Sunday Morning Paper: Five Hundred New Fairytales

Let’s Celebrate the Art of Clutter

I am not done with living. I am not done with my things. I love them, in fact, more and more each year, as I recollect the journey that brought us together. I will cherish them, till death do us part.

Sally Ride’s Secret: Why the First American Woman in Space Stayed in the Closet

Then I thought, why does her sexual orientation matter? Finally, I got it.

Never before had the words astronaut and lesbian appeared in the same sentence. Google them today, and you get more than half a million hits, all pegged to Sally Ride. Most salute her as an icon with an added, posthumous message of hope for the LGBTQ community. So why the secrecy?

Five Hundred New Fairy Tales Discovered in Germany

A whole new world of magic animals, brave young princes and evil witches has come to light with the discovery of 500 new fairytales, which were locked away in an archive in Regensburg, Germany for over 150 years. The tales are part of a collection of myths, legends and fairytales, gathered by the local historian Franz Xaver von Schönwerth (1810–1886) in the Bavarian region of Oberpfalz at about the same time as the Grimm brothers were collecting the fairytales that have since charmed adults and children around the world.

 When Darcy is a Dog: How Wishbone Introduces Children to Jane Austen

“FURST IMPRESSIONS,” AN EPISODE OF THE PBS CHILDREN’S TELEVISION seriesWishbone (1995), is one of few adaptations of Pride and Prejudice that has not received much critical attention, although for many of today’s college students it has served as the introduction to the novel.  In light of recent critical interest in cinematic portrayals of Mr. Darcy, it seems worthwhile to consider how an adaptation in which he is played by a Jack Russell terrier serves as a child’s first impression.  While Wishbone the dog is adorable, he is not going to inspire romantic longing on the level of Laurence Olivier, Colin Firth, or Matthew Macfadyen.  I will argue that the Wishbone episode is not only appropriate for children but lacks many of the Hollywood clichés and the “harlequinization” that frustrate scholars about Austen films aimed at adults.

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books I Plan to Have in My Beach Bag

Top Ten Tuesday I’ll start by saying this: I don’t read on the beach.

I might read on my way to the beach (the nearest one is more than an hour away by train), but I won’t read on the beach. It’s too sandy and hot. If I’m going to be at the beach, then I’ll play in the water. If I want to read, then I’ll read in the comfort of my own home, with the A/C on.

But here’s what I hope to read over the summer:

  1. TJ and AmalThe Less than Epic Adventures of TJ & Amal, E.K. Weaver I bought this on the Kickstarter months ago. I don’t even know if it will be out by this summer, but if not, I might just reread the webcomic. This is the perfect summer story: a road trip with groovy tunes and a sweet love story. I can’t wait to (re)read this.
  2. Nimona, Noelle Stevenson This one should be in the mail soon! I’ve already read it once this year, online, but I can’t wait to read the print-exclusive epilogue and, well, just reread it.
  3. Peter and the Starcatchers, Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson I downloaded this last year from Audiobook SYNC, but I never got a chance to listen because I don’t use headphones (long story). Hopefully this summer, I’ll get a chance to listen to this one and some of this year’s offerings. I’ll need something to keep me entertained during inventory.
  4. Northanger Abbey, Jane Austen I’ve never read a single book by Jane Austen. I know, right? They just don’t seem very interesting to me. Northanger Abbey sounds like the most fun of the lot, so I’ll get a copy from the library, or maybe an ebook – the type in the library copy is so tiny. It’s no wonder nobody likes to read them.
  5. Drawing of the ThreeNew On the Job: A School Librarian’s Guide to Success, Ruth Toor OK, I ordered this one with my collection development picks and it probably won’t make it in until the beginning of next year. I’m not even that new on the job, but I want to improve my skills as a librarian, of course. I actually have almost a month of inservice before the students come back for the 2015-2016 school year, so hopefully I’ll have a chance to read it before then and incorporate some of it into my planning.
  6. Dark Tower, Stephen King I probably won’t reread the whole thing, but The Drawing of the ThreeThe Waste Lands, the not-flashback parts of Wizard & Glass, and Wolves of the Calla are just so readable. It’s like watching really good TV. Stephen King isn’t a  very beautiful writer, but he spins one hell of a yarn.
  7. The School for Good and Evil: A World Without Princes, Soman Chainani I am so ready to finally get my hands on this and read it! I loved The School for Good and Evil, but I’ve just been so busy that I haven’t picked up the second book in the series. I can’t wait to find out what happens to Agatha and Sophie next!
  8. Good OmensGood Omens, Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman One of my friends just bought a copy of this recently and I immediately asked if maybe I could borrow her copy? I have my own, but it’s at my mother’s house in the USA. (#expatproblems) Footnotes as such a pain on ereaders, so I’ll have to read her print copy… Or just buy it for myself, you know? I haven’t read this book in years.
  9. The Cambridge Companion to Fantasy Literature, Edward James I’m not sure if I’ll be able to get my hands on this one, at least not at a reasonable price. It’s not one of Amazon.co.jp’s big sellers, and that means you pay a premium for getting it imported. But I would love to read more about children’s literature, and summer is the perfect time for digging into something heavy. Then I’ll start the new school year feeling smarter!
  10. The Vampire Lestat, Anne Rice This was one of two print books I brought with me to Japan when I moved. It’s such a trashy book. I have this lovely, beaten up old mass market paperback. The pages are all soft and it’s so cozy to reread. I know almost every word, but: Lestat. Swoon. This, I might even throw in my bag, if I were going to the actual beach.

Then Now Next Thursday (May 21, 2015)

The Last UnicornTHEN

I haven’t finished anything since How to be a Heroine, whoops. I got most of the way through Shelf Discovery, and I may still finish reading it, but I got distracted.

NOW

The Last Unicorn Tour came to my hometown. I don’t live there, but my mother went to the show and met Peter S. Beagle. So of course I had to pick up The Last Unicorn again. I don’t think I “got” it the first time I read it, or the time after that. It’s one of those books that changes meaning for me every time I read it, but each time, it becomes more and more beautiful as I understand it more deeply, or differently. So I’m taking my time.

NEXT

While looking for the image to use with this post, I discovered Two Hearts,the coda to The Last Unicorn, which is available for free on the author’s website. I will certainly read that when I’m finished The Last Unicorn, and after that… I’m not sure. We’re doing a big order for books at the library, so I’m sure I’ll want to read some of those, and then it’s summer. Everything is up in the air, to be honest.

Top Ten Tuesday: FREEBIE: Top Ten Forgotten Favorites

Top Ten Tuesday
I decided to do something different for this week’s Top Ten Tuesday. It’s a freebie this week, and instead of writing about books that I love and remember well (or books that I hate and will never, ever read), I thought about the books that I had mostly forgotten, but when I wrack my brain, I vividly remember reading these… Even if I’ve forgotten everything but the title (or, in the case, of Wizard’s Hall, which I had forgotten the title but remembered the cover). None of these come up if you ask me for my top ten favorite anything, and most of them were only borrowed from the library, not bought, so I don’t have copies at home. But once I remembered that they existed, I felt a pang of fuzzy nostalgia for these books. Some of these were exciting new discoveries (the mystery and intrigue of Dead Girls), while some fed my appetite for ghost stories (Here There be Ghosts), and others held me over while I was starving for the next Harry Potter (Wizards Hall). I don’t give these books enough credit.

So, from left to right, top to bottom:

  • The Savage Damsel and the Dwarf, Gerald Morris
  • Dead Girls Don’t Write Letters, Gail Giles
  • Little Butterfly, Hinako Takanaga
  • Chobits, CLAMP
  • Heir Apparent, Viviane Vande Velde
  • Here There Be Ghosts, Jane Yolen
  • Wizards Hall, Jane Yolen
  • Demon Diary, Kara
  • The Faery Reel: Tales from the Twilight Realm, Erin Datlow and Terri Windling, editors

Sunday Morning Paper: You Are What You Read

Thorns in My Throat: Writing Through the Scars

We’ve all read stories about changelings, how they’re replacements for the true human children who will ultimately come back to their victimized families. No one wants the changeling; when it’s not a piece of wood, it’s a demonic creature that must be driven out with a hot poker or tossed onto a roaring fire. Brutal stuff, but that’s how the story goes.

Everyone wants the child that knows how to be human: what to say, what to do, how to be.

But what happens when you’re the changeling? Or to put it another way, child of two worlds, ill-suited to either, where do you belong?

How do you feed that part of yourself deep inside, the one that’s always hungry?

You Are What You Read: Young Adult Literacy and Identity in Rural America

Rothbauer’s findings suggest that teens seem to be acquiring their reading material by “accident,” simply picking up whatever happens to be handy at home. Many of them live in communities that do not prioritize literacy, reading, and education. The offerings in the school and public libraries are slim and unappealing, making teens feel that they have no one who can help them seek out material that they might find appealing and useful. In fact, many of the teens who enjoy reading keep this habit private, afraid of the social repercussions of being identified as a reader.

Keep Harriet Tubman – and All Women – Off the $20 Bill

America’s currency is viewed as a place to honor people of historic political influence. To suggest that black women are part of that club by putting Tubman’s face on the $20 simply would cover up our nation’s reality of historic and lingering disenfranchisement. Of the 104 women in the House of Representatives, only 18 are black, and only one black woman has sat in the U.S. Senate since the nation was founded. Of the 78 women in executive statewide offices, just one is a black woman. There’s no doubt that black women have a political representation problem in America. But putting the face of an admired black American heroine on currency won’t fix it – it will only mask it.

Yoko Ono and the Myth That Deserves to Die

The kind of hate that seems too big and billowing to be directed at just one woman, the kind that seems like a person or an entire society is vomiting out all its misogyny onto one convenient scapegoat.

Black Widow, Scarce Resources and High-Stakes Storytelling

To be honest, I can’t think of another Avenger whose story Natasha could have swapped with who wouldn’t, in some way, raise questions of whether the story was influenced by gender stereotypes. If she had Tony’s story, she’d be the one who messed up and wouldn’t listen, who created the need for a rescue. If she had Cap’s story, she’d be the one who tries to keep everyone from being vulgar – the behavior cop. If she had the Hulk’s story, she’d be the one whose superpower is being carried away by her uncontrollable emotions. If she had Thor’s story, she’d be the one who doesn’t have very much to do and is omitted from a large stretch of the movie. If she had Hawkeye’s story, she’d be the one who just wanted to go home and be with the kids.

Oprah Winfrey: one of the world’s best neoliberal capitalist thinkers

Oprah recognizes the pervasiveness of anxiety and alienation in our society. But instead of examining the economic or political basis of these feelings, she advises us to turn our gaze inward and reconfigure ourselves to become more adaptable to the vagaries and stresses of the neoliberal moment.

Oprah is appealing precisely because her stories hide the role of political, economic, and social structures. In doing so, they make the American Dream seem attainable. If we just fix ourselves, we can achieve our goals. For some people, the American dream is attainable, but to understand the chances for everyone, we need to look dispassionately at the factors that shape success.

Sunday Morning Paper: Sleepless Queers

Hahaha vs Hehehe

The terms of e-laughter—“ha ha,” “ho ho,” “hee hee,” “heh”—are implicitly understood by just about everybody. But, in recent years, there’s been an increasingly popular newcomer: “hehe.” Not surprisingly, it’s being foisted upon us by youth. What does it mean?

Let’s start with the fundamentals. The basic unit of written laughter, which we’ve long known from books and comics, is “ha.” The “ha” is like a Lego, a building block, with which we can construct more elaborate hilarity. It sounds like a real laugh. Ha! The “ha” is transparent, like “said.”…

The feel-good standard in chat laughter is the simple, classic “haha”: a respectful laugh. “Haha” means you’re genuinely amused, and that maybe you laughed a little in real life.

Sleep Tips for Sleepless Queers

When I can’t sleep, I start to freak out. I try out every corner and side of my bed. I lie one way and then I lie another way. I give up, get up, and play Trivia Crack on my phone all night until I pass out from sheer content overload and then cry when my alarm goes off an hour later. I know we all share in this struggle ’cause y’all are the ones reblogging my tumblr posts at 3 AM. We’re in this together!

So, let’s help each other sleep, yeah? I’ll share my tips and you’ll share yours. Then maybe we can have an international spiritual slumber party, but the kind where people actually slumber.

Geographic Diversity

When we talk about diversity in literature and publishing, those who think diversity is stupid or that books published by marginalized people are only for marginalized communities often like to kvetch that reading a few words here and there in another language or referencing a religious practice or cultural practice without explaining it in detail is a shortcoming because then “nobody can understand it.” That is, of course, because the presumed readership and audience of all cultural production is the magical Default Human, who is white, upper middle class, Protestant, and heterosexual (and, furthermore, is entirely generic and conventional and doesn’t participate in any subcultures of music, politics, fashion, etc), so anything mentioned that does not come from one of those groups must be defined and explained ad nauseum.

You could look at geographic and climatic references the same way.

Boos for girls

Notice the girls did not boo Thomas or Justice League or cars. Many cheered those things too. But the boys booed Barbe and EAH in unison, loudly, as if it was only natural, expected.

I’ve stopped putting up with it. When they boo, I stop them now. I demand respect. “I don’t know who told you it was okay to boo anything that you think girls like, but it’s not okay with me. That will stop. Girls, you don’t have to put up with that. The things you like deserve respect. You deserve respect.” I don’t know if they listen. But I’m going to say it all the same.

Irregular Review: The Darkest Part of the Forest

The Darkest Part of the Forest The Darkest Part of the Forest
Holly Black
★★★★☆ (I really liked it.)

Goodreads summary:

Hazel lives with her brother, Ben, in the strange town of Fairfold where humans and fae exist side by side. The faeries’ seemingly harmless magic attracts tourists, but Hazel knows how dangerous they can be, and she knows how to stop them. Or she did, once.

At the center of it all, there is a glass coffin in the woods. It rests right on the ground and in it sleeps a boy with horns on his head and ears as pointed as knives. Hazel and Ben were both in love with him as children. The boy has slept there for generations, never waking.

Until one day, he does…

I was so excited to finally get a chance to read this. I was not disappointed.

The Good

I’ve mentioned before that Holly Black’s Tithe was life changing for me as a sixteen-year-old. It introduced me to urban fantasy, and I spent the next several years reading everything I could find. All because this one book turned me onto this genre and I couldn’t get enough.

The Darkest Part of the Forest is Tithe, if Holly Black wrote Tithe ten more years into her writing career. I’m not saying she’s recycling ideas or characters, and this isn’t a reboot of the Modern Tales of Faerie series. It’s a return to themes and concepts of those books, by a more mature writer: conflicted family relationships, trying to protect the ones you love by lying to them, a childhood (mis)spent with faeries, a town on the edge between reality and fairy land. There’s even a faerie revel like in Tithe, but instead of just being about Kaye and Kaye’s problems, Hazel has to worry about her whole town – and that was better handled than when the courtless fairies run amok over Kaye’s town in Tithe. The diversity felt more authentic and less weirdly Mary Sue-ish, and the realities of growing up with irresponsible bohemian artist parents were more realistically addressed.

I’m not putting down Tithe at all here. I loved Tithe. I just think The Darkest Part of the Forest is better, at least, technically.

The Bad

The Darkest Part of the Forest is a the better book, but I think Tithe is more fun. Maybe just because Roiben is so dreamy. Swoon.

My only other criticism? Why, at least in the books by Holly Black that I’ve read, which is not all of them, is the main character a straight girl and the secondary character a gay boy? Although, once again, even that was better handled than Tithe‘s Kaye and Corny; Ben was much more fleshed out and interesting as a person.

The Verdict

This is a good book, and you should read it – especially if you liked Tithe in particular or urban fantasy in general. The Darkest Part of the Forest weaves together a contemporary, character-driven novel with an urban fantasy adventure story, and it was very well done.

I really liked the shout out/potential future tie-in to Tithe, and Roiben’s old queen and the new king on the East Coast.