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 videogames and other things his well-off best friend owns, because he does so without sentimentality or raging envy. The prose suggests that this is the way it is, he has less money than his friend, and that creates an obstacle for things like playing saxophone. All ends well, as it usually does with school-based middle-grade short novels.

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 several years ago.