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Episode 100 - The Cat in the Hat

It's the 100th episode! Woohoo! After all this time it's finally come. The challenge of this episode of the podcast was to come up with a book for #100 that is widely known but that Betsy and Kate hadn't done already. And this book was waiting in the wings all along. Why? Because thanks to a great deal of scholarship out there on the topic, the "Cat" is no longer the simple beloved character he once was considered to be. This isn't an easy book to do, but Betsy and Kate manage it somehow....


Episode 99 - Dinosaurs Divorce

This week's challenge from Kate: Deliver unto her a "classic picture book about divorce". So Betsy conferred with her fellow librarians and they all agreed that there is really only one that would fit the bill: A little number from 1986. There's a number of reasons for this selection. The book remains popular to this day. This book is still in print (have they updated the terms since its original publication? This is unclear). And, as Kate points out, this is clearly more a guide than...


Episode 98 - Sam and the Firefly

Betsy had been meaning to do this, Eastman's third most famous easy book, and the first one he ever did on his own, for a while. Now, for years Betsy has believed that Eastman has illustrated "night" better than most artists. After this recording she feels justified in having felt this way. Show Notes: If you'd like to see all the ratings of this podcast, they are now avaiable for viewing at https://www.betsybirdbooks.com/lesson-plan Curious about Kate's mention of Can Can Wonderland? You...


Episode 97 - George and Martha

ALERT! Before we begin, we'd like to make note that this is number 97 of our podcast so far. To celebrate our upcoming 100th we have (A) Created a Facebook page(found at https://www.facebook.com/Fuse8Kate) and (B) On Monday, August 5th at 8 p.m. CST we will record a Facebook Live episode of episode #100. So in case you've ever wanted to see the images of a "classic" picture book as Kate discovers them, now you can. This week, we wonder something. Is Martha the better hippo? Hard to determine...


Episode 96 - The Poky Little Puppy

It seems very odd to us that one of the most commercially successful children's books to ever be published in the United States has an almost entirely obscure author to its name. The mystery of Janette Sebring Lowrey hangs over our latest episode of this podcast. Neither Kate nor Betsy had ever read this book before, and yet it bragged back in 2001 of having sold nearly 15 million copies. The illustrator's wife even joked that the artist was pleased that he'd given the Bible a "run for its...


Episode 95 - Stevie

Lists of "classic" picture books are often white white white, with the occasional racist inclusion. That's why I'm always on the lookout for picture books from the past that could be deemed "classic" and come from a variety of different perspectives and voices. When it occurred to Betsy the other day that she and Kate hadn't done Stevie yet on this show, she was a little mad at herself. It wasn't that the show hadn't done a Steptoe before (see: Mufaro's Beautiful Daughters) but this was the...


Episode 94 - Shrek

Meet this week's special guest star, Lucy Knisley! To our infinite delight, when asked what book she'd like to do for the podcast she selected one we'd never done. Today's magnificent title is Shrek! We get to talk about whether or not Shrek is actually Superman, how the succulent wedding bouquet was ahead of its time, and what this book has in common with the film US. Show Notes: Here is the Salon article "Shrek" Is Not Shrek: https://www.salon.com/2001/05/24/anti_shrek/ While we were...


Episode 93 - Where the Wild Things Are

At last. After 93 episodes, Kate and Betsy have finally come face-to-face with the great Sendak masterpiece. Why did we decide to do the book today, rather than wait until we hit the 100th episode mark? Because, my friends, today is an auspicious day in and of itself. Today Fuse 8 n' Kate the podcast officially becomes a School Library Journal property. You won't see any changes on your end, but believe us, we've been cleaning up our act a bit. Our episodes, you may have noticed, are now a...


Episode 92 - Tuesday

While normally the podcast posts its episodes on Mondays, it seemed that for this book, of all books, a Tuesday debut was the most appropriate. When our hosts' mother suggested they do a David Wiesner title, specifically this one, Betsy pooh-poohed her. Silly mother. Surely they'd already done it. Turns out, not so much. So it was with great joy that Betsy handed it over to Kate. In this episode you'll get to hear Betsy's dead-on theremin imitation (which sounds oddly similar to her...


Episode 91 - A Hole is to Dig

Betsy's question, walking into this podcast, was to figure out whether or not this book has anything to actually say to the 21st century child. Is it still pertinent or is it like some kind of archaic Kids Say the Darndest Things? Betsy and Kate talk about the historical view of American childhood and how it might have affected this book's popularity in certain decades. As you might expect, the book also causes them to get a little philosophical at times. "This is like Schrödinger's 's Cat....


Episode 90 - The Tiger Who Came to Tea

Once an author up and dies on us, it's the perfect moment to attempt a read of that writer's best known picture book. So it is that Judith Kerr was the perfect subject to consider for this episode. This is a book that ignores the rather good advice that, "If you're in a picture book and a tiger says he's hungry, run the other way." Kate discovers that this may well be one of the MOST English picture book the show has ever encountered. She also identifies this tiger as a brat as a cat and you...


Episode 89 - Tell Me a Mitzi

Under normal circumstances, the entire premise of this podcast is that Betsy will present Kate with a picture book "classic" that she has never seen before and she will read it for the first time. To change things up, Kate suggested that Betsy bring a picture book that neither of them had read. At the same time, she mentioned in a previous episode that when it comes to classic Jewish picture books, the only ones the show has ever done were Hanukkah based. Add in the fact that this is a cult...


Episode 88 - Pete the Cat

Kate gave Betsy a challenge to go out and find a picture book that the two of them hadn't read. And in the end . . . Betsy completely and utterly failed to do honor the request. She decided to do Pete instead. So it goes. With this entry, Kate makes a VERY strong case for why this book missed an opportunity involving the color wheel. Kate also points out that the actual moral of this story is, "Watch where you step." Meanwhile, Betsy gets to riff on James Dean the actor (if he were ever to...


Episode 87 - Who Needs Donuts?

"It's like the Where's Waldo of literature!" This week we're celebrating another cult classic picture book (the last one we did was The Lonely Doll by Dare Wright). There aren't a ton of them out there, but this one certainly does apply. The timing of this podcast has much to do with the fact that Mr. Stamaty has just released MacDoodle Street, a collection of his adult strips. In the course of things we discover that this book has 27 pipes, we discuss whether or not Mr. Stamaty really does...


Episode 86 - Perez and Martina

"Folktales! They don't end the way you expect 'em to . . . if they're authentic." If you are familiar with #ownvoices children's books, then you know that these are titles where a book is written by someone with learned experience from the culture they are representing. We might have quite a debate over what the oldest #ownvoices picture book published in America is, that is arguably famous to this day, and that also is written by someone who wasn't white and European. Our vote goes to...


Episode 85 - Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel

Ramona's not the only one calling aspects of Mike Mulligan into question anymore. Kate and Betsy already tackled Virginia Lee Burton's The Little House, so now the two cover another story of the fast moving world and how it leads to obsolescence. In this tale of "a man obsessed with his steam shovel," they discuss muffs, dabbing, how precisely a steam shovel would work, and the weird placement of the acknowledgement to Dickie Birkinbush mid-book. As we mentioned, Kate and Betsy made a...


Episode 84 - Bark, George

We're not entirely certainly why Betsy selected this as today's book. Maybe she wanted a book that was merely 20 years old. Maybe it was the fact that earlier in the day, before we recorded, she had read this book to her son's preschool class. But it may be because, and we don't think we're spoiling anything here, it is one of the world's greatest readaloud picture books. And there are so many things to talk about here. Spontaneous interior canine generation. The doctor's...


Episode 83 - Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge

It's time for another update in one of our favorite series on this podcast: Classics From Other Countries. Normally on this show we like to consider children's picture books from America, determining if they deserve their "classic" status. But how fair is that? Why not consider picture books deemed classics in other countries? We did Duck, Death and Tulip via Germany. We did The Gruffalo via the U.K. So let's jump on a plane and fly ourselves to Australia for our first Mem Fox classic. What...


Episode 82 - No, David!

Kate set Betsy up with a challenge. They've been deeming too many books as "classics". What book could I produce that would engender more of a debate? Well, after all these episodes (82!) Betsy thinks she's figured out Kate's least loved genre. It involves childlike art. It involves kids who aren't entirely saintly. Really, it was just a matter of time before they got to this one. They've not done a David Shannon book before. Ultimately they determine that the fault at work here is not that...


Episode 81 - The Three Robbers

Tomi Ungerer died just this past year on February 9th so it seemed logical to us that we should try to do one of his books on the show. This begs the inevitable question, which one should we do? After all, there are so many to consider. Crictor? The Beast of Monsieur Racine? Moon Man? We decided to go with the only one Betsy ever saw adapted by Weston Woods. In the course of our talk we discuss whether or not giving birth is an adequate excuse for saying you have a "connection" to someone,...