We just got in a really fantastic children’s book here at Bibliohead: Suzuki Beane by Sandra Scoppettone. The downtown Eloise, Suzuki Beane is the child of Hugh and Marcia, two beatniks of Greenwich village in the early sixties. She writes poems, paints, and eventually finds her hip parents can be just as judgmental and close-minded as any square. The end of the book has hip Suzuki and her square friend Henry going on the road to find a place “where a square could be a square and a swinging cat could swing in peace.”
This is definitely one of the more interesting children’s books published, including fantastic illustrations by Louise Fitzhugh of Harriet the Spy fame, a great typewriter-style typeface and poetic line breaks, and really aggressive use of slang. “Suzuki’s Glossary” in the back of the book helps those unacquainted with some of the slang make their way through the book.
Suzuki Beane was published in 1961. In 1962 Desi Arnaz and Lucille Ball bought the rights and tried to turn into a television show, which would have been an interesting development given Suzuki’s claim that “t.v. was strictly commercialism,” but either way, after making a pilot, nothing came of it. This is a really beautiful book. Come check it out.