Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Strange Search Terms Meme

You want to know what happens when you get tagged with a strange search terms meme?

For a week, you get the most.boring.searches. ever.

So I'll be back soon... with cool searches. Hopefully.

8 Things Meme

I've been tagged for the 8 Things meme by Christine M at The Simple & The Ordinary, Michele at Scholar's Blog, and Gail Gauthier at Original Content.

The rules:

Each player lists 8 facts/habits about themselves. The rules of the game are posted at the beginning before those facts/habits are listed. At the end of the post, the player then tags 8 people and posts their names, then goes to their blogs and leaves them a comment, letting them know that they have been tagged and asking them to read your blog.

Eight facts/ habits about me:

1. I met my best friend in 4th grade; I moved, we lost touch, and then we met again in High School.

2. I would love to hire a professional organizer. I'm staring at the clutter around my desk and the piles of books as I say this.

3. Being a book person, I have bought 3 books on organizing and de-cluttering.

4. I have not yet read any of those books; but I somehow believe that just by buying them, things will change.

5. The clutter remains.

6. I am leaving for BookExpo tomorrow. So you won't be hearing from me for a few days.

7. If you had asked me 20 years ago where I'd be today ... this would not be it. I've learned to embrace your future, question choices, be happy with the good things in life, and to work hard to get what you want. And I'm a little worried on the pressure put on teens to make life decisions when life is about change and growth and learning new things.

8. I adore genre TV. But, given the recent network betrayals (Nuts. Mars. 'nuff said), I think it's entirely possible that except for some guilty pleasures, my viewing for the coming year will be DVDs of TV series (old favorites, or shows I didn't watch but heard great things about). I just cannot invest in a show again to see "the suits" cancel.

Who to tag that hasn't been tagged?

Well, one way to get thru 8 is to tag rest of the Pop gang:

Sophie B.

Melissa

John

Sue

Hm, 4 more? I'll go with some real life friends

Chris

Nicki

2nd Gen Librarian

Tyler

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Why My Sister Is The Best Mom EVER


spot
Originally uploaded by LizzB.

Meet Cheetah's new pet. A gift for her seventh birthday. After considering the name "Snakey" Cheetah settled on "Spot."

Spot eats live mice.

Monday, May 28, 2007

And He's Protesting What, Exactly?

I don't get the book burner. So a used bookseller is burning old copies of Tom Clancy books because local libraries and thrift stores couldn't use them. And the protest is what, exactly? That there are too many bestsellers printed each year?

Edited to add:

I like Christine M's take on the the book burning, particulary what she has to say about the increase in number of books available.

More Evolution

The Creation Museum carnival is up at Pharyngula. Thanks to Farm School for the link.

All the more reason to read Evolution, Me & Other Freaks of Nature by Brande (which, IMHO, is a great example of a book with a message rather than a message book, with nary an anvil in sight.)

It also has some interesting examples of when bloggers do a better job of reporting than print reporters.

Blog of the Day: Amelia's Passion

Blog of the Day: Amelia's Passion

About the Blogger: Amelia describes herself as "I'm a transplanted God-loving New Yorker sweating her way through desert life. I'm obsessed with books - reading, buying, discovering new authors, etc."

About the Blog: One of the things I like about doing my Blog of the Day* posts is that it makes me go to the original blog. Most blogs I read strictly thru RSS feeds at Bloglines, going to the actual site only to comment or read comments. As I stroll leisurely thru my blogroll, I get to revisit the actual Blog, the art, the sidebars. Or, as here, sometimes see that it's been a bit since the blogger blogged, something that I don't notice via Bloglines.

And you know what? So what? That's why I like Bloglines; once Amelia starts posting again, I'll be reading it. She hasn't lost me as a reader.

Back to Amelia's Passion; I like that it's a mix of books, old, new, kids, adult, manga. I especially like her reviews of grown up books. The blog has been around since 2005, so while you're waiting for a new post, explore the archives.

*Yes, I know it's been a good three weeks since the last BotD post. Oh well.

Congratulations, Fuse!

And this fine Monday morning I discover that Fuse posts on holidays.

And then I read the best news ever and I'm sitting here cheering for her.

A Fuse #8 Production is moving to School Library Journal and Fuse will be paid for blogging.

I think this is great news and a big congrats to Fuse.

Am I a wee bit jealous? Yes. I mean, getting paid to do what I love? That's good.

And it's the healthy kind of jealousy -- because it makes me all the happier that someone is able to achieve it (and Fuse deserves it -- she doesn't let things like Weeks From Hell (see last week) stop her from posting and she stays on topic (kids books) while I wonder into zombie land now and again.)

Fuse anticipates many of the arguments against getting paid in her announcement. All I can say, is if non-blog reporters, journalists, editors write for money, why not a blogger? Why assume a change in what will or won't be written about? And this is Fuse we're talking about. We've seen her integrity in posting again and again.

And to tell the truth, as I've seen print papers & magazines attempt to set up blogs to get online readers, I've wondered, why don't they just hire an established blogger? It makes more sense than starting from scratch. And just as a paper would hire an experienced reporter, why not hire an experienced blogger?

Anyhow.

CONGRATULATIONS. And let us know what the new RSS feed will be!

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Look Out for the Anvil!

Read Roger has a conversation going on (Crap, here comes the Teacher!) that talks about didacticism. Right now there are over 50 comments.

My two cents worth:

Do I like didacticism or message books? Hell no.

But doesn't every book have a message? Is it not so much about the message as how it's delivered? Hell yes.

I look at it this way, whether it's a book, a TV show, or a movie.

Yes, I know there is an author / writer/ creator. But the minute Oz shows himself behind the curtain; the minute I know that my strings are being pulled by a puppet master; I'm turned off. For me, the moment that the message overwhelms the story you've lost me as a reader, and this usually happens when the author lets the message get in the way.

In addition to that, if the message is so heavy handed that it's like getting hit on the head by an anvil, you've lost me. I'm not stupid. Get too heavy handed (this is important! you must take this message away with you!) and you've lost me, because I don't like to get beat up.

Let me add: this is true whether or not I agree with the message; tho to be honest, I'm probably more forgiving and willing to ignore it if it's a message I agree with.

How can I tell when this happens? Characters act unlike themselves; speeches are given that take away from the whole; events happen that don't make sense; consequences are over the top. In other words, the story is affected and manipulated in order to have the message delivered. It's one of the reasons I didn't like This Is All; I felt as if all those things were happening in order to deliver a message, and as such the characters and events never stayed "real" to me.

Edited to add: One more thing about the Read Roger comments: there are way too many people using anonymous. OK, for whatever reason, you don't want to use your real name but for the love of Mike, pick a pseudonym and stick with it. Trying to keep track of who was who is way too confusing, gives less weight to their argument, and makes it difficult to follow the conversation and the points being made.

Thanks to Monica for letting me know about this conversation.

Dramarama

Dramarama by E. Lockhart. Reviewed from ARC.

The Plot: Sadye and her best friend, Demi, have been accepted to the summer drama camp at Wildewood Summer Institute. Sadye (well, technically Sarah, but Sadye is so much better, don't you think?) knows that this will be the best summer of her life, in part because it's getting her out of Brenton, Ohio.

But things don't turn out the way Sadye had hoped. What happens when your whole life is about pursuing a dream -- and you find out that you don't have what it takes?

How much worse is it when your best friend does have what it takes?

The Good:

This is going on my best books of 2007 list.

Sadye had been Sarah, living a boring life, wanting something more, and then she met Demi during the auditions for the drama camp and they instantly click. Before, Sadye loved musicals and drama; and the week before she meets Demi, she gets a new haircut and a new wardrobe, turning herself into someone who (she thinks) is more glam, more drama, less suburban mall. And then she meets Demi and her life falls into place.

Demi loves theatre, loves musicals, and is gay; his parents know, but he's not really accepted. Demi is never going to be able to be himself in his small town; and while Sadye feels like she doesn't fit in in Ohio, Demi really doesn't fit in.

And so, we saved each other, if you can call it saving when it takes the form of body glitter and cast albums and singing "Hot Lunch" in the back of a public bus.
And so, my life was no longer razzle-dazzle deprived but utterly fabulous -- as long as I was with Demi.

Brenton, Ohio is not -- needless to say -- a place where to musical-loving drama kids fit in. At Wildewood, for the first time ever, they find a place where they fit.

Except, spoiler time here, it turns out not to be so true for Sadye. It's a tough realization: she wants to be "The Star" and at best she's in the chorus. It's a hard reality* to face, made tougher as Demi shines. Demi has what it takes to live his dream; and Sadye has to deal with losing hers. Needless to say, Demi increasingly feels "at home" in Wildewood as Sadye feels increasingly the outsider. Can their friendship take this stress?

This is a fascinating look at friendship; how much was Demi's friendship with Sadye based on his loneliness? A loneliness that no longer exists? What about Sadye, left behind, without even a dream?

OK, obviously that's the part that really captured me. But what is great is that all this is happening while at drama camp; so for both Demi and Sadye their is the exhilarating power of freedom and independence (remember your first time away from home, whether summer camp or college), including the freedom to find yourself and be yourself. Add to it the fact that it's a golden time when the biggest worry was love, friendship and happiness? Yes, they are big worries... but it's worries taking place during that time where you don't have to worry about rent/mortgage/food/work. It's almost bliss.

Also good: the mix of friendship and competition. All these students have so much in common; almost too much in common, because only one person can get a role.

Also good: the powerful and pure emotions of love and jealousy.

And finally, the music. If you love musicals, you'll love this book, the songs, the references, it's a pleasure and you find yourself humming and singing along. And digging out old CDs or downloading songs from iTunes. Lockhart has created an iMix list of the tunes to assist.

Last note: I read this and Beige by Cecil Castellucci back to back, which led me to wonder, what if Katie/Beige had been into musicals? What would her punk father had thought of that?

Edited to add: Sadye tells her story with an incredible amount of honesty about her own insecurities, fears, and jealousies which is so refreshing; she is a likeable character who admits to bad and negative feelings. Very realistic.

*Can I tell you how much I loved this part of the book? Having just read Horace and Morris Join the Chorus (But What About Dolores) to Cheetah & PeterParker, where, basically, the message is if you want to be in the chorus you should be even if you cannot sing, I rejoice in a book that says yes, sometimes your talent and ability do not match your dreams, no matter how much you want it and how much you do (lessons and practice) to achieve it. Dolores shouldn't be in the chorus.

Links:

Booktopia review
The Longstockings review
I read books review haiku
avenging sybil review
bookshelves of doom review
oracle review

Friday, May 25, 2007

Poetry Friday

How was my week? Well, I haven't posted since Sunday, so that's a clue right there. But yay for Friday!

So.

For no particular reason other than this is a poem I like.

Leda and the Swan by William Butler Yeats.

A sudden blow: the great wings beating still
Above the staggering girl, her thighs caressed
By the dark webs, her nape caught in his bill,
He holds her helpless breast upon his breast.

How can those terrified vague fingers push
The feathered glory from her loosening thighs?
And how can body, laid in that white rush,
But feel the strange heart beating where it lies?

A shudder in the loins engenders there
The broken wall, the burning roof and tower
And Agamemnon dead.
Being so caught up,
So mastered by the brute blood of the air,
Did she put on his knowledge with his power
Before the indifferent beak could let her drop.


Round up is at a wrung sponge. Who has a marvelous doohickey for contributing your post. Cool beans!

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Half of an Elephant


Half of an Elephant by Gusti. Copy supplied by publisher, Kane/Miller. Originally published in Mexico 2006.

The Plot:
An elephant is fast asleep when CRACK the world is split in two. He wakes up half an elephant and now has to search for his other half.

The Good:
The plot is a mix of silly and serious as elephant (and every other animal) has to go looking for it's other half. In a weird way, this is like an adult romance break up and get back together story: elephant has to learn to be strong on it's own! Elephant is so desperate to be whole that it hooks up with the wrong half of an animal! And at the end, when the two halves reunite because after all, they belong together, each half retains its independence. It applies to any situation where someone "cannot live without the other person" yet find out... yes, the can.

The illustrations are very inventive; as described on the book flap, they are "digital images of numerous discarded objects to show children that art can be created from objects that usually end up in the garbage can." As such, I can easily see this being used to inspire art projects. Aside from the story itself, it's fun to look at the various animals and figure out what they are made of.

For some reason; I think because of the combination of "found objects" and the way the half animals survive despite being cut in two; I also read this as magical realism in picture book format. OK, so magical realism isn't quite the term I mean... but I cannot think of a term to use where the text of the story is so serious and factual while discussing something that is impossible. The serious treatment of something magical; the treating it as every day and normal; appealed to me, especially since the illustrations are also other-worldly.

Links:
Kane/Miller Play Pages (great for parents & teachers) PDF
Propernoun review
Kids Lit review
a whimsy Pick for 2006
Big A little a review

The one galley I want more than anything...

OK, yeah, I wouldn't say no to the new Kiki Strike.

But the one I really really really want? Ellen Emerson White's Long May She Reign. Scroll down Draw the Girl's post to the end.... yes. She has it. I wonder if I can get one at Book Expo.

Links:
More Ellen Emerson White love.
EEW's Wikipedia entry.
More Long May She Reign news here.
Another fan of EEW.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

I love Bruce Campbell

But then, who doesn't?

Evolution, Me & Other Freaks Of Nature


Evolution, Me & Other Freaks of Nature by Robin Brande. ARC from a friend. Publication date August 2007.

The Plot:
Mena is starting high school; unfortunately, she had a falling out with her friends and is now a social outcast.

The Good:
Once more, I have the difficult task of saying "this book is the best ever" while not being able to give away too much, because I don't want to be all spoilery about a book that is not out yet. I will say that because of the sensitive way Brande balances a coming of age story with topical issues of religion and science, it's on my best books list for 2007. In someone else's hands, this could have been a "message book", where the message overwhelms the character and extinguishes the plot.

So, here goes.

This is NOT a Speak clone; the reason for Mena not being friends with her old group is both because of something Mena did -- something positive -- and also because that group? Not the nicest people in the world to begin with.

Another good? Because that group had been Mena's friends for so long, she saw them as being the only kids in school. It's good that she's shaken up, and forced to start looking beyond the familiar faces from school, home, and church group.

See, Mena's friends are from her church. What kind of church, you may ask? The kind where you cannot read Harry Potter or watch Lord of the Rings. The kind where, when the biology teacher says "Evolution", all her old friends turn their seats -- literally, turn their seats around -- and sit with their backs towards the teacher.

And what Mena did has put her at outs with her church; a church her parents still attend. And let me share one of the best things about this book -- yes, some of the people in the church are hypocrites. But that does not destroy Mena's faith. Between the evolution and the exclusion, this could easily have been a "and then a teen discovers its best to have no faith, no religion, no god" type of books. Instead, Mena does not allow these individuals to shake her own faith, and her belief in and need for religion. What is even better about this book is that it is not evangelical; it's about Mena's journey, about her own coming of age, and there are no "are you saved" moments directed towards anyone, including Mena, other characters, or the reader.

When Mena's friends start the evolution protest, she has to think for the first time about the choices in her life. If "the break" hadn't happened, would she be turning her chair? And now that she isn't in that group, and she listens to her teacher and students, what does she learn? Is evolution really anti-religion? Can a person believe in religion and also love science?

Other things I like: Mena putting her life together. Her cute lab partner, Casey, a guy -- who introduces her to the joy of The Lord of the Rings. And is also a love interest. And despite everything -- Mena is at heart a good kid. She loves her parents. She's torn up that she's hurt them by the thing that happened over the summer. But she wants to make the right choices; and she's learning that doing the easy thing and doing the right thing are very different. Which means she has to learn how to be strong.

Another interesting plot involves the Internet. No, not just a kid who texts and blogs; rather, this looks at the online community and how being involved in that virtual world can give quiet people a voice, connect individuals to those outside their small town, and be a positive experience.

In the way that it sometimes works with books, shortly after finishing this I read Saxons, Vikings And Celts: The Genetic Roots of Britain and Ireland by Bryan Sykes. And while I skimmed a lot of the science part, the evolution of DNA was extremely interesting, and timely; since part of the school protest in the book is based on the argument that "evolution is just a theory so shouldn't be taught".


Links:

BibleGrrrl, a website tie-in for the book. Includes links to the first chapters of the book.
The Reading Rants review
7 Impossible Things Before Breakfast author interview
Not Your Mother's Bookclub review
living read girl review

Huh. It's True : Updated with Rant!

Network TV executives do hate their audiences. And also? They don't understand their audience. Sigh. You know, I'd have a better time adjusting to Jericho's cancellation if it had been for a real reason.

Edited to add:

A new CBS response gives some hope of "closure". Link from Sound the Sirens.

Here's the thing. The THREE MONTH hiatus did not help the show. And, apparently, watching a show via TiVo (or DVR) doesn't count as "watching" when the suits look at numbers.

Sophie & Melissa & I have long wondered about American TV not being able to break out of the "same old, same old" view of what a TV series and a TV season is. Look at all the great British shows that are less than the standard 22 episodes. Maybe it's time that TV not only considers watchers who watch via TiVo (and DVR and other nontraditional ways), but also reconsiders season length (perhaps shorter than 22) and also rethinks TV shows not being "open ended." Some shows need to know when they will end to be properly written and acted. A TV show shouldn't be viewed as something that only has value if it can last multiple seasons.

On a final note: I'm equally pissed at the people behind Jericho for giving us this cliff hanger with too many unresolved and open storylines. Supernatural did it right; they wrapped up the season long stories (Demon, Dad In Hell), and while they have a couple of new unresolved and open items (aka Jensen, don't ask for more money) if Supernatural hadn't been picked up, viewers would have had a sense of closure. That closure is missing in Jericho. (And for the record? I'm very scared that the Veronica Mars finale will be more Jericho than Supernatural.)

(And CBS, thinking you'll be edgy by having a vampire detective show? Do you really think it's never been done?)

Walden Media

Walden Media has picked up the film option for I'd Tell You I'd Love You, But Then I'd Have To Kill You by Ally Carter.

Now, just because a company has an option doesn't mean that the film is being made. There are a bazillion books that have been optioned and nothing happens.

Here's what I was thinking. Walden Media is one of the few film production companies that I regularly see at ALA. When you're at the ALA Conference in DC (in between the YALSA events and dancing with Mitali) -- go by Walden Media and let them know how excited you are about them having Love You, Kill You. It can't hurt, right? And it would let them know that the target audience (OK, me!) is very interested in this book becoming a film.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Poetry Friday:Fat Is Not A Fairy Tale

Fat Is Not A Fairy Tale by Jane Yolen

I am thinking of a fairy tale,
Cinder Elephant,
Sleeping Tubby,
Snow Weight,
where the princess is not
anorexic, wasp-waisted,
flinging herself down the stairs.

The rest of the poem is at Poetry 180: Library of Congress.

The round up is at Big A little a.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Funny or Die

It's never easy dating. Especially when you're a zombie. Funny or Die

What Are You Doing Saturday June 23rd?

I'm going to be at the Book Launch and Bhangra Party for First Daughter: Extreme American Makeover by Mitali Perkins. And yes, it's Mitali; but it's also a "pretend president's daughter" book, a genre I have loved since Ellen Emerson White. So I'm excited. Plus, the party is in DC, and again, the whole presidential connection!

Full details are at Mitali's Blog. You have to RSVP; get the scoop there.

Let me note, however, that I love food so am looking forward to both the samosas and the tiny franks (do not get between me and the food.) I'm a bit leery of anything in the yogurt family, but I'll give lassis a try.

And despite my inability to know my right foot from my left foot, I am looking forward to the bhangra lessons because what I lack in talent, I make up for in enthusiasm, especially when I have a few diet cokes in me. Bring your video camera; the YouTube version of my dancing will be priceless.

If We Were Watching, Why Was It Cancelled?

This is why I love MegCabot (just not in a creepy stalker way): Pants On Fire Tour Days 2 and 3

Scroll all the way to the last line.

I'm sure that MegCabot and I would watch the DVDs*, drink, and wonder what the hell would happen next.

*there better be DVDs.

I Am So Mad

I am so mad about the cancellation of Veronica Mars.

I almost want to give up watching any new TV show, ever.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

I Hate When This Happens

Another good show lasts only one season. Ah, Jericho... we'll always have the DVD.

Obviously, I'm not blogging enough about TV or movies

Because nobody has offered me any free DVDs.

I'm a Pure Nerd

No one I know in real life will be surprised by this.

Your Score: Pure Nerd


82 % Nerd, 47% Geek, 30% Dork



For The Record:

A Nerd is someone who is passionate about learning/being smart/academia.
A Geek is someone who is passionate about some particular area or subject, often an obscure or difficult one.
A Dork is someone who has difficulty with common social expectations/interactions.
You scored better than half in Nerd, earning you the title of: Pure Nerd.

The times, they are a-changing. It used to be that being exceptionally smart led to being unpopular, which would ultimately lead to picking up all of the traits and tendences associated with the "dork." No-longer. Being smart isn't as socially crippling as it once was, and even more so as you get older: eventually being a Pure Nerd will likely be replaced with the following label: Purely Successful.

Congratulations!


Also, you might want to check out some of my other tests if you're interested in any of the following:

Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Professional Wrestling

Love & Sexuality

America/Politics

Thanks Again! -- THE NERD? GEEK? OR DORK? TEST

Link: The Nerd? Geek? or Dork? Test written by donathos on OkCupid Free Online Dating, home of the The Dating Persona Test

Play a Half Hour of Baseball Every Day

The amount of people who don't exercise in this country is frightening! So in order to make sure we have the healthiest people ever, and to make sure everyone loves physical activity, and to develop teamwork, this summer all students must play a half hour of baseball every day. And so we know you did it, in September you're going to give an oral report about how much fun you had playing baseball over the summer. That way, if the two things you dislike most are sports and public speaking, we can get you to do these two things -- because forcing you to do it will make you like it. And will make you a better person.

What? You don't like baseball? OK, we'll give you options. You can either play baseball or volleyball. There must be something wrong with you if you don't like at least one of those sports!

That, my friends, would have been a nightmare scenario for me as a kid.

And that is why, when it comes to summer reading, I hate the idea of mandatory summer reading and reporting back.

I believe in matching the book to the reader; and love the challenge of finding something that a self-described "non-reader" will enjoy. And that may be fiction, fantasy, sports, non-fiction, graphic novel, or magazine. Yep, to me, if it's words, it's reading. I'm not going to look down at or dismiss the person who prefers to read science books.

I get a tremendous amount of pleasure out of reading; I love when I can share that. But if someone else doesn't, so what? We have to respect that different things work for different people. Reading fiction for pleasure isn't everyone's cup of tea.

That said, I also think that there are artificial barriers to reading, beyond the obvious such as dyslexia. We have kids who don't read Harry Potter at age six so get tagged as a "non reader" -- and believe that tag long after first grade. Or kids whose reading choices are disrespected, from the classic "yuck, comic books" to the equally prevalent "But he won't read fiction, he just takes out all these non fiction books, why won't he read a real book?" Or the kids who aren't introduced, for one reason or another, to the story that will make them say "yes, this is fun." And I will do my darnedest to make sure that those barriers don't prevent a kid or teen or adult from realizing that yes, they like reading, when the reading material is a match.

I don't think summer reading should be mandatory. And to the extent that it is, I think it should be individual, non-punishing, and persuasive as to the joys of reading. I applaud the schools who don't limit the reading list to a handful of titles, but instead offer hundreds of possibilities that covers a range of materials, including non-fiction.

Links:

My rant was inspired by To Require, Or Not To Require, at Educating Alice

Jumpstarting Students' Summer Reading: Classroom Strategies and Activities to Promote Independence by Franki at A Year of Reading has some wonderful ways in which kids can be persuaded into fun summer reading, rather than forced

Note: finding posts on this has been a bit tricky. So if you posted something about mandatory summer reading (love it? hate it? had to do it but tricks to make it fun for kids?) please let me know in the comments & I'll add you to the round up

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Mama's Saris


Mama's Saris by Pooja Makhijani; illustrated by Elena Gomez. Copy supplied by author. Picture book.

The Plot:

A little girl wants to wear her mother's dress-up clothes. After all, she is grown up -- she's seven! And she's having a party -- so why not dress up in one of her mother's saris? As the girl helps her mother pick out which one of the special saris to wear that day, she holds out hope that Mama will say yes, she can dress up.

The Good:

I enjoyed that this is a story that is both unique (the saris, with details such as "The folds and nooks of Nanima's saris hold lots of secrets. I always find coins tied into the ends of safety pins fastened on the inside, and I smell the scent of cardamom and sandalwood soap all over"); yet universal (a child wanting to dress up in her mother's clothes).

I like the mother/daughter (and mother/daughter/grandmother) interaction in the book (which is why, yes, I'm actually organized enough to post this on Mother's Day!)*. In part because the narrator is older (7), and also the cultural information found within the text, this would work well as a read aloud for older kids.

I loved the illustrations; they spill out over the pages, much like the saris themselves. The colors and patterns of the saris fill the pages; I think the magenta one with deer is my favorite. The author's interview at Mitali's Fire Escape gives some insight on how Makhijani worked with the illustrator to ensure cultural accuracy. Oh! And there's an author's note and glossary, including the helpful information that there is no one way to wear a sari ("The style, color, and texture of this cloth vary and it can be draped in many ways, depending on the woman's status, age, occupation, and religion, as well as the region where the woman lives.")

Final point: If you have the opportunity to attend one of Pooja's workshops, do so! She's a great speaker and I was just floored by the amount of information (translation: stuff I didn't know and didn't think about) in her More Than Monkeys, Maharajahs, and Mangoes: An Overview of South Asian Literature for Kids presentation. (Love the title... If I was ever doing a presentation on Irish Lit for Kids, I'd use the title, More Than Leprechauns, the Famine, and Drunks. Doesn't sound quite as good as Pooja's; I'll have to work on that....)

Links:

Teacher's Guide
Saffron Tree review
Chicken Spaghetti review and Makhijani as guest columnist
Sepia Mutiny review
A Fuse #8 Production review
SAJAForum interview
Book Moot review

Nebula and Andre Norton Award Winners

Congrats to Justine Larbalestier!

Magic or Madness won the Andre Norton Award for Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy!

Links:

Justine's post about winning, including the acceptance speech given on her behalf
Scott Westerfeld's post about the award

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Brick


Brick. DVD; from library.

The Plot: Brendan's ex-girlfriend, Emily, contacts him -- she needs his help. Brendan cannot say no . . . and finds himself unraveling a mystery that involves rich kids, drugs, a mysterious crime king pin, and a murder.

The Good: This is a modern high school setting -- but nothing is what it appears. Brendan is a loner; but there is more to his story and more to him. At first he seems to be a high school outsider, but as he calls in contacts, makes connections, and gets deeper and deeper into the world that Emily was part of, it becomes clear that there is more to Brendan than the boy who eats lunch by himself.

This is not a Blue Velvet film, where the innocent boy gets in over his head; Brendan is not naive; he is not innocent; he is well aware of the evils and complications of the world he is investigating. Just like Veronica Mars is smarter than me -- so is Brendan.

I had heard this described as a detective story set in high school, a film noir tale, and thought, huh, Veronica Mars. And yes, like Veronica, Brendan is smart, aware of his world, but unlike Veronica Mars, this isn't a "high school" story despite it's setting. Adults and class rooms barely make an appearance; the teens act with the freedom of adults; and talk in the lingo of 1940s films.

At first, I was thrown by the language and delivery; it's used as teen slang; but it placed the story on a more serious level. I took the characters more seriously. And viewed them as older.... I think it was a deliberate casting choice that the actors playing teens are all in their 20s, adding to the gravity of the story line. (Actually, and weirdly, the teens acting like adults and tough guy talk reminded me of Bugsy Malone. But seriously, Bugsy is a light hearted musical, and this is a hardboiled crime story.)

What else? Joseph Gordon-Levitt is one good looking guy. I knew him from his roles in 3rd Rock From The Sun and Ten Things I Hate About You. The boy has grown up quite nicely. He's one blockbuster away from being the next Orlando Bloom or Heath Ledger.

Finally ... this is the type of movie that demands you watch it again. And again. And again.

A Book Contest

Were you intrigued by my review of A Girl, A Boy And A Monster Cat by Gail Gauthier?

Want a chance to win your own copy? Gail announces the contest here, and more details are at her webpage.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Poetry Friday: Heaven Looks A Lot Like The Mall


Heaven Looks A Lot Like The Mall by Wendy Mass. Reviewed from ARC supplied by publisher, Little Brown. Publication date September 2007.

The Plot:
Tessa in in gym class and sees the orange dodgeball approaching. She doesn't duck. BAM. And she finds out that -- heaven looks like the mall? The hell?

A book in verse.

The Good:
Don't be mistaken about Tessa; she's not a mall rat. Well, she is and she isn't. See, her parents both work at the mall, so she's grown up there. And now that she's dead --

OK, this is NOT another one of those dead teenagers and their post-death lives books. For one thing, Tessa is not dead; not yet. She's in a coma. Whether or not she wakes up depends on what she learns about her life so far.

And how will she learn it? A trip down memory lane; or rather, a trip thru the mall. Tessa reflects on what she's bought at the mall in her lifetime, starting with her first pair of shoes and ending with her Junior Prom dress; and her actions and choices related to each item. And by the end, we find out why, when Tessa saw that ball coming -- she didn't dodge.

I like Tessa because in many ways Tessa isn't always likable. Jealousy and the other dark things that lurk in a third grader's heart drives her to steal her best friend's purple gel pen -- and Tessa gets away with it. It seems her life is a series of bad choices, some found out, some kept hidden. Why are these the events she is revisiting? And why does she view her life by looking at the bad? This book is about how we view our own history; what choices we make, including why we make them.

Another thing: the fonts on the cover? The fonts of the names of mall stores.

A bit of one of the poems; as background, a birthday party, a magician, and two girls have just made fun of a young Tessa.

Lord & Taylor
...
And before I can think,
the Hawaiian Punch I am holding just happens
to slip out of my hand and on top of Hailey's head,
and I probably won't get invited
to any more birthday parties for a while,
which is fine by me because I know
it's impossible to pull a flower
out of someone's ear.

Today's round up is at HipWriterMama.


Links:
Bildungsroman/ Little Willow interview with author
A Year of Reading reports on a Wendy Mass talk
oracle review
teen reads too author interview
edited to add: Reading Rants review

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

What Books Are You Reading?

I've been tagged by Christine M at The Simple & The Ordinary for the What Books Are You Reading meme.

I am finishing up reading Endymion Spring, which I have enjoyed very much. I love the history, the mystery, the sense of the reader and the hero working together to solve the mystery; I love that it's illustrated with the pages of books that Blake looks at, the invitation he gets. Also? After reading this, I want to move to Oxford immediately.

I'm reading Flora Segunda at lunch. I've only just begun, but I love how we've been dumped into Flora's world and we're getting hints about various things as we move along and I cannot wait to see where this book goes.

And I have Alice in Sunderland, which I've just begun. It's fantastic, and already I'm wondering if there is a website out there that sorts fact from fiction and links to more info on all the cool stuff mentioned in this book; the artists, places, history, actors, music.

Let's see, who to tag? Let's be ABC P and go with AmoxCalli; Book Moot; Chicken Spaghetti; and Purled Pouches and Things Unstrung.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Buffy Quote of the Week

"Oh my god. I'm the Pushy Queen of Sluttown."
-- Dawn, Ep: Him
If you're online right now (8 : 16 EST), please come to the BCCLS library chat with Debby Garfinkle at www.bccls.org/teens/shush

The Poisoned Crown: The Sangreal Trilogy


The Poisoned Crown: The Sangreal Trilogy by Amanda Hemingway
ARC from Del Rey, Random House

The Plot:

A conclusion of the Sangreal Trilogy. Book One: The Greenstone Grail; Book Two: The Sword of Straw

Nathan, hero of the prior two books, has a third and final treasure he has to recover, the Poisoned Crown. But what will happen when all these other-world relics are in one place and time? Does Nathan really know what is going on? Since this is the third in a trilogy, I'm not going to get any more in depth about the actual plot; but the links below point to reviews that offer more specific details about the plot of this book.

The Good:

You should read the books in order. This is the conclusion of a trilogy; and while it works fairly well as a standalone, there is a lot going on that a reader won't appreciate without the benefit of reading the first two books. What I really like about this trilogy is that it's like reading one book in three parts, rather than three connected books.

The author also wrote the Prospero's Children books under a different name (Jan Siegel). In this book I noticed crossovers with that series: Atlantis, Ragginbone, Kal (Kaliban). I'm not sure if there were crossovers in the other books or not, but it's interesting to have this all occur in the same universe.

The ending changes everything. It was so "wow" that I want to reread from the beginning with this new perspective. I'm almost hesitant to say anything more than that, because I want you to be as surprised and impressed as I was.

What else can I say without giving away too much? As in the other books, Nathan has a quest for an object of power; it involves multiple worlds; it involves bad guys in multiple worlds; and we discover more of his heritage.

The Arthur parallels regarding his parentage continue; and are not romanticized.

Nathan dreams of other worlds; sees their problems and learns more about his quest; and then dreams himself into those worlds, where he both finds the object and helps people solve their problems. It's a bit Gary Sue of him; but isn't that what a teen would think?

"If only I was there to make them listen to reason," Nathan thinks, just as book reader or TV viewer would. But then Nathan actually gets to go to the world of his dreams and act; to befriend those he has watched in dreams, to share the knowledge he had from viewing all sides of the story. And since he is the hero, of course it works out for him. And this appeals to the reader, who wishes to have that power also.

Casting Nathan as the Gary Sue in the worlds he explores is a deliberate choice, that both lulls the reader into thinking the story is one thing... when it's something quite different. And as I look back, I wonder what Nathan's real job was in the other worlds; and what his choices meant to the overall trilogy I love that something that seems simplistic means much, much more.

Who is Nathan? What is his role? As one character says, "Plainly, Nathan has a vital part to play, presumably as a gatherer of certain objects. He has already retrieved the Grail, as you have heard, along with the sword."

I also liked the humor: "When you have spent half the night partying, and the other half in a potentially disastrous confrontation with the forces of evil, there is nothing like the prospect of a good breakfast."

And there are a tone of pop culture references ("live long and prosper") along with wordplay and myths, such as as Scarbarrow Fayre.

I also liked this bit, a musing by Annie, Nathan's mother, after someone says that so and so tried and that's all one can ask. "Trying isn't enough, Annie [Nathan's mother] thought unhappily, after she left Bartlemy [Nathan's protector]. He's right. Sometimes trying just means I'll make an effort to show I'm willing, but it doesn't matter if I fail." Yet, as Annie notes, sometimes you have to do more than try; you have to actually succeed.

Links:

The SF Site review.
Wands and Worlds review.
Author interview.
Scholar's Blog discusses Jan Siegel / Prospero's Children (Michele, I can't believe you haven't reviewed this trilogy! I think you'll really like it.)

Sunday, May 06, 2007

The Unshelved Guide to BEA

The Unshelved Guide to BEA (warning, it's a PDF.)

I'll be at BEA, how about you?

Now Available

Beige is now available.

Note to you all: what I'm trying to do is briefly point out the reviews of books I read based on ARCs that have now hit their publication / availability date. I'm not quite thrilled with the "now available", but I'm not sure about a better phrase. Suggestions welcome!

Mark of the Horse Lord

Read my review over at AmoxCalli. I forgot to mention it at AmoxCalli, but this was a library copy.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Blog Anniversary

Happy Second Anniversary to Me! (OK, I'm a few days late. But rather late than wait a whole year and forget about it yet again.)

My First Posts

My First Anniversary

Friday, May 04, 2007

Poetry Friday: Kids Corner

Poetry Friday: the music edition. One of my favorite things about living in Philadelphia was WXPN. When I moved back to New Jersey, I hated that I no longer could listen.

Thanks to the Internet, I can now listen live. And so can you!

So today, my PF post will be about WXPN's awesome Kids Corner a radio show for kids. You can listen from 7 to 8 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday to Thursday. Monday is music night; and each day has its own theme (for example, science or pets.) They even have a bookmobile, with book lists.

Big A little a has the roundup.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Thank You

I would like to send out a big THANK YOU to all YALSA members. The results of the 2007 election are in, and -- drum roll, please -- I am a member of the Michael L. Printz Committee!! This is the Committee that will select the 2009 winner, so I don't start reading until 2008.

Congratulations to all; but a special shout-out to my fellow New Jersey librarians, Sarah Cornish Debraski who is Vice President/ President Elect, and new Margaret A. Edwards Committee member Sharon Rawlins.

Links: YALSA Blog

I cannot find the ALSC election results, but will edit and post once I do.

The ALSC Election results. Once again, congratulations to all, with a special shout out to Ed Spicer, (09 Caldecott Committee) and to NJ librarian Carol K. Phillips (09 Sibert Committee Chair.)

Blog of the Day: Ally's Diary

Blog of the Day: Ally's Diary

About the Blogger: Ally Carter, author of the card books (for grown ups) and the Gallagher Girl books (for teens).

About the Blog: True Confession: while I read an author's blog when I review their book, I don't always add it to my blogroll, or keep reading after I've posted the review. But Ally -- she's as funny in her blog as she is on paper. I had to keep reading her. Ally writes about writing and revising and promotion, for both her "grown up" books and "teen" books. And she has great taste in TV.

Galleycat

Go add Galleycat to your reading list now! Their most recent post on blog reviews highlights a number of kidlit bloggers.

I know!!

be the story » Carnival of Storytelling #4

The Carnival of Storytelling #4 is over at be the story.

New York Times: Are Book Reviewers Out of Print?

The New York Times weighs in on the disappearing print book review in Are Book Reviewers Out of Print, and includes a discussion of blogs. A number of high profile lit blogs are mentioned.

Motoko Rich's coverage is very balanced; noting, for instance, that what is found on blogs is "often on subjects not generally covered by newspaper book sections." Being as I am firmly in the "we are different, neither is better or worse" camp, I'm pleased with the article for the most part. (Also, for the record? I think it's a shame that newspapers are cutting back on print reviews. Bread and cheese, people; don't tell me one is better than the other. On their own they are each good; and smart people can make awesome grilled cheese sandwiches. But enough of my really bad metaphors.)

Alas, there is the inevitable basement quote: "'Newspapers, by having institutional backing, have a responsible relationship not only to their publisher but to their readership,'” Mr. Ford said, “'in a way that some guy sitting in his basement in Terre Haute maybe doesn’t.'"

Here's the thing, tho; the article is balanced, many believe as Ford does, and Rich did not use the money quote to lead the article, title the article, etc. Whether or not one agrees with Ford's statement, it's his opinion.

And I'm not some guy in a basement in Terre Haute -- I'm a girl in Jersey, in the living room in my PJs.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Buffy Quote of the Week

"I think I know why Joan's the boss. I'm like a superhero or something."
-- Joan the Vampire Slayer, Ep: Tabula Rasa

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