Tag Archives: literary consideration

Book Critic AND Book Champion

There was a discussion last year about how some of us are “book champions” and others are “book critics.” The implied conceit is that somehow, these two roles or temperaments are mutually exclusive.  A great summary with her views and links was published on Monica Edinger’s “Educating Alice” blog: The Championship Season.

After much self-examination, I know that, I too, would like to maintain both traits – not as if they’re the two ends on a continuum: if I move toward one end, I’m leaving the other end behind.  I’d rather imagine them as baking ingredients which must work together well with just the right amount of each.  I hold that it is imperative to examine all aspects of any book I encounter and critically evaluate them: pointing out what works really well and what has perhaps fallen short when engaging in discussion of a book: whether in person with a friend, online on a blog, in print for a magazine, or as a member of an award selection committee.  However, it is equally important to have a lot of passion and love and express such support vocally and often, especially when working with the target readership.  I often joke with my students that I’m just a paid book pusher: starry-eyed and eager when recommending titles.  I will never shy away from praising a good book and champion for great themes, outstanding literary styles, convincing world-building, and layered character development.

That’s why I point out inaccurate racial representations; that’s why I discuss whether the use of certain narrative devices supports the plot or the theme; that’s why I talk and write about books I’m crazy in love with but also about books that raise questions and concerns.  I’m not going to choose between the two:

I consider myself a Critical Book Champion!

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Absence Heightens Presence

Walking down Seattle night streets, I came upon these trees adorned with Christmas lights.  My aesthetic mind created an instant division: I loved the moving lights up in the branches and had next to no emotional reaction to the static lights on the tree trunks.  What made the moving lights so much more appealing?

Could it be that each absence of light makes the presence of it more vibrant, more intense.

Could this same revelation be applied to my reading aesthetics?

Is this why I find books filled with figurative language page after page less appealing than books that only feature effective and well developed figurative language when absolutely necessary?

Like the static lights on the tree trunks, the too frequent presence of metaphors, similes, and analogies reduces my appreciation of an author’s artistry.  I need the appropriate absence of figurative speeches to fully feel the impact of their presence.

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Sunday Select, December 13, 2015

FCLSSQuote of the Week

But in our digital conversion of media (perhaps buttressed by application of the popular KonMari method of decluttering), physical objects have been expunged at a cost. Aside from the disappearance of record crates and CD towers, the loss of print books and periodicals can have significant repercussions on children’s intellectual development.

Perhaps the strongest case for a household full of print books came from a 2014 study published in the sociology journal Social Forces. Researchers measured the impact of the size of home libraries on the reading level of 15-year-old students across 42 nations, controlling for wealth, parents’ education and occupations, gender and the country’s gross national product.

After G.N.P., the quantity of books in one’s home was the most important predictor of reading performance. The greatest effect was seen in libraries of about 100 books, which resulted in approximately 1.5 extra years of grade-level reading performance. (Diminishing returns kick in at about 500 books, which is the equivalent of about 2.2 extra years of education.)


— by Teddy Wayne
from Our (Bare) Shelves, Our Selves
The New York Times

We Need Books

Our (Bare) Shelves, Our Selves by Teddy Wayne – from The New York Times

NATIVE VOICES ROUNDTABLE PART 1: SHARING STORIES & TALKING BACK (PART 1 OF 2)  — from We Need Diverse Books

NATIVE VOICES ROUNDTABLE: SHARING STORIES & TALKING BACK (PART 2 OF 2)  — from We Need Diverse Books

Children’s Authors Share Their Favorite Childhood Books Compiled by Diane Roback — from Publishers Weekly

Horn Book Fanfare 2015  — from The Horn Book Magazine

How Kwame Alexander Gets Teens Reading and Writing Poetry — from School Library Journal

WSJ’s Best Books of 2015  — from Wall Street Journal

In the Works: SLJ’s Battle of the Kids’ Books 2016 Edition by Monida Edinger — from Educating Alice

We Need Ideas and Opinions

An American Refrain by Libba Bray – from Libba Bray’s Blog

Novelists team up for teen book on race and police by James Sullivan — from The Boston Globe

THE N-WORD AND MY DAUGHTER by Martha Haakmat — from Raising Race Conscious Children

I gathered these entries from various sources such as Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and specific sites that I follow such as Educating Alice, Pub Peeps, Book Riot, School Library Journal, The Horn Book, We Need Diverse Books, etc.

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Unusual Chickens for the Exceptional Poultry Farmer by Kelly Jones

unusualchickensUnusual Chickens for the Exceptional Poultry Farmer by Kelly Jones

Definitely a breezy read with some fun bits and pieces. I really like Kelly Jones’ portrayal of Sophie, level-headed, with plenty of normal kid concerns and normal kid courage. Jones included some not-too-heavy-handed tidbits about how others perceive Sophie, being half Mexican American, being viewed as poor, being “presumed” in not-so-flattering ways.

Since my taste runs more toward more saturated kind of fantasy, I wanted the chickens’ powers (and they are amazing powers) to manifest more, stronger, and add more tension to the story.  However, I can also see how this can be quite attractive to those who just want their magic to be more like everyday happenings — not too many world-altering encounters.

My narrative device-detector antenna was definitely alert for this one and wish that the letter-writing device had worked all the way through.  The really really long, as-it-happens, climatic sections did not work all that well for me: not sure when/where Sophie would have been writing to Agnes in the middle of rescuing the chickens and participating in the Poultry Show (and it is apparent that those letters weren’t written after all the excitement as a report, since Agnes would have known all that had happened and wouldn’t have needed such narration of events.)

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Filed under Book Notes

Sunday Select, September 27, 2015

FCLSSQuote of the Week

Are you ready for a revolution?
As an African-American librarian, I am.
Think about it. It’s 2015, and we still need to campaign for “more diverse books.”
————-
The question we librarians need to ask ourselves is: Are you exposing your users to the full range of authors and literature out there? Are you going out of your comfort zone and reading and learning about authors and sharing that with the community you serve?


— by Shauntee Burns-Simpson,

from A Call to Action for Librarians @ BookRiot

We Need Diverse Books

A Call to Action for Librarians by Shauntee Burns-Simpson — from BookRiot

Ta-Nehisi Coates to Write Black Panther Comic for Marvel by George Gene Gustines — from The New York Times

Lying to Children About the California Missions and the Indians by Deborah A. Miranda — from Zinn Education Project: Teaching a People’s History

China Rich Girlfriend by Kevin Kwan reviewed by Pooja Makhijani — from The Rumpus

The Diversity Baseline Survey — from Lee & Low Books

Authors & Books

Top 25 Books from the 2015 NBA (Neri Book Awards) by G. Neri — from g.neri.com

Some Kids’ Books Are Worth The Wait: ‘They Do Take Time,’ Says Kevin Henkes  — from NPR

Jane Goodall, UN Messenger of Peace  by Monica Edinger — from Educating Alice

Children’s Books Interview – Horn Book Editor, Roger Sutton  — from Miss Marple’s Musings

A Manifesto for Children’s Literature; or, Reading Harold as a Teenager by Philip Nel — from Iowa Review 

I Am Marie Lu: Ask Me Anything  — from reddit.com/r/books

Nielsen Summit Shows the Data Behind the Children’s Book Boom by Natasha Gilmore — from Publishers Weekly

Something Great to Share

 

Size Comparison Science Fiction Spaceships by Dirk Loechel — from Deviant Art

(Click on this small partial image to see the full size, high rez original.)

spaceshipslinkimage

I gathered these entries from various sources such as Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and specific sites that I follow such as Educating Alice, Pub Peeps, Book Riot, School Library Journal, The Horn Book, We Need Diverse Books, etc.

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Sunday Select, September 20, 2015

FCLSSQuote of the Week

American audiences are capable of so much more than some in your industry imagine. And if we can break that down to what I really mean, I mean this: White Americans can care about more than just themselves. They really can. And the rest of us? We are DYING to see ourselves anywhere.

To be clear: I’m not asking for altruism here. I worked in corporate America for 20 years before I put my book out; I know the stakes, the economics. What I am saying makes solid, actual business sense: There is a vast, untapped audience out there. You need to get to us.

— by Mira Jacob,

from “I Gave A Speech About Race To The Publishing Industry And No One Heard Me” via BuzzFeed

Race & Cultural Literacy

Why a White Blog? by Allie Jane Bruce — from Reading While White (This is the inaugural post of the new blog.)

Author Cornelia Funke Launches Own Publishing Company by Wendy Werris — from Publishers Weekly (Her decision was made due to stylistic and also cultural conflicts with Litte, Brown.)

I Gave A Speech About Race To The Publishing Industry And No One Heard Me by Mira Jacob — from BuzzFeed

Awards, Authors & Writing

The National Book Award announcement of the ten titles that made the long list for the Young Readers category — from The New Yorker

Omission: Choosing what to leave out by John McPhee — from The New Yorker

The Walking and Talking series by Steve Sheinkin — from A Fuse8 Production/SLJ

This web comic series features interviews with children’s authors conducted and drawn by Steve Sheinkin, hosted on Fuse8, since September 2014. Here are the six installments so far:

I gathered these entries from various sources such as Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and specific sites that I follow such as Educating Alice, Pub Peeps, Book Riot, School Library Journal, The Horn Book, We Need Diverse Books, etc.

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Sunday Select, September 13, 2015

FCLSSQuote of the Week

It is long past time for the industry to move past concerns over what–if anything–dominant voices lose when publishers actually choose to publish and promote minority voices over dominant ones. It is long past time to move past that old debate of who-can-write. Moving past that debate means I want to see publishers actually doing what Lasky feared so that more books by minority writers are actually published.

— by Debbie Reese,

from American Indians in Children’s Literature

Cultures – Insiders, Outsiders, Tangled Knots

Deborah Wiles, Debbie Reese, and Choosing a Revolution by Debbie Reese — from American Indians in Children’s Literature

A Tumblr Post about Writing the Other by Maggie Stiefvater — from Content of Maggie Stiefvater’s Brain

A Tumbler Post Response about Maggie Stiefvater’s Tumblr Post  — from La Lune Rousse

A Response to Colten Hibbs and Maggie Stiefvater on Writing the Other by B R Sanders — from Clatter and Clank

The White Poet Who Used an Asian Pseudonym to Get Published Is a Cheater, Not a Crusader by Katy Waldman — from Slate

Sherman Alexie Speaks Out on The Best American Poetry 2015 by Sherman Alexie from The Best American Poetry Blog

News, Awards, Authors

Marvel’s First Native American Hero Is Getting A Standalone Comic Series by James Whitbrook — from io9

Lee & Low Books: New Visions Award (Deadline 10/31/2015) — from Lee & Low Books

First WNDB Short Story Winners  — from We Need Diverse Books

2016 Spring and Summer Favorites? by Nina Lindsay — from Heavy Medal/SLJ

Alex Gino on Debut Novel, “George”, and the Importance of Transgender Voices in the Kid Lit World by Kiera Parrott — from School Library Journal

Goodreads YA Interview – Andrew Smith on Alex Crow

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