Mark Twain's Latest, Historiography not History, Maya Lin in New Haven, and the Sesame Street Writer's Room

Rebecca Pitts Newsletter January 2018

Yaaaay... I had some pretty exciting news to share this month. Also, I’m heading to my first SCBWI national conference in February. Are you going too? Visited family in New Haven over the holidays and had to make a quick trip to visit this beauty. (Nearby is Maya Lin's fountain, another New Haven landmark that is worth a look.)

On to this month’s notes:

Kid Reads

We were stuck indoors with multiple winter illnesses over the long break like the rest of our little New York 'burb. We read: Ivy by Katherine Coville. Maya Lin by Jeanne Walker Harvey. A Street Through Time: A 12,000-Year Walk Through History. I picked up the Stead / Twain book The Purloining of Prince Oleomargarine and was wow-ed. The illustrations and woodcuts are exquisite and the story itself is a post-modern romp with Mr. Twain himself. I think we will need to add this one to our library. (And, in case you missed it: our fave reads of 2017.)

Grown-up Reads

A proclamation I can get behind (via the lovely staff at the Voracious Reader in Larchmont.) Would you use a kanban board to get organized? If we had push notifications in 1968On writing for the "uncomfortable number of children out there right now are crouched beneath a metaphorical piano" from the Newbery Medal-winning author Matt de la Peña. The Bologna Children's Book Fair announces a new research project on non-fiction picture books. Zadie Smith's messy and chaotic mindHope in action. Better to make something. Parents: don't do it. A few links for writers this month: [1] where to pitch your quirky offbeat ideas now that the Awl and Hairpin are gone and [2] The Sesame Street Writer's Room is looking for "fresh new writing talent from underrepresented racial backgrounds." The problem with history classes: "Although there may be an inclination to seek to establish order where there is chaos, that urge must be resisted in teaching history."


I discovered two new-to-me podcasts this month: #AmWriting (from writers Jess Lahey and KJ Dellantonia) and Print Run (from agents Laura Zats and Erik Hane). I know I'm really digging both of these because I am knee deep in their archives. They're both consistently good: well-paced, conversationally transparent and insider-ish. We have also been asking Alexa to play and replay the La La Land soundtrack and Little Eva's Locomotion. (Both hold up in the car.) Raising kids in the era of anger on the Brian Lehrer Show. Also from WNYC: female stand-up comedians, actors, and writers discuss consent in the age of #MeToo.


I binged The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel fast. (Think Betty Draper meets Lorelai Gilmore.) The Crown is back! (Related: this podcast interview with the creator of The Crown was a neat behind-the-scenes look at his research process into the rumor-mill surrounding the monarchy.) 

“The most remarkable thing about poetry’s unpopularity isn’t that it exists, but that it exists in the wake of a period in which poems were not merely popular, but embraced with a fierce and unembarrassed joy. That period, of course, is childhood.” David Orr