Sunday, May 27, 2012

Reader's Corner - May 2012 Update

"Mr. Holmes is kind of hawt."
May has been a super busy month, so I haven't been able to get that much reading in.

I did finish The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, which is remarkable and important and everyone should read it.

I started the YA mystery The Little Woods by McCormick Templeman, which has been enjoyable so far.

I also started A Study in Scarlet, the first of the Sherlock Holmes tales by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. I never read any Sherlock before, but I've loved the many incarnations in films and television, especially the version portrayed by Jeremy Brett.

But, of course, the latest incarnation is the best. (No, Robert Downey, Jr., that isn't you.) I'm talking about the Steven Moffat produced Sherlock series on BBC and PBS. This is a modern, sexy, oh-so-smart adaptation of the detective in the deerstalker hat. Benedict Cumberbatch is spot-on as the brilliantly mercurial Sherlock Holmes, but it's Martin Freeman as the long-suffering Dr. John Watson that gives the show its humanity and much of its wit.

Sherlock trailer:



Series Two has already aired, so try to catch it from the beginning online or on DVD.

Happy reading!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Something Like Normal Book Review

Title: Something Like Normal
Author: Trish Doller
Publisher: Bloomsbury 
Publication Date: June 19, 2012
ISBN-13: 978-1599908441

224 pp.

ARC from publisher via Netgalley

Every once in awhile, I'll read a book that's so damn good, I wish I'd written it. Last year, that book was Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys. This year, it's Something Like Normal by Trish Doller.

Something Like Normal centers on Travis, a 19-year-old Marine who's on leave from a tour in Afghanistan. He comes home to Florida to face a family that's falling apart, a girl who hates his guts, and post-traumatic stress from the ambush that killed his best friend.

Travis has a voice that's dead-on for a young guy who has lived through more than his years should allow. He's sarcastic, mad, sad, and as funny as hell. He's tries to do the right thing, but doesn't always succeed. He's one of the most well-rounded male characters I've read in YA literature.

It's a shame that the cover makes it seem as though it's a romance, but the romance is really the B story here. Harper is the girl who hates his guts, a girl Travis wronged back in middle school. Travis finally realized what a douchebag he was and tries to make amends. Their relationship plays out realistically and you're rooting for them to get together.

But the main story, the real story, is Travis dealing with life after so much death.

This is a book that librarians and teachers should put (forcibly, if necessary) into the hands of young men to read. So convince your male readers that it's not a girly book, that there's stuff about war and anger and fear. About what it means to be a man, what honor means, and what normal really means.

I would recommend this to readers who enjoyed Blankets by Craig Thompson or Paper Covers Rock by Jenny Hubbard.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

In Memory of Maurice Sendak

So much has already been written about the fearless brilliance of Maurice Sendak.

For example, Neil Gaiman wrote this heartfelt tribute about his hero. And he wrote another one, too.

Maurice Sendak seemed to care as much about fame as he did controversy. He did what he did and didn't care much what people thought about it, good or bad.

Lucky for us, his work was remarkable. Even iconic. And always honest. So honest that some people feel his books are dangerous, telling children things they shouldn't know. What Maurice Sendak realized was that children already know these things.

He was a picture book master that will never a equaled. He will be missed, but librarians, teachers, and parents will ensure that he is not forgotten.

Below are three videos that celebrate Maurice Sendak and his work. The first video is Part 1 of the interview Stephen Colbert did with Maurice Sendak. It is hilarious.

The second video is President Obama reading Where the Wild Things Are to a group of children at the 2012 White House Easter Egg Roll. It is adorable, especially when Bo gets involved in the wild rumpus.

The third video is a Christopher Walken impersonator reading Where the Wild Things Are, including narrating the pictures. It's slightly bizarre, which is why I'm including it.

Stephen Colbert interviews Maurice Sendak:



President Obama reads Where the Wild Things Are:



"Christopher Walken" narrates Where the Wild Things Are:

Saturday, May 5, 2012

ALA Summer Conference Isn't Just for Librarians

This summer, massive numbers of librarians (what's the collective noun for librarians? A catalog of librarians?) will congregate in Anaheim for the annual American Library Association summer conference. And I will be among them (at least for one day).

I've been encouraging my writer friends, especially children's writer friends, to go. They don't have to sit through seminars like Using Your Library to Crowdsource (I made that one up), but there are cool things for non-librarians.

For 25 buckeroos, non-ALA members can get an Exhibit Hall Pass. For people who love books, it's an exhibit hall of squee. Some of the authors currently scheduled to be there are Libba Bray, Daniel Handler, Paolo Bacigalupi, Marla Frazee, Mo Willems, Sherman Alexie, Jon Scieszka, Eve Bunting, Cornelia Funke, Jack Gantos, Brian Selznick, Maggie Stiefvater, David Shannon, and Patrick McDonnell. There are over 400 authors coming to the Exhibit Hall, so there's bound to be someone you love there. And there will be more ARCs than you can carry.

If you have an extra 100 smackeroos, you can go to the Newbery/Caldecott banquet dinner. Yes, you can. This is not a ALA member only event. You can see Jack Gantos and Chris Raschka give sure-to-be inspirational acceptance speeches. I went to the banquet back in 2008 when I was still in library school. Brian Selznick won for The Invention of Hugo Cabret and Laura Amy Schlitz won for  Good Masters! Sweet Ladies! Voices from a Medieval Village. (I got to give Laura Amy Schlitz a hug and tell her I wanted to be like her when I grew up, so the night was a total win for me.)

So if you live in southern California, think about going to the ALA conference. If only for the Exhibit Hall. Here's the link to ALA to get you started.

Don't live in the area, don't despair! The ALA has the conference in a different city every year. In 2013, the conference will be in Chicago. In 2014, it'll be in Las Vegas. And in 2015, it's in San Francisco. (Think long-term goals here.)

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