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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

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


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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 168 - Guess How Much I Love You

There is a certain type of picture book that can be best described as a Love It or Loathe It title. These are books that some people adore with their whole heart without irony. And there are books that some people loathe deep down to their very souls without apology. It had been a long time since Betsy had handed Kate a Giving Tree or Rainbow Fish. So how would she react to this particular old chestnut? Published in 1994 in Great Britain and 1995 in the States, few would contest that this...


Episode 167 - Caldecott Contenders

Betsy already loved all three of today's potential Caldecott Award winners down to the cold cockles of her shriveled little heart. The track record on this show hasn’t been too shabby either. In 2020 Kate and Betsy identified Going Down Home With Daddy as a winner (just don’t ask how they did in 2019). In the course of this recording the sisters discover that the most amusing way to talk about the information at the end of a book is to say “backmatterbackmatterbackmatterbackmatter”. Kate...


Episode 166 - Miss Rumphius

After one of our listeners made the point that the bulk of books we've done on our podcast have been illustrated by male artists we've been trying to make a conscious effort to increase the number of women we read. And WHAT book, I ask you, could have more classic potential than Barbara Cooney's best known? We talk invasive species, seed bombing, how nice it is to read a book that doesn't call a single woman a spinster, and why it is that Maine loves its children's book creators more than...


Episode 165 - Emmet Otter's Jug-Band Christmas

"Christmas was coming, and money was more scarce than ever." How we hadn't thought to do this picture book for the Christmas holiday season yet is beyond us. Betsy simply adores the Jim Henson adaptation of this book . . . and Kate loathes it. Knowing that, Betsy still gave her the book and the two discover that this is the ultimate 2020 COVID Christmas title. I mean, what other holiday book can you name where the characters actually say, "Maybe Christmas next year will be better." In the...


Episode 164 - Latkes and Applesauce

Happy Hanukkah! Having read the recent PW Children's Bookshelf announcement that a new edition of Latkes and Applesauce by Fran Manushkin is due to be republished in 2022, I thought this might be the perfect time to revisit the old book. The announcement said it was a classic, so we figured we'd check and see how well it had stood up so far. Along the way we also cover how "Big Latke" got to Kate, TBD dogs and cats, what Daveed Diggs has to do with Hanukkah, and why Betsy probably shouldn't...


Episode 163 - Marvin K. Mooney Will You Please Go Now!

An orange fellow is told to leave over and over and over again. So it clearly has nothing to do with the state of the world today. As we mention on today’s podcast episode, when it finally occurred to Betsy to have Kate read this book, she was slightly worried that maybe it would no longer be timely. HA HA! No worries there! We go through all the political ties it has had to world leaders, and Kate brings up the peculiar aspect of watching someone berate a little cute guy into leaving. I...


Episode 162 - Cranberry Thanksgiving

We don't care what any of you say. Sweet potatoes shall never cross these Thanksgiving plates of ours. To celebrate the season, though we all know it's pared down terribly this year, Kate requested a Thanksgiving picture book classic. We got some great suggestions from our readers all of which Betsy is placing on the back burner for next year. That's because this year she's doing a book circa 1971. In the course of things, Kate creates a shocking backstory worthy of V.C. Andrews while Betsy...


Episode 161 - Freight Train

Last week Betsy gave Kate a book so chock full of details that one listener said it was the literary equivalent of The House on the Rock. In other words, just STUFFED full of stuff. This week, Betsy went an entirely different direction. She'd been avoiding doing Freight Train by Donald Crews on the podcast for a while. Why? Because it is an exceedingly simple title. Almost pure in its limited elements. And, to be frank, she couldn't figure out what Kate could possibly think to talk about....


Episode 160 - Animalia

Betsy's attempts to break Kate go nowhere this week, even when the book is being discussed is the most detail-heavy title of this podcast to date. Now Kate starts off this episode saying that she does NOT want to talk about the presidential race. Indeed, this was recorded on Thursday, and you all know how different the world was then. Quote Kate, she just wanted to do a book about "cute cats and slugs". And for the first time ever, that is a request Betsy can accommodate. The end result is...


Episode 159 - Madeline's Rescue

The first time Kate encountered Madeline, she did not care for her. But what if she encountered yet ANOTHER Madeline title? Would she like it better? Before selecting this week's book, Betsy hadn't remembered that there is significantly less Madeline inside of it. Will that help or hurt the book's chances of becoming a classic? Betsy and Kate spend an inordinate amount of time saying "Lord Cucuface", discuss "the happiness of a father of a husband", and tackle why the ending of this book...


Episode 158 - The Tailypo

I've saved the scariest book this month for last! "I'm not saying that Spooky Old Tree doesn't give you the jim-jams (because it doesn't), but ..." It's our very first Paul Galdone too! Took us long enough to get to him. As Kate says of today's book, "Well, THAT didn't end how I thought it would!" We discuss how this book relates to the film Best in Show, why my Tailypo imitation is a little too Gollum-esque, and why this may be the first book we've ever done on the show that ends with...


Episode 157 - The Stranger

Spooky season continues here on the podcast. Interestingly Betsy had never done a Chris Van Allsburg book with Kate for October before. Every year she has to come up with spooky classic picture books, and today's was a recommendation from one of the fans (that would be their mom). It's less spooky than it is autumnal, but that's okay. Show Notes: The 12-foot-tall skeleton that Home Depot was selling is not something Kate made up. May we all be worthy enough to own it someday. See it here:...


Episode 156 - The Berenstain Bears and the Spooky Old Tree

Not long ago Betsy ran across an article in the Deseret News that was called "How a breakup led to winning a Newbery Honor for this Utah author". It's all about Newbery Honor winning writer Christian McKay Heidicker (who created Scary Stories for Young Foxes and this year's Thieves of Weirdwood by "William Shivering"). In the course of the article it mentions that Mr. Heidicker has been and continues to be a huge fan of The Spooky Old Tree by Stan and Jan Berenstain. And, naturally, since...


Episode 155 - The Island of the Skog

The spooky season begins with our first October surprise! Kate points out that this book is definitely relatable in 2020. "I'm tired of living in a hole." Aren't we all? Who wouldn't want to escape to a tropical isle? This is the book that also contains the world's saddest sentence: "I decided it was better to be alone than to be afraid." Oh, honey. Kate and Betsy talk about everything from how a mouse could milk a goat to the surprising cameo of Slimer from The Ghostbusters. Show Notes:...


Episode 154 - It Could Always Be Worse

Good Yuntif! The show has never celebrated this holiday on the show before, but this week Kate and Betsy decided to do something extra special. That something special comes in the form of special guest star, Erica Perl! And when it came to suggesting a book, the answer was this 1977 Caldecott Honor winner a.k.a. The Official Picture Book of 2020 (we hope). Show Notes: Alas, TeachingBooks.net didn't have a pronunciation of Margot Zemach's name, but you can find a nice display of some of her...


Episode 153 - The Best Nest

Another book by the man who spit in the face of the House of Un-American Activities Committee (not literally, pretty close). Our love of P.D. Eastman continues. Kate delves real real deep into the marital status of dear Mr. and Mrs. Bird here (including Mr. Bird's "extracurricular activities", if you get my gist). The women discuss how this is like a "very small version of Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds" (their reign of terror is swift and tiny). They wonder about color layering, and finally...


Episode 152 - My Brother Charlie

Betsy and Kate can say with complete confidence that this is the first picture book about a Black kid on the autism spectrum either have ever seen. Recently Kate saw a list from Black Education Matters listing several books that featured Black children with disabilities and she asked Betsy if any were possible for the podcast. And lo and behold, My Brother Charlie is ten years old this year. That's ten years younger than we usually permit for a podcast, but when the topic is as important as...


Episode 151 - There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly

Happy Labor Day! Or, as we say on the podcast, Merry Labor Day! Today is not the first song-turned-picture-book we've done on the show (that honor went to The Fox Went Out on a Chilly Night). However, it is most certainly the first (and quite possibly last) to include die-cuts. Kate wonders whether or not the "old lady" feels pissed off about being called "old" (as we attempt to sing "There was a spry lady who swallowed a fly") while Betsy launches into any number of tangents, like how gross...


Episode 150 - The Farmer and the Clown

First and foremost, happy engagement to Kate and the Penguinologist! She'll soon be a Coronabride with her very own microwedding. Now just to catch the rest of you up, Kate is not a huge fan of clowns. Actually, that's a bit of an understatement. She HATES clowns. Naturally that meant that Betsy had to find a classic clown book for her birthday. She's nursing a theory that they don't exist, though, so Betsy decided to get the next best thing. Marla Frazee's The Farmer and the Clown won the...


Episode 149 - Giraffes Can't Dance

Today's book has been on Publisher Weekly's top selling picture book list for 240+ weeks. Even so, it is not a household name here in America by any stretch of the imagination. Betsy had been seeing its name on the bestseller lists for years, so she finally decided to bite the bullet and hand the title over to Kate. What results is speculation as to whether or not Gerald is dancing to dubstep (complete with dubstep imitation), notes the fact that Gerald is followed by bugs and turtles...