Membership of the Nosy Crow nest grew by one today, as Ruth Symons (above left, with the remnants of her welcome cake – that special blurry quality is my photography, not intrinsic to her) joined us as Junior Editor, working on picture and novelty books. Previously at QED, part of the Quarto Group, she really impressed us in the course of what was a pretty rigorous selection process, including three interviews, a couple of editorial exercises for her to do in her own time, and proof reading and arithmetic tests.
One of the things we asked her to do at interview was to bring in three picture books she felt worked (and two she felt didn’t work so well). The three she chose that she felt worked were Lauren Child’s Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Book?; Sherri Duskey Rinker and Tom Lichtenheld’s Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site; and Giles Andreae and Guy Parker-Rees’s Giraffes Can’t Dance. It’s not that we’re looking for someone who would choose exactly the same books that any of us would – when we do our various “best books about…” and “best books for…” lists on the blog, we have a lot of vigorous argument about what makes the cut. Instead, we are keen to understand how a candidate talks about books, and whether they pick up on and are interested in the same kind of things that we think are important. Ruth talked about rhyme and rhythm, patterning, the balance of text and images on each spread, the balance of colour and blank spaces in a book, humour, having a message without being heavily didactic, how a text reads aloud, who a book is for and what time of day a book is best suited to. My favourite quote from her at interview about one of the books she chose (I noted it down verbatim) was, “It makes you feel something. If a book leaves you cold, it’s a flop. It’s got to make you feel happy or sad or scared or something.” We think she’s right. And she can do sums and knows how to spell “diarrhoea”, so it’s all good.
We think that we might have failed to mention that in the crazy few weeks in the run up to the Bologna Book Fair, Sophie Gordon joined as Design Assistant. And, though all the novelty has worn off by now, she did get, and make, cake.
One of Sophie’s Nosy Crow cupcakes