This week I’m meeting at Cranbrook with a class of seniors, discussing children’s lit: what it is, what it probably definitely isn’t, and how do we read it?

Yesterday we talked about Kissing the Bee, its various narrative points of view, its apian through-line, and how many of us there in the room had stuck with a friendship and/or relationship long after it had essentially changed past saving (just about all of us). Today we dissected the role of marketing in publishing, with emphasis on cover art and what it’s really for, a paperback original’s usual shelf life (eyes widened at this information), and the process that moves an idea born in the writer’s head into your hands, between those covers. I showed them some foreign edition covers for straydog, and how each seemed to represent an utterly different text. (The South Korean edition is due soon; there’s an Italian edition I’ve seen online, but as yet have not received a copy.) We also looked at the hardcover and paperback versions of Talk and parsed their differing design, what the covers emphasized (or didn’t), and what readers might be attracted to each edition.

Tomorrow we’re going to talk fairy tales. I plan on reading from two versions of “Red Riding Hood,” one I wrote as a retelling for adults, one for kids; the elasticity of myth!

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