Tuesday, November 30, 2010


What librarians make by Joyce Valenza in response to Dr. Marc Bernstein, Superintendent for the Valley Stream (NY) Central High School District who suggested "eliminating the antiquated requirement that all high schools have at least one full-time librarian and a minimum number of books."

Medallion Press launches Ya-Ya Imprint. YA books written by young adults.

10 best illustrated children's books as chosen by The Observer's Kate Kalleway.

Check out the most beautiful public libraries in the US.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Incarceron by Catherine Fisher

Incarceron was created years ago to take the undesirables out of the world. These prisoners would be part of a grand experiment; they would live in a utopia that was monitored by the Sapienti and maintained by Incarceron. Perfect right? The poor, the protesters, and the criminals, would all be gone and yet could still be rehabilitated in an enclosed space that they couldn't get out of. But no one took into consideration that Incarceron would slowly become sentient, and she would no longer want to play by someone else's rules.

Finn is a seventeen year old prisoner inside of Incarceron, he plays his role as an underling in a cutthroat community and survives. Finn is different, he cannot remember his childhood and has strange visions and memories that come to him during fits. Sapient Gildas calls him a Star Seer and believes him to be the second coming of a mythical man that got Out. His Oathbrother Keiro believes that Finn is a tool to be used to get what he wants. The dog-slave Attia sees Finn as a hero who she owes her life to. As they travel through Incarceron, Finn questions who to believe as he puts all of their lives into the hands of a girl he talks to through a key.

Claudia has grown up learning how to maintain a house in-Era and play the political game better than most men twice her age. She is on the verge of becoming queen and all she wants is a way to get out. As her wedding day to an odious royal brat draws nearer, Claudia is drawn in to the mystery of Incarceron. She discovers Finn through a key she steals from her father's office. Soon she is playing a game that is over her head and all she can do is hold on to the belief that Finn is the one to save not only herself but the kingdom as well. Claudia believes Finn is meant to be king.

Friday, November 26, 2010

The Mockingbirds by Daisy Whitney

Alex got drunk for the first time at a concert. And that night she was date raped. Alex knows the administration at her prestigious boarding school has a history of looking away from any issues that might make their students seem less than perfect. So Alex goes to the Mockingbirds, a secret student organization that tries crimes and doles out punishment. As Alex slowly remembers more and more about that night, she wonders if she's doing the right thing.

I had mixed feeling about this book. On the one hand, I think date rape is an important topic to talk about. Rape does not have to be done by someone the victim doesn't know; it doesn't even have to be especially violent. The lack of consent is what makes it rape. Alex struggles with this, wondering if it's her fault. She got herself drunk, she was talking to Carter. Is it his fault? Or is it her fault? Does she have a right to be upset about it?

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

New Orleans 2011!

Here we come Louisiana! It's official, the wandering librarians (plus one) are headed to New Orleans in June. Once again we're headed to the annual ALA conference, this time in steamy New Orleans. See you there, just 304,504 minutes until we touchdown. Awesome.

Alberic the Wise and Other Tales by Norton Juster, illustrated by Domenico Gnoli

A compilation of three short fairy tales: "Alberic the Wise", about a man named Alberic who spends his life searching for wisdom and trying out many vocations along the way, only to find as an old man he is perceived as wise because of his experiences; "She Cries No More", about a young boy named Claude, who doesn't care about anything until he steps inside a painting to help a beautiful lady; "Two Kings", where a king who lives in poverty and a king who lives in great abundance set out to find out if there's another kingdom better off or worse off than they are.

While this was a very short book (only 88 pages) and it wasn't very complex, and it has pictures and all, this isn't really a children's book. In the same that fairy tales weren't really meant for children, it just ended up that way. They are stories that teach a lesson, and they were nice stories, and I enjoyed them very much, but I also don't really see myself recommending this as a fun read for very many children. It is the kind of book a parent gets to read aloud to their kid and then talk about it.

For example, in "Two King," Good King RNP's kingdom is in ruins. The weather is always bad, no one has any money, and no one even knows who the king is. He's completely miserable, but his only adviser assures him that it's probably worse everywhere else. Meanwhile, King Magnus the Abundant's kingdom is beautiful, happy, and plentiful. However, King Magnus wonders if somewhere out there there's some who has more than he does. Both kings set out to see for themselves. King Magnus' people love him so much they don't want him to be sad when he gets somewhere where people don't greet him, so the entire kingdom packs up and secretly travels to King RNP's kingdom, fixes everything up, and then lines the street to greet him. King Magnus is happy, until he sees how new and beautiful everything is and thinks that someone does have things better than he does. King RNP arrives and King Magnus' deserted kingdom, where a storm as destroyed much of it. He looks around at the destroyed, abandon town, and thinks that some does have things worse than he does. King RNP goes home happy, and King Magnus goes home sad.

I was most interested in "Alberic the Wise," where Alberic goes from vocation to vocation, but not really being good at anything and then moves on. This reminded me very much of Lloyd Alexander's Tarran Wanderer. I bet there's some Old Norse or Old English story that both were based on. Maybe I'll email my Literature and the Fantastic teacher and ask her.

So anyway, I liked it a lot, I love Norton Juster, good stories, not exactly a kid's book though.

Monday, November 22, 2010

FABLES: Legends in Exile by Willingham, Medina, Leialoha, and Hamilton

Fairytales live among us, but they're not what you'd expect. They've been driven out of their homes by a mysterious power only known as the Adversary. Those who can fit in with the 'mundies' live in Manhattan, while those that are more difficult to explain away live up on the upper eastside on The Farm. They have their own government, identities, and issues. They are not the Disney-fied characters that you grew up with.

I'm really enjoying this series so far. I've wanted to read it for a while, and a friend loaned me the first two volumes. I'm so happy she did. It seems that each volume (so far) deals with mysteries with the overarching theme of the Fables getting back to their lands and overthrowing the Adversary. There's all these little plot twists and turns to keep things interesting, but what really got me was the character development. They fairytale characters are essentially immortal and so they have twisted personal issues that have lasted for centuries; e.g. when Beauty doubts her love for the Beast he gets horns. But they're not all silly, most of the fairytale characters are dealing with doubts about self-worth, money, identity, and overcoming the stereotypes that they were written into. These are characters with depth and emotions that are tapped into beautifully through the illustrations of Mark Buckingham and Steve Leialoha. This is what was one of the main contributors of what hooked me; how well the drawings and the text play into each other and really develop it into something really special.

ZENtertainment kind of epitomizes the feeling I got from reading this, "FABLES not only lives up to - but actually exceeds - all of the hype." Volumes 1-13 are already out and the 14 comes out in December.

The Sweetness of Salt by Cecilia Galante

Julia has just graduated from high school. She was valediction. She's getting a free ride to college where she will be pre-law. She will be spending her summer at a law related internship. Everything is perfect, just as Julia's life has always been. Then Julia's sister, Sophie, comes home. Sophie never got along with their parents. She's still angry about the time they spent in Milford, before Julia was born. Julia thinks she knows everything that happens, but Sophie says there's something that their parents haven’t told her. Julia ends up spending the summer with Sophie, helping Sophie getting ready to open her own bakery. Julia wants to learn the whole truth, but even Sophie has a hard time explaining.

This book and I got in a fight on page 105. This is Sophie talking to Julia about her bakery: "Plus, I want to have a wall for all different kinds of specials. Maybe a certain bread - like Irish soda bread for St. Patrick's Day, fruitcake for Christmas, or challah bread for Passover - whatever." Challah is eaten on Shabbat. Shabbat starts every Friday night and ends Saturday night. Every single week. On Passover, Jews don't eat any food that has leaven, so Passover is actually one of the few times when challah would NOT be eaten. Why, when writers are writing about a culture that is not their own, don't they double check things? Why don't the editors? I'm sure this happens all the time and I don't pick up on it because I don't know. But when I can pick up on it, it annoys me to no end. So of course, I immediately went to my computer to send an email to Bloomsbury. There's usually a "please e-mail your comments" address on the back of ARCs. Which there was. And the contact person was Deb Shapiro. You know how cranky it made me that I had to email someone name Deb Shapiro and tell her that Jews don't eat challah on Passover? I know, I know, I'm sure Deb didn't have anything to do with the editing of the book. They have not emailed me back, by the way.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1

Or, Get a Plan, Harry Potter.

Anna, Alana and I sallied forth to see the latest and second to last installment of Harry Potter. For the most part, I was fine with this one. I wasn't left with the WTF feeling I had after The Half-Blood Prince. There was still plenty for me to be all shirty about, of course, but really it still comes down to what I've thought about all of them: If you haven't read the books, you're probably kind of confused. Now, it's probably safe to assume that most people have read the books (although I know people who have never read the books and are very fond of the movies) so they can do a fair bit of filling in the holes. And there are plenty of holes.
Hello, it's Anna. I'm going to be adding a few thoughts, which will be in purple (obviously).

P.S. Arianna doesn't warn you but there are a crap ton spoilers here, so now you are warned. Proceed.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

A Good Horse by Jane Smiley

Abby Lovitt lives with her mother and father on a ranch in California during the 1960s. Abby's father buys horses, which they then train and sell. Abby knows she can't get attached to the horses because they aren't really hers. There is one horse, Jack, who she does think of as hers. Jack is still just a baby, and his mother died. Abby has been raising him and training him and loves him. Then Abby's father gets a letter from a rancher in Texas. Several of their horses were stolen, and they think Jack's mother might have been one of them. If she was, then will Abby have to give Jack up?

I had a period in elementary or middle school when I read a lot of horse books. I wasn't actually that interested in horses, but my next-door-neighbor and best friend LOVED horses and she rode and was totally obsessed, so I tried to keep her company. I just wasn't that interested, however.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Election by Tom Perrotta

A brief review of Election.

Tracy Flick was running unopposed in her high school's election until Mr. McAllister put Paul Warren, a popular football player, up for running. Then Paul's sister, Tammy, decides to run too. A simple high school election shows us the backstabbing, betrayal and smear campaigning we see so often in politics.

I had seen the movie Election, which I enjoyed, but I had never read the book. After hearing Tom Perrotta speak at the Boston Book Festival, I wanted to read all his books because he is fabulous. So I took a small break from reading my ARCs to read Election, which came out in 1993 and makes many a reference to the elections that were happening at that time.

It was good. It was funny in a horrible way. It was, really, depressing. No one is this books is actually happy. Tracy had an affair with her English teacher and is friendless and alone. As is Tammy. Friendless and alone that is. She's in love with her best friend who's left her for her brother. Paul is popular but isn't really satisfied either. All their parents are divorced because of affairs. Mr. M, the supposedly inspiring teacher, interferes in the election result and has an affair of his own with his wife's best friend, which all stems from his own unhappiness and dissatisfaction with his life. Affairs and politics. Well, I guess that's quite realistic.

I flew through this. It was so awful and funny and true. You're good, Tom Perrotta. I'm looking forward to reading your other work as well.

YA literature as product

I found this article very upsetting. James Frey, of A Million Little Pieces, the "memoir" which turned out to be fiction, has a company called Full Fathom Five. They hire young writers, give them amazingly crappy contracts where they have few rights and can't say they actually wrote the book. The goal is to churn out YA books as quickly as possible and produce a best seller that will get picked up for a movie. They have already begun this with the book I Am Number Four. I Am Number Four came out in August and was on the NYT best seller list but hasn't actually done very well in the YA community. I hope it stays that way. The book, however, was picked up to be made into a movie before it even came out.

James Frey clearly thinks he's pretty badass, and that conventional ethics and moral obligations do not apply to him. I think he and Nicholas Sparks would get along well. They both think quite a lot of themselves. Please don't buy anything that Full Fathom Five produces. Don't give them any of your money. It's bad enough that they churn out alien of Gossip Girl type books, but one of their proposed projects is “high-school revenge project” in which “four girls from separate cliques at a high school discover they’ve all been date-raped by the same guy and team up to plot vicious revenge.” It upsets me to think of such an serious issue being dealt with by a company like Frey's.

Maureen Johnson wrote a very thoughtful response on her blog in response to the article.

Friday, November 12, 2010


The OED is trying to save little used words. Head on over and adopt one. Mine is 'woundikins,' which means 'mild profanity.' Appropriate.

Who knew that Daniel Radcliffe loves Tom Lehrer, like I love Tom Lehrer. The secret and deeply hidden science/music nerd in me loves this.

Speaking of good old Danny, I'm not sure if you've heard of a little franchise called Harry Potter? Word on the street is that the movie is coming out in exactly one week.

Beautiful Darkness by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl

Lena was supposed to claim herself for Dark or Light on her 16th birthday, but she didn't. Now the moons have been thrown off course. Lena seems to be drifting away from Ethan, her mortal boyfriend. Ethan thinks it's because Lena is mourning her Uncle Macon's death, but it might be something more. Could Lena be going Dark? Ethan refuses to accept that the girl he loves might be leaving him forever. He will do everything he can to save her.

My first problem was I hadn't read Beautiful Creatures, the first in the series, so I spent a good part of this book confused since I had no background and I didn't know what had happened at Lena's 16th birthday and the history of the Casters (although I got plenty of that over the course of the book). This is not a series that is easy to read out of order. Definitely start with the first one.


Chicken Spaghetti has very thoughtfully made a list of a whole bunch of Best Children's Books lists.

Adult Books 4 Teens blog. Very cool.

Public libraries that are creating teen friendly spaces with gaming areas. From SLJ.

I heard on the radio this morning that The New York Times will start having a best seller list for ebooks. Interesting. I wonder how closely it will match up with the traditional best seller list? From NPR.

New mobile app for the ipad that makes reading a more social experience. From YPulse.

And in censorship news, at North County High in Maryland, a small group of parents feel opting out of reading A Brave New World isn't good enough and want the book pulled from the curriculum. From Maryland Gazette.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Jim Henson

Having grown up on Sesame Street, The Dark Crystal, Labyrinth, and the Muppets, I had to check this out. Jim Henson created an experimental live short back in 1965, it was crazy! Someone must have loved it because it was nominated for an Oscar. Awesome. Time Piece is now available to view for free on Youtube.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

9 most subversive children's books as told by Laura Coffey

Now I'm all for stirring up the children and raising a little hell. With all the standardization that kids go through they need a little push to think for themselves. Bring on the revolution! But I will say that this movement will generally not happen when adults are judging what literature is going to be 'subversive' for kids of the 21st century. Laura Coffey has written a short article for the Today Show about the nine most subversive children's books. And let me just say, snore. Yes they are classics, and I feel like they do have great messages, but I generally don't think many kids are going to get the socialist leanings of Yertle the Turtle or why Madeline's Rescue is a call for children to defy their elders. I personally only got the greater meaning behind the stories when I was much older. Not necessarily something I would expect a three to five year old to pick up on. But what do I know? I just have my masters in library science, and Ms. Coffey has written budgeting articles for MSNBC.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Please Ignore Vera Dietz by A.S. King

Vera's best friend since childhood, Charlie, is dead. Vera could clear his name, but she can't tell anyone what happened. She's not even completely sure what happened, but she knows it wasn't his fault. Vera and Charlie hadn't been friends for months, after he did something unforgivable. But Vera can't get Charlie out of her head, and it's hard enough being in high school with no friends and working full time as well and having a father who wants to ignore anything bad. Months have passed now and Vera still hasn't told, and her own life isn't exactly going great either.

Monday, November 8, 2010


Dear Scott Westerfeld. Let us marry. For you, sir, are made of awesome. Scott Westerfeld lets the haters of steampunk have it.

Well, it seems I have not read many of PW's Best Children's Books 2010. However, Monsters of Men is on the list. Yay!

This is my YA book cover:

You can create your own at 100 Scope Notes or check out the gallery. Some of them are really good. I didn't do the author's name part, because as Sam at Parenthetical pointed out, it's actually people's names and that doesn't seem right.

Yes, it's very sad that the New England Mobile Book Fair is being sold, BUT if Anna and I can just find ourselves a generous benefactor, we're totally going to buy it, so never fear book lovers! If anyone has any tips on finding a generous benefactor, do let us know.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Jane by April Lindner

In this modern retelling of Jane Eyre, Jane Moore is forced to drop out of college after her parent's death. She takes a job as a nanny for Madeline, daughter to famous rock star Nico Rathburn. Although Jane doesn't like Nico much at first, she soon falls in love with him, and much to her surprise, he feels the same way. All is not roses, as it turns out that Nico hasn't been telling her the whole truth.

So. I did not like Jane Eyre at all. I have no interest in self-centered, brooding jerks who for some reason are appealing to the female heroines. Also, mad wife in the attic. This is also probably the reason the Bronte novels don't get as many updates as Austen novels. What do you do with those mad wives in the attics? How do you put that into modern times?

Quite neatly, if you're April Lindner. I enjoyed this very much, which is saying something as it is a.) based on Jane Eyre, which I didn’t like, and b.) still, really, a Gothic romance that I also usually don't care for. So well played! I can't really explain why Jane falling in love with this guy in like a week didn't piss me off the way most of the other books with the girl falling in love with someone in a week do. I think it was because we got to see some of what Jane fell in love with. It wasn't love at first sight. She thought he was kind of a jerk. But then she started talking to him and spending time with him and we learn about both of them and we see he's not such a jerk at all. Character development! I love it! That's what it was! Character development! I didn't even realize because it's been so long.

The update that was done worked pretty well. In a note at the end, Lindner talks about how she made it work. How would a modern girl find herself in a position of being forced to work taking care of someone’s child? So Jane becomes an orphan with a messed up childhood who can no longer afford to go to college and needs a job that will help her make some money while also giving her a place to live. The biggest problem is, of course, the mad wife in the attic. How on Earth can you give that an update? And this was my only real issue with the book. I don't think it quite worked.

In Jane Eyre, we have the wife because one didn't get divorced. You just didn't. It didn't matter if she went crazy later on, you married her, now deal with it (although hopefully you don't deal with it by locking her up). When Jane learns this, she takes off but then later returns when she learns that Mr. Rathburn has been blinded in a fire and now needs her, which is really what Jane wanted all along. In modern day, that doesn't fly. Why wouldn't the wife be hospitalized? Why wouldn't Nico have just gotten a divorce? So in order to make it work, Nico still needed to be in love with his wife. She was made into a schizophrenic who refused to take her pills and would become violent. But Nico hoped that someday she would take her pills and return to the person he loved. On the one hand, awww, he still loves his wife. On the other hand, Nico is more of a cad (yes, I said cad) then Mr. Rathburn was because Mr. Rathburn actually did love only Jane. Nico was still in love with someone else and tried to marry Jane anyway.

If your friend calls you up and says, "You know that guy I'm totally in love who I'm getting married to? Well, it turns out he was actually still married. And she lives in his house. He didn't get a divorce because he's still kind of in love with her, but he told me he loved me and then tried to marry me. Then, when it all came out against his will, he said it was OK, we could just live together. What do you think I should do?" I hope your answer will contain the sentence, "Get the hell out of there." That's an awfully big lie Nico.

I am willing to accept this, however, because I really did enjoy the book, because I accept the fact that Jane is a pushover. A total pushover. However much we want to spin her as an independent women with mind of her own, Jane is a pushover and lets other people take advantage of her. That's why she can't speak up for herself, that's why she lets her family walk all over her, that's why she was going to for the Haiti with a guy she didn't really like because he really, really wanted her to, and that's why she went back to Nico. Because yes, she still loved him, and sure, he loved her, and despite the fact he'd totally screwed her over she felt badly about leaving and went back and apologized. And his wife had conveniently died in a fire and they all lived happily ever after. Yay!

Whatever, it was well written and fun. Jane came out on October 11th.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

In case you were wondering...

Teacher's First Amendment rights stop at the school door. Well. That's...good to know.

And if you were curious what was going on with those parents having a sit-in to demand a library in a Chicago elementary school, this is what.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

I Was Jane Austen's Best Friend: A Secret Diary by Cora Harrison

Jenny Cooper, cousin to Jane Austen, records the occurrences of the Spring of 1791. When Jane become seriously ill at boarding school, Jenny risks going out at night unchaperoned to send a letter to Jane's mother. After being removed from the school, Jane and Jenny spend the Spring at Jane's family home, having a grand old time visiting and painting and playing piano and going to balls. Until! The one person who knows of Jenny's nighttime escapades come to town. Will he ruin her reputation? Or will it all end happily ever after?

I might have made it sound more dramatic than it really is.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The Help: The Movie

You might remember back in July when Arianna wrote a review of the audiobook The Help by Kathryn Stockett. If you need a refresher, it was AWESOME! If you haven't read it, do it now. As in stop reading this posting and get the book and read. Don't skip over anything, don't scan it, read it completely through. Then come back.

Anyways, they're making a movie out of it (because Hollywood can't leave well enough alone), and generally I'm a bit eh with some of the actors they've chosen. I think I'm mostly Debbie-downer about it because of Emma Stone. I don't know what it is, but I just don't picture her as Skeeter Phelan. Emma Stone's so pretty and seemingly charming. Just not what I pictured, but I guess that's why she's paid the big bucks to convince me and I'm just a lowly librarian making judgment calls on a blog. And let's be perfectly honest, are my objections going to stop me from seeing it? Probably not.

The movie comes out Aug. 12, 2011.


A little late, but you'll be ready for next year! I think this is a great idea. All Hallows Read. Idea originally from the the ever fabulous Neil Gaiman.

Oh hurrah! Teens haven't shelved reading for pleasure! And you were so worried! From The Washington Post.

I have discovered a place I can go to covet other peoples' bookshelves. Amazing, fabulous bookshelves. Why doesn't my apartment look like this? Clearly I need more bookshelves. Also books.

Awesome. Prize is created for gay literature for young readers. From The New York Times.
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