May 17, 2013

Pennies from Heaven? Nope, it's 5 & Dime Friday...

A fabulous week, which means there was 100% less SWAT team in my neighborhood. That alone is worth pennies from heaven, but you know what happens when people throw change from up high... DUCK!

Otherwise known as America's Sweethearts, Melissa Wiley and Scott Peterson are ridiculously adorable. I mean, adorkable. Behold, the cartoonist's proposal. Go ahead and sigh, girls, he's well taken, and has been for nineteen years. Happy May 14th, guys, and many happy returns of the date.

RESPECT to the fat kid: Or, we wish YA fiction had some respect for body diversity. But, too often, weight is a Problem Novel focus, with the most desperate attempts to get over it, and only then is the character granted absolution from the sin of thick thighs. In YA fiction being fat categorizes you as victim or bully. Why can't larger characters just be larger, without penalty? CBC Diversity guest blogger Rebecca Rabinowitz takes apart something we rarely talk about.

(True Confession: In A LA CARTE, I wrote a lot about food, and Lainey's weight - her mother's belief that she was fine, and her own belief, based on what she saw from her peers, that she was NOT fine, but I have to admit that I went back and added more anxiety about Lainey's weight, after a comment made me feel like I should, like she should be more concerned, or I was encouraging my readers to be not healthy. Which, looking back, is something a novice writer did, and it was stupid. Don't let others should all over your writing, people. Write the true.)

Additional to the reasoned, considered and considerate conversation in the comments, Fat Girl Reading has a booklist.

This is such an important topic... but it's not one that gains traction in conversation. People duck the discomfort of talking about weight like its invisible second cousin ethnicity (they're related by discomfort levels). Maybe Maureen Johnson can say a word or two about over-sized-12 figures on book covers?? And then maybe people will listen? Who knows.

Speaking of invisible cousins, Betsy Bird and Varian Johnson want to know where all the black boy books are this year. In a word, "Dunno." :sigh: Is it just that we're all so attention deficient in this field that we're only able to give one thing our attention at a time? Once, it was all about getting boys reading. And then, it was about getting heads on the girls on the covers of the YA novels, and de-pinkifying them. Can the topic du jour be something more substantial again, soon?

Speaking of cover art - how about making your own? Merriam-Webster's made a contest. Hurry, photographers - this one ends soon.

Under the heading PISSANT OF THE WEEK: Really, Belizean construction company?? A twenty-three hundred year old pyramid, and ... you used it for road beds? Really?? You lazy skinflints.

Do you hear it? Those solemn martial strains, kind of like the Olympic theme... meh, well, it's stopped now. The tune marked the historic changing of the guard in the realm of the 48 Hour Book Challenge. Pam "Mother Reader" Coughlan has passed her mantle onto Mrs. Yingling and Abby the Librarian, who will wear it with enthusiasm and pride and make another fun and crazy 48 Hour Challenge pass most Bookishly.

And to Pam, thank you.

I've been following the Vivian Maier stories since her photographs were uncovered. I cannot WAIT to see this documentary... Sneaky Vivian Maier, who called herself V. Smith, and sneaked as close as she could to strangers, and photographed them. Private, unique Vivian the nanny, who had a massive lock on her door, and lines her charges knew not to cross. I cannot help but this how much she would just HATE all of this hoopla. Just. Hate. It, with a near feeling of violence. I know I would. But, I still want to see the movie.

In addition, enforcing how similar we are as human beings provides a helpful boost; many minority students fall prey to the concern that they will not be accepted by their peers in school, but researchers found that if they reframed that concern as a part of life, rather than race—essentially showing them surveys and stats that proved fitting in was the concern of all teenagers everywhere—it had an incredibly positive impact.

Writers: when you use shorthand in the form of stereotypes, you perpetuate suck. Don't do it. I used to get sick of myself in grad school talking about the "commonality of the human experience," but that was one of the most valuable life lessons I've learned: all suckitude is spread pretty equally, both by ethnicity and gender - on most things, anyway. This kind of knowledge? Effects kids' self-esteem, and it behooves us as writers to think twice about the silent messages we send.

Well, geez, Texas, you've had t-storms this week, vicious tornadoes in the North, and those monster snails in Houston... and now this!? There's not a Hallmark card to cover having the Loch Ness monster's cousin hunting from your waters, but ... geez... the rest of us are really sorry. And, also, really glad we don't live in Texas.


Jen Robinson said...

That story about the pyramid was in my paper, too. I was honestly shocked. Road construction? Good grief! Thanks for all the links!

Gail Gauthier said...

Wow. The body diversity article and The Fat Girl Reading blog were extremely thought provoking.

adrienne said...

Hooray to 100% less SWAT team!

LinWash said...

Great links!!! Still pondering Varian's powerful essay.

Melissa Wiley said...

Aw, thanks for the kind words! ::grinning:: (He really is a keeper, that guy.) :)