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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 213 - 2022 Caldecott Contenders

Every year Betsy presents Kate with three Caldecott contenders. And not to brag, but this show has had a pretty good track record. Betsy only shows her three titles, but in 2021 the two discussed We Are Water Protectors which inevitably won an Award and in 2020 they discussed Going Down Home With Daddy, which won an Honor. Will their streak continue? Or will they do as poorly as they did in 2019? Only time will tell. Now let us all chant together: "Beret That Snake!" "Beret That Snake!"...


Episode 212 - "Let's Get a Pup!" Said Kate

Maybe Betsy figured that this would be an easy win with Kate since her name is already in the title. So far, Betsy has failed to locate Kate's request of an older picture book classic that contains anyone wearing a mohawk. Perhaps this comes as a close second? And as we say in the episode, the art in this book suggests so much backstory. We discuss inappropriate bidet designs, the first appearance of birth control pills in a picture book, faux Birks, and more. Show Notes: Betsy just wanted...


Episode 211 - Hooway for Wodney Wat

Happy New Year! It's a new year, but the same old blog, and we wouldn't have it any other way. Today we kick off with a book that we describe on this episode as, "Handed to me in the good faith that we wouldn't like it." A friend alerted Betsy to that old 1999 picture book Hooway for Wodney Wat. Published before bullying became the issue in our schools that it is today, her friend said that this title may not have aged particularly well in the intervening 23 years. Or, as we say at one...


Episode 210 - Mr Rabbit and the Lovely Present

"The Secret Garden meets Donnie Darko". Kate would like to warn you that Betsy is a bit of a "Debby Downer" in this episode. This may have something to do with the fact that her immediate family came down with COVID and she had to cancel their trip to DisneyWorld. Of course, you can't keep a good talk about odd picture books of the past down! In the episode the sisters discuss everything from whether or not the bunny in Mr. Rabbit and the Lovely Present betrays Maurice Sendak's love of...


Episode 209 - Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

Merry Christmas Eve! By gum we're going to do at least one holiday book this month, if it kills us. Heck, for that matter, why not go local? You see, Kate and Betsy both live in Evanston, Illinois and it just so happens that one of the most famous Christmas songs out there started its life as a children's book by an Evanston author! Yes indeed, we doing a deep dive into Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer today circa 1939. And not just any book, but a reprint of the original story (pre-song and...


Episode 208 - Joseph Had a Little Overcoat

Hanukkah ends today and do you know what happened? We missed our chance to do a Hanukkah picture book on the show (and I've one on order but it won't come in in time). So, feeling guilty, I thought we should do a good Jewish children's picture book classic. And to my horror, somehow it took us 207 episodes for me to realize that we didn't do today's book. Are you ready to hear us right a great wrong? Because it's Simms Taback time! Yes, the man who designed the world's first Happy Meal is...


Episode 207 - Ox-Cart Man

Starring . . . MOM! Yes indeed. Susan Blackwell Ramsey herself has come to guest star. Thanksgiving arrived and Kate had the brilliant notion that she and Betsy should take advantage of their #1 fan and finally do one of her favorite picture books (the one they've always avoided). So, if you've ever listened to our podcast and thought to yourself, "These two ladies sound too similar. I wish there was a THIRD voice that sounded a lot like both of them to join in," then your prayers have been...


Episode 206 - Little Red Riding Hood

After his recent death, Betsy wanted to do a book with Kate that paid homage to Jerry Pinkney. But having already done Mirandy and Brother Wind and Sam and the Tigers, why not go in a different direction? Jerry was a huge fan of fairy tales, and Little Red Riding Hood has always stood out as one of his more interesting books. Setting the book in winter was a fascinating choice, maybe even a challenge, for the artist. The storyline is very faithful to the original Grimm tale with some notable...


Episode 205 - Curious George Takes a Job

Thinly veiled racism! Drug-sniffing monkeys (that are actually apes)! Roving hoards of wiener dogs! A Cervantes-esque arc! Oh, we have just loads to talk about in this episode, that's for sure. More questions are raised than answered in this latest episode of Fuse 8 n' Kate and that's okay. We return to the world of Curious George with all its peculiarities. There's a lot to discuss here and we're ready for it. Show Notes: Be sure to check out this year's fabulous picture book,...


Episode 204 - Bill and Pete

Now starring special guest, Ian Lendler!! Author of 2021's new picture book Nia and the New Free Library, and creator of such books I've adored as The Fabled Life of Aesop and the Stratford Zoo comics, to name but a few. Once in a while we'll have a guest on. Of course the challenge is for our guests to come up with potentially "classic" picture books that we haven't done already. But when Ian and I talked about having him on the show, the book he mentioned was Bill and Pete, a.k.a. a book...


Episode 203 - The Witch Next Door

The final Halloween-inspired episode of October is always a bittersweet time. And once more, pity Betsy's sister. Betsy happened to notice that there's a Clifford the Big Red Dog film out in theaters at the moment and it got her to thinking. Clifford = creator Norman Bridwell. And didn't Norman Bridwell do a Halloween book of his own once? One that Betsy happened to remember from her own childhood? Alas for Kate, this means that the show is doing a THIRD witch and broom-related picture book...


Episode 202 - The Widow's Broom

"If this really is the ghost of the broom, I hope it hacks the men to pieces!" The search for potential Halloween classics continues!! This week Kate and Betsy turned their eyes back to good old Chris Van Allsburg. Previously seen on a Halloween-centric episode of the show with The Stranger, he has returned! This book is from 1992, and it's had a relative amount of success. What Kate and Betsy end up loving about it, though, is how female-centric it is. It's all about women helping women...


Episode 201 - Room on the Broom

Poor Kate. All she wanted was a halfway spooky picture book. Instead Betsy gives her a book from Team Gruffalo. This week's choice of book for the Halloween season has appeared year after year on the Bestseller Lists here in America. It's a book that features a kind of Mr. Gumpy's Outing meets There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly energy on its pages. Never read it? Never fear! We've done it for you and found some tidbits worth discussing. Show Notes: You may hear us mention that Julia...


Episode 200 - The Cat in the Hat Comes Back

"Oh no! We don't have a fish to protect us now!" Success! Fuse 8 n' Kate has managed to reach episode' two HUNDRED! Now the topic turns to a famous feline-centric sequel. Betsy and Kate don't shy away from the controversy surrounding Seuss and his cat in this episode. Bonus: They also get to bandy about sentences like, "The chain of signification is interminable and, being interminable, indeterminate." In the end, they realize once and for all that while this cat may come back that doesn't...


Episode 199 - Blast Off

Kate and Betsy are on a perpetual hunt for older children's books that broke new ground, and show that the history of children's book publishing could occasionally incorporate a wider variety of voices and styles. Today they take a trip back to 1973 to a book that was originally released just a year after the final Apollo missions. It has now been reprinted for the first time in years by The New York Review Children's Collection, released just last week. Think that's good? Kate points out...


Episode 198 - Pinkerton, Behave!

Lick lick lick lick lick! Here we have a rare opportunity to examine an old book from 1979 and its 2014 update. Kate challenged Betsy to come up with a dog picture book and Betsy realized that they had never done one of the most fascinating cases in American children's literature. As is explained on the show, Steven Kellogg used to live in Sandy Hook. When the school shooting occurred he was deeply affected. And, in light of objections he'd heard regarding the burglar and his gun in his book...


Episode 197 - Stop That Ball!

We all we have our pet favorite books for children. Some were the ones we loved when we ourselves were kids. Others are the ones we enjoy reading to our own children. And a few are the ones we enjoy hearing our children read when they're learning how. This book falls into that final category. And part of the reason I love it is how weird it is. Take a trip back in time with us to 1959 where Ball Boy and Stalker Sally go on a series of misadventures as his ball attempts to destroy itself in a...


Episode 196 - Rapunzel

It's been a while since we tackled a book with that awe-inspiring, shiny Gold Caldecott medal on its cover. As such, it seemed wise to break out Paul O. Zelinsky's major award winner. Limiting our Into the Woods quotes to the bare minimum, Kate proves to be the perfect reader for this book, having only seen Tangled once, and that was while drunk and one-eyed. She's practically a clean slate! Plus, it seems appropriate to do a story on a woman attempting (and failing) to enforce chastity at a...


Episode 195 - I Love My Hair!

Though today you see books about Black hair pride in a lot of the children's picture books on the market today, we credit Natasha Tarpley for creating one of the very first back in 1998. Betsy will also confess that she did consider doing Nappy Hair by Carolivia Herron, which came out in 1997, but she didn't think she was adept enough to tackle the issues that came up when that book hit the marketplace. Instead, Kate and Betsy kvell at the wonder that is E.B. Lewis, discuss realism in...


Episode 194 - First Day Jitters

Since we were 98% sure that we'd already done The Kissing Hand, this year's first day of school book came out 21 years ago. This book is huge with teachers and schools but isn't a book that won a lot of literary awards or anything. And with children heading back to school now, the timing could not be better. With its M. Night Shymalan-esque twist and fondness for slips and magenta clogs, this proves to be an excellent peek into the state of picture books circa 2000. Show Notes: So is it a...