Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Don't tell me PLEASE!

What every librarian fears from their well-meaning patrons

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Oh My Gawd! Snogging!

Apparently some elementary school librarians won't allow Potter Six in their libraries because of the "sexy" parts, and the alchohol(Butter Beer being a dangerous influence on young children). Oh, and the word "slut" occurs once in 600 pages.

Good Old Gory Classics

Gotta love parents who don't like Lois Lowry's The Giver, but are willing to overlook teen suicide in Romeo and Juliet. (Thanks Sister Andrea!)

I think Marc Acito says it best in How I Paid for College: A Novel of Sex, Theft, Friendship and Musical Theater from the perspective of a high school English Teacher, Mr. Lucas:

"Oedipus Rex. A heartwarming little family story in which our hero
kills his father, sleeps with his mother, and gouges his own eyes out.
If it had been written last year, the school board would be burning it
on the front lawn, but since it's two thousand years old, it's deemed
acceptable for your impressionable little brainlets" (pg. 58).

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Fanta Facts

I don't drink a lot of soda, but a friend pointed out to me, in one of those random e-mails you get when work is slow, that there are perhaps over seventy flavors of Fanta worldwide. Did you know that the percentage of real OJ in orange Fanta varies by country? So many random facts to learn, so little time..

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Speaking of Potter.. new International Trailer!

Watch the new trailer to get a sneak peek at some of the very cool special effects..

Monday, August 22, 2005

Potter.. Does popularity breed jealousy, or do rabid fans scare critics?

Following a discussion of this article I wrote an admittedly snide remark on my teen list_serv about how Rowling simply wrote a better story, and writers who are convinced she somehow stole something from them should get over it and appreciate the fact that she brought readers back to their older novels. I was certainly a reader who was terribly excited to find Wizard's Hall, but when I read it, I was horribly disappointed at its simplistic and border-line lame story. Mrs. Reader from Amazon concurs:

I read a recent interview Ms. Yolen gave on [...]where she complained that J.K. Rowling stole all her ideas to write the Harry Potter series. Intrigued, I checked Wizard's Hall out from the library. There is definately a wizard wanna-be named Henry with a red-haired pal and folks wearing robes. There is also a whole lot of boring! Boring boring boring! There is no background or description. The story jumps quickly from scene to scene. I read all the Harry Potter books as an adult and enjoyed them very much. Maybe this one is so bad in comparison because it is for children only. I think Ms. Yolen should keep her lips zipped and understand that wizards and red-hair have been around a lot longer than the printing press.

After posting my assertion, I should have expected to be snapped at for not placing the feminine, groveling, "in my opinion" before my statements. I think its pretty clear that by calling one thing better than another, I WAS stating my opinion, but obviously stating that Potter was BETTER really got their goat.

I can believe that writers angst over Rowling, among them Yolen and Pratchett. They're writers.. they're in competition.. they can't understand why people prefer the adverb laden prose of Rowling to their more stylish literature. Of course, most kids, not to mention adults, don't give a crap about adverbs, but hey, writers are focused on their craft, and that's great. Criticism can lead to interesting conversations.

But librarians who dislike Potter with loud vehemence confuse me. Shouldn't librarians be championing this book as a motivator of thousands of non-readers? I certainly can't enjoy Cirque Du Freak novels, but God bless them if kids like them and they overshadow my favorite suspense/horror fiction.

Maybe I'm young. Maybe they're more dicerning readers. Whatever the case may be, if someone catches me decrying the next Goosebumps and the destruction of literature, the .22 is in the basement.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

"Dirty" Books

It has occurred to me in my last post that in the current climate where books with "dirty" content are considered incendiary, I should note that I never had sex in high school, and just to put the record straight, I am strongly in favor of having kids abstain from underage sex, because it is just safer. As far as I could tell, friends who had sex before entering college, and frankly sometimes even those who had sex early in college paid through the nose by getting diseases, having horrible "first experiences," and generally not liking themselves very much afterwords.

That said, I have no problem with kids reading what they like, including "sexy books". There is a reason for this: Books, despite Laurie Taylor's fears, don't make kids have underage sex-- a mix of uninformed choices and bad parenting do. Laurie is taking the morality tack with her attacks on both fiction and nonfiction titles, which makes me pretty worried: what if kids with freaky parents like Laurie suddenly feel human urges that their mother obviously hates, and fall for a partner who "understands" them? It seemed like the girls with the most fiercely moral families, the ones where the Dad would TOTALLY throw you out if you made a wrong move-- those seemed to be the girls who would inevitably have underage sex and get into trouble for it!

I'm sure Laurie's going to want to blame someone when her kids grow up and start having sex, but all the porn blockers and book restricting in the world are not going to save kids from sexual feelings wrongly acted upon. If she's really that scared for her kids, she should TALK to them, not snatch books out of their hands.

My biggest peeve with Laurie and her ilk is their beleif that parents know best. I'm sure there are many Gen Xers out there who are perfectly happy to help explain how most parents are clueless, leaving it up to kids to figure out how to survive to reach adulthood. Many of the "Pornographic" books Laurie is afraid will taint her precious children's minds can actually help keep kids from making bad decisions. I recently read this story in my email about a girl's reaction to Melvin Burgess's Doing It which surprised even the librarian :

She holds up the copy of Doing It and says, "Every MIDDLE SCHOOL girl should be FORCED to read this book." She says this in a way that dares anyone, me included, to dispute the "middle school" age or the required reading aspect. I say, "Wow! I know a whole lot of librarians and teachers who do not think this book is even appropriate for high school students. Tell me why you insist on bringing this controversial book to middle school girls." She says, "If middle school girls really knew how boys think about sex, we would not even have to worry about birth control issues."

What seems most significant to me in this exchange is the fact that this young woman arrived at a conclusion concerning her body and sex that would make her parents proud. And she came to this decision with a book that her family would rather not see in her hands. Oh irony!

Friday, August 12, 2005

My First Adult Book, or, everything about sex I needed to know I learned from Robertson Davies

Have you ever read a book and thought, "Gosh, this isn't appropriate for me right now"? Probably not, but you may have picked up a book and thought, "Yech!" and put it back down. Recently on a teen library listserv, we've been discussion the options of trying to match books with readers, and how easy methods like placing age labels on books could actually inhibit reading in certain cases. Everyone has a slightly different opinion on when to give a reader a certain book. For me, I think the person giving the book is half the story of whether or not the book is "appropriate."

I remember that when I was just coming into my teens, I was always padding around my father's office library, looking for old classics or the coffee table books he collected from National Geographic and museums. One day he handed me a book, The Lyre of Orpheus by Robertson Davies and told me it was really good and I might enjoy it. I started reading it, and discovered it was about many adult issues such as adultery and sex!

Of course I had read trashy romances on the sly before, but no one had actually "given" me a book with sex in it. After my moment of surprise I went back to reading, overjoyed that my father thought I was adult enough to handle a book with mature themes. I think I read if more carefully simply because I wanted to live up to my father's expectations; to be able to talk about the book with him afterwards like we were in a book group. I did end up liking the book(lots of coy humor), and went on to read other "adult" titles like The Quiet American and A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man.

And yet, here I am working with teens and youth worrying about what to give the kids that might not be too mature for them, fearing what their parents will say when I send them home with a book that's not about a twelve year old boy and his dog. Early in my work I sent a high school girl home with Charles Baxter's Feast of Love, and I wonder if I would hesitate to do that now.

Do we as librarians underestimate kids? Perhaps we infantilize them, fear that they might, horror of horrors, come to know and understand the adult world and all of its hazards before they embark upon the journey to college. We forget that teens can and do have the imaginative capacity to read about people many years older doing things they might not necessarily do and enjoy it. Reading Robertson Davies and other authors who dealt with sex did not change my personal habits, but it did enlarge the capacity of my mind, and invite me to see the world as a larger place than my own narrow experience.

The Bracelet Craze Continues

Ann Arbor District Library this summer decided that Lance Armstrong shouldn't have all the fun. The Teen summer reading program is giving away rubber bracelets with the library web address and the teen blog address in hot pink and black.

Even Banned Book Week has gotten into the bracelet craze, giving away bracelets with adult, youth and teen books on them. I look forward to seeing them at my library.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Teen Author speaks about book challenge

Kelly Huegel, author of GLBTQ: The Survival Guid for Queer and Questioning Teens gave an interview on concerning her writings, as well as the recent challenge to one of her books in Arkansas.

What I believe is immoral and, in fact, irresponsible, is to not be proactive in educating our young people about a full range of things. We’re obsessed with getting kids prepared for college, but we refuse to prepare them for life. How can you expect them to make responsible decisions when you don’t give them the information they need to make them?

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Parents Bravely Fight Against Books

Blue Valley School District, pressured by a parent group, has dropped two novels by noted teen authors Tobias Wolff and Walter Dean Myers from its curriculem. The Red Badge of Courage was restricted to junior level advanced placement classes. The group challenged 14 books originally.

“It’s a small step in the right direction, and we hope that there will be many more steps like this made,” said parent Janet Harmon, who delivered the petition against the 14 books to the school board.

Also starting this year, the district will post information online about potentially controversial content contained in books on classroom reading lists.

Walter Dean Myers' Fallen Angels was replaced by Tim O'Brien's Going After Cocciato which was lauded by an Amazon reader as, "A war story women can read," because it lacks the violent content of most war stories. I'm sure teenage boys in Kansas City are rejoicing at being saved from reading about the violence of war from a black teen's perspective.

MetaTokyo Plug

I'm going to take this opportunity to plug some of the many authored stories I'm working on with some very talented writers over at the Blizzardskies Arena Forum. Metatokyo is a very very long and convoluted story of a Tokyo so massive its covered most of Japan, in a universe that seems to be colliding with others, dropping enchanted humans, aliens and demons on a weird post-apocalyptic landcape and.. playing with them. I have a character in the more recent incarnation of the story: Yuni is a holy witch taking care of three adorable demons. I also own some other characters, but they are harder to explain out of context.

My other project on Blizzardskies is Star Wars: The Dark Side Walks. I can't really explain that one at all, except to say its a post Return of the Jedi odyssey involving a rogue Jedi(my character), a Jedi working for the Order, and a dude who is really, really, evil.

Soon there will be a webcomic version of the MetaTokyo story, which is completely different from Megatokyo, I assure you. More news on that as it comes in.


I've forgotten to introduce myself! I've been working on again off again on my Interfaith Nunnery blog for sometime, but I decided to make a fresh start with a blog that's focused on all things library, literacy, and whatever else suits my fancy. Look for many changes over the coming months, and I attempt to shape this blog into something.. interesting.

Rex Libris

Action at the library has reached a whole new level.

Just as a tide of ignorance swells up and threatens to engulf the world, out of the ashes of the Great Library of Alexandria arises a hero, an educated fellow with fists of steel and a mind as sharp as a tack: public librarian Rex Libris.

After reading the preview of the first ten pages, I'm not sure I'm going to read the whole story, but I'm happy it exists. I thought the whole concept was sort of cute, with a weird mix of old-school librarian-cum-wiseguy.