Summer Reading: Libraries Rock!

The program theme for Summer Reading this year is:

Libraries Rock

I’m really grooving on the theme this year because after eleven months of being closed for repairs and renovation, the library I call home and work at has finally reopened. It looks amazing and even though we are still making it a home again, I’m glad to be back. Below is a picture of our 5th floor reading/study space.

Burton Barr 5th floor

I found the below comic this afternoon from the artist, Grant Snider, whose newsletter I subscribe to. I wanted to share because it reminded me of Summer Reading.

Library-Final-fb

Summer Reading is always super important to make sure the kids don’t lose all the reading achievement they gained during the school year, aka “summer slide”. For more information on this topic, check out this article on Reading Rockets. This year I’m trying to challenge my kid to read for 1000 minutes, partially to see if he can beat me and so he can win a free book and a cool medal. He’s not bothered the last couple of years but I’d really like him to finish this year. I usually read (not counting audiobooks) between 1500-2000 minutes every June-August for Summer Reading. If you are interested in booklists for children from birth to 8th grade, please check out the Association for Library Services to Children’s (ALSC) Summer Reading booklists. For teens, check out the Young Adult Library Services Association’s (YALSA) award-winning booklists. For adults, I would recommend the Great American Reads list from PBS as it has a good mix of classic and modern books on it. So everyone keep reading! Children, teens, and adults can join the summer reading program. Just go check out your local public library and get signed up. There’s still 6-1/2 weeks of Summer Reading left. 

 

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Roald Dahl

I love Roald Dahl’s books for children. Yes, he also wrote books for adult, something most people do actually forget and they are not suitable for children either. As his biography on Poetry Foundation states,

“He started writing for adults after crash landing in the Libyan desert after joining the RAF in Nairobi, Kenya. He wrote the screenplay for Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and the James Bond film You Only Live Twice. He lost his father and sister at a young age, along with two of his five children with his first wife. Perhaps because of his family experiences, Dahl’s writing is darkly funny and staunchly loyal to a child’s sense of fairness, magic, and revenge.” 

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My favorite Roald Dahl books are The BFG (my absolute favorite), Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator, Matilda, The Witches, and The Fantastic Mr. Fox. 

The Dentist and the Crocodile

BY ROALD DAHL, 1989 from the book Rhyme Stew
The crocodile, with cunning smile, sat in the dentist’s chair.
He said, “Right here and everywhere my teeth require repair.”
The dentist’s face was turning white. He quivered, quaked and shook.
He muttered, “I suppose I’m going to have to take a look.”
“I want you”, Crocodile declared, “to do the back ones first.
The molars at the very back are easily the worst.”
He opened wide his massive jaws. It was a fearsome sight—
At least three hundred pointed teeth, all sharp and shining white.
The dentist kept himself well clear. He stood two yards away.
He chose the longest probe he had to search out the decay.
“I said to do the back ones first!” the Crocodile called out.
“You’re much too far away, dear sir, to see what you’re about.
To do the back ones properly you’ve got to put your head
Deep down inside my great big mouth,” the grinning Crocky said.
The poor old dentist wrung his hands and, weeping in despair,
He cried, “No no! I see them all extremely well from here!”
Just then, in burst a lady, in her hands a golden chain.
She cried, “Oh Croc, you naughty boy, you’re playing tricks again!”
“Watch out!” the dentist shrieked and started climbing up the wall.
“He’s after me! He’s after you! He’s going to eat us all!”
“Don’t be a twit,” the lady said, and flashed a gorgeous smile.
“He’s harmless. He’s my little pet, my lovely crocodile.”

Margarita Engle

Image result for margarita engle

I first discovered Margarita Engle‘s work with her verse novel, The Poet Slave of Cuba: A Biography of Juan Francisco Manzano and The Surrender Tree: Poems of Cuba’s Struggle for Freedom, both of which were excellent in describing fascinating events and people I knew nothing about and I adored them both. Engle is the Poetry Foundation’s Young People’s Poet Laureate for 2017-19. Based on the author’s note, the poem/verse novel I have selected Drum Dream Girlis:

“inspired by the childhood of a Chinese-African-Cuban girl who broke Cuba’s traditional taboo against female drummers. In 1932, at the age of ten, Millo Castro Zaldarriaga performed with her older sisters as Anacaona, Cuba’s first “all-girl dance band.” Millo became a world-famous musician, playing alongside all the American jazz greats of the era. At age fifteen, she played her bongó drums at a New York birthday celebration for U.S. president Franklin Delano Roosevelt, where she was enthusiastically cheered by First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt. There are now many female drummers in Cuba. Thanks to Millo’s courage, becoming a drummer is no longer an unattainable dream for girls on the island.”

Drum Dream Girl

BY MARGARITA ENGLE, 2015
On an island of music
in a city of drumbeats
the drum dream girl
dreamed
of pounding tall conga drums
tapping small bongó drums
and boom boom booming
with long, loud sticks
on bit, round, silvery
moon-bright timbales.
But everyone
on the island of music
in the city of drumbeats
believed that only boys
should play drums
so the drum dream girl
had to keep dreaming
quiet
secret
drumbeat
dreams.
At outdoor cafés that looked like gardens
she heard drums played by men
but when she closed her eyes
she could also hear
her own imaginary
music.
When she walked under
wind-wavy palm trees
in a flower-bright park
she heard the whir of parrot wings
the clack of woodpecker beaks
the dancing tap
of her own footsteps
and the comforting pat
of her own
heartbeat.
At carnivals, she listened
to the rattling beat
of towering
dancers
on stilts
and the dragon clang
of costumed drummers
wearing huge masks.
At home, her fingertips
rolled out their own
dreamy drum rhythm
on tables and chairs…
and even though everyone
kept reminding her that girls
on the island of music
have never played drums
the brave drum dream girl
dared to play
tall conga drums
small bongó drums
and big, round, silvery
moon-bright timbales.
Her hands seemed to fly
as they rippled
rapped
and pounded
all the rhythms
of her drum dreams.
Her big sisters were so excited
that they invited her to join
their new all-girl dance band
but their father said only boys
should play drums.
So the drum dream girl
had to keep dreaming
and drumming
alone
until finally
her father offered
to find a music teacher
who could decide if her drums
deserved
to be heard.
The drum dream girl’s
teacher was amazed.
The girl knew so much
but he taught her more
and more
and more
and she practiced
and she practiced
and she practiced
until the teacher agreed
that she was ready
to play her small bongó drums
outdoors at a starlit café
that looked like a garden
where everyone who heard
her dream-bright music
sang
and danced
and decided
that girls should always
be allowed to play
drums
and both girls and boys
should feel free
to dream.

Chris Harris

I discovered Chris Harris’ book of children’s poetry, I’m Just No Good at Rhyming and Other Nonsense for Mischevious Kids and Immature Grown-Ups, when I was browsing new books a few months back but it was always on hold. I waited until about a week ago and finally managed to procure a copy. Publisher’s Weekly is calling him “a worthy heir to Silverstein, Seuss, and even Ogden Nash.” Both my son and I really enjoyed reading aloud his zany poems about anything and everything under the sun, and Lane Smith’s illustrations go perfectly with the poetry. 

Image result for I'm no good at rhyming

My son’s favorite was The Old Woman Who Lived in Achoo, which you can recite with two people. My favorite poem in the book was I’m Shy on the Outside, which reminded me of well, me and a couple of guys I know. 

I’m Shy on the Outside

by Chris Harris, 2017

 

I’m shy on the outside, but inside my head?

I’m not shy at all–I’m outgoing instead.

 

I’m chatty, I’m witty, I’m often hilarious,

Funny and friendly and downright gregarious.

 

Ask me about me–I’ll say, “I’m a cutup!

Sometimes? I can’t even get me to shut up.”

 

Even though out here I’m minimal-worded, 

Deep down inside? I am so extroverted!

 

I’m the life of the party here under my skin.

So keep knocking–

Someday I might let you in. 

 

Best Books I read in 2017

I ended up reading a lot of books this year, despite it being a completely crazy year for me personally. It should be about 235 for the year, which was a bit more than I figured it would be. I tend to get uber distracted and ADD the crazier things get, so really it was miraculous that I managed to read this many books despite all of this. I discovered a lot of interesting manga and graphic novels and comics series once again, and read a ton of mangas (72 total this year), and even got to read a few as ARCs. The following books were my favorites for the year. I read too many to limit it to a small number, though I have tried to abbreviate the list. For all the ones my son also loved, I will add “Kid approved” to the titles. 

Children

The Very Fluffy Kitty: Papillon (Papillon #1) by A.N. Kang – It’s so adorable, I’m gonna squeal! Kid approved. 

Papillon-5

Pretty much all of Ryan T. Higgins’ books, as they are hilarious and have fabulous illustrations. Very much Kid Approved:

Wilfred (my favorite illustration below) – I want Wilfred for my friend! 

Wilfred

Be Quiet! – This book feels like trying to explain “quiet” to kids and then the 4 million “why?” questions start. 

Be Quiet

Hotel Bruce (Bruce #2) – I love Bruce’s facial expressions. 

Hotel Bruce

Bruce’s Big Move (Bruce #3)

Bruces-Big-Move

Escargot by Dashka Slater, illustrations by Sydney Hanson – you can’t help but do this in a cute little French accent. Kid Approved. 

Escargot

The Not So Quiet Library written and illustrated by Zachariah OHora – I love his illustrations and this book is adorable! Plus he always includes a character from a previous book (the bear was in Wolfie the Bunny). 

the-not-so-quiet-library-interior-zachariah-ohora

Nightlights by Lorena Alvarez Gomez – loved the slightly creepy but lush illustrations of this graphic novel, plus the heroine uses her imagination to escape

Nightlights

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets Illustrated Editions by J.K. Rowling – Re-reading these to my son and loving them much more than the first time I read them. The illustrations really make these amazing and so accessible to children. Can’t wait to read Volume 3! Kid Approved.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerers Stone

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

Young Adult

Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor – I liked this book so much, it ended up in one of my fanfiction stories. Can’t wait for book 2 in the series!

Strange the Dreamer

The Dark Prophecy (The Trials of Apollo #2) by Rick Riordan – hilarious audiobook for teens but really best understood by adults (I thought the title looked cooler in Hebrew). 

The Dark Prophecy - Hebrew

The Prince and the Dressmaker written and illustrated by Jen Wang – I loved this graphic novel about being yourself no matter what

The Prince and the Dressmaker2

The Other Side of the Gate and The Empty Sea by Craig Michael Curtis – a series my friend wrote, they’re awesome, please check out his works! Third book will come out soon.

The Other Side of the GateThe Empty Sea

Manga: To check out more info on most of these series, and why I liked the leading males in Manga/Anime, please check out this previous post!

Kimi Ni Todoke Vol 28 Kimi Ni Todoke Vol 27 , and Kimi Ni Todoke Vol 26 by Karuho Shiina

Kimi Ni Todoke

High School Debut Vol. 1- written and illustrated by Kazune Kawahara – I am Haruna and I need some help. Where’s my hot teacher? Also, Yoh is super adorable below. 

High School Debut

Fruits Basket Collector’s Edition Vol 1-12 written and illustrated by Natsuke Takaya – after watching the anime again, I felt like I needed to read the original manga version and it was even better than the anime. This might be one of my favorite series’ ever!

Fruits Basket vol 21 Ch 120

Library Wars: Love and War Vol 15 written and illustrated Kiiro Yumi – last volume 😦

Library Wars Vol 15

Adult

Thrawn by Timothy Zahn – also coincidentally the best audiobook I listened to as well; I have always been a fan of the Chiss, but had never read anything about Thrawn in particular. Loved Thrawn –>Eli–>Governor Pryce as top three characters. Plus it was awesome to listen to the audiobook then literally a few weeks later see both characters in Star Wars Rebels Season 3.

Thrawn

Saga Vol 1-7 written by Brian K. Vaughan, illustrated by Fiona Staples – best comic series I’ve read in a long time, hands down!

Saga

Black Dahlia, Red Rose: The Crime, The Corruption, and Cover-Up of America’s Greatest Unsolved Murder by Piu Eatwell 

Black Dahlia

The Secret History of Wonder Woman by Jill Lepore – Tie between this book, Thrawn and Black Dahlia for the most interesting book I’ve read this year.

Wonder Woman

Hermione Granger – Fighting for Strong Smart Women Everywhere

Hermione-brews-Polyjuice

This blog is named after Hermione Granger of Harry Potter fame, and her ability to solve any problem because of her superior research skills and love of books, and her knapsack would hold all this knowledge. As Ron says to Harry about Hermione’s book dependency in Harry Potter and The Chamber of Secrets, “Because that’s what Hermione does. When in doubt, go to the library.” Plus she is the perfect mascot for Children’s Librarians everywhere. Yay books and knowledge! 

Hermione and Books

Taken from: https://nary-san.deviantart.com/art/Hermione-and-books-446977341  

I loved her character in the books and even the movies, and I think this woman’s perspective on our spunky heroine is the reason why:

“Hermione is a hero because she decides to be a hero; she’s brave, she’s principled, she works hard, and she never apologizes for the fact that her goal is to be very, extremely good at this whole “wizard” deal. Just as Hermione’s origins are nothing special, we’re left with the impression that her much-vaunted intelligence might not be anything special, on its own. But Hermione is never comfortable with relying on her “gifts” to get by. There’s no prophecy assuring her importance; the only way for Hermione to have the life she wants is to work for it. So Hermione Granger, generation-defining role model, works her adorable British ass off for seven straight books in a row. Although she deals with the slings and arrows of any coming-of-age tale — being told that she’s “bossy,” stuck-up, boring, “annoying,” etc — she’s too strong to let that stop her. “

I adore her and J.K. Rowling for creating her because she is showing us, girls and women in particular, that it is okay to be strong and smart. I don’t think we as women have to take people calling us “bossy” or a “know-it-all”, we are who we are and no amount of societal pressure is going to change that. As Alyssa Yeager blogs about in this article, “Smart women think more, seek questions more, have a viewpoint and argue it more, and are capable of effecting change. Smart women can also generally be seen as a royal pain in the ass in the eyes of some men. But smart women also know that those men don’t deserve them.”

Eventually men will get their act together and realize that brains are just as sexy if not more so than looks, especially as they get older. Or at least I can hold out hope that this is the case. Because the alternative, as explained in this article, “It seems that, even if men say they want a smarter woman, when push comes to shove, they’re not so into women who threaten their own intelligence. Translation: Men who blow off intelligent women might just be protecting their fragile masculine egos,” is pretty sad. 

Back to the wonderful world of Harry Potter. I’ve had a little bit of time to re-evaluate her and the other students of Hogwarts as I have been reading my six-year old son the illustrated editions of Harry Potter’s books 1 & 2 (which are amazing by the way). I haven’t actually touched these books since I started reading the series a few years after it came out in 1997. I actually rebelled reading them at first, as I tend to do with super popular kids series’. I became more open to the idea after some kids I was watching at a summer camp, where I was counseling at during the summer of my sophomore year of college (circa 2001), were going on and on about how awesome the series was. So naturally I wanted to give it a try. Thankfully the library on campus had copies and the rest is history. 

Ron-and-Hermione-GIF-harry-potter-28884196-500-224

A lot of people like to poo poo Ron and Hermione’s relationship, but as I am re-reading the series, and several articles on the two of them, I can see that they are a lot more compatible than some people would have us believe. A lot of this stems from the way both of them are portrayed in the movies, for example making Hermione the heroine with the Devil’s Snare in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets or defending Harry from Sirius Black in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (when it was actually Ron both times) or as Ryann Whelan’s article points out:

“Hermione’s weaknesses are completely glossed over. She can be, at times, overly cautious, judgmental, insensitive to social cues, rigid and legalistic in her perfectionism, and overly rational. The movies depict her as a bossy but endearing know-it-all, but fail to delve into how obnoxious she can come across.”

The author of the previous article also points out how much of Ron’s personality is left out entirely in the films, namely:

“He’s the heart and soul of the trio— emotionally grounded, strategically-minded, generally calm and cool (excepting when spiders are involved -[who can blame him, they give me the heebie jeebies]). He’s trustworthy and honest, always upfront about how he really feels, even if it doesn’t come across politely. He’s truly funny and often the primary comic relief of the series, not simply because of pratfalls, but because he’s got a great sense of humor.”

And despite what Hermione says in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, about Ron having “the emotional range of a teaspoon”, he so much more than that. I mean think about it, you’re stuck between the famous Harry Potter (who despite his everlasting friendship with Ron is still the most well-known person in the wizarding world) and the cleverest witch at Hogwarts, Hermione. It’s possible you would feel a little bit out of place, not to mention being the youngest brother in a wizarding family whose siblings have already accomplished so much. Ron tends to use humor to deflect from his own insecurities and worries. 

Ron and Hermione compliment each other. Yes she is serious, whip smart and in-charge, but she needs someone she can relax with, who calms her down and makes her laugh. Who better than someone who co-owns a joke shop? 

Banned Books Week 2017: Sept 24-30

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I love this year’s cover graphic from ALA Office of Intellectual Freedom that helps put on Banned Book week every year. I try to write about the week every year (or at least have since 2012). According to the ALA website, “It is an annual event celebrating the freedom to read. Typically held during the last week of September, it highlights the value of free and open access to information. Banned Books Week brings together the entire book community — librarians, booksellers, publishers, journalists, teachers, and readers — in shared support of the freedom to seek and express ideas, even those some consider unorthodox or unpopular.” I usually find that the books that people want to ban are usually really good books but for one reason or another people don’t agree with an issue that the book has brought up. If you would like to know more about banned books and fighting censorship, you can also visit this website, which co-sponsors the event with the ALA every year and this one because I love reading comics/mangas/graphic novels, the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund.

I try to write about the week every year and encourage people to read banned books, and find out for themselves whether or not they think the book should be banned. I first got into banned books in graduate school when I was taking a class on YA literature and had to read a banned book. I picked Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes by Chris Crutcher, whose books are notoriously getting banned and is therefore a big supporter against censorship. I really enjoyed the book, but would probably have never read as a kid because of the subject matter. I’m not gonna lie, the book is filled with reasons why a parent or concerned adult might want to ban it: the 30+ drops of the f-bomb and other curse words, discussions of physical/emotional abuse, suicide, abortion, masturbation, child neglect and more. It’s not an easy book to read at times, but there is a redemptive quality about the book that makes it awesome. In fact my mother was rather horrified when I described in detail while I was writing the paper for it. But as YA author Laurie Halsie Anderson has said,“Books don’t turn kids into murderers, or rapists, or alcoholics; Books open hearts and minds, and help teenagers make sense of a dark and confusing world. YA literature saves lives. Every. Single. Day.”

Updated infographic_Top 10 Banned Books for 2016_0

It’s not just Young Adult and Children’s books that are banned but Classics as well. According to the Office of Intellectual freedom, at least 46 books off this list of the top 100 books of the 20th Century have been banned. The ones in red are the ones I’ve read, and apparently I need to read many more. How many have you read? 

1. The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald
2. The Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger
3. The Grapes of Wrath, by John Steinbeck
4. To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
5. The Color Purple, by Alice Walker
6. Ulysses, by James Joyce
7. Beloved, by Toni Morrison
8. The Lord of the Flies, by William Golding
9. 1984, by George Orwell

11. Lolita, by Vladmir Nabokov
12. Of Mice and Men, by John Steinbeck – my review posted here

15. Catch-22, by Joseph Heller
16. Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley – my review posted on my previous blog, which also includes one for The Color of Earth by Kim Dong Hwa (another banned book)
17. Animal Farm, by George Orwell
18. The Sun Also Rises, by Ernest Hemingway
19. As I Lay Dying, by William Faulkner
20. A Farewell to Arms, by Ernest Hemingway

23. Their Eyes Were Watching God, by Zora Neale Hurston
24. Invisible Man, by Ralph Ellison
25. Song of Solomon, by Toni Morrison
26. Gone with the Wind, by Margaret Mitchell
27. Native Son, by Richard Wright
28. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, by Ken Kesey
29. Slaughterhouse-Five, by Kurt Vonnegut
30. For Whom the Bell Tolls, by Ernest Hemingway

33. The Call of the Wild, by Jack London

36. Go Tell it on the Mountain, by James Baldwin

38. All the King’s Men, by Robert Penn Warren

40. The Lord of the Rings, by J.R.R. Tolkien

45. The Jungle, by Upton Sinclair

48. Lady Chatterley’s Lover, by D.H. Lawrence
49. A Clockwork Orange, by Anthony Burgess
50. The Awakening, by Kate Chopin

53. In Cold Blood, by Truman Capote – my review posted here

55. The Satanic Verses, by Salman Rushdie

57. Sophie’s Choice, by William Styron

64. Sons and Lovers, by D.H. Lawrence

66. Cat’s Cradle, by Kurt Vonnegut
67. A Separate Peace, by John Knowles

73. Naked Lunch, by William S. Burroughs
74. Brideshead Revisited, by Evelyn Waugh
75. Women in Love, by D.H. Lawrence

80. The Naked and the Dead, by Norman Mailer

84. Tropic of Cancer, by Henry Miller

88. An American Tragedy, by Theodore Dreiser

97. Rabbit, Run, by John Updike