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Episode 114 - Fortunately

In some ways, 2019 was kind of a fortunately/unfortunately kind of year. Seems appropriate that we would tackle Remy Charlip's best known work in one of our final podcasts of the year. Librarians adore this title because its readaloud potential is huge. Will Kate love it for its originality, or detest it for the complete lack of sense it makes? You cannot help but love the fact that she believes that given Charlip's origins, letting Ned die would have been the Frenchest ending of them all....


Episode 113 - A Kiss for Little Bear

Sometimes you just gotta read something awkward. Today, in spite of Betsy's determination never to do so, she skipped over ALL the previous Little Bear books produced by Minarik and Sendak and handed her sister the strangest of them all. Will Kate or Betsy think that this book is essentially the cringe comedy easy book of children's literature? Will Kate find a good image for a tattoo? Is there any situation where it is not weird to "kiss the bride"? Show Notes: The Kirkus review of this...


Episode 112 - Green Eggs and Ham

When Kate challenged Betsy to find a classic Thanksgiving book, she made the mistake of saying off-handedly, "Oh, it could just be about food too." Ah HAH! Food, eh? Well, they'd already done Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, so that could leave only one other famous food-related piece of children's literary history. That's right. Time to down some Green Eggs and Ham. For the full Show Notes please visit:...


Episode 111 - The Big Orange Splot

It seemed like it would be a pretty safe bet that Kate wouldn't have heard of this week's book. A little 1977 beauty it is. Betsy and Kate haven't done a Pinkwater book before, and this is a heckuva way to begin. It's a glorious celebration of disappointing the homeowner's associations of the world. It also apparently has to do with Nickelodeon, how to keep a pet alligator, and magical mystery lemonade. Show Notes: For further information about that weird moment when a standardized test took...


Episode 110 - The Kissing Hand

If there's one thing we know, it's that there are two kinds of picture books that are most often divisive: the message-y books and the sweet and fuzzies. Combine the two and you get The Kissing Hand. There is NO doubt that the book is loved deeply by Kindergarten teachers, but would you call it a picture book classic worthy of keeping on shelves for decades to come? Betsy really didn't know how Kate would react to this one when I handed it to her. Would she be charmed? Be appalled? And, as...


Episode 109 - In a Dark, Dark Room and Other Scary Stories

Halloween is almost upon us! And like every year, Kate is always challenging Betsy to come up with some classic scares. This year, we've seen Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark adapted to the silver screen. Seems only natural to then pull out what many would consider to be Schwartz's other scary classic for kids. And, oh joy, it's part of the I Can Read series! What we had not counted on was that in 2017 Harper Collins re-illustrated the series. What to do? Well... why not do both versions?...


Episode 108 - The Swallow and the Tom Cat

We have a special guest!! It was our esteemed delight and pleasure to host international superstar, picture book creator, Hans Christian Andersen Award winner, Roger Mello in this, the latest episode of our podcast! Now it had been a while since we'd done an international picture book. We do try to make an effort to look at what other countries would consider "classics", but it can be difficult to (A) determine what a country thinks of as a classic and (B) find translations here in the...


Episode 107 - The Man Who Walked Between the Towers

In memory of the great Mr. Gerstein we decided to do his best-known, most classicy classic title. Of course, by doing this title, it means that for the first time, in all of our history, we are doing a nonfiction picture book. Not a bad way to start out, eh? Have no fear, we'll be getting to the spooky Halloween fare soon enough, but first we wanted to pay an homage to one of children's literature's greats. Show Notes: - Quiz Question: Which Disney animated film begins with a shot of the...


Episode 106 - Click, Clack, Moo Cows That Type

How do you type with hooves? Would this book today involve the cows texting? What are the logistics of not giving milk and then proceeding to start up production again? Who's buying from the underground milk market? How do you strap a typewriter to a duck? Betsy and Kate are just full of questions with today's book. Kate comes up with the cruelest advice for Farmer Brown you've ever heard and Betsy gets to come up with fake sequel names to this story Show Notes: - As it happens, Betsy was...


Episode 105 - I Want My Hat Back

We have a good good rule here at Fuse 8 n' Kate. Betsy and Kate do not judge any picture book that younger than 20 years of age. And with today's episode, Betsy broke that rule. She broke it hard. Clocking in at a mere 8 years of age, it's a bit premature to consider Klassen's best known title as a "classic" picture book or not. And yet, Betsy clearly could not help herself. In the course of things they discuss the fact that this book is essentially a school play, the speed of a bear, and...


Episode 104 - The Carrot Seed

Betsy had been avoiding today's book, not because it isn't famous enough, but because it's on the simple side. 101 words simple, in fact. The sisters get a little silly in the course of things, but boy do they learn all kinds of things! Lawnmower parenting! How had Betsy not known about it all these years? Kate decides that the boy is secretly working for Monsanto. Betsy defends the parents, which Kate didn't see coming. Kate learns all about the germination cycle of carrots. And Betsy...


Episode 103 - Swimmy

Betsy is very proud of herself. She managed to go this entire episode of the podcast without mentioning Rainbow Fish once. She and Kate do discuss Frederick briefly, but how can you not? In this episode Betsy discovers that no one has ever written a fun background story on how Leo Lionni came up with this book. Instead the sisters discuss whether or not Lionni was good at making art with cut potatoes, whether fish have eyebrows, and how hard it is to say the term "Mom pun" repeatedly. If you...


Episode 102 - The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs!

"Nobody wants your bunny snot cake, buddy." Betsy and Kate had done The Stinky Cheese Man on their podcast, but that still left a great big wolf-shaped hole in the canon. Time for Scieszka/Smith Part 2: Electric Boogaloo. In this episode Kate decides to take the Wolf at his word and, as you might expect, she find some holes in his defense. This guy would never be able to hold it together if that woman cross-examined him on the stand. As you might imagine, the sisters have a lot of fun with...


Episode 101 - Amazing Grace

A British book just snuck into the pack. When Betsy picked it up from the library for Kate to read, she was positive that what they had on their hands was an American title through and through. Not as such. Mary Hoffman, a white British woman, wrote this back in 1991. It was also a Kate Greenaway Honor book when it was released, which is impressive. This book is not without its controversial elements, but in Betsy's library the only edition available was the reprinted 2015 edition. And, as...


Episode 100.5 - Minisode with Phil Nel

Summer is almost over, the children are off to school again, and those of us able to take last minute vacations are doing so with gusto. All this is to say that we figured now was a perfect time to release our first "minisode". We came up with the "minisode" name when we thought it would be shorter than our usual length. But then Betsy got it into her head to talk to renowned children's literature scholar Phil Nel for our first minisode and, naturally, it blossomed into a full-blown episode...


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...