30 April 2009

Barbie as the Princess and the Pauper

Barbie, as Princess Annaliese, doesn't want to have all her social engagements. She sings that she would rather hang out in the library or be identifying rocks. Of course, she is dressed beautifully and sensibly in a full gown with hoops as she digs in a mine for geodes. The "pauper" is also dressed splendidly.
At least the Mattel people did try some kind of promotion of literacy.

25 April 2009

Another librarian on Jeopardy!

This week a librarian was on Jeopardy! She had worked at the Baseball Hall of Fame library. I am sure she had some interesting questions during her tenure there. She said that once Jeopardy! had even called her at the library to verify some trivia information.
One of the questions on this week's show was "What is Field of Dreams"? Of course, she got it right. (I did, too).
Unfortunately she did not win.

24 April 2009


Last night I watched the movie "Idiocracy". It has some good lines about reading not being a "gay" thing to do. I especially liked the end speech about reading being worthwhile. Everyone should read! (Which probably means we shouldn't spend our time watching movies like "Idiocracy". Maybe just watch the last 5 minute for the speech. Come to think of it, we probably shouldn't have libraries spend our tax dollars on dumb films like this, either, but I checked it out, helping our circulation statistics).

Joe: "And there was a time in this country, a long time ago, when reading wasn't just for fags and neither was writing. People wrote books and movies, movies that had stories so you cared whose ass it was and why it was farting. And I believe that time can come again!"

16 April 2009

What's on My Desk April 2009

How to Ditch Your Fairy by Justine Larbalestier. YA Fantasy Fiction. DONE.
This is a silly, funny book for teen or tween girls about a teenager attending a sports school. Many people have "fairies" that grant them different kinds of luck. She wants to get rid of her luck fairy and get a better one.
The author is Australian and uses some Australian and teenage slang. She also makes up some words. Kudos to the editor who included a glossary and list of fairies in the back. It reminded me of Angus, Thongs and Full-Frontal Snogging: Confessions of Georgia Nicolson by Louise Rennison in its use of language. See blog of December 2007.

Williwaw by Tom Bodett. YA Adventure Fiction.
I heard Tom Bodett on the radio before, but did not know he was an author. Two teens live by themselves in rural Alaska while their father is out fishing. Will they stay safe or get into trouble on the water?
My library put this in the children's section since the main characters are 12 and 13. I would have put it in the YA or adult section. This book is a good adventure for adults to read, especially if they are headed for an Alaskan vacation, but I would not recommend it to the average 4th-8th grader for two reasons:
1. The children are very disobedient. Their father tells them to take precautions that will stop them from getting KILLED out in the ocean or at home by bears, but they REPEATEDLY disobey and do really stupid LIFE-THREATENING things! I am not so sure that they completely regret their actions in the end and it is uncertain how much (if at all) they were punished for being so bone-headed and dumb. If in the end they were really, really sorry and changed their ways, it would be one thing, but we are not sure what happened after their big screw-up at the end.
2. There are a number of words that the average landlubber reader would not identify with and is is very "Alaska-y". A child living in Alaska would understand and a teacher may use it in class, but the average Ohio child would not. I am not sure what the difference is between a skiff and a dingy and most ten year olds would not know this sample of words: sauna, dingy, skiff, midships, cagey, buoy, etc.
The author does a good job at describing the beauty of Alaska, but it works better for the adult reader. An example:
"a popsicle-red morning sky"
Disney Handy Manny Tool for Sale Early Reader Level 1 by Susan Ring and Alan Batson. 1st grade reading level.
I like that it is clearly labelled what reading level we can expect. There are a number of rhyming lines and the pictures are bold. The plot was entertaining as Pat, the Hammer, falls asleep and gets sold at a yard sale. There is even Mr. Lopart doing what Mr. Lopart does best - windbag bragging, then messing up.
I don't expect much from books based on television characters, but this one is well written, unlike some of the Disney books I have read lately. The bottom line is that Disney books are not well regulated. Some are very well written and others are junk. You just don't know until you read one if it will be good or not. There are so many different licenses that Disney has granted that no one seems to do any quality control.
Bird by Rita Murphy. YA fiction. DONE.
Miranda blows into town one day - literally. She has a hard time keeping her feet on the ground and the wind keeps trying to take her away. I think this book was published because of the success of the "Series of Unfortunate Events" books. Bad things happen to her in a way that they do to those children. It isn't that good of a book - bland, but at least it is short (151 pages). There are too many stereotypes and plot points similar to other books. The cover art is better than the contents of the book.
Friendship Cake by Lynne Hinton. Christian fiction. DONE.
If you are looking for a pleasant book featuring church ladies, look no further. This rather short book presents a picture of 5 ladies working on a church cookbook and their personal lives. I think you will recognize each of these ladies in your local church - the gossip, the do-gooder, etc. I did cry at one point.
Here is one amusing quote:
"I've never been to his house, but I can pretty much guess that it's a tractor magazine that sits by his toilet and that he uses the same coffee cup every day".
Here's another:
"Everybody seems concerned that I work too much and that I appear tired all the time or that I have no hobby or leisure activity. Mrs. Newgarden even brought me books on flower arranging the other day. Could it be that I appear so unhealthy that I need a book on flower arranging"?
Strawberry Shortcake Dance with Me by Megan Bryant. Kindergarten or first grade. DONE.
It is sweet, as you would expect from American Greetings. They have clearly labelled the reading level as "All Aboard Reading, Level 1" on the cover, so you know who the target audience is.