Thursday, May 7, 2009

Suzuki Beane

Suzuki Beane
Sandra Scoppettone ~ Louise Fitzhugh ~ Doubleday, 1961

Again, a reader recommended Suzuki a while back and when Esme mentioned her the other day, I figured I'd better follow suit. The hip downtown alternative to Eloise, Suzuki was actual more of a satire of its namesake's Plaza Hotel doppelganger and 50s Village cool than a flat out picture book for children. Still, the girl's rolled up pants, scruffy hair, crazy turn of phrase and penchant for Jack Kerouac easily won over my boy... not to mention made me chuckle aloud a time or two. Those crazy beatniks.

my name is suzuki beane
i have a pad on bleeker street
with hugh and marcia

this is hugh----
he writes cool poetry
and reads it
in the red dog----
that's a coffee shop

he's my father

this is marcia----
she's a swingin' chick---
she's my mother----

she makes sculptures out
of tin cans----
parts of cars
and other
i find on bleeker street

this is our pad----

we all have a ball here
we don't have much bread but
bread is not really important
when you have good relationships

The book follows Suzuki's travels through New York with her square friend Henry and takes them from that annoying little "convention" called school to subway to cab to the city's dismal docks, all in the name of adventure. Even though it is a parody, there is a great message at the end about the importance of being yourself and not falling into the cult of cool or the school of square. If you do happen to run into a copy on your thrift store travels, make sure you snatch it up as the sale price online usually runs anywhere from $100 to $200 dollars. Luckily, no one has stolen it from our library yet, so we get to check it out at will.

If you find yourself getting lost in Suzuki's language, fear not, there is a glossary. Good thing, too. I always wondered what a "shuck" was.


Antmusic said...

What an interesting book! Very cool. Thank you for the information. I'll have to keep my eyes peeled for this one! I wonder what Scoppettone & Fitzhugh's other collaboration, "Bang Bang, You're Dead" is like.

Sparkleneely said...

This is one of my all time favorites, right up there with Eloise herself... I'm lucky that I have two copies! I had a "beatnik" party and my friend read from it while another friend played the bongos. like, way out! So glad you featured this! :)

Sandra Scoppettone said...

Thank you all. Bang, Bang You're Dead really was for kids. Young kids 8-10.


Anonymous said...

She had a PanAm bag, didn't she

Anonymous said...

She had a PanAm bag, didn't she?

Jerm said...

Suzuki Beane brings back so many wonderful memories, I couldn't believe there was a piolet i had to send it to my mom immediately! She is going to be blown away, man.

Jerm said...

my favorite book growing up, moms going to be blown away!

AgentTwombly said...

I absolutely adored Suzuki Beane, both as a child and now as an adult. I've been dying to give it to my nephew. Why hasn't Vintage released a new edition? I'm a YA agent and have been trying to track down rights, or to at least push someone into doing a reprint. There are so many people I want to gift this to, but refuse to give up my one and only copy! Really, this is a gem of a book.

AgentTwombly said...

I adored this book as a child, and still do as an adult. I'm a literary agent now, and tried to track down the rights to this book, as I think a reprint could do so well today. There are so many people I want to gift this book to, but I can't bear the thoughts of giving up my one and only copy. Is there a reprint in the works?

Suzanne said...

I was thoroughly enchanted and fascinated with Suzuki Beane as a pre adolescent in the erly 60's! I regret donating this book when I " grew up". She has stayed with me all of these years. I have told my kids about her and am so happy that I was able to find this site with excerpts from the book.

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