Sunday, March 29, 2009
Thursday, March 26, 2009
Sunday, March 22, 2009
This past week, I had the opportunity to see Laurie Halse Anderson give a presentation and book signing. She was tall and slender, with long brown hair and a very relaxed, hip vibe. I was surprised, because she always looks so serious in her headshots!
There was a group of teens in the audience who showed up to get extra-credit for a high school English class. She won them over right away by asking if they had any quizzes on any of her books coming up, and if so, she'd be happy to help them "cheat" by telling them all the answers. She talked about how she feels the "classics" are overused in high school. She spoke at length about The Scarlet Letter, and how, as a teenager, she hated it! None of the symbolism made sense to her. She advocated for giving teens books about current topics that they are interested in and pointed out that the classics weren't going anywhere... you have your whole life to tackle them. Some of the issues covered in the classics seemed more relevant to her once she had the life experience to process it.
She showed off her literary tattoo, the first word from Beowulf, "Hwaet!" on her wrist. She chided her friend and fellow author, Sonia Sones, who was in the audience, "Where's your tattoo? C'mon, life's short! Ya gotta get some ink!" The teens in the audience all laughed at that remark. Her daughter has a matching tattoo, and she jokingly suggested that, these days, getting a tattoo together could be a great bonding activity to do with your parents.
She told us quite a bit about her new book, Wintergirls, about a girl who is haunted and struggling to overcome an eating disorder. It sounds like there are a lot of Persephone (from the Greek pantheon) references in it, as well as some Sleeping Beauty themes. And she talked a little about Speak, and how the publisher is coming out with a 10th anniversary edition. I only recently learned that Speak had been made into a movie a couple of years ago and she spoke a little bit about that as well. It was made for a very low budget, just about a million dollars. But it starred the then-unknown Kristen Stewart, now of Twilight fame. Anderson admitted that she’s not much of a Twilight fan, and doesn’t read much YA fiction at all, partly because she’s a picky reader, but mostly because she prefers to write her own stuff.
I’m glad I got the chance to see her, as I don’t think she visits the West Coast that often. I tried snapping some photos, but sadly, they’re all so blurry, none of them turned out! Even though Wintergirls sounds like it will be a very intense read, I’m now eager to get cracking at it, once my “books to be read” shelf dies down a bit.
Thursday, March 19, 2009
In a story ripped right from today’s headlines, this novel details Kyra’s harrowing escape from an orthodox polygamous cult. Intrigued by the premise, I picked up this ARC at ALA-Midwinter. The book is due to be published in June, 2009. Author Carol Lynch Williams seems like the Mormon answer to Judy Blume. With a few series about Mormon pioneer girls and a few other girls’ coming-of-age novels under her belt, this may finally be her moment to shine.
The story is riveting. Growing up home-schooled in a rural, isolated religious compound, 13-year-old Kyra doesn’t share the complete faith and unwavering fundamental Mormon principles of her father, three mothers and 20 brothers and sisters. Her burgeoning feelings for a young man in her community and growing uneasiness with the Prophet’s tightening grip on their families forces her to keep secrets.
One of Kyra’s few forbidden pleasures finally provides the key to her escape. Unbeknownst to her family, she’s been sneaking out to meet the local library book truck and devouring verboten treasures such as Bridge to Terabithia, The Borrowers, Harry Potter and Doctor Seuss.
When the Prophet declares that she is to be placed in marriage, as the seventh wife to her own 60-year-old uncle, Kyra spends the following weeks in a heightened state of panic. Her parents’ appeals to the Prophet fail to sway his decision. After Kyra receives a thorough beating, along with threats to her family, she feels she has no choice but to acquiesce to the marriage.
Initially intending just to say goodbye to Patrick the book truck driver, she ends up accepting his offer of a passage to safety. Unfortunately, the librarian is killed by the cult after a high-speed chase. This does allow Kyra access to the book mobile however, leading to a very suspenseful escape where she has to manage to drive the vehicle herself.
Featuring the high-stakes drama of a nightmarish trap that Kyra must manage to wriggle free of, I see no reason why this book couldn’t join the ranks of other arranged marriage YA novels such as Shabanu, Catherine Called Birdy or The Romance Reader.
Sunday, March 15, 2009
This last time, it's not snow however, that keeps Trudy in, rather, it’s a brand new “kid” for her to take care of.
Cole's gentle acrylic illustrations are almost reminiscent of watercolor, with a nice balance between vignettes of Esme and Trudy and full-spread illustrations of the farm. I loved this book… for anyone wanting to look at a charming old-fashioned story about an unusual pet, this would be a terrific read.
Friday, March 13, 2009
Thursday, March 12, 2009
- Today I had a Toddler Storytime, followed by a Baby Storytime. I had many puppets to "help" me and sang "I'm a Little Teapot" at least 4 times.
- I cleared 3 carts worth of donated books. (Mostly travel books from the late eighties, early nineties.)
- Then, I had a brief meeting with my boss about how we’ll be rearranging the schedule when we’ll be short-staffed in the upcoming few weeks. Storytime might get cancelled.
- I drank 3 cups of coffee and ate two donuts to revive myself for the afternoon.
- Then, I researched online which Spanish children's fiction to purchase. (I don't speak Spanish.)
- I pulled about 60 picture books for a teacher doing a unit on “Cowboys”
- Oh, I also taught senior citizens how to CUT and PASTE today on this fabulous thing called, "The Internets" (funniest question ever: "Can you just print out everything that's on the internet for me, so I can review it myself at home, before we get started on the real computer?")
- I settled a disagreement between a disgruntled patron and a clerk.
- I fumbled with creating some sample crafts for our "Spring Party" at the library tomorrow.
- I helped someone request an extramural library loan of a rare book located in Colorado.
- I drove home and admired the sunset over the Pacific Ocean.