Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Book donation: What the Bible is All About

This book was donated to our library today. I love the cover. It looks like he is looking for answers--for what?... I'll let your imagination roam.

Here's the Bib info:

Mears, Henrietta. What the Bible is All About: An easy to understand survey of the Bible. Regal Books Division, 1953. ISBN: 0-8307-0072-2

Favorite passage after flipping through it from page 448:
"God has X-rayed the human heart and has given us the picture. He shows us what He finds in us all. The findings are so terrible that they cannot be read in a mixed audience. But remember, this is the picture of us that God sees."

Retro cover: 4 stars
Depressing interpretation of a holy book: 1 star

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

SLIS 5420 - Module 15 - And Tango Makes Three

Module 15 - And Tango Makes Three

Parnell, Peter and Justin Richardson. And Tango Makes Three. Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing, 2005. ISBN: 0-6898-78451

Roy and Silo are two male chinstrap penguins that paired up together at the Central Park Zoo. For years, they displayed courting behavior, made a nest together and tried to hatch rocks. One day a zoo keeper gave the pair an abandoned egg that they hatched successfully. Tango was the baby they raised together. This is based on a true story.

What I Thought
I thought this book was adorable! My partner and I raise two awesome children and it's really a breath of fresh air to have books out there about families like ours. The illustrations by Henry Cole are cute and animated. My children enjoyed reading the book with me.

This book is, however, one of the most challenged books on the ALA list because it depicts a homosexual relationship (between penguins). I understand that this is a sensitive issue to some people who feel that homosexuality shouldn't be exposed to their children. However, love, partnership, parenting and relationships are beautiful things no matter who you love. This book is beautifully accepting of Roy and Silo and shows how people (like the zoo keeper in the story) can look past the "gay" and see the love.

Outside Reviews
 "Tango has two daddies in this heartwarming tale, inspired by actual events in New York's Central Park Zoo. Two male penguins, Roy and Silo, "did everything together. They bowed to each other.… They sang to each other. And swam together. Wherever Roy went, Silo went too. … Their keeper… thought to himself, 'They must be in love.'" Cole's (The Sissy Duckling) endearing watercolors follow the twosome as they frolic affectionately in several vignettes and then try tirelessly to start a family--first they build a stone nest and then they comically attempt to hatch a rock. Their expressive eyes capture a range of moods within uncluttered, pastel-hued scenes dominated by pale blue. When the keeper discovers an egg that needs tending, he gives it to Roy and Silo, who hatch and raise the female. The keeper says, "We'll call her Tango,… because it takes two to make a Tango." Older readers will most appreciate the humor inherent in her name plus the larger theme of tolerance at work in this touching tale. Richardson and Parnell, making their children's book debut, ease into the theme from the start, mentioning that "families of all kinds" visit the zoo. This tender story can also serve as a gentle jumping-off point for discussions about same-sex partnerships in human society."

(2005). And Tango Makes Three. Publishers Weekly, 252(20), 61. Retrieved from MasterFILE Premier database.

"In this true, straightforwardly (so to speak) delivered tale, two male chinstrap penguins at New York City's Central Park Zoo bond, build a nest and--thanks to a helping hand from an observant zookeeper--hatch and raise a penguin chick. Seeing that the penguins dubbed Roy and Silo "did everything together. They bowed to each other. And walked together. They sang to each other. And swam together," their keeper, Mr. Gramzay, thinks, "They must be in love." And so, when Roy and Silo copy the other penguin couples and build a nest of stones, it's Gramzay who brings a neighboring couple's second egg for them to tend, then names the resulting hatchling "Tango." Cole gives the proud parents and their surrogate offspring small smiles, but otherwise depicts figures and setting with tidy, appealing accuracy. Unlike Harvey Fierstein's groundbreaking The Sissy Duckling (2002), also illustrated by Cole, this doesn't carry its agenda on its shoulder; readers may find its theme of acceptance even more convincing for being delivered in such a matter of fact, non-preachy way."

(2005). AND TANGO MAKES THREE. Kirkus Reviews, 73(11), 642. Retrieved from MasterFILE Premier database.

Using This book in the library
This book has been part of many displays in my library. People are surprised, sometimes, that it's been banned. It's a great topic for starting a good discussion about censorship and what may or may not be appropriate. The biggest challenge to the book is that it depicts a same-sex relationship and some parents aren't ready to tell their children about this part of life. It's important (especially in a public library) to remind parents to always review the choices their children pick. There are picture books about war, death, disease and a variety of issues you may not be ready to share with your children. Age appropriate books do not mean they don't deal with "heavy" issues. They just deal with heavy issues in an age-appropriate way.

For fun and information:
Find out more about the two penguins, Roy and Silo and the scientific thought behind their behavior from Scientific American.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

SLIS 5420 - Module 14 - Thirteen

Module 14 - Thirteen edited by James Howe

Howe, James (ed). Thirteen:  Thirteen Stories that Capture the Agony and Ecstasy of Being Thirteen. Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2003. ISBN 978-0689828638

This short story collection of 12 stories and 1 poem (to make thirteen entries in all) all center around the theme of being thirteen and how each author felt about their own experiences. While the stories are made up, the authors reveal that the feelings captured in each are very real in afterwords to each story. There are also pictures of the writers from when they are thirteen, which is a nice touch.  It's interesting how "grown up" some authors look at thirteen, while others look so young still.

What I Thought
I did not expect to enjoy this collection so much. My last experience in reading short stories was when we read them in high school and college. They weren't my choice and I started to feel resentful to short story collections (unfairly) because of that. However, reading Thirteen reminded me that short stories are fun! My favorites out the book were the first two. I've enjoyed other books by Bruce Coville (The Monsters of Morley Manor being my favorite) and was delighted at the same sense of fun and action that took place in this first story in the series, "What's the Worst That Could Happen?" At the end of the story, Coville talks about what inspired him to write that story and about how he felt when he was thirteen.  My other favorites were the next story by Meg Cabot, "Kate the Great" and the strange, unsettling story by Stephen Roos, "Picky Eater." Both of those stories dealt with youthful relationships in a very interesting way.

Outside Reviews

"The authors of these 13 original entries (12 stories and one poem) have one thing in common: each understands what it is like to stand in that murky bog between childhood and adulthood. Their writings, all of which feature a 13-year-old protagonist, poignantly and often humorously capture the excitement, angst and uncertainty that mark the experience of growing up. Lori Aurelia Williams's impoverished and taunted hero Malik considers joining a reputedly violent gang because they will give him the high-status shoes he covets; and Ellen Wittlinger's heroine, Maggie, a budding writer, tries out a new identity under a pen name. Others tentatively test the waters of romance or plunge into infatuations. For example, Murphy Murphy ("Yeah, you read it right.... It's like a family curse," he says of his name), the blinded-by-love star of Bruce Coville's "What's the Worst That Could Happen?" agrees to act in a skit despite his terrible stage fright, in order to impress his beloved Tiffany; several embarrassments, one Heimlich maneuver and an accident later, he lands in the hospital with a broken leg. Howe (who previously edited The Color of Absence: 12 Stories About Loss and Hope) orchestrates a lively assortment of voices; what readers may enjoy most, however, are the authors' comments on their own adolescences--accompanied by photos of themselves at age 13."

Roback, D., Brown, J., Bean, J., & Zaleski, J. (2003). 13: Thirteen Stories That Capture the Agony and Ecstasy of Being Thirteen (Book). Publishers Weekly, 250(46), 65. Retrieved from MasterFILE Premier database.

"Just as 13 is an age with agonies and ecstasies, this collection ranges from the trivial to the powerful. The stories cover bar mitzvahs and brand names, emerging sexuality and death. Conflicts between growing desire for popularity and emerging moral and social consciousness dominate the collection. Howe's own "Jeremy Goldblatt Is So Not Moses" is a hilarious and moving tale of homelessness and social conventions. Conformity conflicts with eco-awareness in Todd Strasser's funny "Squid Girl." Stephen Roos's poignant and powerful "Picky Eater" explores the darker side of fitting in. Ann M. Martin and Laura Godwin provide the weakest contribution, a trite paean to adolescence. Each contribution closes with a painfully awkward photograph of the author at 13, a wonderful reminder that the authors, too, shared the pain. Focus on change and growth gives strength to this offering."

(2003). 13: Thirteen Stories That Capture the Agony and Ecstasy of Being Thirteen (Book). Kirkus Reviews, 71(18), 1176. Retrieved from MasterFILE Premier database.

Using this book in the library
This book is excellent for giving library staff and professionals a taste of the writing style of many YA and Juvenile fiction writers. Some library staff are excellent at diving in and reading these authors' works and books, but others are reluctant. A short story collection like Thirteen is a great place to give someone a taste of what each author is like and show them some good writing in bite-sized portions.

For fun:
Think about your own life when you were thirteen. It took me a while to remember since I'm pretty sure I'm suppressing most of the memories, LOL. But I remember walking home one day from school (a long walk) and I took the back way along the Metroparks. Everything was gold and leafy. Wet leaves were on the sidewalk and I was thinking as I walked. I was wondering if I was gay or not. I couldn't decide! I didn't make a decision that day, either. I guess I just figured it would resolve itself on its own.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

What's up with female characters and.... gasp... their periods?

So I was just reading The Comet's Curse by Dom Testa. One of the main characters is the captain of the star ship, the Galahad, and also, a young woman. After I was done reading the story, I was thinking about this young woman and I remembered that the story never talked about her period.

Then I was thinking of my favorite trilogy, The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins. Katniss Everdeen is the narrator of the story and she's thrust into several survival situations. But never in the story does she seem to have her period.

I am always wondering why authors leave menstruation out of their stories. We all know it happens. We all know we can't stop it (without getting pregnant, having a hysterectomy or taking hormones) so why not talk about it?

Does the publishing industry prevent this frank discussion? I agree that in some stories it really is a non-issue. In realistic fiction, most characters live in a modern life and we have conveniences to deal with Aunt Flo coming to visit. However, a girl like Katniss might get her period at the worst time: during the games. But that never seems to happen in stories. Girls just magically don't have to deal with their periods.

Yes, I know some "coming of age" stories deal with periods, even if it's just to mention them. However, think of any other kind of story. Did the girl get her period at all? Probably never once.

I wonder sometimes, how a character would deal with getting her period if she was trekking across the wilderness. How would a girl feel dating a vampire if she got her period? Would it attract or repel werewolves during "that time of the month?" Who knows, but I wish that we wouldn't ignore that we all get periods. Women have to deal with this fact of life and it would be neat to see it reflected creatively in fiction.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Found in Donation Box - Cute Bee

This cute little retro bee found its way into our library in a donation box. His colors are made with fuzzy cut-outs. You can see where the yellow fuzz was supposed to be. From the tape marks on the back, he probably spent many years tacked up on a school wall somewhere. What era do you think he's from? I'm thinking 70's or late 60's.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Found in Bookdrop

Found in the bookdrop, this anonymous note reads:

"You have been on my mind a lot lately and I hope you are well. I was at the bookstore and saw this book and immediately thought of you. I hope you enjoy the book. Please keep in touch--your letters always make me smile. Know that you are in my thoughts and prayers always."

This note was in a donated book for our collection. I wonder if they decided to share the book with us because they enjoyed it so much or if because the giver had chosen the wrong book?