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Magical March Reading Challenge

Roof Beam Reader is hosting a Magical March Reading Challenge. As fantasy is my go-to genre, I’m aiming for the Wizard’s Class – 6 to 7 books read and reviewed. If I read more, all the better! If I read less, blame the Youth Media Award winners because they are on my to-be-read pile. Gladly, some will qualify. Happy reading folks!

1. Dead Reckoning by Charlaine Harris (review)

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Ten Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Childhood Faves

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish. Those folks like lists and so do I. This week, it’s my top ten favorite childhood books:

  1. Matilda by Roald Dahl : I checked this out of my school’s little library more times than I can remember.
  2. Maniac Magee by Jerry Spinelli : I feel sadness for anyone who doesn’t read this as a child.
  3. The Boxcar Children by Gertrude Chandler Warner : Who didn’t read and enjoy them?
  4. The Babysitters Club by Ann M. Martin : Again, what girl didn’t read them?
  5. The Monster at the End of This Book by Jon Stone : This was a gift from my older brother – the only gift I can remember him giving me – and I treasured it at the time. Today, I love the app and share it with my brother’s 3-year-old son.
  6. The Little Engine that Could by Watty Piper : Another book turned app that I read over and over and over as a child.
  7. Goosebumps by R.L. Stine : Kids read them then and read them as avidly now.
  8. Space Cadets by R.L. Stine : Hilarous. I wept over the BLT sandwich (hold the bacon and lettuce) incident. I recently tracked down copies of this out-of-print series on ABE books because I had to have them in my personal library.
  9. Wayside School is Falling Down by Louis Sachar : I was a good child but I stole from my dad’s coin jar to buy this book at the Scholastic Book Fair in elementary school. I still feel totally justified, as I did then, for my criminal action. I laughed until I cried as I read this.
  10. Tikki Tikki Tembo by Arlene Mosel : My third grade teacher, Mrs. Weidle, read this to our class several times (at our insistence) and I have loved it ever since. Her animated storytelling brought it to life.

So what books did you love as a child?

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The Liebster Award

A few days ago, Miss Print awarded me the Liebster Award. The Liebster Award is intended to bring attention to blogs with less than 200 followers. Though I blog mainly for myself (it really helps in creating reading lists and in preparing for the booktalk season in May/June), I hope others find my blog helpful and enjoyable. Thank you, Miss Print!

The award requirements:

  • Show your thanks to the blogger who gave you the award by linking back to them.
  • Reveal your 5 picks on your blog with links.
  • Let the winners know by leaving a comment on their blog.
  • Post the reward on your blog.

 Five blogs I enjoy are:

  • Shelf-Employed: Lisa is my fabulous coworker. She’s an avid reader and inventive children’s librarian. I’ve never met anyone who could challenge her energy level.
  • Mrs. Yingling Reads: I love her no nonsense reviews. As a public librarian, she’s my go to media specialist for a school librarian perspective.
  • Opps…Wrong Cookie: Great reviews, love their mock printz!
  • The Ya Ya Yas: Good stuff! I’m a lurker.
  • Miss Print: A prolific reader, opinionated but understanding, and passionate.
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Privacy, Stalking and Harassment

This post is in response to several posts by David Lee King, beginning with ‘anonymity, libraries and websites‘ and followed by ‘Privacy Part 2‘ and ‘Stalking – is it really a huge problem for libraries?

Ok, let me tackle King’s first argument:

Libraries can’t really base policy decisions or day-to-day practice decisions on one-time events or on worse case scenarios. We have to base those policies on a library’s strategic plans and on current best practices in order to best serve our communities. And then deal with the exceptions and single instances as they crop up.

Here, I agree. If we based our operations on worst case scenarios, we’d be working behind bullet-proof glass. Within a single day my library plays host to ex-convicts, the newly unemployed, the dumped and abandoned, and infants. People in the worst moments of their lives, people attempting to change their lives, and people in the prime of their lives. Librarians aid them all. I have received kisses from babies only to be harassed an hour later by an irate and impassioned end-of-days evangelist.

My point: Librarians deal daily with isolated one-time harassments until those incidents may be strung into a chaplet of little miseries.

My problem: Librarians are left to deal with unstable, potentially explosive patrons with little (or more likely nothing) in their organization’s policies that dictate their responsibilities, outline their best course of action or address their safety. If the responses to King’s posts are anything to judge by, Library Management is doing a very poor job of addressing “instances as they crop up.” Continue reading

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Beginner Readers for Girls

A patron came to the desk today, asking for a “girly beginner reader.” Her daughter enjoyed the Fancy Nancy picture books and beginning readers. She wanted something that would appeal strongly to her daughter. Unfortunately, I couldn’t think of anything that was ‘girly’ enough. 

I ended up recommending two picture books that mom could help read: Princess Bess Gets Dressed and Ladybug Girl. Mom took both gratefully. Are there any other pircture books or beginner readers with similar girl appeal (fancy clothing, make up, costumes, etc.)?

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Adults Reading YA Lit

I read an interesting post on The First Novel’s Club yesterday titled “In Defense of Hush, Hush.”

It got me thinking and I’ve been pondering the impact of adult readers on young adult literature. I enjoy reading YA but if I wasn’t a public Librarian I wouldn’t read it nearly as often. I’m an adult and I enjoy adult novels but I believe a good YA novel has a lot to offer.

However, I find the trend of adult women pining for young adult characters odd… maybe even a little disturbing. After all, an adult pining over a handsome teen in reality is socially taboo (and morally askew). So why is that so many women openly ‘love’ (or more appropriately lust after) Edward and Jacob (Twilight), Patch (Hush, Hush), and others?

Is it that these characters are actually ‘older’ than a normal teen? They are, after all, usually immortal. Can it be explained away as nostalgia and does that justify the frenzy (especially over Twilight)? Do women long for more simplistic romantic figures or bad boys or… what?

I don’t mean to sound prudish. I have pined over characters from literature… but they have been adult figures with adult complexities: Mr. Darcy (Pride and Prejudice), Sir Percy (The Scarlett Pimpernel), Aragorn (The Lord of the Rings). There is certainly an element of escapism there but even as a teen, I desired to read about more complex men then the boys who attended my school. Yet, recent trends in YA literature have shown teen boys to be manipulative hunks who engage in risky behavior and whose main allure is their unattainability. Not good boyfriend material… and not good partner material.

So what do you think? Why do you read YA literature (pleasure or business) and what do you think of the recent trends (especially in fantasy YA)? Am I overreacting or should I be concerned about this?

*****

I just read an article on the LA Times website titled “Young Adult Lit Comes of Age” that states:

YA books are “more vibrant” than many adult titles, “with better plots, better characterizations, a more complete creation of a world.” (Lizzie Skurnick, 36, author of “Shelf Discovery”)

To a degree, Skurnick is right. There are a lot of lousy adult novels (popular one too). But there are also really lousy YA novels (and yes, they often reach insane levels of popularity *ahem* Twilight, Shiver, Maximum Ride)

But is there a YA social satire that can stand up next to an Austen? Is there a YA novel with same level of vivid description as a Dicken’s novel? The sparse beauty of Hemingway? Haunting poems to rival Dickenson?

Can the best of YA stand up with the best of adult? Should I give the genre more time, after all, there are greats like Alexie and Joyce Carol Oates stepping into the field.

Can an adult truly appreciate a YA novel? Can a young adult truly appreciate an adult novel? Questions about the act of reading (aithor intent, reader-response) are running through my mind…

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Favorite Fiction of 2009

Here are the books that I read in 2009 that stick out in my memory:

All the Broken Pieces by Ann E. Burg: “Told in verse, the words are short and the sentences terse but packed with meaning. The descriptions are tied to nature and lovely in a straightforward way that reminded me of Hemingway.”

The Girl Who Threw Butterflies by Michael Cochrane: “It blended many of the themes present in several of this year’s best children’s books: death and abandonment, grief and alienation, discrimination and friendship. Yet none of these drowned the story and baseball tied it all together. Beautiful.”

The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly: “Kelly takes a timeless subject and excels. From vivid description to the subtle accompaniment of literary tools like alliteration that allows sentences to roll of the tongue, the writing is captivating and beautiful.”

Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin: “…layered with stories chalk full of cultural history.” One of the best children’s books of the year.

Neil Armstrong is my Uncle and Other Lies Muscle Man McGinty Told Me by Nan Marino: “It is a beautifully told story about the loss of one’s best friend, neighborhood kids, pride, and growing up. Tamara carries the story with such authenticity and artlessness.”

The Devil’s Paintbox by Victoria McKernan: “The whole story was fascinating and multifaceted.”

Marcelo in the Real World by Francisco Stork: “It is a well structured, intricate story that I hope is a front runner for the Printz!”

Lips Touch by Laini Taylor: The writing is captivating. The stories are captivating.”

Series (or books whose sequels or companion books I am impatiently awaiting)

Chains by Laurie Halse Handerson: “Great writing, riveting perspective, heart-wrenching scenes.”

Fire by Kristen Cashore: “I had high hopes for this book and I wasn’t disappointed. Cashore writes some really excellent dialogue – witty and poignant. I found myself laughing out loud or squealing at points.”

Toby Alone by Timothee de Fombelle: “It is a dense novel that hits the ground running. I enjoyed every moment of Toby’s fascinating world, the world of a Tree.”

Fablehaven by Brandon Mull: “The story is engaging and evenly paced. The interactions between the siblings (Seth, the young risk-taker, and Kendra, the sagacious elder) are often humorous and always believable.”

Books of Umber by P.T. Cantanese: “A solid fantasy read.  This book seems to be the tip of an iceberg. We learn just enough about Happenstance to understand where he might be headed and to care that he gets there intact. Umber is a fascinating man, charismatic and mysterious. There is a sprinkling of political intrigue, the hint of another like Happenstance, and an overlap between two very different worlds. I can’t wait for more!”

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Someone Thinks I’m Stylish!

Stylish Blogger Award“…short, sweet and most importantly, insightful”

I’m just tickled giddy at being considered a “stylish” blogger by missprint. ¡Gracias! And there is a lovely little award to prove it.

And I have my own nominations:

Opps, Wrong Cookie ; Where several Texas librarians write about books and stuff. Often, I disagree with them about whether a book they reviewed was good or poor, but I always enjoy their opinion. It takes style to pull that off. Their reviews often lead me to pick up a YA book I wouldn’t have read otherwise.

Shelf-Employed – A public librarians look at books, audiobooks, websites and movies, for children and young adults. Coving a range of materials with a crisp, professional, and keen opinion, this blog often expresses ideas I had on books using more stylish language.

BookEnvy – One of the first blogs I stumbled upon and added to my blog roll. A solid reviewed with pizzazz. She and I have similar tastes and I always enjoy reading what she has to say even if I don’t often comment. She is another reviewed who has led me to many good reads.

The Fire Wire – Not a librarians blog, Larry at Fire Wire is in the know. He’s how I stay on top of book to movie releases, viral videos, and basically, everything cool worth knowing. Very stylish!

Bread and Honey – Just the most stylish food blog. I stumbled upon this one from a Digg.com article. I still follow this blog but not Digg. Funny.