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At Pew's Internet & American Life Project:
Despite the fact that libraries are easily available to most, there are large numbers of Americans who say they are not sure about all the services libraries offer. Echoing the findings of our 2012 survey, 23% of those who have ever used a public library said they feel like they know all or most of the service and programs their library offers, while a plurality (47%) said that they know some of what it offers. About one in five (20%) say they don’t know very much about what is offered, and 10% say they know “nothing at all.”
I haven't read the whole thing yet, but wanted to pass along the link anyway!
At the New Yorker:
Amusing and titillating as these images are, it’s easy to forget that they’re the work of an army of invisible laborers—the Google hands. This is the subject of an art work by the Brooklyn-based artist Andrew Norman Wilson called “ScanOps.” The project began in 2007, when Wilson was contracted by a video-production company to work on the Google campus. He noted sharp divisions between the workers; one group, known as ScanOps, were sequestered in their own building. These were data-entry workers, the people to whom those mysterious hands belonged. Wilson became intrigued by them, and began filming them walking to and from their ten-hour shifts in silence. He was able to capture a few minutes of footage before Google security busted him. In a letter to his boss explaining his motives, Wilson remarked that most of the ScanOps workers were people of color. He wrote, “I’m interested in issues of class, race and labor, and so out of general curiosity, I wanted to ask these workers about their jobs.” In short order, he was fired.
And now pardon me while I go and click through to all of the links in the article: there are a WHOLE LOT OF THEM, and judging by the ones I've already looked at, the majority of them lead to some weirdly fascinating stuff.
First things first: this cover art does Rebel Heart such a disservice. So much so, in fact, that despite my EPIC LOVE for Blood Red Road, I put off reading this, the sequel, for what, over a year?
I understand that the publisher wants, naturally, to bring in more readers. And I understand that Beefcake sells. BELIEVE ME, I DO. But this cover is selling a somewhat generic contemporary sexy Western.
And Rebel Heart is not that. I'd put it in the Western family, yes. And there are sexytimes, yes. But although Saba's love for Jack is the driving force behind many of the decisions she makes in the book, the sexytimes themselves are few and far between, and are certainly not at the forefront. And a contemporary, this is not: those new, off-the-rack clothes Mr. Model there is wearing? No. The people in this world are lucky if their clothes come fourth-hand, and oftentimes, they are pulled off of dead bodies. And finally, Jack—assuming that's supposed to represent Jack—is hardly in the book at all, as the majority of the story is about Saba trying to find him.
I understand that generic sells—otherwise it wouldn't become generic, right?—but I find it sad that this series, which is SO special and such a standout in terms of voice and character and world and action and romance and plotting, didn't get treated as such by its own publisher.
WOW. I... my feelings about the cover were a tad more passionate than I realized. I apologize for the rant, I just... UGH.
ANYWAY, THE BOOK. It works as a sequel—it begins shortly after Blood Red Road ended, with Jack headed to the Lost Cause to give Molly the bad news about Ike, while Saba, Lugh, Emmi, and Tommo head out across the Waste towards Big Water, which is (they hope) safe as well as being a land of plenty—but Young gives enough backstory that new readers will catch up quickly.
Everything that I loved about Blood Red Road is here, and then some:
- Saba's voice continues to be outstanding, both in terms of her dialect and how she expresses herself: she's gruff and stormy; easily angered; from the outside, to people who didn't know her, she'd seem like an implacable, dangerous, often-terrifying person; but much of her anger comes from how deeply, how piercingly she feels things. She's not infallible, she's not selfless, and she doesn't always make the "right" decision... but it's totally understandable why she's become a legend in her own time, and it's totally understandable why, despite her every attempt to push people away, they keep coming back.
- Blood Red Road was about Saba trying to find her twin brother, Lugh, but now that she's found him, she finds that life can't go back to the way it was, that they can't go back to the way they were. And so, despite how much of this book is about Saba and Jack, a whole lot of it is about Saba and her siblings. It is, despite the post-apocalyptic world, the constant action and adventure, a story about family.
- It's also a story in which violence has long-term effects. Not just in that people die—and they do, which alarming regularity—but in that Saba is still processing some of the actions she took in the previous book: in particular, her very own "Kiss me, Hardy!" moment. Logically, she knows that she did the right thing—she gave Epona a clean death, rather than a long, lingering, rapey death—but as most of us know, logic doesn't help to stave off guilt.
- And then there's the world. It's harsh, it's gritty, it's mean—Young doesn't gloss over the hard facts of the kind of evil that people are capable of—but it isn't black-and-white. The villain, DeMalo, is a zealot, and his methods are absolutely revolting... but he's got a vision of making the world a better place. (Albeit just for certain people.) He's charismatic and passionate and smart, though, and it's understandable why Saba is A) drawn to him and B) tempted by his pitch.
- I do think that some readers will be irritated by the whole everyone-falls-in-love-with-Saba thing. But here's how I look at it: she's pretty much the Chosen One. Some people see her as that, even. So gaining followers—platonic and romantic—kind of comes with the territory. And the three suitors are representative of three different kinds of relationship: DeMalo looks at her as the Angel of Death, and he wants (possibly subconsciously) to tame her, to ultimately manipulate her into a subservient role; though Tommo has grown into a man, and a good one at that, he's not on Saba's level in terms of well, anything; it's only with Jack that she stands with as an equal, in terms of respect and trust in each others' capabilities. Jack loves her for who she is, not as a symbol, like DeMalo, and not as a hero, like Tommo, but purely for being Saba.
Um, so yeah. I guess you could say that I liked it?
Book source: Bought.
First drafts usually contain the words anybody can write. Revision is the key to crafting writing that sounds just like you.
Children’s book author Jennifer Rustgi and illustrator Molly Allen need your help. They are self publishing a beautiful picture book entitled Much Too Much. They’ve started a Kickstarter campaign in order to raise the necessary funds to bring Much Too Much to life. To learn more about their worthwhile project, go to http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/muchtoomuchbook/much-too-much-childrens-picture-book. You can view a video, read the entire children’s story, and make a contribution to their cause. So far, half of their goal has been reached, but they will only receive the funds if the entire goal has been met. So, check out Jennifer and Molly’s page and consider backing their wonderful project or at least spreading the word. Good luck Jennifer and Molly!
From the New Yorker:
Earlier this year, a New York Times Magazine profile of the showrunner Shonda Rhimes (“Scandal,” “Grey’s Anatomy”) included a line that made me think she was even more than the talented and savvy TV writer she’s already shown herself to be: “Rhimes observes that people, even the ones who like ‘Scandal,’ describe it as ‘ridiculous,’ which she can live with, or a ‘guilty pleasure,’ which she ardently despises.” I despise it, too. If there’s a contemporary idiom that puzzles and irritates me in equal measure, “guilty pleasure” is it. I object to neither the pleasure, nor the guilt; it’s the modifying of one by the other that works my nerves, the awkward attempt to elevate as well as denigrate the object to which the phrase is typically assigned.
LIKE WHAT YOU LIKE, MAKE NO EXCUSES.
OWN YOUR JOY.
By: Roberta Baird
Blog: A Mouse in the House
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He who has not Christmas in his heart will never find it under a tree. ~Roy L. Smith
As of November 20, 2012 (that is, Midnight Eastern Time tonight) I am closed to queries. I will reopen to queries January 7, 2013.
If I already have your work, you should hear from me by January 7. (That's the point of taking the break, I have to catch up!)
I'm sorry to say that I cannot respond to new queries sent during this time.
The exceptions will be: work that I've requested -- conference material -- client or editor referrals -- and people I actually know in real life. If this is you, please be sure you've said so, along with the word Query, IN THE SUBJECT LINE of your email. Otherwise, your query will be deleted.
For all other regular queries, please feel free to try any of my colleagues at Andrea Brown Lit, or else try me again in January.
Thanks again for thinking of me in regard to your work.
Wishing you all the best, and Happy Holidays,
Andrea Brown Literary Agency
At mental_floss: 11 Classic Video Games You Can Play Online.
And my arch-nemesis, Atari's E.T: THE EXTRA-TERRESTRIAL.
By: Karen Maxwell,
Blog: Write From Karen
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MIMS HOUSE: Great NonFiction for Common Core
The story of the oldest known wild bird in the world. At 62+, she hatched a new chick in February, 2013. Read her remarkable story. A biography in text and art.
Here’s an adorable video “Gotta Keep Reading,” a variation of “I Gotta Feeling,” with teachers and kids from New Academy Canoga Park. THIS is why we write!
‘Gotta Keep Reading’ Music Video from NACP School on Vimeo.
If you can’t see this video, click here.
Look what I got in my inbox!
Mohamed from Egypt is learning 3d programs. He used my model sheet of Henry (from Henry and the Buccaneer Bunnies) to create this beautiful digital image. I love the textures of the different articles of clothing—the leather vest, the woolen shirt.
digital art created by Mohamed Eldemerdash
So, since I'm in a Moira Young-Rebel Heart groove, I checked Fanfiction.net to see if there was any related fanfic.
And there is.
There's Saba/DeMalo, which is to be expected. And a bizarre happier ending for Rebel Heart which is also to be expected, but which also brings Gracie-the-two-sentence-dead-child back to life, which was a bit surprising.
But then there's also one that's Saba/Lugh and Saba/Emmi.
The Winchester Boys would not approve:
Filed under: random stuff
Working with tweens can be fun and also frustrating. My branch will have a large after school crowd of tweens but they’re not at the library to attend a program or hang out. Instead they are at the library to meet with a tutor, work on homework, or grab a book quickly before they rush off to their extracurricular activities. No matter how much we advertise programs to this age group, our attendance can sometimes be low. Or at least it feels low when we’ve put a lot of effort into planning a program that we hope will be a big success.
It’s hard to get caught up in numbers and statistics when it comes to programming. It’s also hard not to compare programs with each other. Sometimes I think about how we can get a group of 30 or more toddlers for storytime but I’m lucky if I can get a few tweens for a program.
But I can’t get caught up in measuring program success by numbers. Instead I focus on the stories. Like the middle schooler who came to every single Hunger Games program we provided last year, won the movie tickets in the giveaway, and came to the library this year and said “thank you so much for having those programs about The Hunger Games! They were my favorite and I met my best friend-and we’re still friends today and we met at the library.”
Or the tween who attended a recent program and was excited to win a set of books she hadn’t read yet.
Or the tween who gets excited to meet someone else who shares their interests when they thought they were the only one who liked Doctor Who, or Origami Yoda, or Cupcake Club.
When I feel down about tween programs and wonder what we could do better to reach this age group, I remind myself of all that we have provided for tweens and that we are successful. We are providing a place for tweens to come, meet other tweens, and participate in a program just for them-and that’s a success.
From Teton Valley News:
The evening culminated in an emotional and convicted apology from Woolstenhulme, who admitted to acting hastily in suspending “Bless Me, Ultima” from the curriculum without following the proper procedures dictated by district policy 4120. He said he breeched the trust of the high school staff and the administration under his supervision.
“It’s very important to build trust in our community and in our school district, and I take responsibility for times this year when either my actions or decisions I think have broken down that trust,” said Woolstenhulme in his final recommendation and closing statement to those in attendance. “I recognize that I acted hastily on this, and I see the concern and the issue that the teachers have…[Policy 4120] is the guide that I recognize, I admit and I apologize, I should have been following very specifically. The teachers were working through it, Mr. Mello was working through it and I’m the one that failed and did not follow this policy. That being said, I would recommend that we do allow the English department to use this book. We can go through this grievance policy with those people that have these concerns.”
I realized, as I was looking around for Christmas stories to read this year, that when I think about Christmas stories I’m only thinking about one kind of Christmas story. For me to even read a Christmas story means it’s probably set in the modern day, or, you know, the time period in which it was written. And it’s got to be set in something resembling reality. Like, I’ve enjoyed stories about talking mice, for sure, but if your Christmas story consists of a talking mouse telling a story about how another talking mouse got killed by a cat as a direct result of not believing in Santa Claus, I’m hitting the back button. So it was fitting that I want directly from The Mouse and the Moonbeam to The Blossoming Rod, which is the most prosaic Christmas story I’ve ever read.
Joe Langshaw has his eye on a fishing rod. It’s ten dollars, and he never has that much extra cash lying around. Which is not to say that he’s poor — extra money, when he’s got it, mostly seems to go towards social obligations, like contributing to the school janitor’s Christmas turkey. Meanwhile, he worries that his son George is hiding his report cards, and he’s irritated that his kids — there are three — keep asking for monetary compensation for chores and stuff. Langshaw seems nice enough, but his fixation on this fishing rod and his resentment of anything that keeps him from it are hard to sympathize with.
Shortly before Christmas, someone unexpectedly pays a debt and Langshaw finds himself with a ten dollar bill in his pocket. He’s determined to buy the rod now, but then his daughter Mary loses a dollar that she’d saved and he has to make it up to her, and his wife receives an unexpected bill. Also George finally reveals his report card: he’s got perfect marks in deportment, and wants the five dollars his father promised if he could achieve that.
You can see where this is all going, of course: his family is saving up to buy him the fishing rod, and when they do, he likes it all the better for having been a gift from them. And then all of a sudden there’s a religious moral.
The Blossoming Rod is by Mary Stewart Cutting, author of one of my favorite chapters of The Whole Family. I don’t know that there are any obvious comparisons to be made, but I get the sense that she’s really good at scene-setting. Stuff she writes seems to be very firmly located, with lots of concrete detail. I need to read other stuff of hers in order to find out whether or not this is a broad generalization. Anyway, the details are the best thing about The Blossoming Rod — the solidly suburban setting, the janitor-and-report-card sketch of the school, the Christmas decorations that Langshaw chooses to buy at the store in town rather than the local one. I even kind of appreciated the whole intense fixation on the fishing rod thing, in the details if not in the fact of it.
This isn’t a favorite Christmas story, by any means, but it’s the kind of Christmas story I like, for sure, and honestly, I’ll take irritated suburban parents over mauve mice any day.
Today I will be sending out the new issue of the Growing Bookworms email newsletter. (If you would like to subscribe, you can find a sign-up form here.) The Growing Bookworms newsletter contains content from my blog focused on children's and young adult books and raising readers. There are 1769 subscribers. I send out the newsletter once every two weeks.
Newsletter Update: In this issue I have four book reviews, ranging from picture book through young adult. I also have one post with a literacy milestone from my daughter, and another sharing our latest literacy-themed game. I have two posts with links that I shared on Twitter recently.
Reading Update: In the last two weeks I read one early reader, one young adult title, and two adult mysteries. I read:
- Kallie George (ill. Geneviève Côté). Spark. Simply Read Books. Early Reader. My review.
- Sara Zarr and Tara Altebrando: Roomies. Little, Brown Books for Young Readers. Young Adult. Completed December 9, 2013, on digital ARC. Review to come.
- Janet Evanovich: Takedown Twenty (A Stephanie Plum Novel). Bantam. Adult Mystery. Completed December 2, 2013, on MP3.
- Elizabeth George: Just One Evil Act (Inspector Lynley). Dutton. Adult Mystery. Completed December 4, 2013, on Kindle. I must say that this novel utterly consumed my thoughts for days. It's not exactly action-filled - there's a lot of description - but I kept thinking about the motivations of the characters, and wondering what they would do, or had done. Quite satisfying (though long and not for everyone).
I'm currently listening to Minding Frankie by Maeve Binchy and have just started my annual holiday season re-read of Let It Snow by John Green, Maureen Johnson, and Lauren Myracle. The first story, by Maureen Johnson, is my favorite of the three, so I may or may not actually read the entire book.
Baby Bookworm has been continuing to enjoy the Madeline books by Ludwig Bemelmans. We're also reading Christmas books, like The Christmas Quiet Book by Deborah Underwood and Renata Liwska and The Berenstain Bears Old-Fashioned Christmas by Jan and Mike Berenstain. We're also enjoying A Very Fuddles Christmas by Frans Vischer (my review of the first Fuddles book).
Wishing you all a wonderful holiday season. I'll be back after Christmas with the next newsletter. Thanks for reading, and for growing bookworms. Enjoy your holiday!
© 2013 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook.
From the Des Moines Register:
Clive [Iowa] is merging its parks and recreation and library operations into a single department called leisure services.
The decision to merge the departments coincides with the retirement of library director Vicki Hibbert in January and the pending retirement next month of Kelly Canfield, the city’s first and only parks and recreation director. Canfield was hired in 1984.
The position does not require exhaustive knowledge or experience in library and parks and recreation activities, although Seaman possesses plenty in the realm of recreation, city staff said.
Am I being a HUGE fuddy-duddy, or does that sound like a TERRIBLE idea? I mean, the idea that a library is purely for leisure makes me cringe, and then the idea of the head honcho not being required to, you know, have library experience... it just seems like a disaster waiting to happen. But we'll see, I guess.
And then, from The Atlantic (via Chrissy):
The National Library of Norway is planning to digitize all the books by the mid 2020s.
Yes. All. The. Books. In Norwegian, at least. Hundreds of thousands of them. Every book in the library's holdings.
By law, "all published content, in all media, [must] be deposited with the National Library of Norway," so when the library is finished scanning, the entire record of a people's language and literature will be machine-readable and sitting in whatever we call the cloud in 15 years.
So, in my last post I showed you some food from our trip to Oaxaca, and here I wanted to show you a little of the town and surroundings. Excuse me if I’m a little picture happy. It was hard to choose.
Above is a street in Oaxaca, to give you an idea of the town. This street happens to be a pedestrian only zone, though I guess bench-sitters get a pass, too. Hey, if I could sit on a comfy pink bench on this street right now, I would.
Below is the Santo Domingo church. Georgeous. Love the landscaping out front, too.
And I’ve fallen hard for the church’s stone walls. The subtle color variations (and size variations, which you can see less well) are making me so, so happy. I think I’m going to have to use that colorway and grid pattern somewhere.
Up next, a convent-turned-hotel. The walls are literally three feet thick. It’s a total dream. I have a thing for thick walls and courtyard gardens.
Here and there, on the former convent walls, you’ll see little bits of painting:
And lastly, just outside Oaxaca are the pyramids of Monte Alban. From the top, the view of the area is breathtaking.
I’d love to show you some of the handicrafts Oaxaca is famous for, but I think I’ll have to show you after Christmas, since several that I bought are gifts for others.
Up next, hopefully I’ll have time to post a few Christmas-themed items. I’ve been trying to be really nose-to-the-grindstone on my writing projects. Back to work for me! Be well.
“You play Minecraft at work?” Sometimes my friends get jealous, so I explain: “Yeah, I play Minecraft at work, but I’m usually running around the lab helping people, and there’s more to it than just playing the game – it’s about building community.” Playing Minecraft at the library is a way to get kids in the door and create connections. That I’m a fan of Minecraft outside of work serves as another layer of common ground.
I’ve been playing Minecraft in our computer lab with groups of kids and teens for about two years now. We’ve done a lot of different things with the game: free play, adventure maps, working together to survive, player vs. player battles, redstone circuits, pixel art. At times we’ve played every other week, sometimes once a month, sometimes once over the summer. I’ve gotten to know my Minecraft kids pretty well. I know that they are creative and knowledgeable about the details of the game. I know who loves to explore, who is a fearless monster fighter, who can give me a porkchop when my food meter is low, and who knows how to build a shelter where no zombie will ever find us. And they know me this way as well. They know I probably have a secret shelter hidden somewhere, that if they need a place to hide they can come in, and that my avatar is probably standing there doing nothing because I left myself logged in while I got up to help someone at their computer.
By providing a space for kids to play, we have explored building communities in the game, and we have created a community outside the game based on our shared interest.
I hear a lot of talk about how Minecraft can be used educationally to teach STEAM skills, executive functioning skills and social skills like sharing and cooperation. I agree that all of these opportunities are available with the game, but the truth is that sometimes in the middle of a program, things can get pretty chaotic. Sometimes I’m just running around the lab trying to help kids learn crafting recipes, or mediating between disputes. I knew I had strong connections with a lot of kids because I know them from Minecraft, but I wasn’t thinking about the way that these connections might go beyond the computer lab until recently.
The other day a couple of my regulars, twin brothers, came in to the Children’s room. I marveled at how tall they were getting. They signed up for the next Minecraft program, next month, near their birthday. They will be 11. I have known them for over a year. In addition to wondering when the next Minecraft program was, they were also looking for books for school. They had reports to write. The topics: roller coasters and locksmiths. We looked for books and I walked them back to the stacks to show them how Dewey Decimal call numbers work. We found some books, but we had to put others on hold from libraries in our consortium. I explained that with a little notice, we could get books that they could use for their projects from libraries across the state. Then, I showed them around the databases.
It turns out roller coaster is two words and locksmith is one. This is something I wasn’t entirely sure about when I went to type in search terms and it gave me a concrete example to show that database searching is specific and you need to try rephrasing your terms when you aren’t finding the information you’re looking for.
I explained how they could access the databases from home and told them they could always call the Children’s Room or send me an email to if they needed more help.
This ten or fifteen minute interaction had a lot of positive outcomes: The twins got the resources they need for their projects as well as an in-depth reference interview from a librarian they know cares about them. I got to see two enthusiastic Minecraft adventurers in the context of fifth grade students. I also got a feeling of satisfaction along the lines of that quote from Field of Dreams: “If you build it, they will come.” Connections made by gaming translated into a connection to the more traditional resources the library has to offer. So, not only do these two kids know I’ve got their backs when there’s a zombie, they know that the library will support their information needs for school projects with a variety of resources.
It was a moment I wanted to share.
Do you have an anecdote about making connections in your library? Share it in the comments!
YALSA Blogger Erin Daly works with babies, teens and every kid in between as the Youth Services Coordinator at the Chicopee Public Library in Western Massachusetts. You can follow her tales of library life and the occasional cat picture on Twitter @ErinCerulean
Are you interested in reading more tween-related posts? The YALSA Blog and the ALSC Blog both offer information of interest to librarians who work with tweens.
Sony Pictures Classics announced Austenland DVD and Blu-Ray release in the USA on February 11, 2014. I know many of you are disappointed and were hoping it would come out in time for Christmas. But hey, pre-orders make great presents too! (sort of? Not quite as cool as a DVD in hand but almost?) The good news why it isn't coming out earlier is because it's still in some theaters. Thank you for coming out to see our flick.
You can pre-order the video now and plan on the best Valentine's Day ever. I know I will.
In the meantime, those of you who have seen it, would you mind giving a one sentence blurb of what you thought about it in the comments? I'll use some of your blurbs in a post about the DVD release in February.
Author: Wm. Paul Young
Genre: Christian Fiction
Buy it at Amazon
We meet Anthony Spencer on his final day before becoming critically ill. He is an intensely dislikable man – paranoid, mean, and vindictive. But things are about to change when he wakes up in a very unusual place.
Now in a coma, Tony is living an alternate existence. Somewhere “in-between,” he converses with Jesus, the Holy Spirit (disguised as a native American woman), and the Father (who appears as a little girl). He visits earth by inhabiting the bodies of people who are fully conscious of his presence. And he’s given the chance to perform one miracle while there.
Tony’s personality is so abrasive early on that it makes it hard for the reader to even care about his well-being. But as the story progresses, he changes dramatically for the better. Tony’s journey reminded me of a pre-death purgatory, as he makes amends for the mistakes he made in his life, preparing for an eternity in heaven.
Cross Roads is Christian fiction, and shouldn’t be treated as a theological discussion of the afterlife. But it does provide a good opportunity for reflection on what might happen to us if we were suddenly called to account for the way we’ve lived our lives. Book clubs will find that this story leads to some interesting discussions.
Reviewer: Alice Berger
Posted on 12/11/2013
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Hello Glen! It's been awhile since I have written in for a question, though I have participated in the comments section of several questions answered