30 March 2004

"How many centimeters are a poodle?"

This was my favorite reference question tonight, asked by a six-year-old boy.

And yes, the answer is in the World Book. (Almost everything's in the World Book.)

Toy poodle = 25 cm
Miniature poodle = 25 to 38 cm
Standard poodle = 45+ cm

By the way, that wasn't really what he needed to know. His homework asked, "If a poodle is 1 meter long, how many centimeters is the poodle?" We looked up centimeters. When it dawned on him that the poodle would be 100 centimeters, he exclaimed, "Man! That's big! I'm glad I don't have a poodle!"


Sometimes I feel old...

The adorable teen who is our Super Page in Youth Services was just telling us a story which she prefaced with the statement, "The Who made this musical called Tommy..."

In that moment, she just sounded so young and earnest and cute... I had to interrupt her to mock her.

Luckily she has a sense of humor.


Thanks to the Ranger, for mentioning this 'blog at The Lost Blogs' Home. He was so kind, he's making me blush!

By the way, while no car can replace Odysseus, I am bonding with the new ride, a 2000 Silver Ford Focus named Santiago (yes, after Hem's Old Man). So, there. You can all sleep a little easier tonight.

Kingdom Hospital not faring well

BBC News reports that Stephen King's Kingdom Hospital is ailing in the ratings. That's a shame; it looked good.

Then again, I am probably fairly representative of the reason it ain't doing so well. I am rarely home on Wednesday evenings, so I decided to tape it. (Possibly unneccessary digression: I love Stephen King. Yes, I confess. I think he's highly underrated and that time will vindicate him. There. I said it, and I'm glad.)

ANYway... I taped it the first week, and then couldn't find time to watch it. The next week, I worked late and forgot to set the VCR. Rats! At that point, I figured, Well, what the heck? No doubt it'll be on DVD some time soon...

Sigh. The BBC reports, "Despite a promising debut, the show steadily lost viewers and pulled in an audience of 5.6 million last week."

Mea culpa. I hope he doesn't just drop it... I'm still wondering how The Plant ends. (For the record, I paid for that every installment -- 2 copies, in fact, one for me and one for my library.)

29 March 2004

I've never seen the original...

...but maybe I don't have to, now that I have seen The Exorcist in 30 Seconds (and re-enacted by bunnies). (And tomorrow, when I'm not at the Reference desk, I plan to watch The Meatrix...)

Couldn't happen to a nicer guy...

John Updike is the winner of the 2004 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction for his short story collection, "The Early Stories." Yay. I had a professor who used to tell us that Updike would be our next American author to win a Nobel Prize. I wouldn't be a bit surprised.

I *hate* when they screw with my books!

Salon has a fascinating article (and a fabulous picture) on the abridgement of children's books, although this author is altogether more (ahem) adaptable, and probably more reasonable, than I am on the topic...

27 March 2004

Sometimes sadness blindsides me...

Jan Berry, of Jan and Dean fame, died Friday. He was 62 years old.

When I was a little girl, my brothers and I had a Jan and Dean cassette we played incessently. In fact, we probably wore it out! (I am gonna look when I get home tonight to see if it survived our childhood.)

I loved them and thought that they should be way more popular than the Beach Boys! (At the same time, I felt like they were our little secret, which made them extra special.) Today, I am a little bit surprised by how sad I was at this news... and at how swiftly their music came back into my head and heart.


Duck for President!

USA Today has a nice article about one of my favorite picture books. (Well, Hell... If W can do it, I reckon Duck could, too...)

"Libraries Use Internet to Entice Readers"

It's nice to see a story about libraries make it to Yahoo's front page, even if for but a moment...

Is there anything he *can't* do?

I'm looking way forward to reading Elvis Costello's books, the first of which is due out in Fall 2005.

22 March 2004

R.I.P. Odysseus

Today, the great big heart of my beloved purple car gave out for good.


Actually, not to make too big a deal out of, what was, after all, a car, for cryin' out loud, I was pretty darned sad when I realized that I would have to buy a new car. NOT just because of the strain on my checkbook, but...

Odysseus and I have had some adventures together. 152,000+ miles worth of adventure, which is what led to today's sudden demise. The engine just wore out.

Yeah, I could have had him fixed for a mere $3000, but when would the trans go? Better to let go as gracefully as I could.

Still, it sucks. :'-(

No 'blogging from me for a few days. Tomorrow, I am heading to Starved Rock for the first in a series of programs for Synergy, which is why a new car was imperative. By the time I get home, I guess I'll know the new car well enough to have named him.

18 March 2004

from sad cats to big dogs

A nice profile of the lovely Norman Bridwell at the Boston Globe, wherein he reveals the secret of Clifford's color: "It was red because I happened to have red paint on the drawing table that night."

More on That's Disgusting!

On the publisher's website, they describe the book thusly:

This irresistibly icky book will appeal to kids' love of all things nasty—while charming parents with its wit and energy. Adorable artwork on every spread accompanies simple text. Swallowing a worm, smelling a sock, playing in the cat litter....That's Disgusting!

"Adorable artwork on every spread..." Huh. To me, VIOLATING A CAT is not "Adorable!"

I am definitely planning to write and see what justification they have for marketing this to pre-schoolers. The contact info for the publisher is:

Workman Publishing Company
708 Broadway
New York, NY 10003-9555
212-254-5900 phone
212-254-8098 fax


17 March 2004

'Lit Idol'

Britain's 'Lit Idol' Borrows a Page From TV

Quote o' the moment

"The best slogan I can think of to leave with the U.S.A. would be: 'We can do and we've got to do better than this..'" (Dr. Seuss)

16 March 2004

Is it just me?

A colleague of mine told me that the picture I was upset about (see post below) was not as bad as she thought it would be. So... I scanned it so y'all can judge for yourselves. Am I over-reacting?

(Since our ultra-efficient tech staff processed the book before I could send it back, I am stuck with it. I am leaning toward adding it to our office collection, where patrons could have it, but no one would find it by accident...)

Don't forget to vote!

The primary elections are being held in Illinois today. I cast a baleful eye at the alarm clock when it sounded at 5:30 this morning, then remembered and got up to walk to the polling place. Luckily, going so early meant that not many flyer-peddlars were there yet...

Besides the chance to express our individual preferences for the presidential candidates, there are a number of school and library referendums on the ballot in many communities in Illinois. (This always puts me in mind of Barbara Kingsolver. In an essay in her book, High Tide in Tuscon, she talks about how sometimes people without children say they won't vote yes for school or library issues since they have no kids. She reminds us that somebody else's kids will be our doctors, lawyers, mechanics, etc. Knowing that, shouldn't we give them all thes best start we can?)

Whatever your political views, go VOTE today!

15 March 2004

And what country are you?

This made me pretty happy: I'm the United Nations, bay-bee!

You're the United Nations!
Most people think you're ineffective, but you are trying to completely save the world from itself, so there's always going to be a long way to go. You're always the one trying to get friends to talk to each other, enemies to talk to each other, anyone who can to just talk instead of beating each other about the head and torso. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't, and you get very schizophrenic as a result. But your heart is in the right place, and sometimes also in New York.
Take the Country Quiz at the Blue Pyramid

Dust and Daemons

Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy is the subject of a thoughtful article in the March 25, 2004 New York Review of Books.

14 March 2004

Poet Natan Yonatan dies

Israeli poet Natan Yonatan, who won several Israeli literary awards with works that weaved together themes of nature and war, died Friday near Tel Aviv. He was 81.

Help me!!

I am calling on your collective wisdom to HELP ME with this book!

My library recently got in three picture books by Francesco Pittau. I cannot, for the life of me, remember where I read about these books, where I saw the reviews. I must have seen it somewhere.

I have a pretty high tolerance for yucky stuff. I have never ever, in my whole life, come across a book I have honestly thought should be kept out of the library. Never. I have read books that have deeply disturbed me. I have read books that have seemed to have absolutely no merit whatsoever, literary or otherwise. Still, I didn't think any of them should be kept off the shelves.

And now I am torn.

Most of That's Disgusting, I can get behind. Washing your feet in the toilet? That is disgusting. Making sculptures out of poo? That's disgusting, too. Ditto to eating soap and playing in the litter box. Eww! Disgusting!

But. "Sticking your finger in the cat's behind?" (Yes, IN.)

That's not disgusting. That's disturbed.

I never knew where the mythical line was, but I think it is clearly crossed here. The charming art that reminded me of Lane Smith and made me laugh? Somehow, amazingly, it wasn't funny anymore when the cartoon child's little finger was aiming at the clearly delineated place he could stick it in the cat's behind!

I do NOT want to be a censor. On the other hand (the one far, far from the cat's bottom, thank you very much!), there is no way I find this appropriate even for our YA collection. Sexual violation of household pets? Not funny.

SO. This really should be a no-brainer, shouldn't it? I should just get over the worry of censorship and send the book back, right? But I really like the art and the rest of the book. Is it better to send it back, perhaps with a letter explaining why this book is not appropriate? OR... can I grab my trusty gluestick, glue those pages together, and be done with it?

I feel like I really shouldn't be this conflicted... Anyone? Opinions?

And now, the moment you've all been waiting for!

As promised (or threatened, I guess, depending on your point o' view), I have pictures of my beauteous niece and nephew. (At the right, that's me with Jonathon and Michelle last Sunday.) In fact, I created a whole web page filled with pictures of them from our recent trip to Vegas! They're awfully cute kids and well worth a click of the mouse...

11 March 2004

Happy 88th Birthday to Ezra Jack Keats!

"It is clear to me that in writing stories about Peter, Louie, Roberto, Susie and Amy, Ezra was writing about himself and all children who endure through hardship to realize their dreams and use their talent.. In fact, the schools we attended and the neighborhood in which we lived are now inhabited by the very children of whom he wrote.

"I was privileged to have his friendship over almost the entire span of his life. He was cultured, attentive, and curious; he taught me how to look at and read a painting; he kept me in stitches with the humor in his stories, and he encouraged me when I had doubts. He graced my home and enchanted my children. His work has had a profound influence on children’s literature in the twentieth century, and will be loved by children in the next century."

-- from "A Memoir of Ezra" by Dr. Martin Pope, published in Ezra Jack Keats, Artist and Picture-Book Maker by Brian Alderson

Radio, Radio

Yeah, that's the only place I will be hearing Elvis Costello anytime in the near future. I was meant to see him on 1 March, but the Evil Bastards at Ticketmaster neglected to tell me that the concert had been rescheduled until I arrived at the theater that night.

And, of course, the show was rescheduled for 16 March, the night I am hosting a birthday party for Dr. Seuss at the library.


Since I was trying to be a grown-up and at least somewhat fiscally responsible, I decided I couldn't afford two major concerts in less than a week. And by the time I found out EC was cancelled, Dylan was sold out.


I *love* this book!

(At least I used to love it. I read it back in the fourth grade or so. I have vague memories... I really should re-read it soon.)

Thanks to Sulkbrarian, I found out what book I am:

You're Watership Down!
by Richard Adams

Though many think of you as a bit young, even childish, you're actually incredibly deep and complex. You show people the need to rethink their assumptions, and confront them on everything from how they think to where they build their houses. You might be one of the greatest people of all time. You'd be recognized as such if you weren't always talking about talking rabbits.

Take the Book Quiz at the Blue Pyramid.

Well, what book are you?


"The novels of Philip Pullman, which have been condemned as blasphemous by some critics, should form part of pupils' religious education, the Archbishop of Canterbury said in a speech made public yesterday."

Well, all right then! See? Religious belief can live side by side with literature that makes you think and question! Yay, Archbishop!

10 March 2004

Huzzah for Harvard!

Harvard is going to eliminate tuition altogether for low-income students! Someone give them a giant shiny gold star!

Leave him alone...

A pretty good editorial in the Opinion Journal says of Dr. Seuss: "... Geisel himself has become a commodity. But he doesn't need a postage stamp or a star, or more cheesy souvenirs. He needs to be left alone, like innocence itself, so his writings can speak for themselves." While I love wearing my Seuss t-shirt, I pretty much agree.

09 March 2004

home again, home again, jiggedy jig

I will spare you all the details of my whirlwind trip to Vegas. Suffice it to say, I had a perfectly lovely time. I was worried that my niece, Michelle, might be a bit reticent to hang with me. (She is eleven months old and we had not yet met.) However, when she arrived at my mother's house Saturday, I said, "Hi, Michelle. I'm your auntie Katharine." She kind of looked at me a bit intently for a moment, considering. Then, she reached for me, wrapped her tiny arms around my neck, put her head on my shoulder, and we were pals. She is pretty quiet, and beautiful, and eats more than any baby I have ever met. (Yet, she really is teeny. Her clothes are all for 6-9 months babies.)

Her brother, Jonathon, has had a grip on my heart since I first met him. He was seven weeks old then and we went and got his first library card and read Chicka Chicka ABC a gazillion times. Now he is 3-1/2 and we read Tacky the Penguin over and over. He was not a crocodile this weekend, rather, a pirate. On Saturday, he wore a bandana on his head, used an old noisemaker as a microphone, and announced, "Ladies and Gentlemen! I give you..." (dramatic pause included here) "... The Pirate Show!" He then danced about, singing, "The pirate show! The pirate show! The pirate show!" It's my new favorite song.

I could probably regale you all with thirty more stories like that, but I know they would be of little interest, so I will spare you. (I'll probably post a picture of my sweeties when I get my pictures back, though.)

Are you there, God?

Disney is going to make movies based on the (deservedly) best-selling books of Judy Blume. I'll try to reserve judgement until there's something to judge, but this makes me a wee bit nervous...

05 March 2004

Viva, Las Vegas!

Well, I'm off to Vegas in a few hours. Not my favorite place in the world, but my mother lives there and she turned 50 this week, so... My brothers will also be there, so I'm sure it will be fun. Actually, I am really looking forward to seeing my Buddha Baby nephew (who, at 3-1/2 is not really a baby any more!) and meeting his sister (who will be one next month). I went to buy Jonathon his annual White Sox outfit last night and found a teeny white onesie with pink pinstripes and Sox logo, so Michelle can cheer on the South Siders, too! I think I'll pack my Seuss hat to show Jonathon...

(By the way, we had a great time at the school this afternoon! This time they asked me if I was Dr. Seuss's wife. Hee.)

Some days are cool like that

You know how some days, things keep going wrong and just when you think it can't get any worse, it does?

Isn't it cool when the rare opposite of that day happens along?

I've been having a marvelous day (maybe it's the magical Seuss hat) thus far. I was working on a book order while singing along with Mitch and Mickey off the A Mighty Wind soundtrack when a woman wandered into my office to ask if she could hang a flyer on the community board about an upcoming concert sponsored by the South Suburban Dulcimer & Folk Music Society. I didn't even know we had a folk music society around here!

Kat in the Hat

So today I was to go read Dr. Seuss stories at one of the local grade schools. I wore jeans, a red tee-shirt with the Cat in the Hat fish saying "Don't make me come over there!," red Chuck Taylors, a blazer, and a Cat in the Hat hat. (Normally, I wouldn't go into detail to tell y'all what I wore, but it seems to have been an especial hit today!)

Another reader came at the wrong time -- my time -- so the librarian asked if we would mind sharing the time, each read one story instead of two? No problem. The other reader was a school official, so he was gonna go first.

As the kids filed in, they all saw me and waved. One little boy with cp ran as quickly as he could to me. I saw him coming, crouched down, and got the best hug I have had for a while. A group of third graders were pointing at me and whispering, "Look! It's Dr. Seuss!" One of them, goaded by his pals, finally got up the nerve to come ask me if I was the Good Doctor. I said, no, Dr. Seuss couldn't be there today, so we were going to read his stories for him. That satisfied the boys.

Finally, the kids were settled and it was time for the other reader. Naturally, he chose The Cat in the Hat. I don't want to go into -- ahem -- catty detail. Suffice it to say, I had never been bored by that book before today. He took the full thirty minutes to get through the book, so I am going back this afternoon to read.

On the way back to work, I went to the post office for stamps. The Seuss stamps are gorgeous! A woman came in after me and told me her kids "went nuts" when they saw me go into the post office, yelling, "Look! It's Dr. Seuss!" Hee. She asked if I would come out to the car and say hi to them. I did, and they promised to visit the library in the near future.

So, I get to go back out this afternoon.

Sometimes life is so sweet I can scarcely bear it.

04 March 2004

Books are not eggs!

In today's Guardian Unlimited, Philip Pullman argues against the abolition of a recommended retail price for books.

It seems so obvious...

The Books Not Bombs national day of action is today.

03 March 2004

Be a Librarian for a Day!

Thanks to Woman's Day Magazine you, too, can live the glamorous life of a librarian, even if for but a day...

Cool Snicket Site

Quidditch.com's Incomplete Guide to Lemony Snicket Allusions is a great place to look when you can't quite place why the names of Jerome and Esme Squalor seem like an inside joke you should be getting...

What a pal!

Playwright Neil Simon received a kidney from "friend and longtime press representative," Bill Evans.

02 March 2004

Happy Birthday, Dr. Seuss!

Today is the Seussentenial! Lots of events are planned this year, including our library's pajama story time this month, which will be a birthday party for the Good Doctor.

(I especially like this calendar, which gives us all 100 ways to celebrate the lasting legacy of Dr. Seuss.)