Showing posts from 2007

Bubblegum Flavored Gender, Sex, and Romance

Absolutely, Positively Not by Larochelle A perky book about coming out. Seriously. Steven's best friend Rachel already knew, and his parents just tell him not to tell the other parent. But basically it all works out okay, and he even finds a support group. It's nice to see some bubblegum fiction for gay teens. The Breakup Bible by Kantor Why was I drawn to this book about what it feels like to be broken up with cold, left hanging with no explanation, and then find that one's boyfriend has taken up with someone else on the staff of the school paper? I don't know, but it worked for me. The cover is pink, and this is book 2 of the bubblegum reviews in this post, though the protagonist Jen does come to terms well with her new assessment of her ex-boyfriend. He is, in fact, a jerk. Convenient that he is... the real heartbreaks are over people who *are* worth it. Anyhow, this is another 1-hour teen fic romp if you're in the mood for hetero romance. Parrotfish b

Someday This Pain....

I hope that someday the pain of reading < span style="font-style:italic;">Someday This Pain will be Useful to You by Peter Cameron will be useful to me. I found this on the Horn Book Fanfare list, and picked it up with high expectations. The opening did not disappoint... our protagonist James and his sister Gillian are rich Manhattan kids whose mother is off in Las Vegas on her third honeymoon when suddenly their mother comes back. This is not like the ending of the Cat in the Hat though. Instead, it's the start of a story about James' depressed mother dealing with the fact that her marriage lasted only days until her husband snuck off with her credit cards to the casino for some gambling and lap dances. The first few chapters are great. Then the novel loses steam. This is very much like Catcher in the Rye, but James is less appealing than Holden. Enormous amounts of inner monologue seem overblown for a character with a pretty desolate emotional life,

The Invention of Hugo Cabret

The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick This is a newfangled graphic novel with an satisfying story. Hugo Cabret is an orphan who has been abandoned by his drunkard uncle. Hugo hides in the train station, continuing to do his uncle's job of winding the station clocks. He also works on the automaton that he rescued from the rubble of the museum where his father was killed in a fire. The boy has become convinced that, if he can fix the clockwork man whose mechanical hand holds a pen poised over paper, he will find a message from his father. What he finds instead is more complex and leads him on a goose-chase through movie history that ends when our orphan protagonist finds a home with a once-famous filmmaker. The reader has a rare treat in the cinematic complexity of the book, which shifts between textual narrative and black-and-white movie stills reminiscent of silent movies. Indeed, there is some true film history buried in the fictional story. I found myself wonder

A fantasy trilogy to be reckoned with...

The Magic or Madness series by Justine Larbalestier Magic or Madness , Magic Lessons , and Magic's Child Any book reviewer knows that talking about trilogies is tricky... How much does it matter if you've read the other books? What will you lose if you treat them as one enormous narrative rather than three distinct books? So the short answer is, you could read these separately, but you won't want to once you start the first. Reason is the child of Sarafina, who has kept them on the run all of their lives from Reason's grandmother, Esmerelda. Esmerelda is magic, uses magic, and drained young Sarafina of her magic as a child. This is a world where people who are born magic but die young, and the choice is this: either they use their magic and live to maybe 30 (unless they feed off the young) or they don't use it and go insane. The story begins when Sarafina has finally succumbed to all her years of resisting magic by losing her mind. Reason, who was raised to

The rest of my Thanksgiving break reading

What I've been reading most, lately, are IMLS grant guidelines, my own draft of a grant, my own abstract for a paper that I'll be presenting in January, my own draft of what I thought was the same paper but actually turns out to be quite different than I expected, and my own journal. I keep journals in 3-ring binders, and I look at the pages twice; once when I write them and once when I revisit them to put them in the binder, usually 1-3 months later. It helps me remember what I've actually been doing, where I've actually been, and keeps me from setting unbelievably unrealistic goals for myself. Now on to the really fun and juicy stuff that I read over Thanksgiving break but haven't yet blogged... Into the Wild by Sarah Beth Durst The Wild is a mass of green vines that lives under Julie's bed. Her mother, Rapunzel, and other fairy tale characters want to keep it that way, and keep the wild from trapping them in their old stories and making them play out the

On Me as a Reader, and The Game by Diana Wynne Jones

Part of why I keep this blog is my fascination with the process of reading, how reading engrosses readers, how I see myself in books (and assume others do the same). My interest in reading was cemented at a young age; my mother told me that, when I was about 6 or 7, I told her I wanted to be a reader when I grew up. Not a writer, mind you, but a reader. I did get interested in writing later, but in truth if someone would pay me to read all day, I'd do it. I'm good at it. I'm observant and easily hit fiction speeds of well over 100 pages per hour. Admittedly, as I write this, I see that my careers to date--librarian, professor--may be as close as I'll ever come to well-paid work that requires me to read. My reading preferences change continuously, but occasionally I find a book that reminds me that there are landmarks in my tastes, like the following 2007 release.... The Game by Diana Wynne Jones Whenever I see a new book by Diana Wynne Jones (despite her being

2 great books, 2 duds

Bloom by Elizabeth Scott It's as though this book opens after all the typical YA romance books end. Lauren has the great football-player boyfriend and the popular best friend, but her life feels hollow. Until Evan comes back to town, Evan who was briefly a trial step-sibling thanks to one of Lauren's father's ill-advised bouts of shacking up with girlfriends. Evan knows her past, and what's more he makes her weak in the knees. Watching her weakness is part of the fun here, including that weakness that keeps her from breaking up with her official boyfriend like she should. It makes her more human that she can't bear to face her own feelings directly, and not until Evan's mother points out that her two-timing behavior is "just like your father" does Lauren realize that she has to make things right. Evan takes her as she is in the end, which makes this a satisfying story of a girl who seeks substance, hesitates when she finds it, but survives despit

Slam by Nick Hornby

I love Hornby's writing in general, and I learned why in the jacket flap copy of this book where a New Yorker reviewer called him "the maestro of the male confessional." That's why. That said, this is not his best effort. Sam unwittingly becomes a 16-year-old father, just like his 32-year-old mother did in her time. The portrayal of the situation is realistic, with Sam spacing out when things get too emotionally tricky. However, the narrative itself invokes skater Tony Hawk and time travel in ways that are amusing for awhile, but ultimately distracting. I found the narrative really dragging when, after Sam has flashed forward to the future, we then arrive at that future and plod through the events again, albeit with a wiser Sam. The time travel felt like a device to show that he had grown rather than an organic component of the story. However, Sam's obsession with that incessant quotation from Tony Hawk's autobiography were convincing, reflecting the

2 new YA novels

I know, dear readers, that most of you who read me read because, well, you want good reads. I know because you've told me, so this one's for you: Princess Academy by Shannon Hale This princess book is as cool and refreshing as its chick-lit counterparts are pink and frothy. Miri is a mountain girl who, along with all the other girls of the proper age in her village, are forced to attend Princess Academy. The Prince needs a bride, and his advisors have augured that she will come from Mount Eskel. Miri and her compatriots are treated like backwards idiots by the woman who runs the academy. Fortunately, they band together and outwit their oppressor. Unfortunately, bandits come to the mountain, and the princesses-in-training face mortal danger. All ends well in this magical story because Miri discovers the secrets of Mount Eskel's single export, linder stone, which in addition to being strong, light, and beautiful, is also capable of carrying the mountain dweller's

History and What Makes You Not a Buddhist

What Makes You Not a Buddhist by Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse A guide to Buddhism for Westerners that's chock full of very hip, timely examples that will date the book within a year. Until I finished the book and was ready to drop it like a hot potato with its judgmental ending metaphor--that not believing the 4 noble truths is like reading a medicine bottle and not taking the medicine--I had not noticed the implicit judgment in the title itself. It actually tells the reader up front that you are not a Buddhist. This guy is to Pema Chodoron like kayaking the Colorado River rapids are to canoeing on a placid lake. I don't trust his take on emotions. I find this with a lot of men who write about Buddhism. They treat emotions like annoying children that just need discipline rather than potential sources of wisdom. History: A Very Short Introduction by John Arnold This couldn't be shorter, but it's chock full of good insights about why and how to do history. My favorit

Storytelling and a novel

A Whole New Mind by Daniel Pink Pink believes that the world of work is undergoing a shift, as we enter a "new age" that will require more right-brained work, as opposed to traditional left-brained approaches. He says that "high concept" and "high touch" skills are outstripping analytical thinking in the changing occupational landscape. "High concept involves the capacity to detect patterns and opportunities, to create artistic and emotional beauty, to craft a satisfying narrative, and to combine seemingly unrelated ideas into something new. High touch involves the ability to empathize with others, to understand the subtleties of human interactions, to find joy in one's self and to elicit it in others, and to stretch beyond the quotidian in pursuite of purpose and meaning." (p. 2-3) All good things, I think. And it's a fun roller-coaster of an argument, zipping from laughing clubs to video games. I think it's right that the bes

things I read in summer 2003

I've had many unsuccessful attempts to track what I was reading. Among them, a little notebook covered with fish. These entries are from there... The Lovely Bones by Sebold Haunting story (literally) narrated by the ghost of a girl raped and killed in the opening scene. The rest is her view from heaven... "A fourteen, my sister sailed away from me into a place I'd never been. In the walls of my sex there was horror and blood, in the walls of hers there were windows." (p 125) Anyone who has even had a friend who told them about sexual trauma can relate to an aspect of this quote. Great last line: "I wish you all a long and happy life." Straight Man by Russo College professor in a small town, only moderately successful, starts talking out loud by accident, when he thinks he's not speaking. People talk back. He melts down slowly, until one day he threatens to kill a duck a day until he has a budget for the English department. Who Will Run the Frog Ho

Articles on storytelling, storytimes

"Storytime Model for Large Groups" by Amanda Williams, in Children and Libraries v5 n2, p. 27 Pithy article that gives a template for best practices in such storytimes, based on her dissertation work, which in turn was based on about interviews with practicing librarians. What she writes holds true in my experience, but it's one of those dogged old difficulties with programming: the joy is in the spectacular presence of one's self with one's audience. Boiling this down into a template of best practices drains all that interactive joy, even when Williams spells out that this is a "guide" and needs adjustment for specific situations. Good article, very helpful for new practitioners especially and for those without a performance background who might feel overwhelmed with large groups. And yet the heart of the storyhour, its basis in storytelling practices of audience interaction even when the materials themselves are entirely print-based and no actual

Agassiz in The Metaphysical Club

The Metaphysical Club by Louis Menand Subtitle is "A Story of Ideas in America," and indeed that's what it is, a big honking book, some of which I skimmed. The most interesting bits to me relate to my own research, including the resurgence of John Dewey's ideas after the demise of the cold war (discussed in the conclusion) and chapter 6, which is devoted to William James' involvement with Louis Agassiz. Here's the most compelling bit about Agassiz, who I'm curious about because of Caroline Hewins' Agassiz nature study club, founded in about 1878. Basically, I'm interested in the intersection of the growth of scientific ideas with the growth of children's literature in the late 19th century, which nonfiction books were strongly promoted by librarians as the best reading for children (I presented on aspects of this topic twice last year in different venues, once at the Education in Print Culture conf. in Madison and once at the Children's

reading for the Gryphon award

Here I am, posting in a potentially controversial matter, as I keep track of what I read and yet also take part in the Gryphon Award selection. So let me disclaim: I'll be writing about books that are some of the many, many contenders. I won't be writing about all the books I read. In other words, friends and publishers, I won't be giving away secrets here. That said, I've enjoyed reading... Becoming Teddy Roosevelt by Claudia Mills The protagonist is a kid who has little money but big ambitions to play the saxophone. In 4th grade, the music instructor has given kids the option to buy or rent instruments, but our hero can afford neither. Meanwhile, he and his classmates are assigned "famous people in history" about whom they must complete a report and as whom they must dress up and attend a tea party. Surprisingly, after much complaining, the kids actually get into the idea. The most poignant moments are when the main character notes all the videogame

Pierce article and re-reading

"When Girls Go Wrong" by Jennifer Burek Pierce, in LQ v77 n3 Pierce does a smashing job of simply, clearly, and concisely situation historical observations from an array of sources within larger social questions about how reading fit into young peoples' ways of spending time. She's critical of librarians' claims that they could keep girls "safe" in libraries, but at the same time situates those criticisms within a cultural context. In concrete terms, this article shows me that examining the rhetoric of librarians' surveys of children is a great direction for future research.

Eclectic Goddess

When God was a Woman by Merlin Stone Not a scintillating read, but synthesizes much scholarship about cultures in which a goddess was worshiped as the creator of the world. The Tenth Power by Kate Constable Another goddess story... this is the 3rd in a series of YA novels about a girl who is raised in a magic-singing goddess-worshiping society. Unfortunately, she loses her magical powers, travels across the land, and realizes that magic-singing is only one of the many powers that people on her world have. One of ten, in fact. Fortunately, in this one she saves the world. The series is fun, not the best fantasy ever, but reasonably entertaining reads. Tales of the Dervishes by Idries Shah This contains a story I love: Fatima the Spinner. Absolute ruin befalls her three times, but out of each of her recoveries she gains skills that make her unique, until she pleases the Emperor of China by making him a tent. Thanks to Anna Z. for telling it ably and powerfully in class severa

Books about children's culture

That I in no way have time to read right now, what with all the other projects I have cooking. But I borrowed them with the idea that I would eventually look at storytellign in public libraries as one instance of the culture of children's public spaces. Lots of ways I could frame this: culture of arts experiences for children, culture of literary experiences for children, or as part of children in public. When do children get to be part of the public? Books include: Habermas (good old Habermas) The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere Derevenski, Children and Material Culture (coming out of archaeology) Cross, The Cute and the Cool (contemporary pop culture) Michell and Reid-Walsh, Researching Children's Popular Culture Valentine, Public Space and the Culture of Childhood (contemporary UK)

just before the semester starts

Here's what I've been/am reading at the bittersweet end of the summer: The Dance of the Dissident Daughter by Sue Monk Kidd Memoir of a Southern Baptist preacher's wife who starts to see that the feminine and more specifically women in general are left out, excluded, even denigrated by her all-male-god religion up to this point in her life. And then she starts to radically re-envision her relationship to the church, to the divine, to the world. Parts read like a feminism primer, but she doesn't bog down too much in definitions. This book made me appreciate both the era in which I came of age (thank you 1960s/70s feminists!!!) and my own early feisty intuition (at the age of 13) that there was something deeply amiss about the use of the pronoun "He" to refer to God in the Christian tradition. And I came to that book via my new favorite book... Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert I'm not alone in loving this book, but I do truly love it. It's anoth

posting my quiz results

I'm still new enough to blogging that I haven't done any track back thingys. Here are my quiz results, thanks to Which PLAIN Jane Are You? Theatre Jane If life were a giant Technicolor musical at all times, you'd be pretty psyched. You take the phrase "all the world's a stage" pretty literally. Take This Quiz More Quizzes

advice for academia

I've spent much of the summer thinking about, reflecting on, and even worrying about the next steps in my career. Finishing the Ph.D. was wonderful and slightly disorienting, just like all big changes. Two books that I appreciate knowing about but am not reading in full: Caplan, Paula J. Lifting a Ton of Feathers: A Woman's Guide to Surviving in the Academic World This book cites tons of research, much of it so very depressing. Great resource, but not the right read for me right now. Maack and Passet. Aspirations and Mentoring in an Academic Environment: Women Faculty in Library and Information Science. This one is more fruitful reading for me, and if it weren't so expensive I'd have already bought a copy. As it is, I know I'll be referring to it again because it's so specific to my field.

A memoir, advice for the office, Buddhism, and a novel

It's Easier Than You Think by Sylvia Boorstein Nothing like rushing through the end of a book on Buddhism so that you can get it "done" and write the blog and get on with your life.... not exactly mindful presence, is it? Boorstein is brilliant in her accessibility. I love her laid-back style, her ease and grace as she talks about how to handle the most difficult things there are using Buddhist principles of mindfulness and compassion. Nice Girls Don't Get the Corner Office 101, by Lois P. Frankel Okay, there was definitely useful advice in this book. The one I'm not taking is to only focus on one goal at a time, because I need to turn the book back in to the library. I'm taking notes here. These are not just for me, but also for my many female students. --Make a list of the rules of the game at your workplace... observe --"If you find yourself the only person in a room who disagrees with the consensus It can't be done and think, But I could mak

Storytelling books, teaching storytelling performance

Each of these books spends some time on storytelling performance... The Way of the Storyteller by Ruth Sawyer Talks about vocal technique in the chapter "A Technique to Abolish Technique" (p. 131-151). This title more or less captures the attitude that has traditionally been part of children's librarianship in regards to storytelling. The storyteller effaces herself in favor of the tale. And while I see the wisdom in foregrounding the tale over the teller, especially for beginning storytellers, it's an attitude that certainly predates the feminist revolution. For that reason alone, it deserves rethinking. Olcott had a similar quote in one of her articles: "The more informal the story hour, the greater the lack of selfconsciousness (sic) on the part of the children, and this is to be aimed at, as a perfect effacement of self makes a receptive audience." from Olcott, Work with Children at the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, p70. However, Saw

primary sources back to uiuc library

It's tough letting go of these, but they're all owned by UIUC, so I can get them again if needed -Book Culture and Character, by J. N. Larned, 1906 A much looser sense of what is acceptable reading than in earlier works. Even the title of that chapter, "Hints as to Reading," is gentler than what came before. -References to books in the Cleveland Public Library, intended to aid the third grade teachers of the Cleveland Public Schools, compiled by May H. Prentice of the Cleveland Normal School, published by Cleveland Public Library, sometime in the 1890s--LJ contained announcements of this. This was the first time I saw evidence of this fine-grained level of age grading in a public library resource. Opens with a quote: "The important thing is not so much that every child should be taught as that every child should be given the wish to learn. [...] Sir John Lubbock, in Pleasures of Life p. 184" [I don't know any more about Lubbock or this source at the

19th century reading advice

Quotes from a few titles I'm going through as I revise a book chapter, due Aug. 1: How to Read by Amelie V. Petit, 1878 Reading should be done in an orderly manner: "A confused jumble of unclassified books, however large the collection, is not properly a library; neither is a confused jumble of unclassified knowledge an education." (p. 2) Reading requires work: "While the cream of literature undoubtedly rises to the surface, it must be worked over and over by the intellect before it yields its best, most desirable product." (p. 20) Fiction should be only one part of a varied course of reading: "We advise the reader to intersperse with them [books of fiction] books of travel, biography, history, and poetry, relating to their authors, or the country wherein the scene of the story is laid." (list of recommended books follows, with explicit mention that these are a good course of reading for the young) "A professed novel-reader will say, 'Wha

Blubber by Judy Blume, The Olympains Book 2 by Rick Riordan

Blubber by Judy Blume I re-read this classic on my trip to Minneapolis in part because I've decided to teach it this fall, inspired by Betty Bush. It's a novel about teasing among children, definitely, but it's also a novel about growing up. Not coming of age, but embarking on those first steps towards maturity that involve taking responsibility for one's actions. At one point, protagonist Jill and best friend Tracy are talking about the tooth fairy. They are aware, however subtly, that childhood is drawing to a close: "...How much do you think it's worth?" "I'm not sure," I told her. "Last time I got a quarter." "If I were you I'd try for more. We haven't got that many baby teeth left." (p. 66) Another passage: Jill really is a jerk to victim-of-teasing Linda and to her brother Kenny all at once, when they are at a bar mitzvah. Kenny has a habit of reciting facts, and Jill, his sister, is getting annoyed:

What Research Ideas Mean

I have odd dreams. More than once, I've dreamed something so narrative and elaborate that I was convinced it was a full-blown novel waiting to happen. I did write it out (100 pages) and found that it needed more editing than I expected. At about this time, I began work on the Ph.D., and creative writing projects fell by the wayside. I still have odd dreams, but now they are about research. I've woken up in the night with ideas for 3 or more papers at once. Last night, there were 5 ideas for small-to-medium research projects involving methodology other than history (surveys, focus groups, interviews). The humbling truth of the matter is, however elated I am at 3am, each of these ideas to grow into a paper would need substantial. In fact, I've decided to post a list of the steps needed: 1) Is it worth it? (in the cold light of day) 2) Why do I care? 3) Who is my audience, and why would they care? 4) Is it feasible? 5) What else is out there on this topic? on similar to

The Rules by Cynthia Lord

ah, one children's book I read on vacation, borrowed from Isaac, my friend Ruth's son.... The Rules by Cynthia Lord Catherine does all she can to take care of her autistic brother David, including creating a series of rules for him to follow. Rules like "don't take your pants off" and "no toys in the fish tank." Each chapter is given a rule as a heading. Catherine is frustrated because her social life is majorly hampered... Not only does she get teased a lot because of her brother's strange ways, but she's also expected to babysit him constantly by her mother who runs a business from her. Her father is checked out, basically home to sleep and otherwise on the run from the overwhelming responsibility of their son. Catherine is a fun character who is reasonably believable, if a bit precocious. But what good children's book protagonist isn't, really? Definitely recommended summer reading.

anthropology, psychology

Two wonderful books: A Thrice Told Tale by Margery Wolf Wolf juxtaposes a fiction story she wrote in the 50s about an experience she had while traveling to do fieldwork with her anthropologist husband, the fieldnotes made about this same incident, and the article she wrote for an anthropological journal about the incident. All to the end of debunking the idea that "postmodernism" in terms of mulitple voices and texts is somehow a new phenomenon. She also points out that it is only those who have had the most power who find multi-vocality to be a new phenomenon, because they've never had to modulate their way of speaking like those with less power. She also questions the postmodern idea that the project of representation should be abandoned. As I write that, I realized I'm overstating the case, and Wolf does this a bit too, but many of her points are valid. The most interesting bits, however, are the fictional story and the article (the field notes are predicta

The Nurture Assumption

Judith Rich Harris, The Nurture Assumption: Why Children Turn Out the Way They Do Harris, former writer of psychology textbooks, uses her unusual vantage point to write a book questioning all the emphasis placed on "nurture" in ideas about childrearing. Essentially, she asks: what if "nature" has a much bigger role than we are willing to admit? If so, the emphasis on proper childrearing is simply an effort to control the uncontrollable. Children will be who they will be, and beyond certain basics, childrearing practices may not in fact have much influence. She also claims that parents and others with a vested interest in children's development underemphasize the influence of children's peer groups and siblings as compared with adult influence. Again, this error reflects a deep wish to control who children become. In light of Harris' arguments, ideas about childrearing and controlling children's behavior, especially what they read as reading wa

More Books Back to UIUC

So many books, so much time they took... -White, A Historical Introduction to Library Education (kept TofC and a xeroxed section of pages related to youth services work) -Hopkins, History of the YMCA in North America -Macleod, Building Character in the American Boy: The Boy Scouts, YMCA, and Their Forerunners, 1870-1920. Useful because it gave me background on Ernest Seton Thompson, who spoke to the first class of children's librarian trainees (along with John Dewey, Jane Addams, and others). (xeroxing TofC and a few select pages re discouragement of fiction reading in 1870s) Histories of the Kindergarten Movement -Ross, The Kindergarten Crusade -Liebschner, A Child's Work: Freedom and Play in Froebel's Educational Theory and Practice -Shapiro, Child's Garden. This was another book I encountered early in the process. Lots of stickies to remove, but ultimately all I really want to keep is the TofC. Other Social Movements Related to Childhood: -Cavallo, Muscles and

Life in Books

I've read two extraordinary books over the past week, books that have helped me put some of the recent tumult in my life into perspective. They are also scholarly reflections, written by women whose work in the academy has transformed their ways of looking at their own lives. Bateson, Mary Catherine. Composing a Life. Bateson, daughter of Margaret Mead and Gregory Bateson, draws on the tradition of ethnography to create this detailed narrative of central themes in the lives of five women. She looks at women's work in an era when feminist ideals were at their height but women's realities were (as they are now) still often at odds with the concepts of equality. She sees lives as processes of negotiation. The chapter "Opening to the World" might be an excellent reading to include as part of the personal narrative portion of the storytelling class. (starts p. 56) A few quotes.... Related to storytelling and narrative as the basis upon which we shape our lives: --&

Shelf 2: Books back to UIUC

This is the shelf on women's history, gender history... General Women's History -Lerner, Gerda, The Woman in American History -Lerner, The Majority Finds its Past (edited collection) These might be useful as I look forward to making an article for the Journal of Women's History, or maybe not... I need to see what they're publishing now to know more, Lerner is, I assume, deep background due to the age of her work. -Kerber, Women of the Republic: Intellect and Ideology in Revolutionary America -Cott, The Bonds of Womanhood: "Women's Sphere" in New England, 1780-1835. -Hays, The Cultural Contradictions of Motherhood. Covers too wide a time to be deeply useful to me, but interesting arguments that echo some of what Alma has written and suggested that I read. -Matthaei, An Economic History of Women in America. This was a major point of reference in writing the dissertation, as background to arguments I wanted to to make about how childhood became im

Books that are going back to UIUC

There are some important books that are now going to leave my bookshelves, because it's time to turn them in and make the U of I library happy again. I have put my dissertation, in full, up on my website:, linked from "projects," in case you're curious. This post is more shorthand for myself than news for my readers, but I promise to make the next post interesting to others.... 3 major works on Progressive Era history: -Wiebe The Search for Order -Hofstadter The Age of Reform -McGerr A Fierce Discontent -Glanz Bureaucracy and Professionalism On Children/Childhood: -Heininger, ed. A Century of Childhood 1820-1920 . Broad overview in intro of Rousseau/Locke influencing Protestant ideas about children, moving from born damned to born innocent, and therefore the responsiblity to raise them well -Graff, Conflicting Paths: Growing Up in America . Graff argues, using a series of case studies, that childhood in the 19th century was more diverse than a

Back to fiction for youth adults... Vail and Oates

Rachel Vail, You, Maybe: The Profound Assymetry of Love in High School Yes, another novel of high-school love. Rachel Vail came along right before the recent explosion of chick lit (back in 1999--I remember her Friendship Ring series causing a splash). What's good about Vail is her ability to go deeper than most into the psychology of young characters' decisions about their lives. In this book, Josie first scorns the attentions of high-school-god Carson Gold, then craves them, and finally we see her internal dialog as she starts to blame herself for every crappy thing he does to her. It's eerily familiar reading, and yet Vail keeps it fresh by showing Josie's step-by-step loss of self. The plot is predictable, but aren't so many high school romance books, really? (Vail's subtitle seems to acknowledge this book as one in an established genre.) Carson likes her less as her independent attitude evaporates, and dumps her just as she has all but fully conform

Aristotle's Poetics

Can't say as I ever thought I'd be seriously considering teaching a bit of Aristotle, much less the very text in which he describes women as inferior (and slaves as worthless... it was another time, long ago). But I am. Considering it. Parts I through IX make a handy intro to a totally different way of thinking about storytelling than a public library story hour, an intro that also takes seriously the idea of story writing, not only performance, as part of this task.

Children's Cultural Spaces

I requested the book Learning to Curse for Greenblatt's essay "Towards a Poetics of Culture," with the idea of finding inroads to literary/anthropological ways of addressing children's public culture, and specifically of addressing the public library story hour as an instance of that culture... That, dear readers, is where I'm heading right now with research, historical and otherwise. I'm about to post a note on the GSLIS board asking folks to relate their memories of public library story hours or any childhood experiences in libraries or museums that they remember. Do you have such memories? What's most vivid to you about those experiences? Would you post here, in response, or perhaps even be willing to let me informally inteview you at some point? I'm not at a formal stage of interviewing or focus groups, but I may hold a tea in the Center for Children's Books at some point this summer as a way of jumpstarting this conversation. After all,

as the books come due...

and I am trying to clean out the bookshelves of library titles post-dissertation, I'm realizing that this blog has to become way less entertaining and way more practical for awhile. So it will, with apologies to my loyal readers. I'll try to throw in tidbits for you, but my need to record what I've read is taking precedence for the moment. Recently Read Things: --Several articles on children's interactions with an online storytelling environment in Portugal: This was the better one of the two, but both articles begged the question: why create a computer program to do something kids can do just as easily with a dress-up box? Is it to direct them toward acting out particular stories? It inevitably does this, which raises questions about which stories are selected and how children are enculturated. --Illick, American Childhoods This was one of many titles of its ilk that I read parts of and cited in the di