This blog consists of reviews, interviews, news, etc...from the world of the Boston area small press/ poetry scene and beyond. Regular contributors are reviewers: Dennis Daly, Michael Todd Steffen, David Miller, Alice Weiss,Timothy Gager,Lawrence Kessenich, Lo Galluccio, Zvi Sesling, Kirk Etherton, Tom Miller, Emily Pineau, and others.
Founder Doug Holder: firstname.lastname@example.org.
* B A S P P S is listed in the New Pages Index of Alternative Literary Blogs.
Jacob Kramer: A children's
writer who brings noodles and critters to life.
By Doug Holder
Jacob Kramer met me at my
perch in the backroom of the Bloc 11 Cafe in Union Square, Somerville. The fireplace was on full
blast—to foil the frigid winter winds just outside the window.
Kramer, is a youngish man with a scruffy beard, and wears his long
hair in a ponytail. I noticed something wide and child-like in his
eyes—undoubtedly some seminal flame that still burns with a kid's wonder.
Kramer is a graduate of
Harvard University, and has lived in our burg for six years.
Originally from Providence, Rhode Island, he lives in what I consider
a well-appointed spot in Union Square—close to that U.N. of supermarkets, Market Basket. Kramer told me,“ I love Somerville—I
have a number of friends here. The Somerville Arts Council has been
very supportive of my work, not to mention the Somerville Public Library, Porter Square Books, and the Somerville Museum.”
Kramer revealed to me that
a person has to have a good sense of humor to be a children's writer.
He elaborated, “ You have to try to understand what you care about,
and why you care about it on the most basic level. Then you have to
deliver to your audience. And for children that means delivering it
in the most straightforward way.
I asked Kramer if his
study of film at Harvard informed his work as children' writer. He
replied, “ With film making you have to think in scenes, cuts and
edits. This is in some ways like my genre of writing. You always
have to have a page turner to keep the kid's attention. You have to
have one scene, then cut to the next surprise on the following page.”
illustrated book “Noodlephant” is about a bunch of despotic
kangaroos, who take over the production and distribution of noodles, much to the chagrin
of noodle-loving elephants and other critters. It is a story
which has a social message—and Kramer, as an activist, is very
much into this kind of narrative. Kramer opined, "Kids have a natural
interest in what's fair, and what is not. So this kind of theme will
appeal to them."
Kramer also wrote a light
verse book that he calls “Critterverse.” He feels light verse is
sometimes looked down on as too shallow or trite, but he finds that it can be a teaching tool for kids, as it mixes easier and harder words.
Kramer feels the kids will understand the harder words through the
context of the story. He believes that kids are intuitive, so they
don't always need a parent next to them to explain things."
The illustrator Kramer
often works with is K-Fai Steele. Her vivid and colorful work goes well
with the inventive text.
Kramer is a man with many
interests. He was a founding member of the Union Square Neighborhood
Council, and has worked to make sure that the community's interests are met by the developers of Union Square.
Kramer told me he is
writing a sequel to “ Noodlephant, "Okapi Tale," and if I were you, I would
secure an advance copy as soon as they are available.