst scene he had ever clapped eyes upon” (204) “worst scene he had ever laid eyes on” (276)
“but from respect of Hagrid” (206) “but out of respect for Hagrid” (278)
“Harry saw the wing mirror snap off” (207) “Harry saw the side mirror snap off” (280)
“nearly thrown into the windscreen” (207) “nearly thrown into the windshield” (280)
“and I trust you are all revising hard” (210) “and I trust you are all studying hard” (284)
“close your eyes straight away” (222) “close your eyes right away” (302)
can carry round in my pocket” (228) can carry around in my pocket” (310)
“forbidden forest” (230) “Forbidden Forest” (311)
Riddle’s screams italicized (235) Riddle’s screams italicized & in all caps (319, 320)
“You were brilliant, Fawkes” (236) “You were fantastic, Fawkes” (321)
“There has been no lasting harm done” (243) “There has been no lasting harm done, Ginny” (330)
“I said, come!” (248) “I said, come” (338)
Prisoner of Azkaban Prisoner of Azkaban
“Owl Post” (7) “Owl Post” (1) [same in both]
“a torch in one hand” (7) “a flashlight in one hand” (1)
“(A History of Magic, by Adalbert Waffling)” (7)[typo -- see page 52, book 1] “(A History of Magicby Bathlida Bagshot)” (1)[Bloomsbury has a typo -- see page 66, book 1]
“moved his torch closer to the book” (7) “moved his flashlight closer to the book” (1)
“summer holidays” (7, 8) “summer holidays” (1, 2) [same in both]
“at the start of the summer holidays” (8) “at the start of the summer break” (3)
“already in a bad mood with him, all because he’d received a telephone call from a fellow wizard one week into the school holidays” (8) “already in an especially bad mood with him, all because he’d received a telephone call from a fellow wizard one week into the school vacation”(3)
“opposite ends of a football pitch” (9) “opposite ends of a football field” (4)
“The row that had followed” (9) “The fight that had followed” (4)
“put the torch” (10) “put the flashlight” (5)
“hid the lot under a loose” (10) “hid the lot under a loose” (5) [same in both]
“had come face to face with him since at” (11) “had come face-to-face with him at” (6)
“Muggle Artefacts” (12) “Muggle Artifacts” (8)
It’s brilliant here in Egypt” (13) It’s amazing here in Egypt” (9)
typed names for signatures (13-14) actual cursive signatures (10-11)
“to clip onto your broom for long journeys” (15) “to clip on your broom for long journeys” (12)
“at the newsreader on the television” (18) “at the reporter on the television” (16)
“A special hotline has been set up” (18) “A special hot line has been set up” (17)
“The newsreader had reappeared” (18) “The reporter had reappeared” (17)
“staring furiously at the newsreader” (18) “staring furiously at the reporter” (17)
“presents whilst glaring at Harry” (24) “presents while glaring at Harry” (25)
“he’d better skip pudding and escape” (25) “he’d better skip dessert and escape” (26)
“and a bit more … that’s the boy” (26) “and a bit more … that’s the ticket” (27)
“wrenched up the loose floorboard and” (27) “wrenching up the loose floorboard, and” (30)
“for the catch on the door” (28) “for the latch on the door” (30)
“nervously flattened his fringe again” (32) “nervously flattened his bangs again” (35)
“lamp posts, letter boxes, and bins” (32) “lampposts, mailboxes, and trash cans” (36)
“’Arry Potter put paid to You-Know-’Oo” (34) “’Arry Potter got the better of You-Know-’Oo”(39)
“Harry nervously flattened his fringe down again” (34) [in same paragraph] “Harry nervously flattened his bangs down again” (39) [new, one-sentence paragraph]
“scattering bushes and bollards, telephone boxes and trees” (35) “scattering bushes and wastebaskets, telephone booths and trees” (41)
“eat whatever he fancied” (42) “eat whatever he fancied” (49) [same in both]
“from the left above the dustbin” (42) “from the left above the trash bin” (50)
“outside cafés” (42) “outside cafes” (50)
“player’s face when they lost a point” (43) “player’s face when they lose a point” (50)
FIREBOLT ad (43) FIREBOLT ad complete with logo and font! (51)
“of 0-150 miles an hour in ten seconds” (43) “of 150 miles an hour in ten seconds” (51)
“paid for their ice-creams” (48) “paid for their ice cream” (58)
“‘Er –’ said Ron.  The truth was that” (49) “‘Er –’  The truth was that” (59)
“and then scarpered for the door” (49) “and then scampered for the door” (60)
“your Rat Tonic” (50) “your rat tonic” (61)
“as they tucked into a sumptuous chocolate” (52) “as they dug into a sumptuous chocolate” (63)
“Good job too” (52) “Good thing, too” (64)
“to know he’d heard them rowing” (53) “to know he’d heard them arguing” (65)
“You-Know-Who” (54) “You-Know-Who” (66) [same in both]
“an unmoving queue for the traffic lights” (57) “an unmoving line at the traffic lights” (71)
“Next moment, they had fallen sideways” (57) “In a moment, they had fallen sideways” (71)
“joined them, Harry and Mr. Weasley led the way to the end of the train” (58) “joined them, Harry and Ron led the way to the end of the train” (72)
“the witch who pushed the food trolley” (59) “the witch who pushed the food cart” (74)
“Get out of it!” (62) “Get out of here!” (78)
“large stack of cauldron cakes” (63) “large stack of Cauldron Cakes” (79)
“taking the cauldron cake Harry had passed” (63) “taking the Cauldron Cake Harry had passed” (79)
“Crabbe was the taller” (63) “Crabbe was taller” (80)
“long, gorilla arms” (63) “long, gorilla-ish arms” (80)
“to take any rubbish from Malfoy this year” (64) “to take any crap from Malfoy this year” (80)
“sped yet further north” (64) “sped yet farther north” (80)
“into the folds of the black material” (66) “into the folds of its black cloak” (83)
“a great scramble to get out” (68) “a great scramble to get outside” (86)
“staircase which lead to the upper floors” (69) “staircase that lead to the upper floors” (88)
“each of the long house tables” (71) “each of the long House tables” (90)
“in the nature of a Dementor to understand” (72) “in the nature of a dementor to understand” (92)
Dementor always capitalized dementor in lowercase (unless initial word)
“leaving their frames to visit each other, but he always enjoyed watching them” (77) “leaving their frames to visit one another, but he always enjoyed watching it” (77)
“Everyone went quiet” (78) “Everyone got quiet” (101)
“Professor McGonagall broke off” part of same paragraph (84) “Professor McGonagall broke off” begins paragraph (109)
“right, well, I’d better pop my clogs then!” (85) “right, well, I’d better kick the bucket then!” (110)
“just don’t like being rubbish at something” (85) “just don’t like being bad at something” (111)
“That lesson was absolute rubbish compared to my” (85) “That lesson was absolute rubbish compared with my” (111) [“rubbish” same, preposition different]
“or clamped them together with bullclips” (86) “or clamped them together with binder clips” (112)
“the grey Hippogriff away from his fellows and slipped off his leather collar” (88) “the gray hippogriff away from his fellows and slipped off its leather collar” (115)
“glad not to meet anybody on their way” (92) “glad to meet nobody on their way” (120)
“But ’sonly a matter o’ time” (92) “But ’s only a matter o’ time” (120)
“he whirled right way up” (100) “he whirled upright” (131)
“I once met one that had lodged itself” (101) “I’ve even met one that had lodged itself” (133)
“So the Boggart sitting in the” (101) “So the boggart sitting in the” (133)
“Neville’s small splutter of terror” (101) “Neville’s small sputter of terror” (133)
“Red Caps” and “Kappas” (107) “Red Caps” and “kappas” (141)
“the Quaffle (a red, football-sized ball)” (108) “the Quaffle (a red, soccer-sized ball)” (143)
“‘Cracking Keeper,’ said Fred” (109) “‘Spanking Good Keeper,’ said Fred” (144)
“didn’t talk to each other all lesson” (112) “didn’t talk to each other for the whole class”(149)
“a mad urge to knock the goblet out of his” (118) “a crazy urge to knock the goblet out of his” (157)
“‘He’s barking mad,’ said Seamus” (125) “‘He’s a complete lunatic,’ said Seamus” (167)
“trifles such as thunderstorms” (131) “trifles like thunderstorms” (174)
“to stop Crookshanks sneaking up” (131) “to stop Crookshanks from sneaking up” (174)
“the changing room” (131) “the locker room” (175)
“walked out onto the pitch” (131) “walked out onto the field” (175)
“told Harry, in a hollow, dead sort of voice, that he” (137) “told Harry (in a hollow, dead sort of voice) that he” (183)
“they only knew half of what was” (137) “they knew only half of what was” (183)
“For Harry knew who that screaming” (138) “Because Harry knew who that screaming” (184)
“jerking awake only to dwell again” (138) “jerking awake to dwell again” (184)
“It was a relief to return on Monday to the noise and bustle of the main school” (138) “It was a relief to return to the noise and bustle of the main school on Monday” (184)
“Ron finally cracked, flinging a large” (138) “Ron finally cracked, and flung a large” (185)
“Harry amongst them, but –” (139) “Harry among them, but –” (186)
Italics for Marauder’s Map (144) Beautiful font for Marauder’s Map (192)
“against the wall opposite” (146) “against the opposite wall” (196)
“a jar of Cockroach Cluster” (147) “a jar of Cockroach Clusters” (197)
“Happy Christmas!” (149) “Merry Christmas!” (201)
“You know that the Dementors have searched my pub twice?” (151) “You know that the dementors have searched the whole village twice?” (203)
“that flyin’ motorbike he used to ride” (153) “that flyin’ motorbike he used to ride”(206)[same]
“twelve years which would make him” (158) “twelve years that would make him” (212)
“down the front of his leather waistcoat” (161) “down the front of his leather vest” (217)
“under an arm and heaved him, Harry helping, back into the cabin” (161) “under an arm and heaved him back into the cabin” (217)
“After a brief pause, Hermione said timidly” (163) “After a pause, Hermione said timidly” (220)
“urgh, look what they did to it” (164) “ugh, look what they did to it” (222)
“Another jumper from Mum” (165) “Another sweater from Mum” (222)
“had sent him a scarlet jumper” (165) “had sent him a scarlet sweater” (222)
“walking round and round the Firebolt” (166) “walking around and around the Firebolt” (223)
“by this news” (167) “by the news” (225)
“if that stupid great furball” (168) “if that big stupid furball” (226)
“offering the end of a large silver one to Snape” (169) “offering the end of a large silver noisemaker to Snape” (227)
“‘Tuck in!’ he advised the table” (169) “‘Dig in!’ he advised the table” (228)
“still wearing their cracker hats” (170) “still wearing their party hats” (230)
“collected his Firebolt” (171) “collected the Firebolt” (231)
“Lessons started again next day” (174) “Classes started again next day” (235)
“the shortest life-lines she had ever seen” (174) “the shortest life line she had ever seen” (235)
“Rune dictionaries” (180) “rune dictionaries” (244)
“She — er — got a bit shirty with me” (181) “She — er — got a bit shirty with me” (244)
“They drank the Butterbeer in silence” (182) “They drank the butterbeer in silence” (246)
“Close to, Harry saw that she looked almost” (185) “Close-up, Harry saw that she looked almost”(251)
“have a go on the Firebolt” (188) “have a ride on the Firebolt” (253)
“for the Quidditch pitch together” (188) “for the Quidditch field together” (253)
“Only we need to practise” (188) “We need to practise” (254)
“Patronus and wishing it was stronger” (189) “Patronus and wishing it were stronger” (255)
“Ron wants a go on the Firebolt” (189) “Ron wants a go on the Firebolt” (255) [same]
“set off for the changing rooms” (191) “set off for the locker rooms” (258)
“prepared to leave the changing rooms” (191) “prepared to leave the locker rooms” (259)
“Snitch was glittering way above the pitch” (193) “Snitch was glittering way above the field” (261)
“sprinting onto the pitch, Ron in the lead” (194) “sprinting onto the field, Ron in the lead” (262)
“‘Good on you, Harry!’ roared Seamus” (194) “‘Good for you, Harry!’ roared Seamus” (263)
“acting like Scabbers has gone on holiday or something” (196) “acting like Scabbers has gone on vacation or something” (265)
length of AAARRRGGHHHH shorter, presumably for typesetting (196) length of AAARRRGGHHH longer, presumably for typesetting (265)
“Disorientated in the total darkness” (196) “Disoriented in the total darkness” (266)
“Sir Cadogan had been sacked” (199) “Sir Cadogan had been fired” (269)
“and then I yelled, and he scarpered” (200) “and then I yelled, and he scampered” (270)
“Why did he scarper” (200) “Why did he run?” (270)
“‘Brilliant, you can help me!’ said Neville” (204) “‘Great, you can help me!’ said Neville” (277)
“SPLAT!” (206), “SPLATTER!” (207) “SPLAT.” (280), “SPLATTER.” (280)
“horrible slimy things in jars” (208) “slimy horrible things in jars” (282)
“talent on the Quidditch pitch” (209) “talent on the Quidditch field” (284)
Italics for words of Moony et al (211) different font for each of Moony et al (287)
Hagrid’s letter italicized (215) Hagrid’s letter handwritten and tearstained (291)
“whose mind was so hopelessly Mundane” (220) “whose mind was so hopelessly mundane” (298)
“their houses was at breaking-point” (222) “their houses was at the breaking point” (301)
“called Cho Chang.  Harry felt” (224) “called Cho.  Harry felt” (304)
“Wood paced the pitch” (224) “Wood paced the field” (305)
“rest of the school spill onto the lawn” (224) “rest of the school spilling onto the lawn” (305)
“‘Changing rooms,’ said Wood tersely” (224) “‘Locker rooms,’ said Wood tersely” (305)
“They walked out onto the pitch” (225) “They walked out onto the field” (305)
“of Slytherin tearing up the pitch” (225) “of Slytherin tearing up the field” (306)
“she’s streaking up the pitch” (226) “she’s streaking up the field” (307)
“the dirtiest match Harry had ever played in” (227) “the dirtiest game Harry had ever played in” (309)
You do not attack” (228) — italics “YOU DO NOT ATTACK” (309-10) — all caps
“zoomed back into the middle of the pitch” (229) “zoomed back into the middle of the field” (312)
“pouring over the barriers onto the pitch” (230) “pouring over the barriers onto the field” (312)
“trying to cram in a bit of last-minute revision” (236) “trying to cram in a bit of last-minute studying” (321)
Trelawney’s prediction in italics (238) Trelawney’s prediction in small caps (324)
Hagrid’s note in italics (239) Hagrid’s note handwritten (325)
“yeh here … go on, now …” (242) “yeh here…. Go now….” (329)
“it looked like it ends up in Hogsmeade” (247) “it looked like it was heading for Hogsmeade” (336)
“fastened over Black’s wasted wrist” (249-50) “fastened over his wasted wrist” (340)
“Then Lupin spoke in an odd voice, a voice that shook with some suppressed emotion” (252) “Then Lupin spoke, in a very tense voice” (343)
“‘Professor Lupin,’ Harry interrupted loudly, ‘what’s going–?’” (252) “‘Professor,’ Harry interrupted loudly, ‘what’s going on –?” (344)
“I haven’t been Sirius’s friend for twelve years, but I am now … let me explain …” (253) “I haven’t been Sirius’s friend, but I am now — Let me explain….” (343)
“‘Then it’s time we offered you some proof,’ said Black.  ‘You, boy — give me Peter.  Now.’” (266) “‘Then it’s time we offered you some proof,’ said Lupin.  ‘You, boy — give me Peter, please.  Now.’” (362)
“Peter for what he was straight away” (267) “Peter for what he was right away” (364)
“your parents’ house straight away” (268) “your parents’ house straight away” (365) [same]
In Chapter 20, “Sirius” used instead of “Black” In Chapter 20, “Black” almost always used
“‘Are you mad?’ said Harry, his voice easily as croaky as Sirius’” (278) “‘Are you insane?’ said Harry, his voice easily as croaky as Black’s’” (379)
“‘Run,’ Sirius whispered.  ‘Run!  Now!’” (279) “‘Run,’ Sirius whispered.  ‘Run.  Now.’” (380)
“Sirius, he’s gone” (279) “Sirius, he’s gone” (381)  [same]
“of his paws was fading to silence” (279) “of his paws faded to silence” (382)
            “Face down, too weak to move, sick and shaking, Harry opened his eyes.  The blinding light was illuminating the grass around him … The screaming had stopped, the cold was ebbing away …Something was driving the Dementors back … it was circling around him and Sirius and Hermione … the rattling, sucking sounds of the Dementors were fading.  They were leaving … the air was warm again …” (282) “Facedown, too weak to move, sick and shaking, Harry opened his eyes.  The dementor must have released him.  The blinding light was illuminating the grass around him…. The screaming had stopped, the cold was ebbing away….Something was driving the dementors back … it was circling around him and Sirius and Hermione…. They were leaving…. The air was warm again….” (385)
“saw an animal amidst the light” (282) “saw an animal amid the light” (385)
“into Buckbeak’s fierce orange eye once more” (293) “into Buckbeak’s fierce orange eyes once more” (400)
“fumble with the rope tying Buckbeak to the fence” (293) “fumble with the knot of rope tying Buckbeak to the fence” (400)
“‘I know it sounds mad,’ said Harry” (298) “‘I know it sounds crazy,’ said Harry” (407)
“bouncing along the corridor in tearing spirits, laughing his head off” (304) “bouncing along the corridor in boisterous good spirits, laughing his head off” (417)
“Says he can’ risk it happenin’ again” (308) “Says he can’t risk it happenin’ again” (422)
“Last night … I thought it was my dad” (311) “I thought it was my dad” (427)
“So you did see your father last night, Harry … you found him inside yourself” (312) “You know, Harry, in a way, you did see your father last night…. You found him inside yourself” (428)
In Chapter 22, “Sirius” is used In Chapter 22, “Sirius” remains “Sirius” [same]
“could increase, but it certainly had done” (313) “could increase, but it certainly had” (429)
“carrying a letter which was much too big” (314) “carrying a letter that was much too big” (431)
Sirius’ letter in italics (315-16) Sirius’ letter in italics (243-33) [same]
in case this falls into the wrong hands” (315) in case this owl falls into the wrong hands” (432)
some doubt about the owl’s reliability” (315) some doubt about his reliability” (432)
from Gringotts vault number seven hundred and eleven — my own” (315) from my own Gringotts vault” (433)
“bottle of hot Butterbeer in one go” (316) “bottle of hot Butterbeer in one gulp” (433)
“‘What d’you reckon?’ Ron asked the cat” (316) “‘What do’you reckon?’ Ron asked the cat” (434)
   
Goblet of Fire [a partial list] Goblet of Fire [a partial list]
“great bullying git” (51) “great bullying git” (53)  [same]
“‘Oh,’ said Ron, cottoning on.” (51) “‘Oh,’ said Ron, cottoning on.” (54) [same]
“a group of middle-aged American witches sat gossiping happily beneath a spangled banner stretched between their tents which read: The Salem Witches’ Institute” (76) “a group of middle-aged American witches sat gossiping happily beneath a spangled banner stretched between their tents that read: the salem witches’ institute” (82)
“he heard an intruder in his yard.  Says they were creeping towards the house, but they were ambushed by his dustbins” (142) “he heard an intruder in his yard.  Says he was creeping toward the house, but was ambushed by his dustbins” (159)
“What did the dustbins do?” (142) “What did the dustbins do?” (159) [same]
“what are exploding dustbins worth?” (142) “what are exploding dustbins worth?”(160) [same]
“Spotted dick, look!  Chocolate gateau!” (162) “Spotted dick, look!  Chocolate gateau!”(183) [same]
“through the doorway to the girls’ dormitories” (169) “through the doorway to the girls’ dormitory” (191)
“of West Ham football team” (169) “of the West Ham football team” (191) [“football” remains same; “the” is added]
“smelled strongly of petrol” (172) “smelled strongly of petrol” (195) [same]
“down to the Quidditch pitch tonight” (477) “down to the Quidditch field tonight” (550)
“walked out onto the pitch” (477-78) “walked out onto the field” (550)
“The Quidditch pitch was no longer smooth” (478) “The Quidditch field was no longer smooth” (550)
“you’ll have your Quidditch pitch back” (478) “you’ll have your Quidditch field back” (551)
  “‘Sher-sherbet lemon!’ he panted at it” (483)  “’Sher–sherbet lemon!’ he panted at it”(557) [same]

 

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The Joy of Index

Crockett Johnson, "How to write a book," illus. from Ruth Krauss's How to Make an EarthquakeOK, “Joy” might be the wrong word — unless we modify that title to “The Anticipatory Joy of Finishing the Index” or “The Joy of Finding a Great Index.”  Creating an index can be a mind-numbing slog, and creating it while checking proofs (as I am doing right now) doesn’t make it any more fun.  But the index is also the most important part of any book.  It’s one reason that I tend to create my indices myself.  Sure, you can hire an indexer.*  But who knows your book better than you do?

Many people will enter Crockett Johnson and Ruth Krauss: How an Unlikely Couple Found Love, Dodged the FBI, and Transformed Children’s Literature (coming fall 2012) via the index. Sure, I like to flatter myself and imagine that people will read the book from cover to cover.  But many people won’t.  The index is there to guide them.

It’s also there to guide people who have read the book, and are trying to locate something they remember reading.  We’ve all done this: OK, I know the book mentions this, but where does it mention it?

So, my index is very detailed.  For the two central characters (Johnson and Krauss), I’ve even created sub-indices.  I’ve only indexed the manuscript up to page 202, but here’s what they look like right now:

Krauss, Ruth Ida:

aesthetics of, 28, 33, 148, 153, 155

athletics of, 12, 14, 25, 68, 154

anthropology and, 51-54, 58, 63-64, 66, 69, 71, 93-94

anti-racism of, 11, 52, 64, 66, 93-94, 102, 104, 120-121, 162, 182

artistic ability of, 29-31, 124

birth of, 9

celebrity of, 187-188

childhood of, 9-15, 25-27,

childlessness of, 97-98

childlike aspects retained by, 14

death of, 102

dogs owned by, 53, 191-192

education of, 12-15, 26-31

family background of, 9-10

fan mail received by,

finances of, 28, 31, 68, 72, 111, 116, 138-139, 166, 201

friendships of, 28

health of, 11, 13, 51, 143

jobs held by, 28, 31, 39

marriages of, 39-40, 58, 68

meets CJ, 54

as mentor, 7, 124, 179-180, 189, 202

music of, 14, 26-27

narcolepsy of, 58, 100

nicknames of, 25-26

phobias and anxieties of, 12, 99, 101, 159-160

physical appearance, 4, 54, 158

political beliefs of, 11, 52, 64, 69, 79, 88, 93-94, 102, 104, 111, 120-121, 199

pseudonyms used by, 39, 189, 200

psychoanalysis and, 159-160

rapport with children, 84, 97-98, 133, 140, 142, 148, 163

religious background of, 4, 10, 13, 42

residences of, 3, 9-10, 12-14, 28, 31, 38-40, 57, 59

and sex, 31, 158

sexism faced by, 15, 39, 58, 72, 104, 127, 181

as surrogate parent,

travels of, 40-42, 51-52, 95, 187, 202

Krauss, Ruth Ida, works of:

advertising, 111, 165, 193

alternate titles for, 80, 114, 122, 126, 144, 166, 180, 182, 189

anti-racist message in, 162

audience for, 66, 96, 142, 155, 162, 170, 181-183, 188, 194

awards and honors, 111

childhood influences on, 25, 121

children’s language in, 5-6, 26, 109, 117, 122, 126, 130-131, 142, 144, 148, 153-154, 188

creative process, 5-6, 13, 72, 82-85, 98-100, 103, 117, 122, 124, 126, 140, 144, 160, 169-171, 188

editor for, 115

fiction for adults, 39, 96

imagination in, 82, 89, 126, 131

as influence, 6, 165-166, 193

innovation in, 116-117, 122-123, 126-128, 137, 140, 142-143, 153-154, 190

moral themes in, 66-67, 69-70, 93-94, 111-112, 121, 126, 130, 137, 162, 199

plays,

poetry, 38-40, 110, 154, 170, 183, 189-191, 195, 197, 199-201

promotional efforts for, 72

revisions of, 82-85, 95-96

sales of, 80, 127, 130, 138, 166, 170

on stage,

on television,

in translation and foreign editions, 120, 176

unpublished, 69, 71, 90, 93-96, 99, 116, 162-163, 169-170

see also specific works.

Leisk, David Johnson (aka Crockett Johnson):

aesthetics of, 7, 17, 24, 33, 44, 49, 68, 72-73, 149, 177-178, 185-187

athletics of, 24, 33, 46

anti-racism of, 47, 54, 79, 88, 104, 119

artistic ability of, 19

birth of, 16

carpentry of, 102, 143

celebrity of, 72, 96, 187-188

childhood of, 16-24, 189

childlessness of, 98

death of,

dogs owned by, 17, 35, 53, 102-103, 156, 191-192

education of, 17, 23-24

family background of, 16-21

fan mail received by, 71, 129

finances of, 32, 34, 44, 72, 81, 92, 147, 157

health of, 59

humor of, 19, 103, 135, 158, 177

jobs held by, 32-34, 44

manner of speaking, 19

marriages of, 35, 50, 58, 68

and mathematics, 23, 73-75

meets RK, 54

as mentor, 7, 124, 158, 180, 202

nocturnal habits of, 67-68, 73, 101-102, 155

origins of name, 16, 19

physical appearance, 4, 33, 54, 57, 149, 158, 179

political beliefs of, 18, 34-37, 43-44, 46-50, 54-56, 58-59, 63, 66, 76-77, 79, 86-88, 95, 103, 106, 108-109, 113, 119, 161, 194, 197

pseudonyms used by, 19, 21, 23, 37

religious background of, 4, 19

residences of, 3, 16-18, 20, 32-33, 35, 38, 57, 59

and sailing, 17, 68, 80, 155, 176, 179

and smoking, 24, 67, 71

as surrogate parent, 143-144

travels of, 49, 95, 187, 202

and typography, 24, 32-33, 73, 88, 176

Leisk, David Johnson (aka Crockett Johnson), works of:

advertising, 32-33, 56, 71, 134-135, 178, 193, 197

alternate titles for, 180-181, 199

animation, 79

audience for, 62-65, 71, 74, 77-78, 180, 185-186, 189

awards and honors, 178

cartoons, 193

comics, 18-22, 35-37, 43, 46-49, 53-65, 67-68, 70-74, 77, 79-82, 86-87, 90-92, 103, 106, 108-109, 113-114, 128-129, 135-137

childhood influences on, 19, 149, 157, 189

creative process, 19, 60, 67-68, 82, 98, 103, 140, 169, 173, 189

editor for, 33-34, 44-45, 49-50

editor for RK’s work, 78, 88, 124

imagination in, 5, 21, 23-24, 46, 67, 114, 148-152, 169, 171, 184, 186

illustrations for others’ work, 47, 66, 72, 78, 88, 139-142, 158

as influence, 5, 7

innovation in, 73, 140, 142-143, 145, 160-162

inventions, 124, 129, 148-149, 155, 158, 180

mathematical theorems,

moral themes in, 35-37, 43, 53-56, 58-59, 66, 75-76, 79, 161, 175-176

paintings,

promotional efforts for, 71

revisions of, 145, 154-155

on radio, 81-82, 105

sales of, 5, 6, 130, 149, 164-165, 170, 180-181, 200

on stage, 79-81, 91-93, 95-96, 104-105

on television, 148

in translation and foreign editions, 156, 176

unpublished, 91, 140-141

see also specific works.

In addition to indexing the book all the way to the end, this index may yet change in other ways — some categories may get removed, and others may be added. But the above entries are one example of how I hope to make the book useful to others.  And the level of detail represented serve as an example of why authors — if they have the stamina — should create their own indices.


* For the record, Lissa Paul and I did hire an indexer for Keywords for Children’s Literature (2011). Jon Eben Field did a fine job.  But I did my own indices for Dr. Seuss: American Icon (2004) and The Avant-Garde and American Postmodernity: Small Incisive Shocks (2002).


An extraordinary number of posts on this blog relate to the writing of this biography.  I can’t imagine that all (or even most) of them will be of interest, but, for the heartier among you, here are most of them:

Posts tagged Crockett Johnson, Ruth Krauss, or Biography may also be of interest.

Comments (2)

Preview: biography of Johnson and Krauss. First sentence & last sentence.

Crockett Johnson, "Fun at the Post Office" (from Ruth Krauss, How to Make an Earthquake)The manuscript is still going to be cut further, but — as it currently stands — here are the first and final sentences of the book.

First sentence (from the Introduction):

When a stranger knocked on Crockett Johnson’s front door one mild Friday in August 1950, he was not expecting was a visit from the FBI.

Final sentence (from the Epilogue):

There, they will find a very special house, where holes are to dig, walls are a canvas, and people are artists, drawing paths that take them anywhere they want to go.

Is that too much of a “tease”?  Yes?  Well, OK,… here’s a tiny bit more.  Each chapter begins with an epigraph from a work by Crockett Johnson or Ruth Krauss.  Here’s the first one (from the Introduction):

            “Few stories are completely perfect,” said the lion.

            “That’s true,” said Ellen, leaving the playroom. “And otherwise it’s a wonderful story. Thank you for telling it to me.”

— Crockett Johnson, The Lion’s Own Story (1963)

So, yes, technically, the first sentence is really “‘Few stories are completely perfect,’ said the lion.”  And, if we’re going to be truly precise, then I expect the last words of the book will probably come from the index.  Since the task of creating the index will not occur until after the book has been typeset, I’m not sure yet what the final entry will be, but my current guess is “Zolotow, Charlotte.”

And now, some actual news about the book:

  • Very grateful to everyone who has suggested alternate titles.  I’ve sent my leading contenders to my editor.  Should other promising suggestions come in, I will of course call his attention to them.  When we decide on the title, I will announce the winner on the blog.  Thanks to everyone who has participated!
  • Things are moving at last.  I submitted the completed manuscript at the end of 2010.  I revised it many times, with each revision turned back by the press as insufficient.  Some issues were stylistic, while others concerned length (I cut 23,000 words).  I submitted the vastly improved final version on June 16, 2011.  As of this past Friday (August 26), I learned that it is now going to the copyeditor, who — in addition to copyediting — will help trim the manuscript further.  Earlier this month, I received an epic Author’s Questionnaire: I turned in all 25 pages of it today.  Also last week, I received (form the press) the sorts of queries that signal a project moving into the next phase.  I’d mislabeled a couple of images; three other images were at scanned at too low a resolution (and so I’m working on getting hi-res ones); there were a few questions about permissions (now resolved); and so on.
  • The above is good news, but it also means that the publication date will not be April 2012 (as I’d initially reported), nor June 2012 (as I’d next reported).  Expect the book no sooner than August or September of 2012.  Thank you for your continued patience!

And thanks to everyone who has helped!  The Acknowledgements lists literally hundreds of people, some of whom are no longer with us.  Thank you to all!

Should you have the stamina, you might wish to peruse the abundance of other posts tagged…

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Professional Autodidact; or, How I Became a Children’s Literature Professor

I teach children’s literature, write books about children’s literature, and direct a graduate program in children’s literature.  But I’ve never taken a single course in children’s literature, neither as a graduate student nor as an undergraduate student.  I have no formal training in the field of my alleged expertise.

So, in the words of David Byrne, “You may ask yourself: well, how did I get here?”1

Children’s literature is the reason that I became an English Ph.D., but I did not realize that until well after I earned the degree. Children’s literature made me a reader. Since I liked reading, I became an English major. Realizing, as a college junior, that reading books and writing papers was far more appealing than seeking a “real job,” I applied to graduate programs in English. Though I enjoyed writing an honors thesis on William Faulkner, the books of early childhood were more important: they instilled in me a love of reading. So, don’t blame The Sound and the Fury. Blame Crockett Johnson’s Harold and the Purple Crayon, Jeff Brown’s Flat Stanley, Judy Blume’s Tales of a Fourth-Grade Nothing, and Dr. Seuss’s Green Eggs and Ham.

A chapter of my dissertation was on Dr. Seuss. That chapter — “Dada Knows Best: Growing Up ‘Surreal’ with Dr. Seuss” — became my first conference paper (1997) and, in its revised form, my first published article (1999).2  Until I wrote that chapter, I had not been aware that one could do scholarly work on children’s literature. Vanderbilt University’s Department of English did not (and, as far as I know, still does not) offer courses in the subject. The late Nancy Walker had done some work on children’s literature, but I was unaware of this fact until after I received the Ph.D.

Though there are more opportunities for graduate study in children’s literature now, many of us in the field are autodidacts. Appropriate, perhaps, that the book that inspired me to take children’s literature seriously was written by two non-experts: Judith and Neil Morgan’s Dr. Seuss and Mr. Geisel: A Biography (1995). Before reading it, I hadn’t known that Dr. Seuss was a political cartoonist.  Or that, during World War II, he’d worked with Chuck Jones on the Private SNAFU cartoons.  Fascinating stuff.

The Avant-Garde and American Postmodernity: Small Incisive ShocksMy move into children’s literature began by chance, but became pragmatic. The Seuss chapter was the only part of the dissertation on children’s literature. The book version, The Avant-Garde and American Postmodernity: Small Incisive Shocks (2002), included a second children’s lit chapter (on Chris Van Allsburg). The other chapters were on (mostly) American literature and music for grown-ups: Nathanael West, Djuna Barnes, Donald Barthelme, Don DeLillo, Laurie Anderson, Leonard Cohen.  When I got the degree, I thought I was a twentieth-century Americanist.

But I couldn’t get the time of day as a twentieth-century Americanist, much less an MLA interview.  So, I reasoned, if I market myself as both a twentieth-century Americanist and a Children’s Lit specialist, then I ought to increase my odds of finding that elusive academic gig. This decision to publish and present in both fields seemed to help. Two years after receiving the degree, I had my first MLA interviews: two in children’s literature, and one for teaching with technology (I’ve had a website since 1997). Though I then only had one refereed article on children’s literature (“Dada Knows Best”), that piece plus two other under-consideration children’s literature essays — one a new Seuss essay, and the other on Crockett Johnson — proved persuasive enough to get me one campus visit. I used the Crockett Johnson piece for the job talk, and spoke of my plan to write a biography of Johnson. The combination of my slender publication record, plans for future projects — coupled, of course, with a native ability to bluff — worked. During that hiring cycle (1999-2000), I finally landed a tenure-track job … at the university where I still teach today.

For a time, I thought I would remain active in both fields.  But, as the chart below indicates, it proved impossible to keep up in both children’s literature and twentieth-century/contemporary American literature.

Gratuitous Chart of Philip Nel's Scholarly Work in Its First Decade

Books written or edited by Philip Nel, as of 2011

I taught my last “20th-Century American” class (a seminar on Don DeLillo) in 2001.  Although I continue to venture beyond books for young readers, first and foremost I am a scholar of children’s literature.

It’s taken some time for me to become comfortable making such a claim. I am a scholar of children’s literature, but I am also keenly aware of how much I don’t know about children’s literature.  On the one hand, this can be a source of anxiety (Aaah! I’m unqualified!). On the other, it can be a source of inspiration (Hooray! So much to discover!). Though I’m more inspired than anxious, one hazard of autodidacticism is acute consciousness of one’s status as disciplinary outsider.  Since I never studied it formally, I’m not always sure what I should have mastered by now; since the field is so vast, I know I’ll never master it all.

Happily, one benefit of graduate school is learning how to learn.  So, I read the relevant scholarly books and articles, regularly attend the children’s literature conferences,3 and read lots of children’s books — which, after all, is the reason I chose this line of work in the first place.


1. Talking Heads, “Once in a Lifetime,” Remain in Light (Sire/Warner Bros., 1980).

2. The conference: Second Biennial Conference on Modern Critical Approaches to Children’s Literature, Nashville, TN, 11 April 1997.  The publication: Children’s Literature 27 (1999): 150-184.

3. I go to the Children’s Literature Association, and the International Research Society for Children’s Literature.  The former is the big North American one (ChLA is international, but most members are from the U.S. or Canada); the latter is the big international one.  There are others, of course — regional ones, and ones that develop from other disciplines, such as Library Science or Education.  So, look around and find the ones that intrigue you the most.


Note: You can also read this essay on the Children’s Literature Association’s “Scholarly Resources” page — scroll down to “Pursuing a Degree in Children’s Literature” (the items are in alphabetical order).  There, you will also find a great autobiographical essay by Marah Gubar.  Its title? “All That David Copperfield Kind of Crap.”  Check it out!

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How to Publish Your Article

The sequel (or prequel?) to “How to Publish Your Book,” here’s something else they don’t always teach you in graduate school.  As in that earlier post, this is what has worked for me.  Results may vary.

Please note: the advice below derives from my experience as an English professor who specializes in children’s literature.  This advice will be most applicable to those in English/Modern Languages and, more generally, the Humanities.  If you’re working within a different discipline, then please consult someone in that field.

1. How do I know when my article is ready to send out?

GlassesThe short answer is when it’s in the best possible shape it can be in.

The longer answer is if you’re not sure what that shape looks like, then seek help.  If you’re an assistant professor or adjunct, then seek help from a colleague — at your current or former institution — or from a colleague you’ve met at a conference.  If you’re a graduate student, ask a professor.  Or ask a graduate student who’s already published something.  Have people whose advice you trust — and whose writing you admire — critique the article.  What works?  What doesn’t?  What isn’t clear?  But don’t revise endlessly: Set yourself a deadline for revising it, make the essay as tightly focused and as clearly written as you can, and then send it out.

2. Where do I send my article?

ChLAQ 35.4 (Winter 2010) cover: Winter and Ford's BarackWhat journals cover the subject of your article?  If you’re not sure, you might look at the journals you consulted during your research.  You might also seek advice from someone else in the field — if you’re a graduate student, then perhaps from a professor.  After you’ve a list of possibilities, read some articles in each journal and think about which would be the best fit.  In the field of children’s literature, some journals you might consider include: Children’s Literature, The Lion and the Unicorn, The Children’s Literature Association Quarterly, Children’s Literature in Education, The New Review of Children’s Literature and Librarianship, and Jeunesse (formerly Canadian Children’s Literature).  That’s by no means an exhaustive list.  For a more complete (if decade-old) list, see Wally Hastings and Michael Joseph’s page of Journals that publish articles on children’s literature theory and criticism.

Two other general principles:

  1. Aim high and then settle.  That is, if you think the article can be published in the top journal in your field, then send it there first.  If that journal doesn’t like it, its editors will let you know.  And you can move on to the next one.
  2. Publish widely and well. If this is your second (or third, fourth, etc.) article, consider sending it to a different journal.  It’s a-OK to publish more than one piece in the same journal (especially if it’s a good one), but publishing in more than one place (especially good ones) shows that your work has been approved by multiple venues.

3. What does a cover letter look like?

Nearly all submissions happen on-line, so this is probably a cover email rather than a cover letter.  Here’s my most recent one, sent to American Quarterly on 2 August 2010:

Dear Editors,

I am attaching “Was the Cat in the Hat Black?: Seuss and Race in the 1950s.”  I’m also attaching a document containing images.  I’ve read your guidelines concerning images, and — should the article meet the needs of American Quarterly — I will (of course) send hi-res scans and obtain all necessary permissions.

Should you have any questions about the manuscript (or the images), please don’t hesitate to contact me.  Thank you.

Sincerely yours,

Philip Nel

[followed by full contact info.]

As you can see, the letter is brief and to the point.

4. The journal’s guidelines ask for Chicago citation style. I’ve used MLA style. Do I have to re-format my article?

Yes.  Follow all of the journal’s guidelines, including suggested page length.  It’s not that hard to switch from MLA to Chicago, or Chicago to MLA, or any of the other styles.  It may not be especially exciting work, but it’s simple enough.  Do it.  And you may as well save a copy in your original citation format — just so you have it.

 

5. I’ve sent it in.  Now what?

First, the journal should acknowledge receipt of your work.  Generally, this happens within a week, perhaps even within a few days.  If a month passes or even a couple of weeks pass without acknowledgment, then follow up.  If more time than that passes, then follow up again.  If you reach six weeks or so and there’s not yet been any acknowledgment, then write again, politely informing the journal that you have decided to submit your article elsewhere.  Each time you correspond, you should include the record of your correspondence — easiest way to do this (in email) is by simply forwarding the earlier one each time, and appending your latest query to the top of the message.

You can, of course, wait longer than six weeks.  Perhaps it’s a very prestigious journal, and you feel it’s worth the wait.  That’s up to you.  But the essay is your intellectual property, and it deserves to be treated with respect.

 

6. When should I expect to hear from the journal?

American Quarterly 62.3Three to four months after it sends your article out for review.  Some journals take longer, and some are more swift.  On the longer side, American Quarterly now takes 6-8 months just to decide whether to send out the article to reviewers.  On the shorter side, the editor of a special issue is most likely to offer the most prompt response.  Indeed, the fastest way to get published in a journal is through a special issue: it allows you to bypass the journal’s backlog of unpublished articles.

If three months pass, and you’ve not yet heard from the journal, then follow up.  Be polite and brief.

Dear [person at journal],

With apologies for bothering you at a busy time of the term, I thought I would follow up.  Have you any sense of when we might receive readers’ reports on my manuscript?

Thanks in advance for any information you may have.

Best regards,

[your name, contact info., etc.]

The journal will then follow up with the reader(s).  As a reader myself, I find these follow-up emails very helpful.  I get overwhelmed with work, and I use urgency to bump this task up my to-do list.  So, when I get a “where is the reader’s report?” email, I get right on it.

Two related points:

  1. You can withdraw your article. Depending on how tardy the response, you might decide to withdraw your article from consideration.  When?  That depends on how prestigious the journal is and how long you’re willing to wait.  It’s reasonable to expect readers’ reports within three to six months time.  This is your intellectual labor: if the journal isn’t treating it (and thus you) with sufficient respect, then take your submission elsewhere.
  2. One journal at a time. Very important: you must withdraw the article from consideration at Tardy Journal before submitting it to another journal.  You’re not allowed to have the same article under consideration at more than one place.

In case you’re curious: yes, I have withdrawn work and submitted it elsewhere.  In one case, I withdrew work from a proposed essay collection (the editors of which were not responding as swiftly as I’d liked) and submitted it to a journal’s special issue — where, in short order, the essay was published.

So.  Be proactive!

7. I heard back from the journal!  What do I do now?

That all depends on the response.  There are four possible ones.

  1. Accepted.  In this case, express your delight to the editor, make the (presumably minor) editorial and typographical changes you need to make, and do whatever you need to do to prepare the piece for publication.  For example, are there images you wish to include?  If so, start seeking permissions immediately — image permissions can take months to obtain.  And, of course, update the entry on your CV to indicate “Forthcoming,” along with the article’s page length in manuscript form.  And pat yourself on the back.
  2. Accepted with revisions.  Make the revisions.  Cede the point when you can, and hold your ground when you need to.  But do your best to address the readers’ concerns.  Accept the helpful advice with gratitude and respond graciously to the less helpful ones.  Important: Respond onlyto the content and never to the tone.  Sometimes, a reader’s report can be snarky or sarcastic or even cruel.  This isn’t the norm, but it does happen.  In those cases, remember that your objective is to publish this article.  Viewing an obnoxious reader’s report as an invitation to verbal sparring may be emotionally satisfying for you, but it will not help you achieve your objective.  So: don’t go there.  Be professional.  If you’re worried about your tone, have a friend or colleague read your note before sending.
    • As you make revisions or after you complete them, you might consider creating a separate document in which you sketch a map of your changes.  You don’t have to do this, and it may be that the cover letter will provide you enough space to indicate where changes have been made.  But one thing I’ve done (though I do it much more rarely now than I used to) is indicate how I specifically responded to the reader’s suggestions by pointing out where, in my article, I made the changes.
  3. Revise and resubmit.  If you get this response, you have two choices.  If you feel that the reviewer is completely missing the point, then perhaps this isn’t the journal for you.  Thank the editor, withdraw your piece and submit it elsewhere.  More often than not, though, I’d advise you to pursue the other choice — revise and resubmit.  If the reader has suggested that you revise and resubmit, then he or she sees some potential in your work… but your piece is just not yet where it needs to be.  You will likely have to do some fairly extensive revisions — rewriting sections, throwing parts out, creating new parts.  But you’ll learn something and, in the process, will improve your essay.  See the “Accepted with revisions” guidelines above.
  4. Reject.  Three choices.  If you think the journal is wrong, then send the piece out to a different journal.  Or, first, make a few revisions and then send the piece out a different venue.  The first journal to which I sent “‘Said a Bird in the Midst of a Blitz…’: How World War II Created Dr. Seuss” rejected it — and took its time in doing so.  I then sent the piece to Mosaic, where it appeared in a special issue.  If the essay is important to you, your second option is to revise the piece and then submit it again — either to this journal or to another.  The third option is to put it aside for now.  Work on something else.  Perhaps, in time, you’ll return to this piece, and be able to salvage what’s salvageable.  Perhaps you won’t.  But don’t fret too much about one article.  You’ll write others.  The main thing is that you learn why this one isn’t working so that you don’t repeat those mistakes in other essays.

8. How much do journals pay you?

In the Humanities, they don’t.  If your work appears in an edited collection, then you should expect to receive a copy of the book.  Again, though, getting paid for contributing is rare.  If you’re writing an essay for a reference work, you’re likely to get paid but not get a copy of the book.  That depends: sometimes I’ve been paid for those, and other times I just get a copy of the book.  And “payment” is fairly loosely defined.  “Payment” can be a certain $ amount of books from the publisher’s catalogue.

9. When will it appear in the journal?

As indicated above, if it’s in a special issue, then quite soon — as soon as a couple of months.  But that’s the best-case scenario.  More likely, your essay will not appear for at least a year.  If the journal has a backlog of accepted essays, you may wait for several years.  You can still mark the piece as “Forthcoming” on your CV, of course.

10. Geez.  That seems like a lot of work just to get something published.

Yes, it does.  But, as is the case with many things, the more you do it, the better you get at it.  If this is something you want to achieve, then persist. To quote the Desmond Dekker song, “You can get it if you really want, but you must try, try and try, try and try… you’ll succeed at last.”

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