Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Buffy Quote of the Week

Giles: Grave robbing. Well, that's new. Interesting.
Buffy: I know you meant to say "gross and disturbing".
Ep: Some Assembly Required.

Quote thanks to Michele at Scholar's Blog.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Boy Proof

Boy Proof by Cecil Castelluci. Cecil Castelluci's blog.

The Plot: Victoria, 16, prefers to be called "Egg" like the character in her favorite science fiction movie. She's smart, she's confident, she's not afraid to dress like the character she loves. She considers herself "boy proof," both by nature and by design. But then Max, the new kid in school, begins to get under her skin. And Egg begins to realize that her confidence that has kept people at arms length -- that has kept her "boy proof" -- may not be confidence at all. Instead she realizes that by being Egg, she -- Victoria -- is "always going to be invisible."

The Good: Castelluci respects fandom and fangirls and fanboys. Yep, they dress differently and are passionate about their movie, film, TV show or book -- but they are so much more than nerds and dorks.

Egg is vocal and strong in her likes and dislikes and her passions. Slowly, she begins to see that she is using her passion as a shield, to keep people out. This is not a book about someone giving up on passion; rather, the realization that its OK to need friends, and to be a friend, and use that passion to include others rather than exclude. It's OK to be alone and solitary; but not when it's the result of fear. And not when it's the result of being excluded. Egg find the balance between being herself and being part of a community, and never loses her integrity.

The cynsations interview

The Penderwicks: A Summer Tale of 4 Sisters, 2 Rabbits and a Very Interesting Boy

The Penderwicks: A Summer Tale of 4 Sisters, 2 Rabbits and a Very Interesting Boy by Jeanne Birdsall.

The Plot: Four sisters (Rosalind, 12; Sky, 11; Jane, 10; and Batty, 4) spend summer vacation in a cottage in the Berkshire Mountains.

The Good: This is an old-fashioned style book about siblings having fun together. Oh, they fight sometimes and are jealous, but at the heart of it they are a group of sisters who love each other fiercely. Their adventures are important to them, but they are not outlandish or overly dramatic; instead, this book captures the fun of the little things that really happen. How they spend the summer is typical; yet, despite being "typical", Birdsall makes the tale and the sisters compelling. This book has kids you want to know, doing things you want to do.

As an adult reading this story, I also was impressed at how Birdsall updates this Alcott-like story. (Speaking of Alcott, there was a while where it seemed everything had four sisters. Little Women, of course; but also Little House on the Prairie; the Moreau family; Four Daughters).

Anyway: on the surface, the old-fashionedness is in the freedom. Mom is dead (cancer); Dad appears to be absentminded (he loses the directions to the summer cottage); the four girls have a great deal of freedom to play and visit neighbors and get into and out of trouble.

Go a little deeper, and it's an illusion. Oh, yes, Mom is dead; and Dad has his own interests. But the freedom is illusionary; its true that there are no scripted play dates and summer camp and lessons. It's also true that the sisters never leave the grounds, because the cottage is part of a larger property. The neighbors are those who live in the mansion and carriage house on the property. There is enough freedom for the girls to have control of their days and their play; but it is done within established boundaries. So the Penderwicks has appeal for kids who want that freedom and parents who remember days spent without scripted lives; yet it is always safe. There is no real risk or threat or danger to the girls.

The more I think about this book, the more I like it. Because it shows that "old fashioned" fun isn't old-fashioned. And that an "old fashioned" book can be well written and enjoyable.

Moment in the book that I took too seriously: in reading about Mrs. Tifton, I kept picturing her as this old nasty lady. Then I did the math and realized that she's younger than me. I just could not picture her as a young nasty lady.

Anna at Big A Little A recommended this book to "anyone who likes to read." This is also a favorite at Here in the Bonny Glen.

mocking birdies by annette simon

mocking birdies by Annette Simon.

One of the pleasures of going to an ALA Conference is the Exhibit Hall and the books. All those wonderful books....


One of my ALA treasures is this picture book, written and illustrated by Annette Simon.

A blue bird sings in blue text; a red bird copies that singing in red text.

Stop singing my song!
Stop singing my song!

But after the initial copycat dialogue, the two begin talking:
"i sing red as the dawn, when the sun peeps hello"
"i sing blue as the noon, when the sun calls to play"

Next thing you know, the two birds are singing together. And red and blue voices overlap to make purple. And then the purple bird shows up! And then there's a green cat. "Skit scat" "copycat" "copycat cat CAT."

The color coded dialogue contributes to the fun. I'm not sure how well it would work in a traditional story time, even with a storyteller who is good with doing different sounding voices, because of the great moment where red and blue overlap to be purple. Instead, I think it would work best with multiple readers, whether its in a small group with one or two beginning readers or with a larger number of storytellers. What I keep picturing in my head: teen volunteers doing a story time.

Other likes: I like how the electric wires become a music staff. And I like how the colors of the rainbow are used. And I also like how the book jacket is different from the actual book cover, with the book cover incorporating the clever red and blue make purple motif.

Confession: while I was getting the book signed, I knew I knew Annette Simon's name but for the life of me could not remember where I'd read about the book and the author. Chris reminded me that he'd mentioned her on his blog, bartography, and then I also remembered reading the cynsations review. Argh, I wish I'd remembered both of those while I was getting the book signed.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

What I Was Doing When I Heard I Won....

Thanks to blogging, we have a peek into what our favorite authors were doing when the call came in.

Here are my two favorites:

The Printz Award Winner: John Green, on his way to Macy's to register for his wedding. His parents were along, so we also get pictures of John as he answers his phone and gets the news. Oh, and we see what glasses he's looking at.

The Sydney Taylor Book Award: Sarah Littman, getting her legs waxed. Life is pain and pleasure.

Has anyone found any other good "what I was doing when I heard" posts?

Edited to say that I do know the difference between peak and peek.

My Blog Cloud


How cool is that? Thanks to Kelly at Big A Little A for the info and the link to SnapShirts, where you can create your own blog cloud, customize it, and then get a T Shirt. I think the T Shirt is going on my wish list!

Friday, January 27, 2006

YALSA: 2006 Best Books for Young Adults

Best Books for Young Adults:

The Top Ten. My score: 5/10

The Best Books List. My score: 29/91

Ones I read, with no link meaning I read and didn't review. I do usually try to get to all titles in the BBYA list; I'll post when I'm 91/91. In the meanwhile, I'll do a sentence of two for the ones I did read.

Bartoletti, Susan Campbell. Hitler Youth: Growing Up in Hitler's Shadow. BBYA 2006 Top Ten

Frank, Mitch. Understanding the Holy Land: Answering Questions About the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict.

Giblin, James Cross. Good Brother, Bad Brother: The Story of Edwin Booth and John Wilkes Booth.

Jurmain, Suzanne. The Forbidden Schoolhouse: The True and Dramatic Story of Prudence Crandall and Her Students. great book, will have something more detailed later

Nelson, Marilyn. Fortune's Bones: The Manumission Requiem. Marilyn Nelson is an amazing writer; this nonfiction book about a slave who wasn't even freed by death is haunting

Nelson, Marilyn. A Wreath for Emmett Till.

Partridge, Elizabeth. John Lennon: All I Want Is the Truth.

Bray, Libba. Rebel Angels.

Castellucci, Cecil. Boy Proof. Respects fandom, science fiction geeks, and people outside the confident mainstream.

Frank, E. R. Wrecked. Having been in a car accident, I can say that Frank perfectly captures the sick in the stomach feeling when you get in a car again. I still can't make left turns from a stop sign.

Green, John. Looking for Alaska. BBYA 2006 Top Ten The roommate and his mother are awesome characters, and I love the final lines from Pudge.

Griffin, Adele. Where I Want to Be. About sisters, one who is dead, who cannot just walk away from each other.

Hearn, Julie. The Minister's Daughter. Best cover of 2005. Look at the cover, you don't need a booktalk for this one.

Jacobson, Jennifer Richard. Stained.

Kass, Pnina Moed. Real Time. Multiple narrators, set in Israel. Intriguing.

Lanagan, Margo. Black Juice.

Larbalestier, Justine. Magic or Madness. Loved this fantasy about hereditary witches...and the ability to walk out a door and be in a different place.

Lester, Julius. Day of Tears: A Novel in Dialogue. Stunning work that proves one doesn't need a lot of words to create a person and a place and a time and a feeling. Less really is more.

Lubar, David. Sleeping Freshmen Never Lie: A Novel. Laugh out loud funny. Lubar is very inventive in how he tells this story...but I don't want to give away some of the clever things he does.

Pearson, Mary E. A Room on Lorelei Street.

Perkins, Lynne Rae. Criss Cross. Wonderful language; sentences that stayed with me after I put the book down.

Rowling, J. K. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.

Stein, Tammar. Light Years: A Novel. Amazing story of an Israeli girl going to an American university, great look at the US from an outsiders POV.

Tingle, Rebecca. Far Traveler. I'm a sucker for historical fiction set before the Norman invasion, so of course adored this book; also liked that its a heroine that is herself, and is not a strong I want to be a knight type.

Vaughan, Brian K. Runaways: Volume 1 HC. Illus. by Adrian Alphona. BBYA 2006 Top Ten Books like this are why I am happy to have rediscovered Graphic Novels and look forward to comic con in NYC.

Westerfeld, Scott. Uglies. Must read, a great look at our society's attitudes towards beauty and conformity and free will.

Wooding, Chris. Poison. BBYA 2006 Top Ten

Wynne-Jones, Tim. A Thief in the House of Memory. A mystery that is also about accepting the reality of things, rather than the illusion.

Zusak, Markus. I Am the Messenger. BBYA 2006 Top Ten One of the funniest, best opening chapters of the year, as the narrator and his friends cannot help being smart alecks, even in the midst of a bank robbery.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

JHunt Award for Young Adult Literature for 2005

JHunt Award for Young Adult Literature for 2005

Winner: A Room On Lorelei Street by Mary Pearson. My review here.

Finalists:
Hitler Youth by Susan Campbell Bartoletti. My review here.
A Wreath for Emmett Till by Marilyn Nelson. My review here.
John Lennon by Elizabeth Partridge. My review here.
A Room On Lorelei Street by Mary Pearson, WINNER.
Criss Cross by Lynne Rae Perkins. Read, didn't review.

I was rooting for AROLS for the Printz; I take comfort in it being recognized by the JHunt. Congrats, Mary!

ALA Youth Literary Award Winners, Part 1

For full information on the Awards, check out the ALA Press Release. Here is my brief round up of books I read / didn't read. If I read a book but didn't blog about it, I will as soon as I have time. For the most part, it looks like the books I didn't read tend to be younger than YA.

If I didn't blog about a book, its either because I read it before I started this blog or I didn't have the time to post full review. Score = number of books read over total books. Why is scoring important? Um, because I'm a green? Actually, with so many books out there I rely on a combination of things as to what to read next: books I have to read for work or for the NJLA YA section; books that sound interesting; books with good reviews; books I read about in blogs or on discussion lists; books that customers tell me about; books friends recommend. And I like to see if all those things add up to keeping up on the prize-worthy books out there.

John Newbery Medal. My score: 2/5

Winner: Criss Cross by Lynne Rae Perkins. Read, didn't review.
Honor Books:
Whittington by Alan Armstrong. Didn't read.
Hitler Youth: Growing Up in Hitler’s Shadow by Susan Campbell Bartoletti. My review.
Princess Academy by Shannon Hale. Didn't read.
Show Way by Jacqueline Woodson. Didn't read.


Randolph Caldecott Medal. My score: 0/5
Winner: The Hello, Goodbye Window illustrated by Chris Raschka, written by Norton Juster. Didn't read.
Honor Books:
Rosa illustrated by Bryan Collier, written by Nikki Giovanni. Didn't read.
Zen Shorts written and illustrated by Jon J. Muth. Didn't read.
Hot Air: The (Mostly) True Story of the First Hot-Air Balloon Ride written and illustrated by Marjorie Priceman. Didn't read.
Song of the Water Boatman and Other Pond Poems illustrated by Beckie Prange, written by Joyce Sidman. Didn't read.


Michael L. Printz Award My score: 5/5
Winner: Looking for Alaska written by John Green. Read, didn't review.
Honors:
Black Juice by Margo Lanagan. My review.
I Am the Messenger by Markus Zusak. Read, didn't review.
John Lennon: All I Want Is the Truth, a Photographic Biography by Elizabeth Partridge. My review.
A Wreath for Emmett Till written by Marilyn Nelson. My review.

Coretta Scott King (Author) Book Award. My score: 2/4
Author Book Winner: Day of Tears: A Novel in Dialogue written by Julius Lester. Read, didn't review.
Author Honor Books:
Maritcha: A Nineteenth-Century American Girl by Tonya Bolden. Didn't read.
Dark Sons by Nikki Grimes. Didn't read.
A Wreath for Emmett Till written by Marilyn Nelson. My review.

Coretta Scott King (Illustrator) Book Award. My score: 0/2
Illustrator Winner: Rosa illustrated by Bryan Collier, written by Nikki Giovanni. Didn't read.
Illustrator Honor Book: Brothers in Hope: The Story of the Lost Boys of Sudan by R. Gregory Christie. Didn't read.

Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe New Talent Author Award. My score: 0/1
Jimi & Me written by Jaime Adoff. Didn't read.

Assorted Things

ALA Midwinter was great! I spent time with Melissa R. (from Pop Goes the Library) and NJ librarian Carlie W. And saw Sophie B., founder of Pop; funny how I had to go to Texas to keep running into NJ librarians.

I'm on the YALSA Legislation committee, so went to various related meetings. And who could resist the Award Announcements? I'll be posting more about ALA on Pop. Also, I got to meet people who I just know online, like Chris from Bartography. And, even tho it was just hello, I saw some of the folks from adbooks. San Antonio was a great city; it was easy to get to meetings and to get around the Downtown area itself. Good food, and of course I visited the Alamo.

I have a backlog of books to post about; I want to comment on the Award winners; I need to start with my Best Books of 2006.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Buffy Quote of the Week

"When I'm with a boy I like, it's hard for me to say anything cool, or witty, or at all. . . I can usually make a few vowel sounds, and then I have to go away."
- Willow, Ep: Welcome to the Hellmouth

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Freaks and Geeks

Freaks and Geeks will be shown at Ocean County Library Friday, February 3rd, at 6 p.m. And it gets cooler: Samm Levine (Neal Schweiber) will be there for a Q&A. I can't wait to go!

Sydney Taylor Book Awards

The Sydney Taylor Book Awards have been announced. And Confessions of a Closet Catholic won!! Hm. I thought I had put it in my BBof2005 list. My bad. Anyway, here is my review. After ALA I'll update the 2005 list. Apologies for slow posting: I was babysitting (and kissed a seal! not the singer, the animal) then getting ready for ALA. If I get computer access, I'll post a quick note.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Once Upon . . . 1001 Stories

Once Upon ... 1001 Stories by Lila Prap

The Plot: How much time do you have? The story starts with the little girl on her way to her grandmother's house. Do you want to find out what happens to the girl? Or do you want to find out what happens to a rude little boy? That's the first in umpteen decisions to make, before reaching the end. "Have you had enough? Then close the book and turn to the back cover," or decide to go further with the story.

The Good: In my house, this has been dubbed "the book that never ends." Because of the amount of words per page, and the choices to be made, I think this would be difficult to use with any type of large group. With one or two kids, tho, it was a lot of fun. And given the chances to loop back into the story, not a pick for when there are time constraints. Part of the fun was getting to the end, and laughing as we plunged back into the story.

The book references traditional stories such as Little Red Riding Hood or the Frog Prince without ever using those titles. The stories are more fun when you get the connection; so this works better with kids who already know the traditional fairy tales.

While this is "1001 stories", that's mainly because the same sections can be used again and again, becoming an end, a middle, or a beginning. It's a big loop of story.

Finally, the back endpages have a map, with the little girl's house, the castle, etc. I love maps, whether its a picture book or a novel.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Size 12 Is Not Fat, Or Meg Cabot Has A Chip In My Brain

Size 12 Is Not Fat by Meg Cabot.

The Plot: Heather Wells used to be a pop-idol to tweens. But her Mom stole all her money and left the country; her record label dropped her; she lost her boyfriend; and she's gone up a size or two. Heather's current life includes being happy being a size 12 (size 12 is not fat!) and working as an assistant dorm director for a New York college, hoping to be able to go back to school and be a doctor. She's also started writing her own songs so maybe that's what she'll do.... She also has a crush on her ex boyfriend's brother (she's already named the children: Jack, Emily, Charlotte.) Then one of the girls dies in the dorm, the result of an elevator surfing accident. Heather is convinced that something happened and soon takes up another new career: girl detective.

The Good: What freaks me out about Meg Cabot is not so much that she must be eavesdropping on my conversations, because the dialogue in the books is much like that I have with friends and family -- but the fact that she has a chip implanted in my brain and knows how I think. That's just scary. My imaginary sons are always Jack. Sometimes Connor. (Oh, and I'm not a size 12. Holding onto a size 6, thank you.)

The pop culture references come fast and furious, with a heavy emphasis on TV and movies. I keep turning the page, wondering what Heather will think or say or do next. For example, when she finds out one suspect has a trust fund: "This [] is news to me. Oh my God, maybe [he's] like Bruce Wayne! Seriously. Only evil. Like maybe he's had this whole cavern dug out from beneath Fischer Hall, and he takes innocent girls down there, has his way with them, then drugs them and takes them back upstairs and drops them down the elevator shaft....."

The lyrics from Heather's singing career are painfully on target; I can hear a teen girl singing them on a bad MTV video.

Every time I see you,
I get a Sugar Rush,
you're like candy,
you give me a Sugar Rush,
don't tell me to stay on my diet,
you have simply got to try it,
Sugar Rush.

This is also a nicely done mystery with both a realistic yet surprising resolution.

While teens may like S12INF, it's not a teen book. Unfortunately, the people at my local big bookstore don't know that and put the book display in the children's area. This is perfect for those who like Shopaholic and Bridget Jones. Hello, how are the people supposed to buy this book if it's not in the right section?

Babymouse

Babymouse: Queen of the World and Babymouse: Our Hero, by Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm.

What comic books did I read as I kid? The answer is hidden in the dark corners of memory. They were, I assure you, not very cool; Richie Rich, that type of thing. Tho every now and then a scary Dracula type. I stopped reading them because I viewed myself as growing out of them; that, and I was such a fast reader than I didn't feel like I was getting a bang for my buck. Fast forward 20 odd years, and now I'm quite the fan of graphic novels. But it seemed like quality GNs meant "edgy" or complex or dark stories; so that the audience was adult.

About a year ago, I first heard about GNs for younger kids. Cool, I thought, because at the library I constantly had younger kids looking for GNs -- and the only ones we had where in the YA section.

Babymouse is the first of the GNs aimed at the younger set that I've read, and it's fantastic. It has exactly what I like about GNs -- good dialogue, pictures that add to the story, and references to books and movies.

Babymouse is like an older Olivia. She is a quirky mouse with an active imagination; in Babymouse's case, it is fueled by books and movies. The plots are the typical school stories: in QotW, Babymouse wants to be invited to Felicia Furrypaw's sleepover party because Felicia is "queen of the world." In OH, Babymouse faces that most dreaded of school sports: dodgeball. While not the most popular kid in school, she does have good friends, a funny way of looking at things, and an active dream life. You know when one of Babymouse's daydreams is happening because of all the pink. (The book is black and white, with the occasional splash of pink; except, as noted, when the Walter Mitty daydreams begin.)

I also like the feel of the paper (a silly thing, but it's a nice weight.) And the book cover (with the shiny silver Babymouse lettering) are the kind that fold out: there's an extra little comic there, plus they make good bookmarks. Because despite being a total bookmark junkie and owning more than I can count, I am constantly finding myself without a bookmark.

Kelly & kids at Big A little a give this a thumbs up; Cynsations interview with Matthew Holm; and the Babymouse website, with games and additional information.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Over and Over You

Over and Over You by Amy McAuley

As soon as I read about this book at Spookcyn, I knew I had to read it. Ever since A Knight In Shining Armor, I love a good reincarnated love story. And get this for a first line: "I've been in love with the same boy for a thousand years."

The Plot: Penny has her fortune told, and finds out she's been in love with the same guy for a thousand years. And she's going to meet him again, soon. Penny doesn't believe it. Then the strange dreams start, giving her glimpses of her past lives. And in each dream, her best friend dies. With Penny-in-the-past being responsible. And her best friend in her dreams looks exactly like her real best friend Diana. Even if Penny does believe, can she save Diana? It doesn't help that Penny is falling in love with Ryan; and it's Diana's boyfriend, Rick, who looks like Penny's dream guy.

The Good: It's a love story! With reincarnation! Of course it's good. The past lives include the famous and not so famous, with the history part being well researched. McAuley also gives a clever reason why the history stuff may not be a hundred percent correct (and why its always in English): "When you remember [the past lives], you're stuck seeing things through Penny's eyes, which includes her experiences and preconceived ideas."

I also love that while it's about Destiny and Fate, it's also about the ability to make choices and to not be trapped by the past.

The B-plot is about Penny reconciling with her divorced father, who has finally stopped drinking and gotten his life together. In a nice parallel to the main story, their relationship also is about not being trapped by past patterns and allowing people to change and grow.

More links: Cynsations Author Interview ; Debbi Michiko Florence interview (hey, Debbi also googled the history bits in the book!)

Buffy Quote of the Week

Anya: "Here to help. Wanna live."
Ep: The Gift

This week's quote is courtesy of Brian at Dispatches from an MFA-Seeking Writer. If you have a favorite Buffy quote -- heck, if you have any favorite quote from Joss -- let me know.

Various Thoughts

I'll be at ALA Midwinter -- San Antonio, leaving next week. So please let me know if you'll be there.

Meg Cabot has me wondering which bestseller has a Mary Sue character. I've been looking at bestseller lists, trying to figure out, what book would Meg read? And does it have a Mary Sue? I've also found Mary Sue type characters in regular fiction, and it drives me nuts. Hm, note to self: longer post later on Mary Sues.)

E. Lockhart is putting together an iMix for an upcoming book. See my earlier post, Beyond the Book, for my thoughts on extending a story beyond the written page. See this related story from the Chicago Tribune about Lost, ABC's hit `Lost' is easy to find, which talks about TV shows extending the story beyond the show itself. Other shows have done similar things (longer post later on Dawson's Creek, Oz & Homicide having an online story) or had book tie ins. But I'm wondering -- is there a change? Is this one story being told in more than one format, rather than the story told in one format with the other stuff being "extra" or "bonus" or noncanon?

Battlestar Galactica's new season has begun.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Music and TV according to the New York Times

There is a rather delightful article in Saturday's New York Times, Cold Case, Hot Tunes: Springsteen's Soundtrack by Jonah Weiner. It is overall rather interesting, yet makes a misstep that is all the more annoying (meaning I want to scream) because the rest of the article is solid. Overall, I'm left with the sense that because this article was about television, it didn't get the edit it deserved.

The Good: it discusses the use of music in television, and the historic change from "anonymous music men" to the current use of pop music. Included is how television shows have gone from having music be part of the background, to having it be important to a scene, to -- and this is the exciting part -- writing television episodes around specific music. Finally, how TV has become not only an acceptable place to find pop music, but also a place where bands want their music because it translates to record sales. There is a lot of music stuff that I found interesting because I know little about music.

Now the troubling quote: "With the notable exception of Miami Vice, which made iconic use of Phil Collins's In the Air Tonight in 1984, television shows until recently relied on anonymous session men for their incidental music. . . . Today, though, producers are using pop music instead. Prime time has suddenly become a place to hear familiar songs from favorite groups, and to discover songs by unfamiliar ones." I have emphasized certain parts. Are you screaming along with me?

Let me add that all the shows mentioned in the article are current ones.

So explaining the scream: While I may not know music, I do know television. This article overlooks and ignores many late 1980s and 1990s shows which used pop music. thirtysomething. 90201. Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Felicity. Party of Five.

I wouldn't be screaming if the sentences noted had left out the bolded words; it's this "today" and "recently" that is, frankly, WRONG. I can only assume that this error was made because the author and the editors don't know their "old" TV. Or don't care enough to check to make sure what they put down is accurate. Or don't believe TV existed before they started watching, so of course there was no use of pop music until recently. Or prefer the drama of "until recently" "today" and "suddenly" so simply don't care that these are misstatements.

But I do care that history -- even if its TV pop culture history -- is right or wrong. And its important because the reason there is so much use of pop music now is because of the TV shows that did it in the 90s. Maybe there is more now; maybe its more diverse; maybe its more accepted. But it did exist before "today."

While the article addresses the costs of these songs, it doesn't mention the DVD impact, which is OK because I think its just something I'm interested in. Before DVD sales of series became a moneymaker, the rights for a song did not include the rights to use the song in the DVD. Fans of Felicity can point to episodes that feel significantly different because of the use of a different song. And I'm convinced that one of the reasons we have yet to see thirtysomething on DVD is because of issues with songs played during episodes.

Rant over. Can you name a pre-2000 show that used pop music?

Edited to add: Just wanted to point out that fanfic writers have been writing stories around songs for years -- songfic. And that fans also create music videos, using songs and clips from TV shows. So that the idea of being inspired by & using a song for a story isn't "new"; the idea of creating a story around a song isn't "new". But, it isn't something that is typically done on TV. Perhaps it may be more accurate to say that if its been done, the show hasn't been as upfront & in-the-news about it as Cold Case. If anyone does know about pre-2000 shows that did so (wrote an ep specifically around a song or songs), please let us know!

Edited again: Thanks to Camille, I looked into Magnum PI's use of pop music and found that they used many songs. So the accurate thing for the Times to write is not "with the notable exception of Miami Vice," but rather that Miami Vice's use of the Collins tune is when people first sat up and really took notice at the songs being used AND the artist benefitted from the attention. Wow, I did all this extra research with Google and 24 hours. So what's the Time's excuse?

Friday, January 06, 2006

LiveJournal

I opened a Live Journal under the name LizzB, mostly so that I could leave comments on LiveJournal blogs and not be anonymous. I haven't done much with it.

Thanks to the wonderful Suzi (LJ connorgal) at Words, Word, Words I am now syndicated at LiveJournal!!

That's a woo and a hoo! (Sadly, no, I cannot remember the specific Buffy episode with that quote. Anyone?)

The syndicated account at livejournal is: http://www.livejournal.com/users/yzocaet/

If you're an LJ'er, you just need to add yzocaet to your friends list to get the feed.

(and yes, I'm probably misusing some of this techy talk)

Snoopy happy dance -- I'll be adding this link to my sidebar soon.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Why

Why? by Lila Prap

Why? is an interactive nonfiction picture book about animals that is fun. It also works as a read-a-loud (tested on the Darling Nephew, age 2, and Darling Niece, age 5 1/2); because of the scientific information, it would also be fun to use with older kids.

Each page has a picture of an animal, a question about that animal, silly answers and a real answer.

The layout of each page includes a picture of the animal, bordered by the question and silly answers; the questions and answers are in different fonts, which adds to the silliness. The real answer has a star.

An example: "Why do crocodiles cry?" "They're spoiled." "They cry when they're sleepy." "They're afraid of water." "Because nobody wants to play with them." And then, the real answer: "Crocodiles are not sad, and they don't really cry, but they do like to lie in the sun. Their eyes can dry out when they are not in the water, and the tears help to keep their eyes wet and comfortable."

When reading this with test kids DN & DN, it was fun to be as silly as possible with the answers. I'd read the answers as if I were asking them if it was right or not: "Is it because they cry when they're sleep?" and the DNs would answer "No". And then I'd ask them for their silly answers. And then we'd read the real answer.

The endpages add another element, which it took me a while to discover (meaning, I've had this book months and realized it today). They contain a mix of animals and question marks. At first, it looks like they are repeating the animals found within the book... but when you look closer, some of the animals are silly hybrids. For example, hidden between a whale and a zebra is a "snakamel", a snake with a camel's head.

I love books like this that make science fun; I also like that it almost demands conversation between the reader and the listener, so that the listener is involved; they're not passive.

Originally published in Slovenia in 2003.

Buffy Quote of the Week

Andrew: "Warren's just coming up with a plan. Like in War Games, remember? That decoder Matthew Broderick used?"
Jonathan: "Oh, yeah. That was rad. The one he made from the scissors and the tape recorder?"
Andrew: "I miss 'Ferris' Matthew. 'Broadway' Matthew -- I find him cold."
Ep: Villains

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Goodbye Hermione, All Hail Queen Lucy

The Darling Niece, age 5 (correction: age 5 AND A HALF), has insisted that she is Hermione for about 2 years now. She has seen all the HP movies and loves the magic, loves Harry, and, of course, wants to be Hermione. (We also had a HP pop up book that no longer pops up, and apparently, this particular tie in is no longer made, so there is sadness in the house.)

As I wrote earlier, we went to see The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe together. She also went to see the latest HP. (Yes, I know it's PG13. No, I didn't take her.)

The result: a shift in heroines. Goodbye, Hermione.

Today, DN announced that we could only call her by her real name once a week. Other than that -- and other than at school -- she is Queen Lucy.

At the bookstore the other day, we examined some of the different Narnia books that are available. Purist that I am, I would have preferred to buy the original books and avoid the tie-ins and adaptations altogether. We examined this lovely read aloud edition, and she loved the cover, but was put off by all the words and little pictures, so we ended up getting this picture book adaptation. I said that when she was older, we'd get the one with more words.

To go back a little: months ago, when she was in full Harry Potter love, I'd explained to her about the books and how books and movies are different; that books have more in them than the movie. That it's 2 different versions of the same story. (For the record, my mother and sis laugh and laugh at how serious I was about this discussion with DN.)

So now to the cute part: DN and my mother were reading the adaptation together, which is now officially DN's favorite book. After it was over, she turned to my mother and explained, "but that's not the whole story. There's more."

My mother, thinking DN meant that the book had left out parts of the movie, said, "sometimes things are in movies but not in books."

"No," DN told her. "There's more stuff in the books that just has words. When I'm older, I can read that and find out all the extra stuff."

I was over the moon to hear that. First, I love that she loves movies, because I do. But I also love that she's gotten the message that movies aren't a substitute for books, and that books have "extra stuff." She already realizes its not a competition: they complement each other. And I love that she remembered that conversation about HP from a few months back and applied it to Narnia.

My lesson: be less judgmental about such adaptations. The picture book version (adapted by Hiawyn Orem -- isn't that a great name?) is a good story (and Chicken Spaghetti named it one of the year's best.)

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