Archive for January, 2013

Sonderling Sunday – Newbery Version

Sunday, January 27th, 2013

Welcome to Sonderling Sunday, that time of the week when I play with language by looking at the German translation of children’s books. Tonight I’m eagerly looking forward to tomorrow’s announcement of ALA’s Youth Media Awards. (Any of my readers who live in Northern Virginia, come to City of Fairfax Regional Library to watch it with me at 11:00 am! I’m also bringing as many potential winners as I could get my hands on, so those who come can get first dibs. I’m looking forward to seeing how many I guessed right.)

Of course, my interest is most absorbed by the Newbery Medal. I thought it would be fitting to choose a Newbery winner to look at tonight. But what do you know? The only Newbery winning book for which I have the German translation is that same book I come back to every other week. What’s that you say? You didn’t know that James Kennedy’s The Order of Odd-Fish was a Newbery winner? Well, it’s only a winner in the unorthodox sense. Be sure to read how James Kennedy won it fair and square from Neil Gaiman in a battle of physical and mental challenges (such as Rock, Paper, Scissors).

So, that makes it appropriate to look at The Order of Odd-Fish tonight, Der Orden der Seltsamen Sonderlinge, which I was going to do anyway. I have to admit, though I find gems in every book I approach, I can be absolutely sure I will find bizarre phrases to translate in every one of James Kennedy’s chapters. You can count on it.

Last time, we left off at the start of Chapter 13.

We’ll start with some interesting phrases:

“with brooms, mops, and buckets of soapy water” = bewaffnet mit Besen, Wischmopps und Eimern mit Seifenwasser

“passionate” = leidenschaftlichen

“cleaner, tidier, tighter-run establishment” = saubereres, aufgeräumteres, und straffer geführtes Haus

Didn’t I tell you? Get a load of these phrases you always wanted to know how to say in German:
“grimy, seething muckpot” = schmierigen, brodelnden Drecksloch (Google translates that back as “greasy, bubbling mudhole”)

“feculent, slime-soaked, filth-dripping crapshack” = stinkenden, schleimigen, schmutzigen Absteige
(Google translates that back as “stinking, slimy, filthy flophouse.” Is it just me, or is that lacking some of the imaginative flourishes of the original?)

“putridity” = Fäulnis (“foulness”)

“pristine splendor” = makelloser Pracht

Ah, here’s a word that doesn’t appear in the original except as a pronoun — because English doesn’t put it so nicely in one (long) word: Reinigungswerkzeuge = “cleaning-work-things” (i.e., mops and brooms and such)

Oh, so many things you must want to say! (These gems just don’t occur in the non-Award-winning books!) Like this:
“full of rotting fish slime” = mit verfaulendem Fischschleim verseucht

“was waist deep in milky, chunky sludge” = jetzt reicht der milchige, zähe Schleim Jo bis zur Hüfte
(“now reached the milky, viscous slime to Jo’s hip”)

“sour air” = stechende Geruch

“wheelbarrows” = Schubkarren (“push-cars”)

“as wrung out as an old rag” = so ausgewrungen wie ein alter Lappen

“a pink furry bear suit” = einen flauschigen rosa Bärenanzug

“mad as a mutton” = vollkommen durchgeknallt (“completely through-cracked”)

“blankly” = verständnislos (“understanding-less”)

I like this one:
“a pinball machine” = einen Flipper

“mashed together” = zusammengebastelt

I’m going to stop there, on page 152 in English, Seite 192 auf Deutsch. I’d better stop before I’m so ausgewrungen wie ein alter Lappen. But next time you want to talk about verfoulendem Fischschleim or schmierigen, brodelnden Drecksloch, you’re going to have options you didn’t have before.

I’d still love to hear how to say “pink furry bear suit” or “pinball machine” in Japanese or Spanish or Korean or any other language, just for fun. Fill up the comments!

And Happy Newbery Eve! I dare you to use these phrases in everyday conversation this week. People may think you vollkommen durchgeknallt, or look at you verständnislos, but that’s the fun of it, after all.

Review of The Boy Who Met Jesus, by Immaculée Ilibagiza

Saturday, January 26th, 2013

The Boy Who Met Jesus

Segatashya of Kibeho

by Immaculée Ilibagiza
with Steve Erwin

Hay House, Carlsbad, California, 2011. 219 pages.
Starred Review
2012 Sonderbooks Stand-out: #6 Nonfiction: Personal Stories

Immaculée Ilibagiza’s books fascinate me. Her deep love for Jesus was refined and purified in the fire of the Rwandan genocide. She tells that story in Left to Tell and her message of forgiveness in Led by Faith.

Then, in Our Lady of Kibeho she got even a Protestant like me excited about visions of the Virgin Mary that had come to three schoolgirls in Africa.

The Boy Who Met Jesus tells of another visionary from that time in Kibeho. Segatashya was a pagan shepherd boy who heard the voice of Jesus and then experienced repeated visions of Jesus talking with him, and his life was profoundly changed.

Segatashya’s visions have not yet been officially declared genuine by the Catholic church, but Immaculée interviewed people who talked with Segatashya and examined him, and none of those people have any doubt that he was genuine and his message was directly from Jesus.

The words he says Jesus told him may not appeal to those who believe you must exactly follow a certain doctrinal pattern, but I find the words full of love and beauty.

I will find the hearts of everyone who believes in me and follows my commandments — no matter which Bible they read or which religion they belong to.

When I come looking for my children, I will not only look in the Catholic Church for good Christians who do good deeds and acts of love and devotion. I will look across the entire world for those who honor my commandments and love me with an open and sincere heart . . . it is their love, not their religion, that makes them true children of God. Tell this one truth to all those to whom you speak in my name: Believe in me, and in whatever you do in life, do it with faith and love.

Those who do know of God, who have been taught of God’s ways, will be held to a higher standard . . . for to those who have been given, much will be expected. No one is forced to believe in God, but still, God lives in every person’s heart . . . just follow your heart to God’s love. Those who live in love will hear God’s voice, because God’s voice is a voice of love.

Though his message was not all sweetness and light. He foresaw the genocide of Rwanda, not knowing what it meant, but begging people to repent. He talked about the End of Days, but offered encouragement to those who follow Jesus.

After Segatashya’s apparitions, he was told by Jesus to go to other African countries and spread the message. Those stories are fascinating, too.

Immaculée tells about her visits with people who knew Segatashya and a member of the Commission of Enquiry who examined him. But I think my favorite part is where she met Segatashya herself as a college student before his death in the genocide. She asked him what Jesus was like.

“What you need to know is this: Jesus knows us all to the very depths of our souls, all our dreams and worries, all hopes and fears, all our goodness and all our weakness,” he explained. “He can see our sins and faults and wants nothing more than for us to heal our hearts and cleanse our souls so that we can love him as immeasurably as he loves us. When he sends us suffering, he does it only to strengthen our spirits so we’ll be strong enough to fight off Satan, who wants to destroy us, so that one day we can bask in the glory of his presence forever.”

Whatever your beliefs about God, it’s hard for me to imagine someone reading this book and not being touched.

hayhouse.com

Buy from Amazon.com

Find this review on Sonderbooks at: www.sonderbooks.com/Nonfiction/boy_who_met_jesus.html

Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

Source: This review is based on a library book from the Fairfax County Public Library.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I write the posts for my website and blogs entirely on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

Review of The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There, by Catherynne M. Valente

Friday, January 25th, 2013

The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There

by Catherynne M. Valente

Feiwel and Friends, New York, 2012. 258 pages.
Starred Review
2012 Sonderbooks Stand-out: #9 Children’s Fiction: Fantasy and Science Fiction

The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There is a sequel to The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making. A friend of mine calls both of them The Girl With the Very Long Title. I think you can get away without having read the first book to read this one, because September’s adventures continue to be quite episodic, but she does meet many characters she met in her first set of adventures, or their shadows, so you may appreciate it more having read the first book.

It’s been a year since September saved Fairyland. She does miss it terribly, and the experience has made her all the more different from other girls at her school. And what no one seems to notice is that September left her shadow behind in Fairyland.

When September does get to go back, it turns out that her own shadow has gone to Fairyland-Below and become the Hollow Queen, Halloween. What’s more, she’s gradually draining more shadows from Fairyland-Above, and so people there are losing their magic along with their shadows. She meets A-Through-L, her dear wyverary, and her friend Saturday the marid, but they are actually the shadows of her friends and behave quite differently.

Now, I don’t know how much children will enjoy The Girl With the Very Long Title books. It would be a fun one to try out in a family read-aloud at bedtime. They would have to have high tolerance for big words. And the many things in the book that an adult finds funny and clever might not appeal as much to a child, because it is so funny precisely because it mirror’s a child’s logic.

There were many, many clever bits, and with my son away at college, I just have to share them in the review. I don’t think it gives away the plot at all, but shows the fun the author has with the situations.

A Wyvern’s body is different from the body of a young girl’s in several major respects. First, it has wings, which most young girls do not (there are exceptions). Second, it has a very long, thick tail, which some young girls may have, but those who find themselves so lucky keep them well hidden. Let us just say, there is a reason some ladies wore bustles in times gone by! Third, it weighs about as much as a tugboat carrying several horses and at least one boulder. There are girls who weigh that much, but as a rule, they are likely to be frost giants. Do not trouble such folk with asking after the time or why their shoes do not fit so well.

I loved the Physickists September met, students of Quiet Physicks, Queer Physicks, and Questing Physicks:

We seek out Quest-Dense Zones and hop in with both feet. We Experiment. We prove. Mersenne has gone off into the Jargoon Mountains to work on his thesis, investigating the spiritual connection between dragons and maidens. Candella last reported from the bottom of Blackdamp Lake, conducting experiments on free-range treasure. Red Newton wholly devoted himself to the study of magic apples, immortality causing and otherwise, and that means setting up a year-round camp in the Garden of Ascalaphus. . . . It is my dearest hope that one day I shall be the one to discover the GUT — the Grand Unified Tale, the one which will bind together all our Theorems and Laws, leaving out not one Orphan Girl or Youngest Son or Cup of Life and Death. Not one Descent or Ascent, not one Riddle or Puzzle or Trick. One perfect golden map that can guide any soul to its desire and back again.

Avogadra grinned. “Whilst on an expedition to prove the Rule of Three, my honored colleague Black Fermat hypothesized that certain Quest Objects cast a field around them, like a magnet or a planet — an Everyone Knows That Field. This is how they draw in unsuspecting Heroes. When an E.K.T. Field is in effect, everyone within its power will know a good deal about the Object, even if they can’t say where they heard about it or why it’s so deathly important to remember all that dusty old nonsense. They’ll chat about it with any passing stranger like it’s sizzling local gossip. ‘Oh, the Troll-Goblet of Clinkstone Hall? A Forgetful Whale swallowed it, and took it to her pod so they could bring the Whale-Maiden Omoom back to life. Everyone knows that! — the sword Excalibur? Nice lady down by the lake will let you see it for a dime, swing it for a dollar — Everyone knows that!’ Trust me, if you want to know the score, just find out What Everyone Knows, and you’ll be on the scent.

Later, September talks with a Mad Scientist:

A wyrmhole just goes from one place to another place. Dull as a street. A squidhole starts in one place — like my shop here — and goes five or ten other places, depending on how many field mice you happened to get.

And there are bits of wisdom:

For there are two kinds of forgiveness in the world: the one you practice because everything really is all right, and what went before is mended. The other kind of forgiveness you practice because someone needs desperately to be forgiven, or because you need just as badly to forgive them, for a heart can grab hold of old wounds and go sour as milk over them. You, being sharp and clever, will have noticed that I said “practice.” Forgiveness always takes practice to get right, and September was very new at it.

The story is episodic, with wild, random events happening to September one after the other, like a maze with unexpected turns. The author is incredibly imaginative, and I have to admit I enjoyed her little asides. I recommend trying the first book, and if you’re up for more of the same, you’ll definitely want to read on.

fairylandbook.com
mackids.com

Buy from Amazon.com

Find this review on Sonderbooks at: www.sonderbooks.com/Childrens_Fiction/girl_who_fell.html

Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

Source: This review is based on an Advance Review Copy I got at an American Library Association conference.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I write the posts for my website and blogs entirely on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

Please use the comments if you’ve read the book and want to discuss spoilers!

Embracing Goodreads

Friday, January 25th, 2013

So, I don’t know exactly when I joined Goodreads. But I hadn’t done much with it at all. It seemed like enough to try to keep up with my website.

But then I read Travis Jonker of 100 Scope Notesarticle on Goodreads. Thinking of Goodreads as a “neat and tidy online counterpart” to my physical bookshelves won me over. I’m going on Goodreads again.

Here’s the deal: All my adult life, I’ve fought a losing battle to have all my books on shelves instead of packed away in boxes. I achieved this goal when I lived in Germany, but that last house we lived in had a wall covered with a built-in bookcase. When I moved back to America, I thought I could remedy it by buying just two or three more bookcases… but then I started going to ALA conferences and getting advance reader copies.

Now I’m moving in a month (buying my first home! Yay!), and moving is when one must face what a book hoarder one is. I currently have books piled all over my bedroom. I told myself this was a perk of being single — no one else will mind the piles, right? (My son did say he was afraid he’d come home some time to find me barricaded in my room, unable to get out.) But before I can even pack up the books in the shelves, I will need to deal with the piles of books in front of them.

So — I ordered ten plastic “book boxes.” I decided I will bow to the inevitable and store some of my books in boxes, but I prefer plastic, dust-free containers, and see-through so it’s easy to tell what’s in them. Who knows, maybe I can get all my books in the bookcases plus book boxes.

But — and here’s where I’m getting to Goodreads — my plan was to catalog the book boxes on my computer. I was going to make a data base and fill it in with title information, so I could do a simple search if I wanted to find a book, and I’d know right away what box it was in.

Then I read Travis’s article. If I used Goodreads, I would not have to build a data base. And I will only have to put in the ISBN. And it will show me a picture of the cover, plus what other people think of the book. I can have a shelf for each box….

That’s looking like such a good option, I thought of another idea. I also have a spreadsheet of books I want to check out. Yes, I constantly have far more books checked out than I can possibly read. When I give in and admit I’m not going to get around to those books any time soon, I make myself feel better by putting them on a list of books to check out later. Mind you, this is a pretend list. The chances are slim that I will ever check the books out later — but I honestly want to.

My spreadsheet has several sheets for different categories of books, plus for authors new to me and authors I already like. But if I start putting those books on a Goodreads shelf instead, then there’s a better chance I’ll remember why I wanted to read it, with a picture of the cover and links to reviews. What’s more, I was delighted to realize when I was turning in books today, I can simply scan the ISBN barcode with the handy-dandy barcode scanner at my computer at work and get the book into my account.

Now, the one thing I’ve meant to do for ages but never did before is link my own reviews to my Goodreads account. Once upon a time I thought I’d go back and do past reviews, but now I can admit that will never happen. However, starting now, I can try, so I did put a link to the review I posted tonight into my account.

So, if any of my readers are on goodreads, I’d be happy to follow you there. Here’s a link to my profile. Little by little, I hope to post more there, and at least, as Travis said, have some virtual bookshelves that are neat and organized.

Review of Victory Over Verbal Abuse, by Patricia Evans

Friday, January 25th, 2013

Victory Over Verbal Abuse

A Healing Guide to Renewing Your Spirit and Reclaiming Your Life

by Patricia Evans

Adams Media, Avon, Massachusetts, 2012. 221 pages.
Starred Review
2012 Sonderbooks Stand-out: #5 Other Nonfiction

Here’s a wonderfully uplifting addition to Patricia Evans’ wise and insightful books on verbal abuse. In this latest book, she doesn’t focus on the abuser. She focuses on the person recovering from verbal abuse, reminding them what a valuable person they are.

The beginning part of the book goes over the information about verbal abuse from Patricia Evans’ other books in a clear and succinct form. Then she talks about healing your spirit. That’s the wonderful addition in this book. The majority of the book is building you up as a self-defining, valuable person. The second part includes 52 affirmations, one for each week of the year.

In a way, it’s a shame these healing affirmations are in a book called Victory Over Verbal Abuse, because, as the author says:

You need not have experienced verbal abuse in a relationship to benefit from the affirmations. Anyone can use this book to enhance his or her growth. I doubt that there is anyone who has not been defined in some way, if not at home or at school, then by some segment of the culture, such as through gender or racial discrimination. . . . Mutuality between people does not exist where people negatively define other people — not between significant others in couple relationships, not between family members, not between groups, not between countries, and not between dictators and their “subjects.”

The affirmations include about a page about the affirmation, and then a page for Notes about it in your own life. I’d usually revise the affirmation slightly to something I knew I believed and could say whole-heartedly, something I thought was a good reminder. It’s been so long since I read the beginning, I will probably go through and read it all again.

The focus on healing in this book is so good. Verbal abuse tears down your soul. Here Patricia Evans explains what can help you heal:

While time heals physical wounds, an antibiotic or bandage may facilitate the healing process. Likewise, when it comes to emotional pain, the healing that time affords reaps more benefits if we apply the antibiotic and bandage of affirmation and positive action. But positive action and affirmation best take place in the context of a positive perspective.

A new perspective on your recovery may help relieve some of your pain. One might be: he was not capable of seeing me and hearing me; I did nothing to justify his behavior.

A positive perspective is a lens, so to speak, through which you see yourself as the unique person that you are. No one in the world has your unique combination of gifts and talents. It is imperative that you appreciate and value yourself no matter how anyone has defined you.

I think this sums things up nicely:

Healing is possible. Ultimately, it is victory over the influence of verbal abuse. Victory over verbal abuse can be both a personal goal and a goal for humanity. Kindness and verbal abuse cannot exist in the same place, the same relationship, or the same world. Your personal victory over verbal abuse does, therefore, contribute to the healing of our planet.

verbalabuse.com
adamsmedia.com

Buy from Amazon.com

Find this review on Sonderbooks at: www.sonderbooks.com/Nonfiction/victory_over_verbal_abuse.html

Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

Source: This review is based on a library book from the Fairfax County Public Library.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I write the posts for my website and blogs entirely on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

Review of The Prairie Thief, by Melissa Wiley

Wednesday, January 23rd, 2013

The Prairie Thief

by Melissa Wiley

Margaret K. McElderry Books (Simon & Schuster), 2012. 215 pages.
Starred Review
2012 Sonderbooks Stand-out: #10 Children’s Fiction: Fantasy and Science Fiction

I read this book as one of the many nominees for the Cybils Award in Middle Grade Science Fiction and Fantasy, and I can safely say it was distinctly different from any other of the 151 books we considered. The book is a sweet story, and it’s set on the American prairie among some of the first European settlers, who live isolated and far apart from each other. Louisa’s Pa has been imprisoned for thievery, even though no one — least of all Louisa — thinks he’s the kind of person who’d do that. But many missing objects have been found in his abandoned dugout. What other explanation is there?

When the little girl from the family who’s taken Louisa in sees a little man nearby, it’s not hard for the reader to guess what’s going on (especially combined with the cover illustration). So though the plot may not be surprising, there is a good story here. There are some lovely moments, like when Louisa gets to ride on a pronghorn antelope to speed to her father’s trial.

Yes, the ending has a rather large coincidence. But the story is so nice, it was easy to forgive, especially since the coincidence was told with humor. There are nice imaginative touches along the way, too. Reminiscent of Little House on the Prairie, but with little people, maybe it should be called Little People on the Prairie. I like the imagining how little people would deal with the New World if they decided to stowaway with the Big Folk.

melissawiley.com
KIDS.SimonandSchuster.com

Buy from Amazon.com

Find this review on Sonderbooks at: www.sonderbooks.com/Childrens_Fiction/prairie_thief.html

Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

Source: This review is based on a library book from the Fairfax County Public Library.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I write the posts for my website and blogs entirely on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

Please use the comments if you’ve read the book and want to discuss spoilers!

Review of The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making, by Catherynne M. Valente

Wednesday, January 23rd, 2013

The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making

by Catherynne M. Valente

Feiwel and Friends, New York, 2011. 247 pages.
Starred Review

I’ve been meaning to read this book for a long time. I finally did so on the excuse that the sequel has come out, and I now I want to read both.

The Girl With the Very Long Title, as my friend calls it, reminds me a bit of Alice in Wonderland, because of the style of the illustrations, combined with one strange thing after another happening to the heroine, September, in seemingly random order.

The narrator has a strong voice. In many cases, the narrator treats the reader as a child, which seems reasonable.

By the time a lady reaches the grand, golden evening of her life, she has accumulated a great number of things. You know this — when you visited your grandmother on the lake that summer you were surprised to see how many portaits of people you didn’t recognize hung on the walls and how many porcelain ducks and copper pans and books and collectible spoons and old mirrors and scrap wood and half-finished knitting and board games and fireplace pokers she had stuffed away in the corners of her house. You couldn’t think what use a person would have for all that junk, why they would keep it around for all this time, slowly fading in the sun and turning the same shade of parchmenty brown. You thought your grandmother was a bit crazy, to have such a collection of glass owls and china sugar bowls.

In several other places, the reader is addressed as a grown-up, which seems perhaps out-of-place, although it certainly applied, in my case:

You and I, being grown-up and having lost our hearts at least twice or thrice along the way, might shut our eyes and cry out, Not that way, child! But as we have said, September was Somewhat Heartless, and felt herself reasonably safe on that road. Children always do.

Still, this book gives an enjoyable trip through Fairyland, which quickly becomes for September about saving her friends. I’m not completely sure I would have liked it when I was a child, but then, I didn’t like Alice in Wonderland then either. And I am still looking forward to seeing what the sequel is like. The book is full of imaginative details and fairyland logic, which isn’t quite the same as real-world logic. There were some statements from the narrator I particularly liked:

Stories have a way of changing faces. They are unruly things, undisciplined, given to delinquency and the throwing of erasers. This is why we must close them up into thick, solid books, so they cannot get out and cause trouble.

“When you are born,” the golem said softly, “your courage is new and clean. You are brave enough for anything: crawling off of staircases, saying your first words without fearing that someone will think you are foolish, putting strange things in your mouth. But as you get older, your courage attracts gunk and crusty things and dirt and fear and knowing how bad things can get and what pain feels like. By the time you’re half-grown, your courage barely moves at all, it’s so grunged up with living. So every once in a while, you have to scrub it up and get the works going or else you’ll never be brave again. Unfortunately, there are not so many facilities in your world that provide the kind of services we do. So most people go around with grimy machinery, when all it would take is a bit of spit and polish to make them paladins once more, bold knights and true.”

That’s the kind of fun observations and magical details you’ll find in this book.

fairylandbook.com
mackids.com

Buy from Amazon.com

Find this review on Sonderbooks at: www.sonderbooks.com/Childrens_Fiction/girl_who_circumnavigated.html

Disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate, and will earn a small percentage if you order a book on Amazon after clicking through from my site.

Source: This review is based on a library book from the Fairfax County Public Library.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I write the posts for my website and blogs entirely on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

Please use the comments if you’ve read the book and want to discuss spoilers!

Librarians Help – And We’re Valued, Too!

Tuesday, January 22nd, 2013

Today Pew Research Center released a study on Library Services in the Digital Age. The information is detailed, interesting, and up-to-date.

Recently, my own library system is talking about no longer requiring librarians or managers to have a Master of Library Science. They seem to think patrons will be asking less and less questions. That certainly doesn’t match my experience, but it meant I found this part of the report particularly gratifying:

Librarians to help people find information they need

Overall, 80% of Americans say that it is “very important” to the community for libraries to have librarians available to help people find information they need. Some 16% consider having librarians at libraries “somewhat important,” while 2% say this is “not too important” and 1% say it is “not at all important.”

Blacks (89%) are significantly more likely than whites (78%) to consider librarians “very important,” and women (84%) are more likely to say this than men (77%). Those living in households making less than $30,000 per year are also more likely to consider librarians very important compared to those living in households earning more than $75,000. Looking at responses based on device ownership, we find that those who own technological devices such as tablets, e-readers, and smartphones are just as likely as non-users to consider librarians “very important” to the community.

Our focus groups considered librarians to be very important to libraries in general, and many had very positive memories of interactions with librarians from their childhoods. Even when they suggested automating certain services for the sake of convenience, our focus groups overwhelmingly saw a future with librarians as an integral part of libraries.

This was from Part 4, “What people want from their libraries.”

I recently began reading a book, which shall remain nameless, about mobile technology, that went on and on about how libraries are dying a slow death. This research does not support that theory.

The fact is, our library system cut hours in 2010 due to budget cuts, but recently brought many of those hours back because of popular demand. People do like having a knowledgeable person available to help them.

It’s nice seeing someone doing legitimate detailed research on Libraries in the Digital Age. If more authors and speakers would consult the research, perhaps they wouldn’t make such foolish prophecies. Libraries aren’t dying any time soon, and it’s nice to have confirmed that people value Librarians’ Help.

Review of Fat Is the New 30, by Jill Conner Browne

Tuesday, January 22nd, 2013

Fat Is the New 30

The Sweet Potato Queens’ Guide to Coping with (the crappy parts of) Life

by Jill Conner Browne

Amazon Publishing, 2012. 254 pages.
Starred Review
2012 Sonderbooks Stand-out: #4 Other Nonfiction

I do so love The Sweet Potato Queens! This particular book adds some seriously good advice to the usual humor of Jill Conner Browne’s observations. Of course, keeping your sense of humor IS seriously good advice.

Jill Conner Browne sets the tone in the very first paragraph of the Acknowledgments:

The last few years have afforded me much experience in Coping with the Crappy Parts of Life referenced in the title of this book. However, it must be said that the Crap, plentiful as it has admittedly been, is overshadowed still by the Amazing, the Humbling, the Gratifying, and the Nifty. My prayer for us all is that we’re always able to pay more attention to those things in our lives and laugh our way around the Crap.

In the introduction, which is given the title “Fat Is the New 30!”, she says things like this:

Possibly the very best survival tool ever devised is the Concept of Complete Denial. My seester Judy and I have made this our Life’s Work. (Judy would like for it to be noted that she also has a minor in “Lolling.”) Someone once told me that if you study and practice something diligently for five years, you can become a bona fide expert at it. I shared this tidbit with Judy and we decided that we would commit ourselves to doing whatever it took to accomplish that in our chosen field, and I am happy to report that we were 100 percent successful, and also, it didn’t take us anywhere near five years. We are, as far as we can tell, the World’s Leading Authorities on Denial. No, we didn’t do much — OK, ANY — research into the possibility of the existence of other authorities and/or their potential superiority to us in this, our chosen field. We decided that we are the best, and if anybody says otherwise, well, we will just deny it. So, there. Done.

What I CAN offer you is some much-needed relief from the overwhelming stress we are all mired in (as a direct result of my not turning out to be the World-Saving Little Redheaded Singing Sensation), by making fun of all the messes and the people who made them — even if they are us, which, truth be told, they occasionally are. I will make you laugh even if you don’t want to — I can do that. It will feel good and you will feel better even though most everything will still suck. . . .

Daddy always said, “There are very few situations in life that we really and truly canNOT change, but when we do encounter one of those, then the task at hand is to figure out how to either make fun OUT of it — or to make fun OF it.” That advice has served me well in this life, so I offer it to you. But you don’t have my daddy to help you figure out how to actually DO it — and it does take practice. I got personal training from Daddy, plus I’ve had lots of experience at Spinning Crap Into Fun (also known as “Shit to Shinola” — similar in theory to the storied Spinning of Straw Into Gold — only, actually possible), so I think maybe I can help you with that.

We are fortunate to have many tools with which to fend off everything from boredom to disaster, but remember, no matter how bad it is, it’s much better to laugh than to cry — or to maim and kill, which will only make more trouble for yourself, so I discourage it, no matter how tempting it may be.

Here are some other random lovely bits of wisdom:

So, as you age, which I hope you will do sober — I truly cannot imagine trying to negotiate all these pitfalls drunk — and you find yourself starting a sentence but forgetting the targeted end before you even get to the middle, just keep talking, about anything, it doesn’t really matter what, just keep talking and nobody will notice that you’re lost. If you can REMEMBER to do this, it will serve you well.

How best to survive a spell in the spotlight that is not of our choosing? Laughing at ourownselfs, especially at our own extreme discomfort and/or embarrassment, is not the easiest thing in the world, but I reckon it’s a sight easier than spontaneous evaporation, which would, naturally, be our first choice.

“Money won’t solve all your problems.” That’s another one of those things that only ever gets said by people WITH money. It is true, of course, there are all manner of problems for which money is not the solution. However, it must also be said that if what you’ve got is a MONEY PROBLEM, well, then money is pretty much the only thing that will solve it. Yeppers, money is just the thing for fixing money problems.

And those erstwhile Wedding Vows? The ones where we promised to love, honor and cherish that Other Person (who, it should be noted, ALSO promised to do the same for US — and we see how well THAT worked out). What if we were to make and keep those vows — to OURSELVES?

Every coin has a flip side — well, except for those trick two-headed coins, but you have to pay extra and have those made special, so they don’t really count and are certainly not germane to this discussion. Suffice it to say that just about everything in this world that is making somebody wildly happy is, at the same time, prolly making somebody else equally miserable. it has become my job to identify those things and make fun of them, with the hope of relieving the suffering for even a moment and thereby furthering the cause of my Ultimate Mission in Life, which is, of course, World Peace.

Things happen that can’t be fixed. Relationships are ended by death, or maybe nobody’s dead, but the relationship might be ruined beyond repair. Sucks. Just make sure you don’t lose the LESSON, too — because there was one, every time.

Forgiveness — such a wonderful thing to give and to receive. We just have to remember to start that process in front of the mirror — you gotta give it to yourself and allow yourself to receive it before you can go any further with it.

If you keep one foot in yesterday and one foot in tomorrow, ALL you can DO is make a very unfortunate mess all over today. And today is all ANY-body has ever got. Let go of yesterday, quit worrying about tomorrow — grab hold of today and get your money’s worth out of it. See if you can make only NEW mistakes today and be grateful for the goodness of the moment.

And my personal favorite:

Life. It’s your birthday present. Open it up and play with it. Act like you like it. (The One who gave it to you is watching, after all. Don’t wanna hurt His feelings.) And if you don’t like your life, CHANGE IT. It is all yours.

That should give you the idea! If you like these tastes, be sure to check out the entire book. You will laugh, and you will be blessed.

sweetpotatoqueens.com

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Source: This review is based on a library book from the Fairfax County Public Library.

Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but I write the posts for my website and blogs entirely on my own time. The views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

Prime Factorization Blanket – to 29

Monday, January 21st, 2013

I got done another row of numbers on the Prime Factorization Blanket for my arriving niece!

It’s hard to see the ridges in the solid colors, so here are close-ups of the left half, then right half:

The bottom row in the picture is 1 (white), 2 (blue), 3 (yellow), 4 = 2 x 2, 5 (green).

The second row is 10 = 2 x 5, 11 (red), 12 = 2 x 2 x 3, 13 (tan), 14 = 2 x 7, 15 = 3 x 5.

The top row is 20 = 2 x 2 x 5, 21 = 3 x 7, 22 = 2 x 11, 23 (baby blue), 24 = 2 x 2 x 2 x 3, 25 = 5 x 5.

Now the right half:

Here we have the bottom row of 5 (green), 6 = 2 x 3, 7 (dark purple), 8 = 2 x 2 x 2, 9 = 3 x 3

The second row is 15 = 3 x 5, 16 = 2 x 2 x 2 x 2, 17 (pink), 18 = 2 x 3 x 3, 19 (dark pink).

The third row is 25 = 5 x 5, 26 = 2 x 13, 27 = 3 x 3 x 3, 28 = 2 x 2 x 7, 29 (periwinkle)

I really like the way it’s turning out!

You can read more about my prime factorization knitting in previous blog posts or via my Pinterest board. And don’t forget to look in my cafe press shop for prime factorization t-shirts.

My posts on Mathematical Knitting and related topics are now gathered at Sonderknitting.