Thursday, March 28, 2013

Assholes in Comics

Today's post is inspired by PW Comics World: More to Come #44

Our first asshole is comics is a legend.  It's Mr. Fredric Wertham, yes that Fredric Wertham!  The psychiatrist who in 1954 published Seduction of the Innocent which associated comic book reading with juvenile delinquency.  As a result of Seduction of the Innocent an inquiry was launched into the entire comic book industry and the Comics Code Authority was established.  So guess what?  Library and information science professor Carol Tilley started researching and discovered that Fredric Wertham totally used a whole bunch of unverified research, which he then claimed as his own.  Yeah.  Asshole.  Carol Tilley, on the other hand, is awesome and does the library community proud.  Three cheers for librarians!

Our next asshole is an old favorite, Orson Scott Card.  Ever since I heard Orson Scott Card speak at a conference, I have thought he was an asshole.  He's just kind of pretentious prick who thinks he knows everything about everything and that everyone should listen to his every word and agree with him.  Because he's Orson Scott Card.  Except he's just so wrong about everything.  Before, I was OK with thinking, "Oh Orson Scott Card, you giant prick.  Please shut up and just write good books," and that was fine.  But then that was not enough.  After hearing his absolutely disgusting and despicable views on homosexual people, I will not spend money on ANYTHING he's involved in.  I will not give him money that he then uses to support his terrible organizations.  And then, Orson Scott Card got named to write a story in DC's new "Adventures of Superman" anthology.  Odd choice, DC.  There was a HUGE backlash not just from the comic book community.  It's actual went mainstream. NPR did a piece.  Give a listen.    Chris Sprouse, the artist on the project, left.  Because of Sprouse leaving, Orson Scott Card's story will not be appearing in the scheduled anthology.   

Our last, and probably biggest asshole, is Edward Kramer.  Ed Kramer was an editor of science fiction, fantasy, and horror works, and co-founder of the Dragon Con convention.  He also was arrested and charged with several cases of child molestation.  However, he claimed he was too sick to stand trial and has been under house arrest for a number of years.  It seems though he was not too sick to be found in Connecticut, without his respirator, with a 14 year old boy.  Not long after Kramer being back in the news, it was discovered that he still makes money off Dragon Con, despite having been removed from the board.  There are now calls to boycott the convention.

Assholes all, but the biggest asshole?  PW Comics and I both agree that it has to go to Kramer.  It doesn't get much more horrible than child molestation.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday: White Lines by Jennifer Banash

"Waiting On Wednesday" is a weekly event hosted by Breaking the Spine to spotlight an upcoming release that we're excited about. This week I'm waiting on White Lines by Jennifer Banash..

 A gritty, atmospheric coming of age tale set in 1980s New York City.

Seventeen-year-old Cat is living every teenager’s dream: she has her own apartment on the Lower East Side and at night she’s club kid royalty, guarding the velvet rope at some of the hottest clubs in the city. The night with its crazy, frenetic, high-inducing energy—the pulsing beat of the music, the radiant, joyful people and those seductive white lines that can ease all pain—is when Cat truly lives. But her daytime, when real life occurs, is more nightmare than dream. Having spent years suffering her mother’s emotional and physical abuse, and abandoned by her father, Cat is terrified and alone—unable to connect to anyone or anything. But when someone comes along who makes her want to truly live, she’ll need to summon the courage to confront her demons and take control of a life already spinning dangerously out of control.

Both poignant and raw, White Lines is a gripping tale and the reader won’t want to look away.

White Lines comes out April 4, 2013.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Being Henry David by Cal Armistead

He wakes up in Penn Stations with no memories of who he is or where he came from.  All he has are the clothes on his back and a beat up copy of Walden by Henry David Thoreau.  Taking Thoreau's name, Hank takes off for Concord Massachusetts, home of Walden Pond where Thoreau lived, in the hopes that the book is a clue to getting his memory back.

This was an odd little book.  It took a long time to get where it was going.  It was kind of slow.  Despite that, I enjoyed reading it.  When Hank first wakes up in New York, he falls in with a couple street kids, Jack and Nessa, who are involved with a drug dealer. Shortly after helping Jack escape a drug deal gone bad by hitting the guy with a brick, Hank gets out of New York and heads to Concord.

I liked how Hank learns things about himself, even before he begins remembering things.  He realizes his body likes to run, and is good at it.  He realizes he has an excellent memory.  He begins to be a little scared of himself because he has a feeling he's done something very bad.  He senses that he can't let anyone find him, which is why he doesn't try to find help.

In Concord, Hank is taken under the wing of a reference librarian/Thoreau scholar, Thomas, who encourages him to get help, or at least do some research trying to try and figure out who he is.  At the same time, Hank is starting to like his new life, living in Concord, getting to know a girl who goes to the local high school, agreeing to be in her band after realizing he knows how to play guitar. 

When Hank sees himself on a missing person website, his memories come slamming back, and he realizes who he is and what he's done.  But he can't go back and face his family until he competes in a Battle of the Bands with his girlfriend's band.  Yeah, that part was kind of weird.  But OK, clinging to some kind of control, maybe.  Then there was the random dramatic climax, that really, wasn't much of a climax, at the Battle of the Bands with Jack and Nessa showing up and Jacks all addicted to drugs.

Anyway, Thoreau and Walden is all kind of a backdrop for his journey, although, it turns out, Hank has no kind of past connection to Thoreau in anyway.  Thoreau kind of becomes Hank's ghost guide, appearing to him and talking to him.  It was kind of weird, actually.  It reminded me a bit of Emily's Dress, where I liked everything about it, except the Emily Dickinson part didn't gel so well.  That's what it felt like for this too.

So despite the wanderings the book took, I was still engaged with the story and wanted things to turn out OK for Hank.  Worth a read.

MSLA 2013: Monday Sessions

Monday began with the amazing fabulous Barbara Stripling (Anna will write more about her), who's going to ALA president next year. It gives me such hope.  Maybe...maybe ALA will improve through her awesome.  Don't let it beat you down, Barbara.  Love you!

I attended three break-out sessions.  The first was iPads and Free Agent Learning with Deborah Froggatt and Allegra D'Ambruoso.  Next year, my school is going 1:1 with iPads.  We had iPad carts this year (nightmare, iPads are NOT designed to be shared devices).  There are mixed feelings about this switch, and I was hoping to get some insight into regular classroom use, maintenance, things like that.  Unfortunately for me, my school is further along with using iPads than the presenters were, so I wasn't able to get a whole lot that was new out of it.  However, I think it was great for people who are just starting, or considering brining iPads into their schools or libraries.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

MSLA: Awards Dinner and Jack Gantos

 The MSLA Awards Dinner is when awards such as the Library Advocate award, the service award, and the lifetime achievement award is given out.  It is also the time when the Web Seal of Excellence is given out, by my school was a recipient this year, thanks to our awesome website overhaul by fabulous middle school librarian Sam Musher.  Yay!  We are awesome.

Me and Jack Gantos.  Hearts.
As I sat down to eat my 12 plate of vegetables of the day (MSLA did a better job this year have dairy free and meat free options, there were none last year, but dairy-free and meat free options all equaled the same thing - plate of vegetables) the highlight of evening began.  And the highlight was last year's Newbury medal winner Jack Gantos.  Who is fabulous, and also quite dapper.

Jamie, Anna, Jack Gantos, and Sam

MSLA 2013: Sunday Highlights

This past weekend, Anna and I and many other Massachusetts librarians attended the annual Massachusetts School Library Association conference in exotic Sturbridge, MA.  We had two full days of all school librarian-focused speakers and sessions.  The theme of this year's conference was "Lead and Learn."  All conference handouts can be found on the MSLA website.

Anna will be talking about the first speaker of the day, Pam Berger, in another post.  I'm going to start with the second speaker of the day, Richard Byrne.  I was looking forward to hearing him speak, as his topic was about developing a power PLN (personal learning network).  The blurb about his talk said: "Librarians who want to expand their professional learning opportunities beyond the traditional in-service days, occasional conference, and graduate course, will be introduced to networks like Classroom 2.0, Educator's PLN, and Google Plus."  Sounds good, yes?  Well it might have been if that's what actually happened.  But I'm afraid it wasn't.  At all.

Everything started out just fine.  Richard talked about how essential it is for librarians to have a personal learning network, especially if you're the only librarian in your school, possibly even the only one in your district.  I completely agree with this.  I'm so lucky that I work in a library with two other full time librarians.  It's wonderful to always have someone to bounce ideas off of or ask for feedback.  If you're alone, technology can give you a way to have a community, even a global community.  Even if you're not alone that's pretty cool!


All sorts of Obama news!  Apparently in a Google chat he told John Green's unborn child "don't forget to be awesome."  He has also been talking about his plans for education reform and expanding pre-school.  Man, we sure do need some education reform here in the U.S.

The Fault in Our Stars has found its director.  From The Hollywood Reporter.

How the Internet is kickstarting a teen poetry revolution.  From The Guardian.

In the Ender's Game movie adaption, Haille Steinfeld will play Petra.  From EW.

10 classic books your read in high school that you should reread.  From PW.

Promoting literacy and opening libraries in Africa.  From PW.

The Duchess of Cornwall and James Patterson (ever thought you'd see their names together?) are encouraging fathers to read to their children.  From The Telegraph.

"Ghost Stories": The ubiquitous anti-feminism of young adult romances. From TheNewStatesman.

6 steps to surviving in a dystopian novel. From Bookish.

The progressive Dr. Seuss.  From truthout.

Also, Dr. Seuss had awesome form letters.

John Green is tired of adults telling teenagers they're not smart.  From The Guardian. 

Infographic: Book make a difference in kid's lives (duh).  From Book Patrol.

10 classic children's books that might make you squirm a little.  From babble.

A Sweet Valley High ghost-writer tells her story.  From The Kenyon Review.

Teens opting for "easier reads" a UK study finds.  From BBC.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Peanut by Ayun Halliday, art by Paul Hoppe

Sadie is starting a new high school.  She's nervous about fitting in and making friends, so she does a strange thing.  She pretends to have a peanut allergy.  It starts innocently enough, but soon Sadie realizes it has spun far outside her control.  The only way out is to tell the truth, but what will it cost her?

I loved this.  A great story with an incredibly relatable character.  It might sound like what Sadie did was crazy, but really, it's not.  Probably almost everyone has done something like it, although not to the extreme Sadie took it.  You want people to notice you and like you, so you tell them something that maybe isn't completely true.  A fabulous trip you didn't actually take, a famous person you don't really know, the cool job your brother doesn't really have.  It's so easy, and now you're interesting and exciting.

For Sadie, it started simply enough.  After starting at her new school and feeling a bit out of place, she told some girls she had a severe peanut allergy.  It gave her something to talk about.  Something that set her apart and made her different.  She didn't think about the consequences, or what it really meant.  Soon she's getting called down to the nurse because she hadn't filled out allergy forms, being asked where her EpiPen is, and realizing that she can never invite her friends over to her house.  What if one of them mentioned her "allergy?"  What would her mom say?

Sadie realizes this was a bad idea, but her new friends are always so concerned for her and watch out for her.  She even has a boyfriend.  Everyone's being so sweet and thoughtful.  How can she confess she was lying?  How will she explain herself?  They'll hate her.

Sadie's grappling with a lie that gets out of control was realistic and relatable.  You know she's in the wrong, and yet, it's hard to not hope she figures out a way to fix things.  Of course, it all blows up in her face, and she has to face the consequences.  Which she does, and it's not easy.

I enjoyed the Paul Hope's art.  It's sketches, really, with some of the close-ups more detailed.  Despite the lack of detail most of the time, there was never any trouble figuring out characters thoughts of emotions.  It was always completely clear.  The illustrations are completely in black and white, except for Sadie.  Sadie is always wearing a red top of some kind.  Was this some kind of scarlet letter thing?  Just to set her apart?  It was striking, whatever the reason was.  I liked the layout a lot, made up of irregular panels overlapping with larger pictures.  It was very easy to follow, and broke out of the boring straight panel mold.
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