Friday, August 29, 2014

Books I Wish I Own But I Don’t

There’s a meme going around the biblioblogosphere...books you don’t own, but want. My contribution:

Books I Can't Afford:

Women are Beautiful (1975) by Garry Winogrand
I kept this book checked out for months from my college art library. So ‘70s, street style before it was a thing. Gorgeous, and prohibitively expensive.

The Girl From the Candle-Lit Bath (1978) by Dodie Smith
My public library had a horrifically ugly large print copy, but it disappeared, probably weeded. I haven’t seen a decent copy for an affordable price. I’m waiting on a re-issue. 

Exactitudes (2002) by Arie Versluis and Ellie Uyttenbroek
This is described as a typology of clothing presentation, as collected over time by a duo of Dutch photographers. Yes, I know these photos (and more) are available online, but something about having the physical book appeals. 

Zelda: An Illustrated Life: The Private World of Zelda Fitzgerald (1996) by Zelda Fitzgerald and Eleanor Anne Lanaham
I’ve never managed to get my hands on this one, with lots of her art, by Scott and Zelda’s granddaughter.

Books Where I Own a Different Edition

All Change (2013) by Elizabeth Jane Howard  
The publication of the fifth book was delayed, again and again. When it came it was enormous, a doorstop of a thing with the Mantle imprint. I held on to it, waiting until I need something especially comforting to read. Well, the Cazalets go bust and lose their home, so this wasn’t that. I’ll never find a version to match the rest of my Cazalet Chronicles (Washington Square Press), it doesn’t look like they are being re-issued.

The Provincial Lady in America (1934) by E.M. Delafield
I’d like a copy of this to match my other four Provincial Lady books. I have the Heinemann editions. There’s not a Heinemann edition of this one in WorldCat.

Waiting for the Price to Drop:

The Third Wife (2014) by Lisa Jewell
I’ve learned my lesson about paying $20 for a UK paperback, when the price will drop to pence within the year. Insult to injury, it was just 2 GBP for Kindle for weeks, but it’s not available digitally state-side.

Liberty British Colour Pattern: A Voyage of Discovery Through the Archives and Memorabilia of the Last Great Emporium for Innovative British Design (2013)
It’s a recent title, so I’m hopeful I’ll be able to find one for a little less.

Two Rizzoli titles from former Ralph Lauren stylist Mary Randolph Carter:

Never stop to think... do I have a place for this: how to make room for all the stuff that makes your home warm, happy, fun and one-of-a kind (2014)
A paen to collecting, or to clutter.

Perfectly Kept House is the Sign of A Misspent Life: How to live creatively with collections, clutter, work, kids, pets, art, etc... and stop worrying about everything being perfectly in its place. (2010)
How can you not love that title? 


Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Get festive!

It's the season for book festivals...

Labor Day weekend, the National Book Festival will be held, not on the National Mall as is traditional, but at the Convention Center. I'm curious to know how that goes. My can't-miss authors include: Raina Telgemeir, Jacqueline Woodson, Bryan Collier, Gene Luen Yang, Rita Williams-Garcia, Jack Gantos and Kate DiCamillo.

That same weekend, the AJC-Decatur Book Festival will transform the very walkable downtown of suburban Decatur. They've got Pat Conroy (who I'm just realizing I've never seen speak...), Emily Giffin, and Lev Grossman.

I have to go to visit in-laws over Labor Day, and we have another tripped plan for our fall break, so I won't make the Southern Festival of Books this time, either -- going last year was my first time, and a real treat. It doesn't look like they have their author list up yet, but it's October 10-12, in downtown Nashville on the Warm Memorial Plaza.

While I won't make these three of my favorites this year, it makes me happy just to know they're going on...bookish people, talking about books, together.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Tell me, what is SO exciting?

You may have seen these images which are making the rounds from Fast Company, "Is this the school library of the future?"

I, for one, am unimpressed.

I just see NO connection whatsoever between decorating and the quality of connection and student support in school library spaces.

The article offers scant little support for the assertion. So it has presentation equipment? How is that new? Ten years ago, I used to haul around a desktop on a cart and a digital project. I had a very log ethernet cable. Same result.

If "the school library didn't get a lot of use," I really don't see how that will change because of aesthetic improvements (if you can call it that -- this library will date SO quickly.) I put that on the school librarian entirely.

I believe that amazing things could very well have happened in the old space, with the right point-person.

Most of all, I have talked several times about how images of school libraries should always include students.  These don't. And I would rather see a closet filled with active and engaged students than some geometric shelving.

Don't drink the kool-aid, ya'll.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Lacy Underpinnings and the Children’s Author: Guest Post on the Wild Things! Blog Tour

Last Tuesday, Wild Things! became commercially available, and children's literature aficionados
everywhere are in for a treat. And there's lots "beyond the book" -- checkout the blog for exclusive videos and other content cut from the print version. Today, Betsy Bird, of Fuse #8 fame, pops in to give us the nitty gritty behind the woman who gave us that child minder we all aspire to be, Mary Poppins. 
Lacy Underpinnings and the Children’s Author

Recently I watched the film Saving Mr. Banks with some friends and, I’ll admit it, I was scared of what I’d see.  I’ve been burned too many times, man.  Children’s authors inevitably end up portrayed on film one of two ways.  Either they’re complete and utter burnouts and wastes of flesh (see: Young Adult and The Door in the Floor) or they’re ootsy cutesy adorable types, all fluffy bunnies and fairy dust (see: Miss Potter and Finding Neverland).  They don’t usually have any depth to them, so I was pleasantly surprised by what I found.  In Saving Mr. Banks the author P.L. Travers is rendered a three-dimensional human being with humor and warmth (thanks in large part to a performance by Emma Thompson that I once heard described as “the spoonful of medicine that makes the sugar go down”). 
The film got some things about the life of Travers right and some things wrong, but that’s to be expected.  Still, it was funny watching the movie knowing what I know about the woman.  You see, we have a section on Travers in our book Wild Things: Acts of Mischief in Children’s Literature.  You look at a film like Saving Mr. Banks and what do you see?  An uptight contrarian.  A woman who’ll put a huge Mickey Mouse doll in the corner until he “learn[s] some subtlety”.  Few would watch the film and be aware of some of the stories in her life.
You see, Ms. Travers is one of the honored children’s authors to occupy space in our Sex & Death chapter.  I kid you not.  And which of the two applies to her?  Is it sex or is it death?  It’s sex, baby.  Of course it is.
P.L. Travers lived an adventurous life.  When she wasn’t acting in theater troupes she was writing sexy stories for an Australian newspaper.  I kid you not.  The woman behind Mary Poppins wrote some very saucy stuff.  And heck, I’d write it down for you here but I’ve got to leave you some reason to read my book, don’t I?

It’s not as though Travers was the only author for children with that kind of writing at her beck and call, of course.  Consider the case of Wanda Gag.  Perhaps you are aware of the Bohemian author/illustrator’s best-known book Millions of Cats.  Well, Ms. Gag was quite the person to know.  Bobbed hair and scandalous diary entries and all.  And when it came to sex, Gag knew what she was talking about.  Best of all, her journals were published and some of those entries were impressive.  I’m thinking particularly of an encounter she had on a crowded New York subway that reads like something out of late night Cinemax.

I sincerely doubt we’ll ever see a biopic of Wanda Gag, but then again maybe I’m wrong.  Just a couple weeks ago they announced that the director McG would be directing a movie on the life of Shel Silverstein.  And believe me when I say THAT guy would make for a spicy film indeed.  In fact, everyone in our Sex & Death chapter would be worth reading up on.  But don’t take my word for it.  Best that you check the book out for yourself.
Photo of Wanda Gag from

P.L. Travers playing Tatiana in Midsummer's Night Dream from wikipedia

Who else is going hunting for Wanda Gag's journals? Thanks, Betsy, for letting us know all has NEVER been as tame as it might seem, behind the scenes of children's literature.

And, for reading to the end, you can enter to win a copy of this phenomenal book. I'll draw the winner September 1.

More stops on the Wild Things! Blog tour:
August 5: 100 Scope Notes
August 6: There's A Book
August 8: Guys Lit Wire
Week of August 11: Book Riot
August 11: GreenBeanTeenQueen
August 14: Wendy on the Web
August 18: Into the Wardrobe
August 19: Books 4 Your Kids
August 20: The Book Nest
August 21: Random Chalk Talk
August 22: Children's Corner

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Wait, what? School libraries without librarians, but not for the reasons you'd think

When I started library school, eons ago, there was a pretty obvious need for media specialists around the state. The scuttlebutt was that you could pretty much get a job anywhere just by being enrolled in a library program, except in my own north Alabama, where certified bodies were thick on the ground. I've actually never worked in a building without someone else there certified to do my job, but the tide seems to have turned for school librarian supply and demand. 

This morning, I sent an email to an elist to learn almost everyone I'd known in one of the larger systems had left. There are CRAZY openings around here, and in systems which used to be considered aspirational, places from which to retire. I have some theories.

No aides. Many district stopped funding library aides last year. Without those library aides, the library is a less attractive place for teachers with the certification to be. As one teacher wondered, "why would I do that when I'd basically be working 33% more, since I'd have to give up a [block] planning period?" 

De-professionalization of all education. Some schools and systems have become appreciably terrible to work for. Believe me, you can fall into some huge Internet rabbit holes looking at the outrage resulting.

The district where I live has this rather impressive list of openings this, their second week of school:

Schools, with libraries, but no librarians? Before you pack your bags, there's a catch. You can't apply "to a school." You must apply "to the system." Because you obviously don't need to know the faculty and administrators you work with....or even the grade level. Oh, and they cut the salary schedule for new hires to the state minimum. So you sign up to work for ANY random school, for the LEAST possible pay? I don't think anyone with any options would do that, frankly.

Obviously, both of these factors I've identified have much to do with budgets and personnel issues I have no interest in working through whatsoever. But I bet if you properly staffed libraries, and ran schools as the community institutions they happen to be rather than remote outposts of a centralized empire, these systems would have more positions filled, and more kids would get the library services they need.

And it makes me grateful for my work, in a perfectly-sized, adequately-funded system.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Back to school!

I spent most of the month of July away from home. Some of it was for fun, some of it for intellectual and professional growth. I missed my spoiled cat and my sweet husband terribly. I read some big, long grown-up books. I ate some really ascetic meals, and some that were downright voluptuary. I was wonderfully lazy. I managed without a laptop (but did use the available public  business center and campus desktops a bit). And it was interesting to see how friends, fellow teachers, other tourists were using or weren't using types of computing.... I also spent more time in nature than is usual for me, but something I really hope to keep up, something that is easy to say given our mild summer here.

We have a mere two days left of summer break, then our teacher work days. As of the latest update, we'll have three months in the vocational building until we can stretch out in our fabulous new digs. Though I wasn't sure about leaving home for another five nights just next month, I'm looking forward to IBBY. I think that group's concentration on international children's literature through a comparative lens the closest to the scholarly work I aspire towards, and I am a little dazzled by the attendees, and curious about how different countries are handling things like ebooks. Mexico City has seemed less "other" since I discovered there is a massive Starbucks in the conference hotel. 

More practically, I'm working on ways to use ethical concerns surrounding photojournalism to talk about intellectual freedom issues with young people, all rooted in our Newseum talks. And, from the NEH Dickinson seminar, I want to capture my new understanding of how the publication history and the successive packaging of Dickinson in anthologies reflects the treatment of her work, and is representative of that of other women. 

Goodness, it was a luxury to have the time and space to think about such esoterica, and to hear absolutely nothing about college-and-career-readiness for a bit.
And, of course, I'm excited to see what the new trends happen to be, this school year.