Links from Libraryland

I’ve spent more time this summer working on library-opening than the tantilizing, ever growing to-read pile on my coffee table, but though my blogging’s been non-existent, I have managed to collect a whole lot of saved links…

Edmonton Public Library recently held a viral marketing contest as part of their rebranding campaign, giving out vinyl cling stickers and encouraging people to stick them up around the city and take photos. See the winners here!

Speaking of Edmonton… right now at my library, we’ve just opened a public library right in between two high schools (two weeks ago and counting), so I was especially interested in this article from the Edmonton Journal: School libraries serve up a sequel: Rural facilities do double duty in the community, about a shared public/school library in the town of Kinuso in northern Alberta.

South of the border, a one-man grass-roots literacy movement in Chicago, the Book Bike, will keep going strong, with the support of the Chicago Public Libary.

Annnd back borth again, Edmonton-born Nathan Fillion on an ALA Read Poster

And on a more general reading note, via my mom, The art of slow reading “Has endlessly skimming short texts on the internet made us stupider? An increasing number of experts think so – and say it’s time to slow down…”

Linkalicious: a GLBTQ assortment…

Congrats, those of you south of the 59th parallel, for striking down Proposition 8!

In celebration, here is a roundup of GLBTQ links that have been gathering in my many browser tabs…

Looking for something to read? Check out QueerYA: Fiction for LGBT Teens, the ALA Rainbow Project: GLBTQ Books for Children and Teens, I’m Here. I’m Queer. What the Hell Do I Read?, Australian GLBT YA books, Canadian GLBT YA books, or see what I’ve read lately.

Awesome things: some videos from and about Camp Fyrefly, a leadership retreat for lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans-identified, two-spirited, queer, and allied (LGBTTQ&A) youth.

Also, Degrassi Premiere to Include Trans Teen “Now entering its 10th season, the hit teen TV show Degrassi is once again charting new territory — this time by featuring a transgender character.”

A recent study has concluded that GLBT families are doing just fine.

in June, the results of an almost two decade-long study of the children of lesbian moms came out in the journal Pediatrics. This reported that not only do such children do as well as the children of straight married parents, but in some key ways, they do even better. Indeed, after following the children of lesbian moms for their first 17 years, researchers Nanette Gartrell and Henny Bos determined that compared to other teens, these kids were more likely to succeed academically, and were less likely to have social problems, break rules or exhibit aggressive behavior.

Confessions of a Comic Book Guy–A Safe World For Everyone, more on the first openly gay Archie character.

Getting a bit tangential, Westboro Baptist Church protesters were no match for Comic Con-goers. “Simply stated: The eclectic assembly of nerdom’s finest stood and delivered.”

Okay, only sort of related, but I needed to share this somehow. The most entertaining response I have read to Dumbledore being gay comes from YA author Maureen Johnson. As previously chronicled:

“When we last met,” I said, as J.K. gulped down some milk straight from the carton, “you told me that Ginny was a robot, Hermoine was Harry’s sister, Ron was a figment of Harry’s imagination, and Harry wasn’t in the book at all because he had gone to Spain. You also told me that book seven was all about Kevin Whitby.”

This 2007 post is entitled “Accio Stewardess.” Maureen Johnson’s blog frequently make me laugh out loud.

Bookish links

Man, opening a new library branch is a lot of work! That’s what I’ve been up to lately… less than a month to go!

Here are some things that have been kicking around my zillion open tabs for a while…

Roger Sutton, editor in chief of the children’s lit journal The Horn Book, is awesome. Conference swag that I covet, via his blog, When A Is for Xbox: 26 Ways to Prevent Summer Reading.

An essay from G. K. Chesterton’s book, All Things Considered, on the morality of fairy tales.

Greenwillow’s blog continues to be awesome. Check out Megan and Eugenides Tour Tinseltown and Come Home With their American Express Cards Safe (and as far as we know, Gen didn’t steal one single thing while we were there) to see a couple storyboards for a hypothetical The Thief movie.

How did I not know about the Sunburst Awards? “The Sunburst Award for Canadian Literature of the Fantastic is a juried award based on excellence of writing in two categories: adult and young adult. The awards are presented annually to Canadian writers with a speculative fiction novel or book-length collection of speculative fiction published any time during the previous calendar year. Named after the first novel by Phyllis Gotlieb (1926–2009), one of the first published authors of contemporary Canadian science fiction, the awards consist of a cash award of Cdn$1,000 and a medallion which incorporates a specially designed “Sunburst” logo. The winners receive their awards in the fall of every year.” My to-read list just got even longer–although to be fair, about half the nominees that I haven’t read are aleady on it.

Canadian First Nations Girls Rock!

June 21 is National Aboriginal Day! Here’s a round-up of some of the newer books I’ve come across lately about Canadian First Nations kids, and a few other links. (Caveat: I can only speak to their authenticity about the people and cultures they are about based on professional resources like reviews and such, not first-hand knowledge. Any comments from anyone who knows more are that welcome…)

The inspiration of my subject line comes from a book I’ve already talked about Lacey and the African Grandmothers, a book based on true events about a Siksika Blakfoot girl from Southern Alberta who manages to make a difference in the lives of people halfway around the world. Lacey’s awesome, and so is the book. Go read!

Another recent read is The Contest by Caroline Stellings, which is quintessentially Canadian as only a book about a half-Mohawk girl who wants to enter a Anne of Green Gables look-alike contest can be!

Goodbye Buffalo Bay coverLest you think I’m leaving out the boys, another recent(ish) title is Goodbye Buffalo Bay, by northern Alberta Cree author Larry Loyie, an autobiographical story that continues on from As Long As The Rivers Flow, which takes place the summer before he leaves for residential school, and the prequel When the Spirits Dance. Goodbye Buffalo Bay is split into two halves. The first is about Larry’s time in the harsh residential school, and the second is about his life afterwards as a young man. It’s a matter-of-fact look at adversity that doesn’t shy away from any harsh realities, but man, there are some laugh-out-loud funny moments here, too. Also, you can find an interview with Larry Loyie over at Paper Tigers.

Shi-shi-etko coverFor another look at residential schools, BC Salish, Nsilx and Métis author Nicola Campbell has two stunning picture books, Shi-shi-etko and a sequel, Shin-Chi’s Canoe. There’s also a short film version of Shi-shi-etko and you see the trailer on Youtube. Shin-chi’s Canoe was a finalist for a 2008 Governor Generals award for illustration, and Shi-shi-etko was a finalist for the 2006 Ruth Schwartz Children’s Book Award.

There is a new book in the This Land is Our Storybook series from Fitzhenry & Whiteside, a series about the daily lives of kids living in the Northwest Territories. I love ’em! They meet my “shiny with lots of colour photos” preference for kids’ nonfiction, the text lets the kids speak in their own voice about their own lives and culture, and is much more personal (and interesting!) than your standard report-writing type nonfiction. The books are all bilingual, in English and the traditional language of each kid’s family. Come and Learn With Me/Éwo, séh Kedįdįh is about Sheyenne Jumbo, who lives in Sambaa K’e (Trout Lake), and is written in English and Dene. The sheer exuberance of Sheyenne in the photo on the cover just makes me grin right along with her!

On the teen side of things, I attended a great conference session on aboriginal books for teens by Edmonton librarian Lindy Pratch, who has shared her line-up of titles on Shelfari. Take a look for a fantastic bunch of books, from middle school up through adult fiction and poetry.

I was quite thrilled to discover Eagle Crest Books, who do levelled readers featuring First Nations kids (I think they’re based in BC) in both English and French. I think they’re potentially most useful for schools and classrooms, but are also a good addition to a public library beginning reader collection, too!

Another thing that thrills me is the First Nations Communities Read program… though it worries me a bit that the most recent info on the site is still from the 2009 program. I hope it’s still running in 2010… you can see previous years’ featured books at the Canadian Children’s Book Centre.

Jolted by Arthur Slade

Jolted coverNewton Starker is cursed. Lightning has killed every member of his mother’s side of the family, except for Newton, and his great-grandmother Edith. (Newton’s theory is that she’s too mean to die.)

Newton and his dad live in a lightning proof house. He has a set of rules to keep him safe (Rule one: Check the weather constantly. Two: Check the sky before exiting a building. Three: When thunder roars, run indoors. Four: Beware of cumulo-nimbus clouds. Five: Do not take a bath during a lightning storm….) But the rules didn’t save Newton’s mom. So he’s enrolled at the Jerry Potts Academy of Higher Learning and Survival in Moosejaw, Saskatchewan, hoping that a school that emphasizes wilderness survival, banned neckties from the school uniform because they interfered with outdoor activities (some students were using them to snare ground squirrels) and encourages always carrying a sharp knife will teach him how to avoid the family curse.

But Newton breaks rule number six (Do not under any circumstances become angry. Count to ten. Breathe in. Breath out.), and before he knows it, he’s challenged one of his fellow students, Violet Quon, to a boxing match. And then there’s the matter of a slight mix-up surrounding Culinary Arts and exactly how Newton ended up with a pet pig named Francine, and an approaching outdoor expedition to the Cyprus Hills.

But no matter how busy he gets, Newton had better not forget Rule thirteen: Check the Weather. Check it again.

Jolted is a decidely tongue in cheek sort of story, as you may have figured from the lightning curse, pet pigs, and wilderness survival academies. It’s a quick-moving book with short chapters and plenty of great moments of goofy humour. But underneath it all is a suprisingly bittersweet story about Newton coming to terms with the death of his mom. The ending leaves me expecting a sequel, but Arthur Slade’s latest, the Hunchback Assignments, is definitely a series. (And awesomely steampunk!) Will we see more of Newton? I don’t know…

If you head over to Arthur Slade’s website, you can listen to the author himself reading a clip from the book.

All-Season Edie by Annabel Lyon

All Season Edie cover This book is a year in the life of Edie Jasmine Snow.

Edie lives with her mom and her dad and her older sister Dexter, who mostly she hates (like when Dexter tells her there are spiders in her attic bedroom, and Edie tried to curse her for Halloween using MacBeth as an instruction manual), but sometimes Dexter surprises her by doing something nice, like even though she doesn’t want Edie to go to ballet like Dexter because she’s convinced Edie will embarass her, Dexter tells their mom than Edie should take flamenco instead. And not just because of the mortification factor–she thinks Edie would like it better, because there’s a lot of stomping. And just for the record, Edie LOVES flamenco. But that doesn’t mean that Dexter wants her at her best friend Mean Megan’s Halloween party…

First off, the blurb caused me some needless anxiety–I will tell you straight out, her sister does not die! Her grandfather is sick right from the beginning, however… The splashy green and pink cover has been catching the eye of a lot of pre-teen girls in my library. (I will admit that at first glance, I thought that rubber boot was a cast, and kept waiting for Edie to break a leg.)

This is a really hard book to summarize, since it’s very episodic. The story’s biggest weakness is that there isn’t one strong plot thread pulling the whole thing together. There are some great moments though–like when Edie is dragged along on a Christmas shopping trip to the mall with her mom and sister. No-one realizes Edie’s running a fever, and then she starts to hallucinate that the Greek gods are at the mall too, doing their shopping… Or the argument between Dexter and her parents over taking her little sister along to her friend’s party. The horror! What ties it all together is the family’s reactions to her grandfather’s sickness and death.

The story’s biggest strength was the strong character voices. The emotions and tension between Edie and her ring true remarkably. I say this as an older sister, albeit one with younger brothers. Some things are universal. It’s a fantastic middle school point of view. (Okay, I’m harping on the point of view because the book I read just before this one was published as young adult fiction, but should have been an adult memoir. Anyhow.) This book captures delicate balance of fondness and infuriation between siblings perfectly. Even though it’s episodic, thematically, everything fits together. Give this one to girls who have ages out of Judy Moody, Ramona fans, or any nine or ten year old girl who’s drawn in by the green and pink cover.

Other reviews from (inevitably) CM Magazine, Sheryl McFarlane’s Book Blog and Welcome to My Tweendom.

Danger in Dead Man’s Mine by Dave Glaze

Yay! Canadian kids’ historical fiction that doesn’t involved a) wilderness survival, b) immigrating and finding a home, c) time travel, and especially d) a boring cover. Not that there’s anything inherently wrong with any of the aforementioned–except boring covers–but I have had my fill of them lately.

Danger in Dead Man's Mine cover This is a story about Mackenzie Davis, who is twelve, and visiting his aunt and uncle in Lethbridge, in 1912. His mom has come to stay and help out until her aunt has her baby. His uncle a coal miner and has been sick, and is waiting to be cleared by the mining company doctor to go back into the mines. The whole family’s hoping that it’s not black lung from years of breathing in coal dust, which would keep him out of the mines for good. (Annnd I’m not going to link to any pictures associated with black lung; you can google it yourself, or just trust me that it’s pretty gross.)

Even Mackenzie picks up on the family tensions right below the surface. Then, soon after he arrives, his older cousin disappears, and has most likely run away from home. His middle cousin Ruth resents having to do all the house work, and there’s something strange going on with his youngest cousin Francis, too. Francis keeps disappearing and comes home exhausted and dirty, but with everything else happening, Mackenzie is the only one who notices, and Francis isn’t telling him anything. The only one who can tell him more is the old fisherman who says he’s going back to the sea–which is quite the claim, from the middle of the prairies.

Although this is book three of a series, you can pick it up without having read the first two. There’s a lot of historical details about things like coal mining and the High Level Bridge (which turned one hundred last year!), but because Mackenzie’s new to the area, it makes sense in context that people would be telling him about all these things. It helps too that it’s the interesting sort of historical details like how afterdamp can kill a miner rather than what feels like a history lecture.

A nice touch of historical context comes from the 1912 newspaper excerpts from the Lethbridge Herald in between chapters, inserted straight from microfilms of the original newspaper to preserve the font and layout. I think kids will find it neat to see something that comes from almost a hundred years ago–I know I would have and still do! There’s a good sense of time and place, but first and foremost, this is really an adventure story–there are mysteries and cave-ins and rescue missions–that zips along at a quick enough pace to keep the book focused on the story rather than the background history. Give this one to grade four or five kids who want an adventure story, and might not read something historical otherwise.

Head over to CM Magazine and Prairie Fire for more reviews, and you can find the rest of the series on the author’s website.