June 01, 2006

Thursday already?

You can always tell when I'm avoiding work... I come back to ye olde blog like iron filings to magnets. It's been quiet enough lately so you know I have been working, however; I've been in Edit Hell, and it looks like I'm in for a good long stay. Since I'm currently stuck, you lucky thing, you benefit from my misery! Yay!

One of my favorite teachers and writers, Esme Raji Codell has just started a blog in hopes of encouraging kids and their adults to read a book every day. Just one book... and she thinks it might change the world. I agree. If people read ANYTHING it would change the world. I get so tired of hearing people talk about what books are "appropriate" or not for high school students or Christian children, or kids in general, and then hear them admit that they have only read the objectional parts, and they've never actually read the book. Um. Would we accept it from lawmakers if they just skimmed bills and amendments? (Don't answer that - I'm afraid we'll find out we do that already.) Why are people accepting anything from non-literate adults trying to make rules for students? Also, I am appalled when I realize just how much I got from reading as a kid, and just how many kids are getting by and raising themselves without having books read aloud to them, and without gaining an interest in books as a key to expanding their worldview. At any rate, check out Esme's website, and I hope to read a couple of her middle grade books and talk about them on our sister site soon...
I'm a bit late in doing so, but I wanted to point out the fact that Locus magazine did a YA edition in May! I'm pretty sure that back copies of the print magazine can still be found, but there are a couple of interviews online. One of them is an interview with Scott Westerfeld, whose books I find amazing and thoughtful and scary. (Check out Peeps or Pretties... or Uglies) Another interview is with the blindingly fabulous Holly Black, whose novel, Tithe won beaucoup awards and was also deeply spooky and thoughtful. The thing I like best about Holly Black is that she didn't expect to be successful... so there's still hope for the rest of us!
Meanwhile, a small plug for a YA sci-fi/fantasy and sci-fi nonfiction author whose novel I hope to get into soon - Australian author Justine Larbalestier has written a couple of really complex and intriguing novels about the family...um, genetics of magic. Her first novel, Magic or Madness involves a girl whose mother is institutionalized in a mental asylum. The girl realizes that she has special powers - which makes you wonder about the mother, doesn't it? The second novel is titled Magic Lessons, and apparently it's a heckuva sequel, so reserve it at your library or bookstore asap! (PS - Larbalestier is Scott Westerfeld's wife. Who knew? Okay, they did, but other than them...)
What attracted me to Larbalestier in the first place was her nonfiction work. She delved into a topic I love for a PhD thesis project - she wrote a piece called Battle of the Sexes in Science Fiction. Since I love old 40's and 50's sci-fi, with its sternly divided gender roles and High Fantasy action sequences, Larbalestier's reading of the old magazines like Amazing Stories was interesting to me. She's edited a sequel (if nonfiction comes with those) in the form of an anthology of stories entitled Daughters of Earth: Feminist Science Fiction in the Twentieth Century which includes both stories and critical essays. Okay, it's nerdish, but I eat up this kind of stuff... I read Jack Zipes essays on fairy tales for fun. Never mind...Let's not talk about it anymore...
Our high tech world is connected. Advertising works by way of word of mouth, and by way of Internet, and if you try to keep something away from people, they're going to hear about it, and they're not going to be happy. It's sort of an American tradition, as it were. Well, the Northland Community and Technical College in Thief River Falls, Minn., may have had to learn this the hard way. During last week's Young Authors Convention, which was geared for fifth thru eighth graders, the Convention banned the newest Sid Fleischman Humor Awarded YA novel Absolutely, Positively Not...(Scholastic/Levine, 2005), by David LaRochelle,which is about a teen coming to terms with his sexuality. (Or, not coming to terms, as it were.) The writer wasn't allowed to display his book, and the Conference keynote speaker, in protest, scrapped his notes and held and open discussion with the students about how they felt about the whole thing. I'm sure that did much more for the kids than even showing the book in a display, eh?

Meanwhile, McDonalds is trying their hand at suppressing another book. The YA version of Fast Food Nation, entitled Chew On This is #4 on the New York Times Bestseller List, and has been there for a month! Publishers Weekly talks about how the publishers are fighting back against McDonald's attempt to discredit the author, the research and the publishers.
Keep writing!

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