Tuesday, December 01, 2009

God Grant Me The Serenity...

You may recall that I was on the cover of November's School Library Journal with some lovely ladies. If you don't recall, dude, it was only last month!

For your viewing pleasure, the cover. And for your reading pleasure, my posts on the story (This Blog's For You) and being on the cover (The Story Behind the Photoshoot).

Of course, I was interested in what people had to say about the cover. Heard some very nice things about the photograph. Had some great conversations with people about blogs and blogging inspired by the story. Was even recognized for being on the cover! (OK, it was at a school library conference but it still counts!)

And so it was with great eagerness I saw that yay, it was December, so the December SLJ would be online and I could read the letters!

Um. Yeah.

Here's the link to the letters: Some Readers Couldn't Stand Our November Cover. Now We Need A Drink. I know that people are more inclined to write a letter to complain than to praise, but it would have been nice had there been a positive letter amongst the others. And let me shout a big "THANK YOU" to those who are leaving positive comments to the letters article.

It's a little ironic that on the day I post a book review praising the portrayal of someone with alcoholism for being well-rounded and fair (Once Was Lost by Sara Zarr), I read these letters.

Having a drink in my hand? Really? (For the record... sugar water with colored dye to give the photo a bit of "pop" since we were largely in gray, white and black.) And as I read on, I thought of a line from one of my favorite movies.

"look at you... you have a baby. in a bar."

Being shocked at a baby in a bar? One thing. Being shocked at grown ups in a bar? A bit different; and I don't find anything inappropriate with either a librarian or a blogger being in a bar or having a drink. (Tho, speaking seriously -- don't drink and blog. You'll regret it. The post lives on in RSS).

And as for the "oh no substance abuse! drinking!"

I have friends and family who are Friends of Bill W. So, yeah, it's not something I take lightly. I'm not putting up anything else that will go against what that second "A" stands for. But remember -- keep coming back. It works if you work it!

Those Friends of Bill W. have seen the cover and liked it and got it. Got the Mad Men aspect, the idea of this being a visual representation of online community of people who rarely meet up in person. Anyway. So I asked someone close to me (anonymous, remember?) about this, forwarding the links, and I got this text back: "tell them u love the sober peeps too."

And I do! I love the sober peeps! And the peeps who aren't!

So, let's turn this into something POSITIVE.

Hey, guys, lets do what bloggers do and make a list! Books for kids and teens that don't paint alcoholics or drug addicts as evil people!

I'll start.

Once Was Lost by Sara Zarr

The Higher Power of Lucky by Susan Patron

Please think of leaving your comments at the SLJ letters itself. I have no idea if the folks at SLJ click thru to read these posts; but without your comments at their website saying "I liked it, I didn't find it inappropriate" those letters stand unchallenged and give the appearance of being the only thing people thought about the cover.

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© Elizabeth Burns of A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy


Gwenda said...

I CANNOT BELIEVE the first letters starts "I am by no means a prude"--if you wrote that, then YOU ARE A PRUDE.

::rolls eyes::

Tammy Blackwell said...

Funny, I thought SLJ was a professional magazine for adults. Some of those letters made it sound as if school librarians were leaving it out on the shelves for their middle school students to peruse. I had no idea the tween set was interested in how blogging and kids' lit is related.

I, for one, think it's a cute cover. I love the Mad Med-inspired look. It shows that libraries and librarians are up-to-date on current trends and fashions, which I always thought was part of our job.

Anonymous said...

I agree, I thought the cover was clever and great looking. People will complain about anything nowadays.
Congrats on making the cover!

Jennifer said...

I thought it was interesting that all the letters (at least all those I saw) were from school librarians. One of them even appears to be under the impression that ya'll are all school librarians as well. Reminds me how glad I am to be a public librarian...and to have wonderful (intelligent, logical, cooperative, and practical) local school librarians to work with.

Have to admit, I completely missed all the cool pop culture references; I just assumed it was a "this is bloggers being social" kind of moment.

Hey, why don't you all drop by my library sometime? We're having a wine tasting in January! (srsly, no kidding, it's a fund-raiser sponsored by our board, one of whom owns a local liquor store)

Doret said...

Now We Need A Drink - Love that title header for the letters because the people who wrote the letters probably hate it.

I do enjoy a good list

Blessing's Bead by Debby Dahl Edwardson

Last Night I Sang To The Monster by Benjamin Alire Saenz

tanita✿davis said...

I have to admit that I missed the Mad Men reference because I am simply not that cool. I got a "This One's For You, Bloggers!" vibe out of it. Which, the issue was... one for the bloggers, I mean. At least that's what I thought. But fortunately, the letter writers are here to assure me that all along you were promoting alcohol use in schools. (?!) Who knew.


Liz, you're a bigger (metaphorically) woman than I would be about this. Thanks for making it positive. I am now thinking of books for your list.

Paige Y. said...

Is is terrible of me to think the letters are funny? What stupid things people get upset over! I liked the cover and have no problems displaying it in my school library. I can't help but wonder if the librarians who wrote those letters ever censor the cover of Time and Newsweek which also have the occasional controversial cover. I think what really irritates me is the implied assumption that kids are so dumb they will see a picture of adults holding drinks in their hands and immediately go out and become alcoholics.

Unknown said...

I posted a similar comment to Monica's blog, but, I am in Atlanta, GA and people down here think teachers shouldn't drink AT ALL - now I do not adhere to those standards, I mean, I am 21 and am allowed by law to have a drink..sometimes even TWO - LOL - but come on - the magazine is aimed at ADULTS - I have yet to see a student pick up SLJ and say, gee I can't wait to read this month's issue. CHEERS to you, I loved the cover, you all looked FABULOUS!

teacherninja said...

I thought it was a reference to Fuse #8s KidLit Drink Nights. Jeez, people crack me up. I never even thought about it. Well, a little controversy will have more people reading the magazine. Good work, and yes, it's an awesome cover. Thanks for being awesome.

Christine Borne said...

They should have taken the picture with you guys sitting at the reference desk with drinks in your hands. That way, so many people would have blown so many gaskets, the job market would break wide open.

mb said...

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

ilefkowitz said...

Liz, that is an amazing cover! Those people need to get over themselves. The magazine is aimed at adults not children. Do we need to protect adults from seeing that other adults can enjoy themselves with a drink now and then? So sorry that your good feelings about this are now tainted. For the record - you ROCK!

Lisa Jenn said...

Wow. Those sensitive SLJ readers. I'm sure there weren't any positive comments in the bunch because the overwhelming majority of us took a look, thought, "Oh, how cute," and then read the freakin' contents without obsessing over the cover. Was it SLJ readers who freaked out over a bustacious superhero librarian on the cover, too, or was that American Libraries?

As for well-rounded portrayals of alcoholics, I really appreciated the portrayal of the mom in Barbara Hall's Tempo Change, who is in recovery and for whom the Program is a really big, positive thing in her life.

Unknown said...

Liz, I probably don't need to go there...in fact, I shouldn't...but I'm sure you already know what I would say. You guys are fab, the cover is fab, and SLJ is fab. And so great that you have their support ("Now we need a drink"). Hang in there and keep fighting the good fight!

chelle said...

Hmm. I'm one of the sober ones, and I didn't think anything of the cover other than, "Gosh, I wish I looked that good." It never occurred to me to be offended.

My favorite alcoholic in a book? Uncle Haskell in "Up a Road Slowly."

grannie elbow said...

If you had been using up natural resources or eating meat or wearing fur you'd have gotten letters about that!

Chris said...

Librarians are real human people - we drink! Some of us even smoke! I sometimes get double takes from customers I see at the gym, because I don't think they think of me as a real person. I think some people in the profession place this self-imposed burden that we have to be perfect little servants - here for the children, no cussin' or shoutin' aloud allowed! And I can't help but wonder if people would be protesting so much if it was guys holding drinks at a bar. Is there some kind of "loose women" double standard being applied here? Just my off the cuff observation.

A Lil Sumpin' Sumpin' said...


Jennifer Schultz said...

I'm not a school librarian/media specialist, so I don't understand why students would see the cover of a professional magazine. Wouldn't something like that just be delivered to their mailbox at school?

It's not as if anyone appeared inebriated. I thought it was a nice cover.

(I wonder if some of the letter writers have an issue with a blogger on the cover?)

Liz B said...

Gwenda, yes, that's the equivalent of a "but." "I don't mean x, but.." well, yes, you do mean x.

Miss Tammy, Jon, tanita, teacherninja, Ilene, Laura, Jennifer, thanks!

Jennifer, I'm in NJ, so alas, cannot drop by at what seems like a fun event.

Doret, mb, lisa, chelle, thanks for the title suggestions.

Paige, it does indeed raise bigger issues about what other "bad influence" items are not available. I find it especially troubling because while I respect that some peoples values are "no alcohol, ever", I am against one persons values being imposed on another. Which, in a way, is what is going on: "because I think any drinking is wrong, there should be no books/mags/etc that show drinking is anything other than wrong."

Kathy & Chris, it's a little scary how people think they can control the lives of "public servants" especially those who work with children. Teachers especially have a history of their lives being controlled, with teachers being fired for being pregnant, or divorced, or married. I guess that's why it's sad to see that viewpoint coming from within the profession, also. Here, that a person who happens to work with children should not drink in public.

Christine, now that's a strategy to create more jobs. Except the librarians would all be replaced by support staff, or, better yet -- volunteers. And at schools, parent volunteers.

Grannie, I actually had that exact same thought, lol!

lisnwyrk, thanks for the link.

Becky Hall said...

I liked Joan Bauer's Rules of the Road and Best Foot Forward. Another is Lush by Natasha Friend. They all give realistic portrayals of the children of alcoholics.

Liz B said...

Becky, thanks! Hopefully this weekend I'll be able to put together a post with all the suggested titles.

One other thing: Please think of leaving your comments at the SLJ letters itself. I have no idea if the folks at SLJ click thru to read these posts; but without your comments at their website saying "I liked it, I didn't find it inappropriate" those initial six letters stand unchallenged and give the appearance of being the only feedback SLJ has recieved.

Martha Brockenbrough said...

At least you weren't holding Higher Power of Lucky scrotums.

Terry Doherty said...

I missed the pop culture reference; I chocked it up to Fuse8's KidLit Drink Night ... not for the drinks but for the social opportunity of talking shop. Does SLJ publish all the letters it receives? I gotta believe that there were some kudos to y'all that deserved mention.

As for books, I'm not sure if it completely fits, but I'd add Albert Borris' Crash Into Me. The other is Thanksgiving at the Inn, which I just recently finished, which is a great father-son story.

Michelle said...

I'm late to the party here....sorry.

I can see the validity in the point that some made about the publication being delivered to a school and seeing that on the cover may not portray the image that particular librarian wants to. BUT, I think most kids realize that adults drink and the article wasn't promoting alcoholism and such so I don't think it's the end of the world. As an adult if you are uncomfortable with imagery it's pretty easy to keep it out of the way of prying eyes.

Leah Odze Epstein said...

This is all so interesting--and if you want to continue the discussion, please hope over to our blog, DRINKING DIARIES, where we talk about women & drinking & I plan to discuss this reaction. http://www.drinkingdiaries.com