Fuse 8 n' Kate


Two sisters, one in L.A. and one in NYC, both move to the Chicago area and start a podcast. The premise? Picture books and are they really that great? Join Kate and Fuse 8 (Betsy Bird) as they track down a picture book "classic" each episode and try to determine if it deserves to remain in the canon of children's literature. Profile image by Andrea Tsurumi


United States


Two sisters, one in L.A. and one in NYC, both move to the Chicago area and start a podcast. The premise? Picture books and are they really that great? Join Kate and Fuse 8 (Betsy Bird) as they track down a picture book "classic" each episode and try to determine if it deserves to remain in the canon of children's literature. Profile image by Andrea Tsurumi








Episode 258 - Will Spring Be Early? Or Will Spring Be Late?

Considering the fact that (A) Groundhog Day is this week and yet (B) we have never done a Groundhog Day episode, that gave us the impetus to tackle a groundhogian classic. But which one? With all the choices we decided to pluck out this title by the guy who brought us Harold and the Purple Crayon. Like that book it indulges in a limited color palette and Johnson's characteristic drawing style. As such, prepare for long discussions on precisely what the Groundhog Day rule actually means,...


Episode 257 - Arnie the Doughnut

Hat tip to author/artist Jerrold Connors for realizing, long before we did, that Arnie the Doughnut would hit its 20th anniversary here in 2023. At last we can tackle the story of a sentient pastry and his longing for meaning in a cold, hungry world. Since its initial publication, the book has managed to create sequels, a musical, graphic novel/early chapter books, and more. But will it stand up to Kate's scrutiny? Betsy rants about New York City doughnuts and why they suck, how Arnie both...


Episode 256 - Caldecott Contenders

It's that time of the year again! A week from today we'll see what books have officially won Caldecotts, Newberys, and other sundry awards at the ALA YMA announcements (visible here). Betsy will also be doing a Pre-Game announcement of all kinds of possible wins. But before that, we've an annual tradition here at Fuse 8 n' Kate where Betsy presents Kate three potential winners and she considers which ones have the best chance. This year Kate feels that there is one clear cut winner . . . and...


Episode 255 - Anansi and the Moss-Covered Rock

KPOM! It was a storytime staple for Betsy back when she was a children's librarian. But how has this 1988 picture book stood up over the intervening years? Today it's time to accompany our previous spider-filled picture book The Spider and the Fly with another eight-legged potential classic. We've done one other Eric A. Kimmel book on the podcast before (remember Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins?). In spite of the sheer number of times I've read this book, Kate finds PLENTY of details in...


Episode 254 - Bear Snores On

While we acknowledge that the year 2023 has arrived, we could resist considering one last 2002 title. As you know, we've a cap on considering any book younger than 20 years old, and as of 2022 this Wilson/Chapman collab fit the bill. It's cold outside and a story of FOMO and snuggly bear caves seemed to fit the bill. We consider the book that launched a thousand other Bear books. Anyone who can rhyme "lair" with "bear" has earned our trust. Show Notes: If you'd like to read the interview...


Episode 253 - The Night Before Christmas

We may already be past Christmas technically, but what a day or two delay? Thanks to the recent winter storms we got a tad delayed in releasing this episode, but better late than never. Today we return, once again, to the world of Tasha Tudor. Last time we considered one of her books we were examining her A Time to Keep (a favorite of Betsy's, Kate ... not so much). There are many different iterations of Clement C. Moore's classic poem, but how many take the man at his word and decide to...


Episode 252 - Laughing Latkes

Betsy actually went out and purchased a copy of today's book a year ago and has been holding onto it just for this time of year. Granted, it's not Hanukkah for a couple weeks now, but our schedule is a little sporadic this month so no time like the present! This week we consider what, in some ways, might be the flipside of another Hanukkah book we did a number of years ago, The Latke Who Couldn't Stop Screaming. Screaming or laughing, the real question here is this: Do you put applesauce or...


Episode 251 - The Stupids Step Out

It's not every podcast episode where Kate is capable of turning me around, 360 degrees, on a title that I thought I had an opinion on. On paper a book by the guys that brought us Viola Swamp and that uses the term "Stupid" to great effect should be one of my favorite titles. What I didn't understand was that in spite of appearing on ALA's Banned List for a long time, it actually has a great number of problems. It's possible it really hasn't aged well... and not in the ways you might expect....


Episode 250 - Best Word Book Ever

It's our 250th Episode!! You know, when we first started this podcast we didn't really have a plan in terms of how long it might go. Nor did I lay out a carefully considered explanation from the start of which books we would do, and in what order. All we had was the premise, a catchy theme song, and an unending supply of titles to choose from. Case In Point: We have never done a Richard Scarry book before. Can you believe it? It's true though. You see Richard Scarry's best known books are...


Episode 249 - The Story of the Little Mole Who Went in Search of Whodunit

If you looked at the title of this week's podcast book and thought to yourself, "I've never even heard of that one before" then you may know what time it is . . . IT'S CULT CLASSIC TIME! With periodic regularity Kate and Betsy will discuss on Fuse 8 n' Kate those picture books that are, as they like to call them, "cult classics". That means that they are popular with some segment of the audience, if not the entire world. Today that "segment of the audience is" [checks notes] Germany. Yup....


Episode 248 - The Dinosaurs of Waterhouse Hawkins

We heard the call and we have responded! It was noted by more than one reader that we've done very few nonfiction picture books on our podcast. We did do So You Want to Be President earlier this year back in February but that was pretty much it. So today, we consider a book produced back in 2001. We know that the standards to which we hold nonfiction picture books has changed in the intervening 21 years. So how does this particular title stand up today? Spoiler Alert: Surprisingly well!...


Episode 247 - My Mama Says There Aren't Any Zombies ...

Happy Halloween! It's the last day of October and that means a final spooky scary picture book is up for discussion. Hat tip to Stephanie Lucianovic for suggesting today's title. Kate and Betsy learn that apparently Judith Viorst is a big time fan of extra long titles (something that was hinted at when she created Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day). In today's book they see some seriously fashion forward footwear and hats, the true horror of cream cheese sandwiches,...


Episode 246 - Go Away, Big Green Monster!

"It's like Candyman if instead of saying his name three times you just called into existence each of his bodyparts." Man. Insult upon injury, today's book. Does the reader really have to call Big Green Monster's hair "scraggly"? That's just wrong, dude. Today Betsy introduces Kate to her very first Ed Emberley book. Sure, it's not terribly Halloween-ish, but it's not NOT Halloweenish, amiright? They consider the ways in which Emberley both invokes a scary monster without making it too scary...


Episode 245 - Matilda Who Told Lies and Was Burned to Death

As Halloween draws closer and closer, we delve deeper and deeper into the macabre. We kicked off the month of October with Edward Gorey. Now we're following him up with his spiritual cousin, none other than Hilaire Belloc himself. We're looking at two different editions of the Struwwelpeter-inspired (surely) poem Matilda, Who Told Lies and Was Burned to Death. One edition, illustrated by Steven Kellogg, was produced in 1970. The other, created in 1991 (and originally published in Great...


Episode 244 - The Little Scarecrow Boy

Proof positive that not everything found in a trunk is gold. Kate's on the hunt for books for Halloween so we took a suggestion and delved into this "lost treasure" from the trunk o' manuscripts of the late Margaret Wise Brown. Betsy will confess to you right here and now that she's kinda out of good Halloween titles to do, so if you have ANY suggestions of other picture book Halloween classics, please oh please suggest them now. We discuss a gender-bent version of Wizard of Oz, why Margaret...


Episode 243 - The Shrinking of Treehorn

"I'm Benjamin Buttoning over here!" When they're not talking about crystal flutes and harmoniums, Kate and Betsy discuss their very first Halloween-seasoned title on this week's episode of Fuse 8 n' Kate. Betsy was charged with coming up with another potential classic for the Halloween season, and now she has located an illustrator who may honestly be called "the granddaddy of haunted books". He didn't do many picture books . . . for children. But occasionally he did one or two when someone...


Episode 242 - And Tango Makes Three

Banned Books Week may have happened last week, but sadly that doesn't mean that the nationwide scourge of banning has ended. Far from it. As such, we felt like consideration of this, "the granddaddy of the book banned", was long overdue. Interestingly, even though Kate hadn't seen the book before, she took one look at it and said it was "the gay penguins book". So it's clearly in the cultural zeitgeist. We talk Happy Feet, whether or not Tango was actually named after Tango & Cash ("if she'd...


Episode 241 - Beautiful Blackbird

Though normally we limit ourselves on the Fuse 8 n' Kate podcast to books that were published at least 20 years ago, we look at a book today that is (restrain your gasps) 19 years old. Worth it. I mean, who could possibly fault us? Ashley Bryan was a living saint of children's literature. Kate points out that with the current racist responses to the Black Little Mermaid, our choice of book today is timely in its cry of "Black is beautiful!" We get into a discussion of what can be considered...


Episode 240 - Olivia Saves the Circus

Having failed to secure a THIRD strawberry-related picture book this week (not for lack of trying) we turn to a heroine we've only seen once before in our previous Olivia episode. The first time Betsy introduced Kate to Olivia shje was shocked by how much Kate liked the little pig. Recall, if you will, that Kate has a tendency to dislike bratty heroines. Olivia, by some unexpected roll of the dice, apparently passes muster. Today's book includes one of our favorite exchanges between a...


Episode 239 - The Little Mouse, the Red Ripe Strawberry, and the Big Hungry Bear

We promised you additional strawberries and additional strawberries you shall have! We start off with a bang on the podcast this week with a fun quiz: Who would you cast in the live action version of three different picture books? Then, we go back to this great work of Don and Audrey Wood, last seen on this podcast in episodes about The Napping House and King Bidgood’s in the Bathtub. Today’s post features a strawberry book that isn’t quite as strange as The Grey Lady and the Strawberry...