Thursday, November 21, 2013
A commission and funding from Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge made possible the collaboration described in Jan Greenberg and Sandra Jordan’s Ballet for Martha: Making Appalachian Spring. Fast forward to today, and the Martha Graham Dance Company is running a Kickstarter campaign to make possible a new collaboration, this time with choreographer Nacho Duato. If the process in Ballet for Martha was interesting to you, then here’s a chance to see something like it from the inside, and for less than it cost Elizabeth Coolidge; for $20 (or more), donors will be able to watch a rehearsal via live streaming video. I feel lucky to have been able to watch the Company rehearse while I was working on Ballet for Martha and am glad to think of other people getting the chance, too. And even if you don’t watch the rehearsal, the campaign still gives those interested the chance to help some great artists create new work. You can take a look at the campaign, including a video that shows more of what this new piece will be about, here.
Friday, November 8, 2013
Thank you to the Times, thank you to this year’s Best Illustrated jury, and congratulations to all the other illustrators on the list! It’s an honor to be in their company!
Above, the masthead of the Times as it appeared in the 1860s, the era of Locomotive—back when New York was New-York. (More on that, here.)
Thursday, October 24, 2013
Wednesday, October 23, 2013
A new Emily Dickinson archive is online today, here. (An article about the archive appears in today’s New York Times, here.) At the archive you can find Dickinson’s poem “I like to see it lap the miles”:
And lick the valleys up,
And stop to feed itself at tanks;
And then, prodigious, step
And, supercilious, peer
In shanties by the sides of roads;
And then a quarry pare
Complaining all the while
In horrid, hooting stanza;
Then chase itself down hill
Then, punctual as a star,
Stop docile and omnipotent
At its own stable door.
The poem never says what “it” is, but you can guess, I think. Dickinson wrote the poem in or around 1862—by coincidence or not, the year Abraham Lincoln signed the Pacific Railroad Act. “I like to see it lap the miles” and two other poems—Walt Whitman’s poems “To a Locomotive in Winter” and “Passage to India”— are mentioned in the author’s note in Locomotive as examples of the train’s once commanding place in the culture.
Friday, October 18, 2013
For teachers and librarians interested in using Locomotive in the classroom, or for readers just interested in digging a little further into the book, a page of Teacher Resources is online from Simon & Schuster, here. These include a (Common Core-friendly) curriculum guide. (The direct link for that PDF is here.) A review and a collection of links, resources, teaching ideas, and other relevant titles is also on the blog The Classroom Bookshelf, in a post by Erika Thulin Dawes, here. Thanks to S&S and the Classroom Bookshelf for the thoughtful attention!
Above: a painting of the train leaving the station. This page eventually became a spread, and so this painting wasn't used.
Thursday, October 3, 2013
Life on the road touring for Locomotive has me late in posting some review news for the book. First, thank you to Shelf Awareness for a starred review of the book that appeared last month, here. “[R]eaders will want to board this locomotive again and again,” concludes the review. And now I’m happy to see Locomotive on a list, here, of books receiving starred reviews in October’s issue of The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books. The BCCB asks, “So, how much do you want to know about America’s first transcontinental railroad? Just the general picture?” In which case a reader might go through the book and simply enjoy the “poetic account” of a family’s trip. Or, “if you’re truly among the nerdiest of train nerds,” you can dig into author’s notes and endpapers and “compare the engines underway in the main text with the innards in the diagram” and so on. The idea that the book can operate on different levels for different readers is one I’m very glad to read. Thanks again, Shelf Awareness, and thank you, BCCB!
Above: a doubleheader pulling out of Truckee, California. Two engines for two reviews.