Wednesday, February 25, 2009

LIS 722: Week 8

Week 8: Intimacy: Relationships & Romance

Books: Annie On My Mind by Nancy Garden &
Romiette and Julio by Sharon M Draper

Annie On My Mind is probably one of the first mainstream GLBT books written for teens. Taken in that light, it's good for what it is, and for the time in which it was written. 25 years later, it's a bit dated, but could be a good starting point.

Liza is a teen in NY, just living life, when she meets Annie at a museum. The attraction between the two is instant, although more in a friend-kind of way. They sort out their feelings for each other, and start exploring a more physical relationship.

Of course the girls are caught in flagrante delicto (of course they are-it's just how these stories go) at Liza's teacher's house (the teacher was on vacation with her longterm woman partner, and Liza was taking care of their cat). Liza ends up expelled from school, the teachers end up fired, and Annie & Liza break up.

But all is well in the end, when Liza decides to call Annie from college to see if they can meet over winter break.

Although the story was probably very cutting edge when it was published in the 1980's, it seems rather circumspect now, 25 years later. If I hadn't known what the book was about, I would have wondered what in the world was going on, and tossed it aside. I'm not sure it would really speak to today's teens/YA, but like I said, it at least gives a starting point.

As for Romiette and Julio, well, it was OK, but nothing to write home about. Maybe it's because I already studied Romeo and Juliet, and have read enough stories that are basically R & J repackaged into a more modern format, but I thought that overall, this book was weak.

It follows the same outline, with even the names being similar. There's a part in the book where one of the parents even remarks upon the similarity of the names. Romiette is a young black girl, and Julio is a young hispanic boy. Of course they meet and fall in love immediately, and of course there are those who oppose their love. No surprise there. Thing is, the characters are almost caricatures--Juliio is very hispanic, almost stereotypically so. Romiette isn't as bad, thankfully, but they just didn't ring true for me.

At least in this version, although they come close, nobody dies in the end. So, it's got that going for it.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

More Things on a Stick: Thing 27-Twitter

Blog about the experience and be sure to post your Twitter username there so others can see it and follow you. Did you like micro-blogging? Do you love it, hate it or are you ambivalent? Explain.

I've been using Twitter since Fall of 2008, when I signed up for my Library 2.0 class, taught by Michael Stephens of Dominican University. You can find me on Twitter: i_am_lisa.

When I started, I didn't really get it, I'll be the first to admit it. And, it was frustrating to *find* people to follow. But then, I got to see how it really connected me and my classmates, especially when we were working on projects. After I figured out the basics, I grew to love it. I follow & am followed by people all over the world-seriously, how cool is that? I have people that I will probably never see in 'real life' that I banter with.

What I love about Twitter is that there are so many different people to follow and learn from. I envision it as a HUGE cocktail party at which I can flow in and out of groups as I wish, and it's not a big deal.

How else could libraries use Twitter? How could you use Twitter?

There are different libraries, librarians, book stores, publishers, book bloggers, and many other people that librarians can follow on Twitter. It's like a mini-RSS feed, and very useful. Sure there are lots of tutorials on how to use Twitter, but I think the best thing to do is to find people to follow, see who's following them, and go from there.

I use my Twitter account as a combination of things: communication tool, RSS feed, micro-blog (for the stuff I don't permanently want on my blog), and as a window to the whole world. People know I hop on and off during the day, and it's actually almost easier to tweet me than e-mail me, if they want me to see something quickly. I don't have a phone application that I use with it, but that's mainly because my cell phone would get way overwhelmed.

Twitter isn't for everyone, but it is definitely something that I'm glad I gave a whirl.

More Things on a Stick: Thing 26-Join the 23 Things Ning

1. Did you join the Ning in Round 1 or Round 2? How did you use the Ning?

I joined in Round 1. I didn't use it much, but that's mainly because 1) I use other social media more, and 2) I keep forgetting about it.

2. Have you joined any of the groups on the Ning?

Yep, I'm a member of the Pioneerland Library System Group Ning.

3. Can you see any uses for a Ning in your library or media center? In your personal life?

Right now, no on both. But that doesn't mean I'm not interested in how it all works! If consistently used, I think it could be a really effective networking/communication tool.

More Things On a Stick: Thing 25 Blogger's Toolkit

So, which ones did you add to your blog?

Some of these I already had on my blog from the 1st round (Flickr slideshow; Sitemeter) & some I added for this round (Harry Potter Countdown, Twitter badge & Tag Cloud). I took off the Flickr slideshow just because I wanted to clean up the sidebar.

Which ones did you reject as too much work, not enough usefulness, or for another reason?

I chose not to put the survey stuff on, mainly because, well, I didn't want to. I'm still evaluating different widgets. I've been using my blog as more of a professional/graduate studies tool, so just because I *can* put something in it is absolutely no guarantee that I will. I'm more of a 'just the facts' kind of person, and I think my blog reflects that.

SnapShots is an application that irritates the heck out of me. When I'm reading an article which incorporates this hyperlinking, I inevitably seem to trigger the pop-out box...which I have to either close, or move my mouse. Either way, it takes up time I could've been reading said article. So, no. I'm not going to add something like that to my own blog.

How much time did you spend on this?

I didn't really keep track of the total time spent. I tend to run in spurts, so if something interests me, I will dink with it for hours and not notice. On the other hand, I tend to make really quick calls on whether something will be useful to me right now, so if the application wasn't, it got a pass (for now-I did bookmark ones that looked intriguing to look at later).

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

LIS 722: Week 7

Week 7: Identity: A Sense of Self
Books: American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang; The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie & What Are You? by Pearl Fuyo Gaskins

American Born Chinese is a graphic novel that would be good for readers of ages 9+, yes, even adults. The basic message is "You are who you are, be proud of it." Well, that, and "Treat everyone with kindness & respect because you don't know what kind of battles they are fighting, or probably even their true circumstances."
In the book, there are 2 (2.5ish) storylines concurrently happening, that all come together at the end. It's a quick read, and is well done.

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian is a semi-autobiographical novel by Sherman Alexie. I liked it just fine, even as I was thinking, "Wow, this is really glossing over the harsh reality, I bet." I grew up in Oregon, but my extended family (both sides) were in central/eastern Washington. 1 set of my grandparents lived in Cheney, which is just outside Spokane, so I know the area in which the book is set. I think he probably has the right tone in the book because I'm not sure anything heavier would have the same appeal. I did listen to a short audioclip of him reading it, and loved the sing-song quality of his voice as he talked. In my experience, that's how stories are told. If it hadn't been for the cartoons in the actual physical book, I would've preferred the audio version.

One of my favorite moments was after his Reardon basketball team stomped the crap out the of the Rez school team, and in the midst of his celebrating, he realized that he'd gotten it backwards. It was his Reardon team that was Goliath, not the Indians. It was the guys from the Reardon team who had all the advantages, both now and in the future, and just because they had beaten the Rez school, well, that didn't mean anything. Beating an 'enemy' that really never stood a chance isn't the right or honorable thing to do, and it was interesting to see him realize that. I've long held the opinion that just because I *can* do something doesn't mean that it's either the right or the honorable thing to do; I try to live my life with that in mind.

I'm glad I got past the award sticker on the front and gave it a go. (I usually stay away from books that get awards, because for the most part, awards=Books Other People Say Are Good and That I Should Read, not books that I'd want to read. There's a difference, slight though it may be.)

What Are You? reminded me of a book I had to read for one of my undergrad classes: GSJ: Dismantling Racism (in 'normal' English, Global Search for Justice). I liked how the voices of the YA/Teens interviewed really come through about their internal struggles with who they are. It comes down to: I'm both (whatever racial backgrounds), and that's who I am.
It also reminds me of something I figured out for myself as a stepmother. When parents get divorced, and especially if it's not amicable and there's lots of smacktalking going on, it's easy to forget that although the marriage is done, the kids still are part of BOTH sides of the family. To talk badly about the ex-spouse is to disrespect that part of the child too, which isn't good. Yeah, I'm not explaining this nearly as well as it is in my own head, I know.

So, all in all, the books this week weren't too bad. Do I think YA/Teens would be beating down my library door to get at them, no. But that's OK too.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

LIS 722: Week 6

Week 6: Nonfiction
Book: Dear Miss Breed by Joanne Oppenheim

Dear Miss Breed is a book about the Japanese-American relocation camps during World War II, and how one librarian, (that'd be Miss Breed)sent books and care packages to some of her young patrons. Yeah, that's the short version of it all.

I thought this book would be excellent for anyone doing a paper on the subject. It's not one that gets much fanfare when the subject of World War II comes up, that's for sure. Problem is, for about the first third of the book, the author shows her obvious bias for the situation. As the book unfolds, it becomes more balanced. Now I'm not saying that Oppenheim didn't have good reason to be biased--this episode of American history always makes me want to smack the people who came up with the plan to start off with. It's not just about the blatant racism; no, it's about the rampant stupidity stemming from fear, I think.

Dear Miss Breed isn't an easy or fast read. It's meant for grades 7-12, and isn't something that most YA/teens would pick up for a fun read. But, it's a story that needs to be told, and revisited every so often, because yes--that kind of thing can (and has) happen again if we're not vigilant.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Now That's What I'm Talking About

Having lived in a big city, the reactions of the commuters made me laugh. From "WTF??" to smiles. Love it!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

LIS 722: Week 5

Week 5: Intelligence: Reaching Understanding
Books: Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card & An Island Like You: Stories of the Barrio by Judith Ortiz Cofer

I had to read Ender's Game last winter for Reader's Advisory, so this wasn't a new-to-me book. I liked it then, liked it now, even though Sci Fi isn't my first choice of reading genre.

It's a futuristic story, set on Earth at first, then in space at the Battle School. Ender is the 3rd child of his family, which already marks him as different because most families don't have more than 2 kids. His parents received special permission to have him, and it is soon revealed (to the reader) that the reason why is because the fate of humanity will rest upon Ender's shoulders. At the age of 7, Ender is taken away to Battle School, where he will spend the next few years being trained to become the Fleet Commander.

Along the way, Ender realizes that he is being deliberately set up for failure and to be turned into a cold killer. He is equally as resolved not to let that happen, and finds a way to keep his humanity almost intact throughout it all. No matter what is thrown at him, whether in the battle room or out, Ender finds a way to win. I like to call it "using all available resources" to get the job done. As a result, the challenges multiply, and his isolation continues, all in the name of getting him ready to lead the fleet (although he doesn't know that is the driving factor).

In the end, of course Ender triumphs over all and leads the fleet to victory, even though he doesn't know precisely what the deal is until it's all over.

This whole book strongly reminded me of the Spartans. They were trained from a very young age to fight for and if necessary, to die for Sparta. In essence, they were tools used to get a job done. The children were taken at the age of 7 to begin their military training at something strongly resembling Ender's battle school. Divided into small groups, they fought mock battles against each other. They were instilled with the 'win or die' mentality from the beginning. And all in all, taken together, it made for one of the most formidable armies in Ancient Greece.

And as for An Island Like You: Stories of the Barrio? Well, I read it. It's a bunch of short stories about a Latino barrio in New Jersey, and the less said about it, the better, I think. I'm sure it's Good, because it won awards. I'm sure it's curriculum-friendly, because it's taught in schools. It may even resonate with some YA/teens. Really. But when Every. Freaking. Story. has a 'so-and-so made the Right Choice' ending, I tend to tune out.