14 December 2005

Goodbye, audible.com

I'm not sure what to make of audible.com's new "Don't Read" ad campaign.

No, I kinda *do* know what I think of it. I guess I'm just afraid of sounding like I have no sense of humor whatsoever.

So, what do I think?


In my experience -- as a librarian, a voracious reader, and a fan of audio books -- people who listen to audio books are people who love books. Sometimes we want audio to avoid accidents that could be caused by reading while driving, sometimes we realize that we simply cannot knit and read at the same time, sometimes we just love to hear the author (or reader) speaking the story to us. I came to Frank McCourt through hearing him read portions of Angela's Ashes on "A Prairie Home Companion". I read the book and loved it, but I wanted the audio, too. Now, whenever I read him, I can hear his gorgeous voice reading along with me and it definitely enhances the experience for me.

Also, no matter how hard I tried, I could NOT read Moby Dick (and I did try, Readers). However, during a solo drive to Massachusetts (to see literary Concord, natch), I listened to an unabridged reading of the book and *loved* it. When I got home, I decided to try, once more, to read the book.

No go. I couldn't do it. This tale, which read aloud captivated me was tortuous on the page.

So, yes. I love audio books. And when I listen to a book, I consider that I have "read" it. I have found that many audio book admirers are book people, people who also read.

So why would audible.com crap on us this way?

I *get* that it's a spoof. I get that it is meant to be a parody of the ALA READ posters. I understand that the questions on the FAQ are meant to be tongue-in-cheek. For example, the first question reads: "Should I burn my books? No. A stack of burning books pollutes the air, and worse - it kinda thumbs its nose at the First Amendment. So Don't burn books. Without them, libraries would be just big empty rooms."

Actually, No. We wouldn't. There would still be computers, copiers, programs, storytimes, crafts, microfilm, newspapers, tutoring help, literacy programs, and more.

I just don't find it very funny.

It seems like poor marketing strategy on their part, too. I am so glad I did not purchased the gift subscription to audible.com I had been planning. And although I had planned to renew my own subscription in the new year, that's done, too.

I know my measly few consumer dollars won't matter much to their company, but forget it. I work hard for my money. I don't need to give it to people who advocate an anti-reading stance to the world...

12 December 2005

We shall all be poorer...

Just after midnight, convicted murderer, gangster, and children's book author, Stanley Tookie Williams, will be executed by the state of California.

There is no question in my mind that the crimes he committed were heinous. There is also no question in my mind that his work in turning children away from the gang life he once embraced makes him more valuable alive than dead. I don't think he should neccessarily walk free, but if he lives, he can continue his pwerful message of being able to transcend our wrongdoings to become useful members of society. When he is murdered, I think it may send a message that there is little point to trying to change, since it may not do any good anyway.

I don't even know if I am making sense. I am pretty opposed to the death penalty in general. In this case, though, seeing how powerfully his books have affected children I have worked with, children on the brink of making bad decisions who reconsidered after hearing Tookie's story, this seems like a horrible, preventable loss.

The words of John Donne seem appropriate to me now:

"No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend's or of thine own were. Any man's death diminishes me because I am involved in mankind; and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee."

08 December 2005


You can hear Nikki Giovanni talk about her beautiful new picture book, Rosa, on the NPR site.

06 December 2005

Well, at least we're moving up...

Chicago has ranked number 46 in a list of the most literate cities in America.

Last year, we were number 58, so at least there's some improvement.

Still, I would have thought that, with all our commitment to public libraries, and the wonderful literary programs the libraries provide (including author visits), we'd be higher on the list.


The entire study is available for your perusal here.

02 December 2005

"Snow, snow, I want to play in the snow...!"

Make a snowflake to share with the world!

Thanks to Amy for the link.

Early Christmas gift for poetry lovers

Wow! Check out the rockin' cool Poetry Archive!

Honestly, it gave me shivers to hear Langston Hughes reading his poem, "I, Too." What a great gift that we can hear this amazing man read one of his (in my mind, anyway) greatest poems.

(Maybe too many "greats" in that sentence, but every one is true!)

"It was the shower hose that clinched it"

"A passage describing a male character's genitalia as 'leaping around like a shower dropped in an empty bath' helped British food critic Giles Coren win the 13th annual Bad Sex in Fiction award Thursday for his debut novel, Winkler.

Read the rest of the article.

You can read excerpts of the work of the candidates for this award here. Looks like he (cough, cough) beat out some pretty (ahem) stiff competition.

(And, yes, shame on me.)

30 November 2005

Library of Congress Evacuated

That's about all of the story that's out there. In it's entirety, the item reads: "The main building of the Library of Congress was evacuated Wednesday morning while a hazardous materials team investigated what people in the building said was a suspicious odor.

Capitol Police officer Dan Kurtz said two people in the Jefferson Building, located across the street from the Capitol, complained of feeling faint. One was treated at the scene and another was taken to a local hospital."

I hope all is well...

29 November 2005

Stan Berenstain has died

He was 82. Read the obit.

(Sorry this isn't the lengthier entry he deserves, but this is making me very sad. I will try to come back and write something better later.)

20 November 2005

Happy Birthday, ICDL!

Today marks the 3rd Anniversay of the International Children's Digital Library! This amazing site was "designed to provide children ages 3 to 13 with an unparalleled opportunity to experience different cultures through literature and an unequaled ease in accessing online books."

The ICDL now features 829 free children's books in 32 different languages. Definitely worth a minute (or 10) of your time, to see what kinds of stories children all over the world are sharing and cherishing.

17 November 2005

Does the NBA predict the Newbery winners?

Okay, I did some digging (well, not digging so much as compiling easily found data) to see if the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature is a good predictor of which title will win the Newbery Medal.

It looks like the first National Book Award for Young People’s Literature was presented in 1996. [A note about the appearance of date discrepancies in the comparison: Because the National Book Award is presented at the end of the year (November) and the Newbery Medal is presented at the beginning of the year (January), the 1996 National Book Award for Young People’s Literature is drawn from the same pool of books as the 1997 Newbery Medal winner. A bit confusing, but true, nonetheless.]

So, is the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature a portend of things to come in January?


Only once have the two committees agreed, and that was on Holes by Louis Sachar. (And really -- who *did* argue with that selection?) This isn’t a bad thing, I think, since it brings more quality books for young people to the attention of the book-buying public.

So, what does this mean for The Penderwicks? Probably nothing. Just something I was wondering about and thought I might as well share since I spent time figuring it out…

(I will add links later, when I have more time.)


National Book Award: Parrott In the Oven: Mi Vida by Victor Martinez
Newbery: The View from Saturday by E.L. Konigsburg

National Book Award: Dancing on the Edge by Han Nolan
Newbery: Out of the Dust by Karen Hesse

National Book Award: Holes by Louis Sachar
Newbery: Holes by Louis Sachar

National Book Award: When Zachary Beaver Came to Town by Kimberley Willis Holt
Newbery: Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis

National Book Award: Homeless Bird by Gloria Whelan
Newbery: A Year Down Yonder by Richard Peck

National Book Award: True Believer by Virginia Euwer Wolff
Newbery: A Single Shard by Linda Sue Park

National Book Award: The House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer
Newbery: Crispin: The Cross of Lead by Avi

National Book Award: The Canning Season by Polly Horvath
Newbery: The Tale of Despereaux: Being the Story of a Mouse, a Princess, Some Soup, and a Spool of Thread by Kate DiCamillo

National Book Award: Godless by Pete Hautman
Newbery: Kira-Kira by Cynthia Kadohata

National Book Award: The Penderwicks by Jeanne Birdsall
Newbery: ?

To Smoke or Not to Smoke?

From the New York Times: In the great green room, there is a telephone, and a red balloon, but no ashtray. "Goodnight Moon," the children's classic by Margaret Wise Brown, has gone smoke free.

The controversey is apparently over a picture of illustrator Clement Hurd from which a cigarette has been digitally erased. Why not just find a picture in which Hurd was not smoking instead of altering the other one? *I* don't know. But it's causing a fuss.

There's a website that discusses this, too: Goodnight Moon Reality. There, you can vote for which version of the picture you prefer.

Chris Van Allsburg at MSI

There's a special exhibit of Chris Van Allsburg's artwork at the Museum of Science and Industry. Yay!

Penderwicks Prevail!

The Penderwicks: A Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits, and a Very Interesting Boy by Jeanne Birdsall is the winner of the 2005 National Book Award for Young People's Literature.

The judges said, "This enormously heartwarming and satisfying novel honors and enriches the beloved tradition of the classic children's family story. The Penderwicks are worthy companions to Alcott's March sisters or Nesbit's Bastables—endearing and enduring characters whose company we can cherish."

I read the book, somewhat reluctantly, and was utterly charmed. It is a gentle tale that doesn't fall into cloying sentimentality. I am not sure I agree these sisters *quite* hold up to the March sisters (although they, too, have a writer, a gentle, shy animal lover, a mothering sister...), but they are a lovely family nonetheless.

I would be interested to know how many times the same book has won the Newbery as the National Book Award? Hmm... Mayhaps I shall take a look at that.

Meanwhile, some other people won stuff in other categories, too. Check it out.

11 November 2005

How was this even a debate?

It seems shameful that this was even a question, but thankfully it has been resolved: "Libraries in Nobel Prize winning author John Steinbeck's hometown of Salinas, California, will remain open after voters approved an increase in the local sales tax, according to election results posted on Wednesday."

Read the rest.

07 November 2005

I kinda hate this commercial...

... for DHL. Am I being too sensitive?

Actually, I often get a kick out of the librarian stereotypes. Just, when I saw this, I wished there was a teensy bit more balance in the way people saw us. Like, if so many people didn't believe that this was the truth of most librarians, it would be funnier.

SIGH. Guess it's good to have a library on tv, anyway.

In Memoriam: John Fowles

John Fowles, author of seven novels, including The French Lieutenant's Woman and The Collector, has died at the age of 79.

An obituary is here.

New Norton Anthology

From the Boston Globe: "Why are adult readers so drawn to children's literature? A lavish new Norton anthology suggests some answers."

Read the the review.

27 October 2005

Another reason I love Chicago

Toward the end of the day, Science Boy calls me and tells me to meet him at "the Chagall" after work.

And I can.

It has just been filling my heart to think that our beautiful City has public art on the order of Chagall's Four Seasons, just on a corner by the El.

We are so lucky.


YAY! for our fabulous Chicago White Sox on their World Series Win!

Talked to Jim, my brother in Phoenix, right after the game. He was sad not to be here, but turned his ambulance siren on in solidarity. He said his son has been wearing the Sox shirts I sent him this week. I just sent both kids new t-shirts this past weekend, so we'll make sure they remain Sox fans, even from far away.

Science Boy and I watched the games from home. Last night, he made sure we put on some white socks during the sixth innning. Curiously, they scored shortly thereafter. (Actually, the night before, they were behiond when he realized he wasn't wearing white socks so he changed. The Sox surpassed the Astros soon after, so maybe he's on to something.)

We are not big Party People, but we did walk down to our neighborhood bar to share a quick beer and some celebration there. It was really cool to see so many people so happy and hugging each other. (Plus, our favorite bartended gave me back my moeny once she realized it was us and told us it was on the house.)

So, I'm not really a Cubs fan (though I guess I'd cheer them on if they ever made the series), but there is an article by a Cubs fan in the Trib this morning.

I am rambly, I think. And REALLY tired. (My brother, Wilhelm, called from Vegas around 1:45 this morning. Eek!) Nothing more to say, except:


25 October 2005

Ho, ho, ho...

"The man who gave the Jolly Green Giant a booming baritone 'Ho, Ho, Ho,' singer Len Dresslar, has died of cancer at the age of 80."

Read the whole story.

Get well soon, Studs!

I heard on WBEZ that Chicago's beloved Studs Terkel is in the hospital after undergoing heart surgery. It was said that he is doing well and expected to fully recover. I wish him all the best and send him good thoughts and lots of love.

Studs' latest book is And They All Sang: Adventures of an Eclectic Disc Jockey It is, of course, getting fabulous reviews. Booklist gave it a starred review:

"Studs Terkel--Pulitzer Prize-winning author, oral historian, radio personality, raconteur, and humanitarian--has grappled with life's tough predicaments (poverty, war, prejudice, injustice, and death) in vital conversations with both regular folks and people in the public eye. But as much as Terkel has been a clarion champion of human rights and peace, he has also been an ardent and expert celebrator of the arts... In each priceless give-and-take, Terkel captures the distinct personality of each artist and the spirit of his or her world-altering music. Terkel is like no other in his eloquence, humor, empathy, and generosity."

In checking my library's card catalog, I see we have a copy on shelf. I am on my way to get it now.

In Memoriam: Rosa Parks

"I have learned over the years that when one's mind is made up, this diminishes fear; knowing what must be done does away with fear." (Rosa Parks)

Rosa Parks, angel of the Civil Rights movement, died last night in her home in Detroit. She was 92 years old.

In my work in public libraries, I have seen Ms. parks' remarkable story bring the Civil Rights movement alive to countless children. While they learn of many heroes -- people who faced daunting odds and challenges yet fought to make the world a better place in spite of this -- somehow, children seem able to relate to this story of a woman who had worked hard and was tired and was sick of being told where to sit on the bus. Stories of her life are always in demand in the public library, hopefully inspiring the next generation who will fight for justice in an unjust world.

There is an interview with Rosa Parks, conducted in 1996, here and a profile by Rita Dove here. Obituaries abound on the web, including this one on CNN.

Also, for a gorgeous picture book treatment of Rosa Parks' story, check out Nikki Giovanni's newest book, Rosa.

Rosa once said, "Memories of our lives, of our works and our deeds will continue in others." I wish peace to Rosa's loved ones and hope they find comfort and inspiration in knowing how deeply she touched -- and changed -- our world.

18 October 2005

All I needed to make my day...

FINALLY, the new Stevie Wonder cd, A Time to Love has been released. I stopped to get it on my way in to work. I have to say, definitely worth my wait!

Also eagerly anticipated, the penultimate Lemony Snicket book, fittingly titled The Penultimate Pearl. I can hardly stand it! I waited until the fabulous Sandmeyer's (my favorite local independent bookstore) opened and ran right down there to get it. Another great dedication: "To Beatrice -- No one could extinguish my love, or your house." Hopefully, we'll get more clues about the enigmatic Mr. Snicket as the story of the poor Baudelaires continues to unfold.

And, if those things weren't nice enough, the effusively friendly Greek man who runs the lot where I park my car on days I bring it to work told me, "Your face, it is sweeter than honey. I swear to God, you are so beautiful." Yeah, he's full of shit, but it's still nice to hear...

Sigh. A happy day, indeed!

14 October 2005


The trailer for the upcoming Curious George film is now on-line.

I don't like it.

Then again, that's just one opinion...

13 October 2005

Help a Katrina Survivor

I know there are at least 100 ways to assist Katrina victims monetarily. Here, though, is your chance to buy a cool New Orleans t-shirt while helping a New Orleanian artist rebuild his studio and his life. Jonathan Schwehm is an artist who also conducts weddings for couple who elope to New Orleans. (I came across him while doing some research on this -- for the future, not right now!) Besides the CafePress merchandise, it looks as though some prints of lovely paintings are available at zazzle.

We sent a check immediately when the news of Katrina started making the news, but this seems like a nice way to make a more personal donation to a city we love. Please consider purchasing something to help one artist re-build.

"Everyday prattle"

It's finally been announced: British playwright Harold Pinter is the recipient of the 2005 Nobel Prize in Literature. The Academy says that "in his plays [he] uncovers the precipice under everyday prattle and forces entry into oppression's closed rooms."

And a quote from the winner (from Pinter's play, "Oh Superman):
"Does reality essentially remain outside language, separate, obdurate, alien, not susceptible to description? Is an accurate and vital correspondence between what is and our perception of it impossible? Or is is that we are obliged to use language only in order to obscure and distort reality - to distort what happens-because we fear it? We are encouraged to be cowards. We can't face the dead. But we must face the dead because they die in our name. We must pay attention to what is being done in our name."

Congratulations to Harold Pinter!

12 October 2005

Quill Award winners announced

The winners of the chosen-by-the-public Quill Awards have been announced! I honestly cannot remember who all I voted for, but I was pleased to see that Chris Moore was chosen for The Stupidest Angel: A Heartwarming Tale of Christmas Terror. I actually haven't read it, but The Boy has and assures me it is marvelous. Lamb, The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal is one of my personal favorite books. I remember that Moore came to town to promote this book and The Boy was denied permission to come with me because he hadn't cleaned his room or some such. I told Chris about this and he took the time to speak to The Boy by cell phone. What a wonderful man!

Check out a list of all the winners here.

07 October 2005

This will be either awesome or grotesque...

I am leaning toward awesome; what do y'all think?

When Elvis Costello was asked three years ago by Denmark's Royal Theater to write an opera about Hans Christian Andersen, his first thought was, "Why didn't they choose a Danish composer?"

"Then I recalled that Andersen belongs to the world," Costello said.

On Saturday, his work "The Secret Arias" — based on Andersen's unrequited yearning for Swedish soprano Jenny Lind — will debut at Copenhagen's new waterfront opera house, with Costello himself playing two lead roles.

Read the rest.

06 October 2005

What an inspiration!

What an amazing article about knowing the power of books to transform lives! A Brazilian man recognizes this in a way that many Americans do not:

"To Leite, though, nearly all the books are mysteries. Born into a poor family, he dropped out of school after third grade and, at 51, is practically illiterate.

But books, he knows, are the gateway to a life of greater possibility and more promise than his own. It might be too late for me, a working man, he reasoned, but not for others.

So bloomed the passion that has consumed Leite's free time over the last two years: transforming his home into a public library, free and open to all in this poverty-stricken neighborhood outside Rio de Janeiro. The streets here are unpaved and unweeded, daily life is a struggle and even a single book is an enormous luxury that can cost up to half a week's wages."

Read the whole wonderful story here.

04 October 2005

August Wilson dies

From the New York Times: "August Wilson, who chronicled the African-American experience in the 20th century in a series of plays that will stand as a landmark in the history of black culture, of American literature and of Broadway theater, died [Sunday] at a hospital in Seattle. He was 60 and lived in Seattle." Read the rest.

Better yet, read one of his marvelous plays.

03 October 2005

Deleted comments

Lest anyone think I have gone to the dark side and joined the censors, I just wanted to explain all the comments that have recently "been removed by the blog administrator."

Some ambitious spammers posted almost 50 comments to the blog this weekend, none of them relevant to any of the postings, all of them including links to various pay sites. If they were true responses to the blog, I may well have left them alone -- it was a pain in the ass to go to all the comments (some left in archived posts from 18 months ago!) and delete them.

But, I did, and shall continue to do so. No spam here!


29 September 2005

I [Heart] Chris Crutcher

From a commentary in the Book Standard: "Our schools are filled with kids who have been treated badly all their lives. They don’t tell anyone, because there is shame in being treated badly. Many—girls and boys—have been sexually mistreated. Still others struggle in fear with sexual identity. They respond with eating disorders, cutting, suicidal thought or action. I can’t tell you how many letters I’ve received from kids who found a friend in one of my books, a character who speaks to them. And if I get those letters, think of the letters Walter Dean Myers, or Lois Lowry, or Judy Blume get, thanking us for letting them know, through literature, that they are not alone.

In light of all that, there’s really only one thing to say to the censors. Shut up."

Read the whole thing. Also, be sure to visit Crutcher's web site for many true stories of how his amazing books continue to be challenged across this allegedly free country. He also provides a nifty Banned Books Week press kit.

Beatrix Potter film

From the BBC: "Actress Renee Zellweger is to play Beatrix Potter in a film about the author's life, according to reports... Filming on Miss Potter will begin in the UK next March with Babe director Chris Noonan at the helm." Read the rest.

27 September 2005

Children's Bookshelf

Publishers Weekly has a new (free!) weekly newsletter dedicated to "all aspects of children's and YA publishing." You can check it out (and sign up for it) here.

Sad news

From BBC News: "Award-winning author Helen Cresswell has died at the age of 71. The writer died at her home in Eakring, in Nottinghamshire, on Monday night. She had been suffering from cancer for some time."

Read the rest.

How *not* to make a living from Children's books

From the Sidney Morning Herald: "Sixteen people have been arrested after police broke a drug smuggling operation using children's books." Read the rest.

22 September 2005

Happy Birthday and Woo-hoo!

From BBC News: "The original manuscript of what became Alice in Wonderland has been put online by the British Library using software to virtually turn the pages." Read the rest. Now, check out the awesome awesomeness of the book.

Also, today is the 15th birthday of The Boy. I am so proud of the man he is growing into, and so pleased with all the memories we've made over the years. I remember hanging out with him and reading him Chekov stories when he was just 3 and 4 years old, his love of Lewis Carroll, the first "grown-up" book we read aloud (Farenheit 451), hanging out at the art institute (and always looking for "new" Paul Klee works), discussing politics and our mutual disdain of the current adminstration, and more.

Happy Birthday, Boojum!

21 September 2005

Poem o' the day

And, from the amazing Lawrence Ferlinghetti, a poem:

Speak Out

And a vast paranoia sweeps across the land
And America turns the attack on its Twin Towers
Into the beginning of the Third World War
The war with the Third World

And the terrorists in Washington
Are shipping out the young men
To the killing fields again

And no one speaks

And they are rousting out
All the ones with turbans
And they are flushing out
All the strange immigrants

And they are shipping all the young men
To the killing fields again

And no one speaks

And when they come to round up
All the great writers and poets and painters
The National Endowment of the Arts of Complacency
Will not speak

While all the young men
Will be killing all the young men
In the killing fields again

So now is the time for you to speak
All you lovers of liberty
All you lovers of the pursuit of happiness
All you lovers and sleepers
Deep in your private dream
Now is the time for you to speak
O silent majority
Before they come for you!

Congratulations, gentlemen!

Two of my favorite authors, Norman Mailer and Lawrence Ferlinghetti, are being recognized at the National Book Awards this fall.

"Mailer, 82, is to receive the foundation's medal 'for distinguished contribution to American letters,' while Ferlinghetti will be given a new prize, the Literarian Award for 'outstanding service to the American literary community.'" Read the whole article.

The Gospel According to the Son by Mailer remains one of my favorite books of all time. As for Ferlinghetti, it is difficult to chose just one book or one poem that means the most. I truly love his work. I will, however, say that one of my prize possessions is a postcard I received from him after sending him a letter a few years back. In fact, I made a teeny photocopy of it so I could carry it in my wallet!

Oh! And Why Are We At War? by Mailer, too. And Ferlinghetti's What is Poetry?. And his Pictures of the Gone World, which I have given many copies of as gifts.

Sigh. Seems like such happy news for a dreary morning!

19 September 2005


Avast and ahoy, me hearties! I'll be wishin' ye a happy Talk Like a Pirate Day!

(Scurvy dogs!)

HP4 Trailer

I have still never seen any of the Harry Potter films, but I thought some of you might be interested to know that the trailer for Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire is available here.


"When Christopher Paolini walks on the high school stage for his book signing appearance, wearing jeans and carrying a black backpack, he could be mistaken for a student. But he gets a rock star reception from his fans, with wild cheers and flashing cameras."

I have to confess that I have not his books, but it's always way cool to hear that an author is capturing kids' imaginations and even cooler when he started writing when he was a kid himself. It seems to make him more "real" to kids, to help them realize that books are written by *people* and that, if they have the desire, they might be able to do this, too.

Read the rest of the profile of 21-year-old author, Christopher Paolini, on Yahoo today.

15 September 2005

Hope they kept the reciept...

According to a Chicago Tribune headline, "State seeks refund on Lincoln Library." The story begins, "The Blagojevich administration is set for a showdown with key contractors on the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, as the state seeks to recover up to $15 million for cost overruns." Read the rest.

12 September 2005

Arizona Families Happily Caught in Spider’s Web

"Michael Stadther, Author of A Treasure’s Trove, Announces that the Most Valuable Token –The Spider –Has Been Found in West Virginia." Two families in Arizona have worked together to find the 11th of 12 tokens (redeemable for jewels) available through clues in A Treasure's Trove.

08 September 2005

I didn't realize these were interchangable...

...but I'd rather be a librarian, if it's all the same to you, thank you very much.

( What am I talking about? Well, Extreme Makeover's casting page includes, in its list of eligible applicants, "2. CANCER SURVIVOR or LIBRARIAN - Candidates must be U.S. citizens between the ages of 21 and 40 and be in good physical health. " Sheesh!)

It's official!

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen is the Fall 2005 selection for One Book, One Chicago. There are lots of copies of the books -- in a number of languages -- as well as resource guides at every branch of the Chicago Public Library. Join us!

My first meme

Clare of Semi-Evil Squirrel fame sent me a meme, so I guess I am supposed to respond here? (I've never done one of these before and am not even entirely sure I know exactly what a meme *is*.)

Well, here goes:

1. How many books do I own?
I have *no* idea. Science Boy helped me get rid of a massive amount of books when I finally finished moving, but I still have 5-1/2 bookcases full. One entire case is children's books, and we all know that a shelf of skinny picture books is equal to the same number of three shelves of adult books! I guess the answer is lots and lots.

2. Last Book(s) I Bought:
Our Bodies, Ourselves: a New Edition for a New Era (2005) and In Search of Grace : A Journey Across America's Landscape of Faith by Kristin Hahn.

3. Last Book I Read:
I just finished Bait and Switch the (Futile) Pursuit of the American Dream by Barbara Ehrenreich. Yesterday, I read The Old African by Julius Lester and this morning I began Bang! by Sharon Flake.

4. Five Books That Mean A Lot To Me:
* The Portable Thoreau -- Thoreau is one of my favorite people ever and this nifty book collects his best work in one place. I actually love eveything about this edition, even the size, the paper it's printed on, the green of the cover...

* The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery -- I will not link to this book, since only a newer translation (with a blue cover) is available. The old translation (by atharine Woods, with the white cover) is one of my favorite books. EVAH. I have given countless copies of that book as gifts. The new translation, in my opinion, does not have the same poetry and seems rather ugly and soulless next to the original. Pity.

* THREE-WAY TIE: Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, Through the Looking Glass and What Alice ound There, and The Hunting of the Snark : an Agony in Eight Fits all by the fantabulous Lewis Carroll -- I don't even have words. The Boy calls me "Snark" and I call him "Boojum," so maybe that's some clue to how much I adore these books.

* What Shall We Do Without Us? by Kenneth Patchen -- He seems a glorious mixture of Paul Klee and maybe e.e. cummings to me. I love, love, *love* his poem-paintings and this is my favorite collection.

* Hmm... Hard to chose a fifth book; it feels too much like I am leaving something important off the list... I'll leave it blank so it can encompass all the books dear to me!

5. Tag Five More:
I'm not so good at passing stuff like this on, so I'm gonna play spoiled sport and not. :-P

Geaux help!

The Geaux Library Project will attempt to meet the information needs at hurricane evacuee shelters around Louisiana and beyond. Using computers and networking equipment donated to the Red Cross and others by large commercial and local IT companies, they plan to set up small computer labs at Red Cross shelters, staffing them with librarians and other trained volunteers.

For more information, or to donate to or volunteer for this extremely worthy cause, check out their webpage.

07 September 2005

Back to blogging 'bout book stuff

S.E. Hinton is profiled in The New York Times: "The mystery of S. E. Hinton begins with her genderless name. Her most famous book, The Outsiders, about teenage gangs and alienated youth in Tulsa during the 1960's, transformed young-adult fiction from a genre mostly about prom queens, football players and high school crushes to one that portrayed a darker, truer adolescent world."

Read the whole story.

Compassionate Conservatism?

"And so many of the people in the arena here, you know, were underprivileged anyway, so this is working very well for them." -- Barbara Bush

Are you kidding me?!? Blech. I feel ill.

Read the CNN article.

06 September 2005

Rebuilding Libraries and more

Among the many institutions ravaged by Hurricane Katrina were libraries -- public, academic, school ,and special. ALA has information about some of the damage here.

The Children's Book Council is providing information "initiatives of organizations with whom we have formal liaisons or other close ties" in regard to disaster relief. These organizations look to be planning assistance for children, libraries, and independent booksellers. Consider a donation to further their efforts.

02 September 2005

Thank you, Rest of the World

Many countries, including those who aren't that crazy about us (one story reports: "Venezuela — whose elected president Pat Robertson wants to assassinate — offered $1 million from its national petroleum company, as well as emergency aid and heating oil."), have offered to help in the wake of Katrina.

Of course, in his interview yesterday: "Bush said the United States had the resources to cover the massive rebuilding costs, and was not looking for foreign aid. 'I'm not expecting much from foreign nations, because I haven't asked for it. I'm expecting sympathy and maybe some will send cash,' he said."

It has also been reported that Federal Emergency Management Agency chief Mike Brown said, "We can take care of our own people, and we're going to do it." I sincerely hope that doesn't mean we won't welcome aid with open arms and grateful hearts. In my humble opinion, the faster it gets here, the better...

Tempers are short

Last night, Anderson Cooper, clearly frayed and frustrated by what he has been witnessing, lashed out at Senator Landrieu. There is a link to the video and transcript here.

Ray Nagin, the mayor of New Orleans, also had a few things to say: "Don't tell me 40,000 people are coming here. They're not here. It's too doggone late. Now get off your asses and do something, and let's fix the biggest goddamn crisis in the history of this country." Trancripts and video here.

01 September 2005

Housing for Refugees

Those looking for a place to stay after losing their homes to Katrina can check out Hurricane Housing and the NOLA site. There are so many people opening their homes, truly a reminder of how good people can be. My favorite Camus passage comes to mind:

Dr. Rieux resolved to compile this chronicle, so that he should not be one of those who hold their peace but should bear witness in favor of those plague-stricken people. . . and to state quite simply what we learn in a time of pestilence: that there are more things to admire in men than to despise.

Blueberry Hill

Fats Domino is missing in New Orleans. "The 77-year-old R&B legend, whose real name is Antoine Domino, told Embry [his agent] that he planned to stay at his New Orleans house with his wife, Rosemary, and their daughter." Read the story.

Update: Fats and his family have been located and are well.

Now, work on helping all the others still trapped...

BLOG RELIEF DAY: Louisiana Library Association Disaster Relief Fund

So many libraries -- public, school, and academic -- have been destroyed by Hurricane Katrina. PLEASE consider helping with the rebuilding of these valuable resources!

The Louisiana Library Association (LLA) Disaster Relief Fund is now accepting monetary donations to assist school, public, and academic library restoration efforts in Southeastern Louisiana.

Please make checks payable to: LLA-Disaster Relief and mail to:
421 South 4th St
Eunice, LA 70535

Once you have made a donation, please log that at the Contribution Logging Page. A round-up of all the blogs working on this effort is at Instapundit and a record of the number of participating blogs, total raised, etc. is at The Truth Laid Bear.

If you prefer to give to a different charity, many are listed at the Instapundit page.

Many of us are very lucky to be living in areas not affected by this storm, to know our loved one's are safe. PLEASE, open your hearts and checkbooks and give what you can. Heck, if everyone gave just $1, we'd be in great shape!

Sulky, can you hear me?

This morning, I decided to check and clean up my list o' links, after noting that a few of them are no longer relevant/working. And, though I have been in denial for some months now, it seems like my one of my favorite bloggers, the Sulkbrarian, has ended her reign. I'm gonna keep her link for a while, hoping that she'll come back...

31 August 2005

And, icing on the cake?

Odetta cancelled her show at the Old Town School of Folk Music.

Thank God we're spending money in the right places!

"It appears that the money has been moved in the president’s budget to handle homeland security and the war in Iraq, and I suppose that’s the price we pay. Nobody locally is happy that the levees can’t be finished, and we are doing everything we can to make the case that this is a security issue for us."

-- Walter Maestri, emergency management chief for Jefferson Parish, Louisiana; New Orleans Times-Picayune, June 8, 2004.

Trading the safety of New Orleans for the oil in Iraq? Good call, W! That worked out well...

Read the whole (sadly, not unbelievable) story of this mess here.

The world is too much with me now

Science Boy and I watched the news coverage of New Orleans this morning. It's too heartbreaking to comprehend. He has friends there and loves New Orleans. I have always wanted to go and, in fact, had hoped to get married in Pirate's Alley some one day.

PLUS, what about the de Grummond Library's irreplacable collection of children's literature treasures? Has it all been destroyed? And what of all the other libraries all over the south? Children whose homes were literally washed away will not even be able to turn to the comfort of Curious George or Madeline?

That news was followed by word of a devastating crash near my former home and news of the hundreds of people killed in Iraq today.

Wordsworth wrote, "The world is too much with us," and that's how I feel today. Too much sorrow abounding.

I will think of something happy and will post again later.

Wishing peace and love to all.

If only I had seen this before I moved...

PaperBackSwap is a place where you can trade paperbacks with other booklovers, thus ensuring that you find a good home for the books you're done with while replenishing your own store of books with things you want to read -- all for just the cost of postage. Check it out.

(Then again, good thing I didn't know about it or Science Boy would have had to help me put up even more bookshelves...)

30 August 2005


Well, I never *did* figure out how to fix the problems with my blog, so I re-did the whole thing. Still a few things I would like to tweak (can't *quite* figure out how to change the color of the links in the sidebar, for one), but nothing really crucial. I think I kinda like the new design, although I *was* fond of the old one.

Maybe now I will post more. AFTER I get some work done, that is!

10 August 2005


I have been putting off posting until I could figure out why my formatting suddenly changed and could fix it. But I CAN'T FIGURE IT OUT! I have tried a bunch o' stuff, including e-mailing blogger (which, for the first time ever, was NO help at all)... I do not know WHAT else to do. If anyone is still reading this and can me me some advice on how to fix the blog's formatting, please send me an e-mail!


25 July 2005

Mr. Blue dies

Crime novelist Edward Bunker, who learned to write in prison and appeared in the movie "Reservoir Dogs," has died in hospital in Burbank, California. He was 71.

Read the rest.

Quote o' the Day

"It's really hard for a boy to become a man, and in our society, not many boys do. The challenge for a boy is to become a man who has integrity, strength, kindness, and understanding. How many mendo you know who are like that? I don't know many."

-- from "Unfinished Business" by John Marsden, in Guys Write for Guys Read

More False Papa

A Florida mailman credited his persistence with winning Key West's annual Ernest Hemingway look-alike competition, beating nearly 160 snowy-haired men resembling the Nobel Prize-winning U.S. writer.

Bob Doughty, 61, of Deerfield Beach, Fla., a U.S. Postal Service letter carrier clad in a wool cable knit turtleneck, said his favorite Hemingway book was "The Old Man and The Sea."

He won the contest, held late on Saturday, on his 13th attempt. "Longevity and patience. Keep trying," he said.

Read the whole story.

2005 Imitation Hemingway winner

Gary Davis, a cardiologist from Illinois, won the 2005 Imitation Hemingway Contest with his piece, Da Moveable Code:

Paris could be very fine in the winter when it was clear and cold and they were young and in love but that winter of 1924 they quarreled badly and she left for good. Paris, the city of light, turned dark and sodden with sadness. But it was still a damn fine place and he hated to leave it so he sat in the cafés all day and drank wine and thought about writing clean short words on bright white paper.

He preferred Café des Amateurs, on the Place St-Michel. The waiters in their long aprons respected him and he did good work there, defeating them all in the arm wrestling and the drinking and the dominoes and the boxing. They told him timeless stories of love and cruelty and death. That was good, because his Michigan stories had dried up, his jockeys and boxers had worn out, and sometimes he worried his oeuvre might be over.

Read the rest (and the runners-up), here.

2005 Faux Faulkner Winner

Sam Apple has won the 2005 competition with his piece, The Administration and the Fury: If William Faulkner were writing on the Bush White House:

"He needs his makeup," Dick said.

"I ll do it," Condi said. She put a little brush on my check and it tickled and I laughed.

Rummy walked into the room. "Jesus, what s he laughing about," Rummy said.

"Dont you pay attention to him, Georgie," Dick said. "They re going to be asking you all about Social Security. You just remember what we talked about."

"He cant remember anything," Rummy said.

I started to holler. Dick s face was red and he looked at Rummy. "I told you to hush up already," Dick said. "Now look what you ve gone and done."

"Go and get him Saddam s gun," Condi said. "You know how he likes to hold it."

Almost makes me want to actually read The Sound and the Fury.


Read the entire piece here.

07 July 2005

Roald Dahl in the New Yorker

The latest New Yorker contains an article about Mr. Willy Wonka's creator:

Roald Dahl, the British author of children’s books, wrote in a tiny cottage at the end of a trellised pathway canopied with twisting linden trees. He called it the "writing hut," and, since Dahl was nearly six feet six, he must have inhabited it like a giant in an elf’s house. Dahl died in 1990, at the age of seventy-four, but one day a year his widow, Felicity, invites children to the estate where he lived, in Great Missenden, Buckinghamshire, and local families swarm in like guests at Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory...

Read the rest.

No Summer Reading in Royalton

Just 315 miles from Chicago: ROYALTON, Ill. - Residents of this small southern Illinois city who want something to read over the summer will have to look someplace other than their local public library.

The Franklin County town's library is closed for the summer because of a lack of money. It probably won't reopen until sometime in September after shutting its doors June 10.

Read the rest.

06 July 2005

Cinema for Geeks

I can't wait to see this film!

"The Hollywood Librarian: Librarians in Cinema and Society, now in production, will be the first full-length film to focus on the work and lives of librarians in the entertaining and appealing context of American movies."

Read all about it!

Not sure what's going on...

For some reason, there is a humongoid gap between the headline of the most recent blog entry and the actual entry. SIGH. I will strive to figure this out. In the meantime, please be patient. (Of course, if you read this page at all, I guess you must be patient anyway! ;-)

A little bit nervous...

Mark Morford, of the San Francisco Chronicle, is nervous:

Let's just all say it together in one big happy slightly jaded frequently disappointed Hollywood-bitchslapped chorus: I hope they don't freakin' ruin "Narnia."

Me, too.

Read the rest.

'Girl Detectives' Still Draw from Drew

After 75 years, Nancy Drew is still going strong.

I, like many of my peers, couldn't get enough of the Nancy Drew books while growing up. I remember entering a speech contest in 4th grade for which the topic was, "If I could be anyone in the world, it would be..."

Despite the fact that I dreaded public speaking, I entered and spoke about being Carolyn Keene. I so admired this woman who wrote endless exciting mysteries that were read by girls all over the world. To be an author!

It wasn't until I was done with high school and working in my first position as a Youth Services Assistant that I learned the ugly truth. To quote from the article:

"It's hard to imagine the legacy Nancy Drew's creator, Carolyn Keene, could have envisioned for her beloved character — actually, it's impossible. That's because "Carolyn Keene" was and still is a pen name for an evolving group of male and female writers called the Stratemeyer Syndicate."

Part of me is still a smidge bitter.


Anyway, pretty good article on Nancy's endurance. Read the rest.

22 June 2005

Only in America...

I swear, when i saw the headine on Yahoo!, I thought maybe my recent lack o' sleep was finally catching up with me. But, no, it's true:

An attempt to erect the world's largest popsicle in a city square ended with a scene straight out of a disaster film, but much stickier.

The 25-foot-tall, 17 1/2-ton popsicle treat of frozen Snapple unexpectedly quickly melted in the midday sun Tuesday, flooding Union Square in downtown Manhattan with pink fluid that sent pedestrians scurrying for higher ground.

Read the rest.

Note: I just watched the video of the story and -- alas! -- it's not nearly so spectacular as I had pictured in my head... (NOTE: If the video link doesn't work, go here and you can see it that way...)

10 June 2005

Not just for Fanboys...

Although I actually happen to love many Fanboys (and have my own collection of boarded and bagged books), I also appreciate that comics and graphic novels are becoming more a part of mainstream publishing. Yahoo has an interesting article on the range of material available in graphic form, from Balzac to Batman.


From USA Today:

The title page of the new edition of Bears, an old book by Ruth Krauss with new drawings by Maurice Sendak, shows a teddy bear dangling by its neck from a rope.

A noose in a children's book?

Sendak shrugs. "He's not dead. He's a toy."

Read the rest.

Happy Birthday to the King of All Wild Things

Today, Maurice Sendak celebrates his 77th birthday. Not only has he written some of the greatest books and created some of the best art of the twentieth century, but he proferred one of the most valuable pieces of advice I have ever heard:

"If there's any advice I have to give, I would say it's that. If you're looking for a way to get closer to your kids, there ain't no better way than to grab 'em and read. And if you put them in front of a computer or a TV, you are abandoning them. You are abandoning them because they are sitting on a couch or a floor and they may be hugging a dog, but they ain't hugging you."

I wish Mr. Sendak much love and joy on his birthday and always.

07 June 2005

To shush or not to shush?

Today's Dear Abby focuses on library manners, or lack thereof. While I am definitely anti-shushing, I do wish people behaved a little more courteously in public places...

06 June 2005

Snapshot of Caldecott

There's an article about Randolph Caldecott at the Christian Science Monitor. It's a nice enough piece, but it seems strangely unfinished to me, as if the author just stopped writing...

26 May 2005

What?!? How could he have *NOT* guessed library card??

Apparently, Darth Vader and his minions spent a day at the library recently.

Thanks to Nat for the link.

The Force is Strong with me!

Even after 30 questions, Darth Vader couldn't guess that I was thinking about a library card. Ha! )Of course, atthe end, he asked what I had been thinking of, so he'd probably guess if I tried that again...)

Challenge Darth yourself.

Good to know...

USA Today looks at how closely 5 summer movies follow the books they're based on.

Quote o' the day

"You must not refuse to lend a book, even to an enemy, for the cause of learning will suffer." (Rabbi Yehuda of Regensburg, Germany 1200 C.E.)

Being Mrs. Alcott

I recently finished Being Mrs. Alcott by Nancy Geary, due for publication July 1st.

As an admirer of the Alcott family, Bronson in particular, I was drawn, initially, to the title. While -- alas! -- the book is not about the literary clan from Concord or Bronson's long-suffering wife, it was still a compelling read.

Grace Alcott is a 58-year-old woman who has always followed the path of least resistance. Married for many years, she begins to take stock of her life, taking note of her children, her finances, her health, and wondering how things turned out the way they did. It is a quiet book; the language is gentle and flowing. It is also extremely readable. I liked Grace a great deal and, even when I wondered about the choices she made, I understood why she made them and found myself rooting that everything would turn out and that she would be, ultimately, happy in her life.

I haven't read anything else by Nancy Geary, so I am unsure if this book is indicative of her usual style, but if it is, I may well be checking out some of her other books soon.

Makes me wanna cry...

"Sherre Sachar comes from a book-loving family. Her father, Louis, is an award-winning author, and the graduating senior thinks that settling down with a good book should be one of life's great joys. But as she prepares to leave high school and head to Cornell University in the fall, she is tired of reading.

"The extensive required reading in her high school classes — including Advanced Placement English Literature, where she flew from one classic to another — left her with no time to pick up books she thought would be fun..."

Read the rest.

This sucks.

Of course, in high school, I just neglected required reading -- unless it was something I *wanted* to read -- and just devoured other books every second of the day. Then again, my high school did not require near the amount of reading that The Boy (now attending the same school) has to do some years later...

Can you imagaine?

Wow! Can you imagine our President handing out books and encouraging the country to read and think? What book would he share? The Very Hungry Caterpillar?

"Derided by some at the time, Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez is playing an Oprah Winfrey-like role in Venezuela, turning the country into one giant book club - and stimulating a fresh appreciation of literary classics..."

"'To be really honest, I suppose some number of those people who lined up to get the book were illiterate, and the others had probably already read the book in high school, like myself,' says Mr. Zambrano, 'but that is part of the genius of this program. It's about being more educated, but it's also about everyone having the right to a library at home. Why should only rich, reading-types have libraries? We are all equal and worthy - that is what Don Quixote and Chávez are trying to tell us.'"

Read the rest.

Not enough hours...

Fascinating article at the Guardian Unlimited:

"Much of the British public goes to the source it trusts least - tabloid newspapers - for its most crucial everyday information on politics and society, according to a study.

"This is because the sources the public trusts most, notably public libraries, are closed when it most needs them. The study follows official figures showing that only a tiny number of libraries and other archives are open as long as shops."

Read the rest.

22 May 2005

Harper Lee @ the Library

From Yahoo: "Harper Lee, who has been dodging publicity for decades since she published her only book, "To Kill a Mockingbird," made a rare step into the limelight to be honored by the Los Angeles Public Library."

Read the rest.

20 May 2005

Well, who wouldn't be?

from a UK-based website:

Librarians baffled by urine

Librarians in the US have had to admit they are baffled by the case of the urine-stained library books.

Hundreds of books at two libraries, just 13 miles apart in Cleveland, have had to be thrown out.

Linda Yanko, manager of Geauga West Library, told the Plain Dealer: "I can't even believe we're discussing something like this. It's appalling and disgusting."

She said librarians had been finding new cases or urine-related vandalism about once a month with the recent case coming just this week.

The problems at Aurora Memorial Library began more than two years ago and damaged books have been found sporadically ever since.

Officials admit they have no idea who is responsible - or even if the incidents are related.


Tragedy in Turkmenistan!

President Saparmurat Niazov has banned public libraries in Turkmenistan! Eek!

His explanation? "No one goes to libraries and reads books anyway."

The president said libraries are unnecessary as most books that Turkmen need - many written by Niazov himself - should already be in homes, workplaces, and schools. "To read all these books it is not necessary to go to the library as all these books should be close at hand for everyone," Niazov said.

I don't even think I have words for this. Not be be overly dramatic, but I think I might die if I did not have a public library to frequent! I mean, I literally cannot fathom having a life devoid of books, magazines, audio-visual goodies, and all the other treasures found in most libraries.

Read more about his horrific decision here.

This seems dangerous to me...

According to an article in the Chicago Tribune today:

"Before long, patrons wanting to use Naperville Public Library System computers without a hassle will have to prove their identity with a fingerprint.

"The three-library system this week signed a $40,646 contract with a local company, U.S. Biometrics Corp., to install fingerprint scanners on 130 computers with Internet access or a time limit on usage...

"Because the use of the technology is so limited, American Library Association officials said the organization has not taken an official stand on it.

"Deborah Caldwell-Stone, deputy director of the ALA's office of intellectual freedom, acknowledged that requiring a fingerprint scan might dissuade some people from using library computers...

"But Caldwell-Stone said libraries already collect all kinds of personal information from patrons and at some point must be trusted to protect it."

Read the entire article.

Happy Anniversary!

"Penguin, pioneer of the paperback novel, is celebrating its 70th anniversary.
Defined by generations of iconic covers, Penguin publications adorn bookshelves across the globe, prompting a rush of nostalgic affection.

"But what makes Penguin one of the world's most enduring publishers?"

As Penguin celebrates its 75th anniversary, BBC News has written a nice summary of the company's history. Read the rest.

19 May 2005

The Gift Bag Chronicles

Hello! to any of the faithful who may still check in despite my decided lack of posting. I have been super busy with moving, a new job, and other assorted busyness.

One lovely thing I just learned is that I will have access to shelves and shelves of advanced reading copies, books that we cannot add to our collection but are here to help librarians choose the books they wish to purchase. Once that's done, the rest of the staff is welcome to read them.

On the advice of Science Boy, I will try to write short reviews for the books I read. I have some doubts as to how often I will read any of these books, let alone take the time to write a review -- however short -- but let's see how it goes, shall we?

This afternoon, I finished Hilary de Vries forthcoming novel, The Gift Bag Chronicles. Alex Davidson works as the head of event planning for one of LA's top publicity firms. Her life is hectic; she is forever running around to please and appease her famous clients, whether that means taking calls at 5 a.m. while on vacation or helping to lure goats out of a kitchen with tobacco, Alex is at the top of her game. Her life is busy but, despite the lack of down-time, it seems to be working for her. She even has the perfect boyfriend, Charles, a co-partner in her firm. Sure, he's in New York, she's in LA, but it works that way. The novel follows Alex as she deals with an impossible to please client, family illness, and realizing that maybe what she has isn't exactly what she wants after all.

The Gift Bag Chronicles isn't Great Lit. However, it is an entertaining way to spend a few evenings. I'm not a big fan of Chick Lit (which I suspect this will qualify as), and I saw what was coming after the first few chapters... Still, Ms. De Vries wrote with with and empathy for her characters and held my interest easily. I may even go back and find her earlier novel. Maybe. In all my free time...

01 May 2005

a quick note

So, a lot's been going on and the blog has not been updated...

In brief, I got a new job. Starting May 9th, I'll be working for a much larger library than any other I have worked for previously. Woo-Hoo!

Of course, that made my last few weeks at the last job crazy, as I rushed to tie up loose ends, finish planning / preparing for Summer Reading Club...

Happily, I have a few days off before the new gig. However, I will also be moving for the job, so I will spend most of that week cleaning, packing, throwing stuff out, etc. I think I am gonna be getting rid of a lot of stuff. As I get ready to move, I have begun to seriously consider which things I actually need and the answer is -- way less than I have! I'm gonna see about selling some of it (especially the Alice in Wonderland collectibles) either though an on-line auction store or on Craig's List. The rest will probably either be thrown out, donated to the Salvation Army, or packed up for a future garage sale (although this is less likely than the first two options).

So, never fear, loyal readers! I shall return, just not for a week or so.

15 April 2005

"Sendak in All His Wild Glory"

From the New York Times:

"One week before the official opening today, final touches were being put on the Maurice Sendak exhibition at the Jewish Museum...

Not to worry. It's safe to bring the children. The exhibition even includes a reading room inspired by Max's imaginary bedroom in 'Wild Things.' The designers have created a charming space outfitted with a forest, stars and the moon, plus pillows scattered on a comfy green shaggy rug to lie on. And of course, there will be Sendak books to read or thumb through."

Read the rest.

More information about the exhibition is available at the museum website.

I wish *I* were in New York!

13 April 2005


So, why can't they just publish the poem -- found during National Poetry Month, no less! -- instead of just taunting us with the fact of its existence?


From Yahoo!: "A previously unpublished poem by Tennessee Williams, described as having been 'written out of absolute, complete despair,' has been discovered in his blue test booklet from a college course in 1937. The 17-line poem, titled 'Blue Song,' has been acquired by Washington University in St. Louis, where Williams, as a student in his mid-20s, plummeted into depression before fleeing the city he said he despised."

Read the rest (but, alas!, not the poem).

05 April 2005

Saul Bellow dies

From Yahoo!: "Nobel laureate Saul Bellow, a master of comic melancholy who in "Herzog," "Humboldt's Gift" and other novels both championed and mourned the soul's fate in the modern world, died Tuesday. He was 89."
Read the rest.

04 April 2005

Poem o' the day

In memory of the brilliant Robert Creeley, one of his poems:

Water Music

The words are a beautiful music.
The words bounce like in water.

Water music,
loud in the clearing

off the boats,
birds, leaves.

They look for a place
to sit and eat--

no meaning,
no point.

Quote o' the day

I loved this quote from an article from the New York Times about the probable closing of the Salinas public libraries. author Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez said her Cuban father learned English at the public library in Albuquerque. "We didn't come from money," she said. "Words were our only capital."

The whole article is here.

02 April 2005

Robert Creeley dies

From the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation:

Robert Creeley, the American postmodern poet associated with the Beat generation, has died at the age of 78.

Creeley, regarded as one of the leading poets in the U.S., died Wednesday of pneumonia and complications of lung disease at a hospital in Odessa, Tex. He was in the midst of a two-month literary residency at a school in Marfa, Tex., when he fell ill.

Read the rest.

26 March 2005

Peep! Peep!

It's that time of year again. Gram sent me to the store to get peeps for her the other day, Ellen discussed the sugary lumps of marshmallow-y goodness with Bernie Mac, one of my friends has gotten some stuffed peeps for her home...

So, on an unrelentingly s-l-o-w day at the library, I thought I would revisit the Peep Research Project, one of my favorite silly web sites. The St. Paul Pioneer Press had a "Marshmallow Peeps Diorama Contest" and posted photos. If you're more of a science-y type, you may prefer to study Peep Surgery. And, if you prefer a hands-on experiment, one of my friends like to stick toothpicks in two peeps, put them in the microwave, and watch them fencing...

Happy Easter to all!

24 March 2005

new Stevie!

The new Stevie Wonder album, A Time to Love, will be released May 3rd. The new single, "What the Fuss" can be heard here. Yay!

20 March 2005

Ted Rand Dies

From The Seattle Times:

"Ted Rand's artistry has graced everything from the Washington governor's office to the jets of Saudi royalty.

But the artworks he will be remembered for most are the ones that found their way onto the bookshelves of thousands of children.

In a prolific career as a children's-book illustrator, begun at a time when most people eye retirement, Mr. Rand brought to life the stories of nearly 80 books from the studio at his Mercer Island home.

He died at home on Saturday (March 12) of cancer, leaving a vacancy on the top rungs of Northwest children's-book illustrators. He was 89."

Read the rest of this obituary.

17 March 2005

Young offenders find reading opens way to bigger dreams

A book club in a youth detention center in Georgia is proving that Books do Change Lives.

woo-hoo for Philip Pullman!

Philip Pullman has been awarded the Astrid Lingdren Memorial Award:

"Philip Pullman (United Kingdom) is a master storyteller in a number of genres – from historical novels and fantasy to social realism and highly amusing parodies. With inventiveness, linguistic brilliance and psychological insight he creates and explores his own worlds without losing focus on here and now. Through his strong characters he stands firmly on the side of young people, ruthlessly questioning authority and proclaiming humanism and the power of love whilst maintaining an optimistic belief in the child even in the darkest of situations".

From the official website:

The Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award was founded by the Swedish government in 2002 and is the world’s largest children’s and youth literature prize....

...Authors, illustrators, story-tellers and promoters of reading are eligible. The award is for life-long work or artistry rather than for individual pieces. The prize can only be awarded to living people.

The body of work must uphold the highest artistic quality and evoke the deeply humanistic spirit that Astrid Lindgren treasured.

In Memoriam

Science fiction and fantasy author Andre Norton, who wrote the popular "Witch World" series, died Thursday. She was 93.

There is a short obituary here; I suppose more will appear in the next hours.

15 March 2005

The High Anxiety Alphabet

from McSweeney's:

"A is for Attica. I could wind up there, abused by guards and prisoners, convicted of a crime I didn't commit."

Check out the rest of the alphabet. Then, when you're done with that, check out some of the other lists.

14 March 2005

Save the Plaza!

Every morning, when Science Boy and I are eating our oatmeal, I think of Eloise and her wisdom:
"You have to eat oatmeal or you'll dry up
Anybody knows that."

Now her home, the Plaza is getting ready to undergo a transformation that would turn much of this landmark into condominiums.

Despite the protests, it seems that the Plaza will cease to be come April.


Runny Babbit

Woo-hoo! We just got our copy of Runny Babbit, a new Shel Silverstein book, in and I can't wait to see how the kids respond to it. I suspect it's gonna be a big hit 'round these parts.

Way down in the green woods
Where all the animals play,
They do things and they say things
In a different sort of way....

...So if you say, "Let's bead a rook
That's billy as can se,"
You're talkin' Runny Babbit talk,
Just like mim and he.

I *knew* it!

There's scientific proof now for something that (as the eldest child) I have long suspected:

Older Siblings Are Smarter


The findings of this study will be published in the Quarterly Journal of Economics in May. In the meantime, I am off to e-mail the story to my brothers...

Hmm... Maybe I should rethink my whole stance on video games...

I haven't been much of a Video Game Girl since my Atari 2600 died a number of years ago. (Sigh. How I ling to play Berzerk again. Maybe it's time to search eBay...) Recently, Science Boy has had me somewhat hooked on Powerstone, but that's about the only game I have played in ages.

Until now? NPR reports on a plan to make a video game about/featuring Emly Dickinson! Woo-hoo! Hear the story here.

Racy Fluff or Reading Aid?

I love this headline. Like many libraries around the country, school libraries in Maine are meeting mixed reactions to their graphic novel collections: "The purpose is to lure young readers to libraries by giving them what they want. But some people dispute the value of books that feature female characters dressed in sexy outfits and sometimes behaving in ways that conform to sexist stereotypes."

Happily, so far the discussion seems to be pretty reasonable (unlike some other recent objections to books by Chris Crutcher and Lois Lowry):

Rawding, the parent of a boy at King, says she has questioned McDaniel about the appropriateness of having the graphic novels in the library.

Nevertheless, her son loves the books, and she believes they are the reason he's becoming interested in reading conventional novels.

She checks each graphic novel before he reads it, she says, and they discuss it together. At least he's not hiding the books, she says. "At this age, I'd rather keep everything out on the table."

Read the rest.

I Love You, CTA

Most of what I read on Craigslist is vitriolic or pathetic or just generally un-noteworthy. However, recently, someone posted this lovely paean to Chicago's own CTA. Check it out.

Digital Database

The New York Public Library is putting hundreds of thousands of its images online, allowing free personal downloads of material including maps, Civil War photos and illuminated medieval manuscripts. At present the Digital Gallery has 275,000 images available and anticipates the collection will grow to 500,000 over the next several months. Check out the Gallery.

A Librarian Superhero

From the Washington Post:

Like a Scout leader assembling a cookie display, librarian Michael Andrews carefully arranged books on a small table at Todos Supermarket, a multipurpose Hispanic store in Woodbridge.

As patrons did their grocery shopping, cashed checks or sought help with income tax forms, Andrews tried to get their attention one recent afternoon.

"¡Señor! ¡Señora!" he said quietly, hoping to guide a reader to a Harry Potter novel translated into Spanish or to "Con Mi Hermano" ("With My Brother"), Eileen Roe's children's book written in Spanish and English.

For nearly a year, Andrews, 56, has been using his elementary Spanish and a van full of library books to get the county's burgeoning Hispanic community interested in the public library and thereby build the beginnings of trust between new immigrants and local government.

Read the rest.

Coming soon to a library near you: Captain Pan

Children's author Geraldine McCaughrean has been chosen to write the official sequel to J.M. Barrie's Peter Pan. Read the rest.

In Memoriam: William Murray

From The New York Times: "William Murray, a versatile and prolific writer who divided his talents between Italy, principally as a contributor to the "Letter from Italy" column for The New Yorker magazine, and a series of mysteries set at a California racetrack, died on Wednesday in Manhattan. He was 78 and lived in San Diego."

Read the rest. There's another nice obituary in The Los Angeles Times.

Libraries are an essential service, too

From the Christian Science Monitor:

"The public library - an American institution older than the flag, envy of other nations, cradle of literacy, bootstrap for generations of immigrants, storehouse of fuel for the imagination, hotbed of adventure and romance, and one of the greatest democratic institutions ever created - is struggling to survive. This is nothing less than a national calamity."

Read the rest.

04 March 2005

The 50s were a simpler time...

... when superheroes only had to worry about fighting boners, apparently. And, of course, Batman know there is no better place to find information than the library!

Redshirt has more hilarious panels.