Showing posts from May, 2008

Ursula K. Le Guin (and Voices for 409)

These three books share a world as a setting, and have a few characters in common, but they are not a conventional series like the Harry Potter books or the Lord of the Rings trilogy. The relationship is a bit like that of The Hobbit to The Fellowship of the Ring. We begin with a story of Orrec Caspro as a boy, but years are lost between the first and second books; the next book shows him as an accomplished and renowned poet. It's like The Chrestomanci series by Diana Wynne Jones, which skips Christopher Chant's middle years entirely, showing him only as boy and then as master. Gifts High on desolate, rocky hills live lonely peoples whose supernatural gifts allow them to unmake, sicken, or injure one another. These small bands do constant battle for the scant resources that are there. Orrec and Gry have been friends all their lives, and they hope to marry, but their families each have planned other marriages in order to increase their wealth. Orrec struggles with blindnes

Story Proof and Storytime

Story Proof: The Science Behind the Startling Power of Story by Kendall Haven Here's how I can imagine discussing this one in 409: --Chapters 1, 2, and 7: all are about the definition of "story," including pitfalls of previous overly broad definitions. --Chapters 3, 4, 5, 6: all are about the way the human mind is set up to use story. --Chapters 8, 9, and 10: 8 is anecdotes, 9 is research results, 10 is concluding inspirations. Haven is redundant in a way that is probably reinforcing in the oral, but drags in the written version. I wished several times that chapter 7 followed chapter 2; he doesn't give enough sense of why the brain science is compelling before spilling the beans on what he thinks a story actually *is.* When that's the main point of a book, you want to know it up front. Too many of the chapters are full of long paragraphs quoted from other research, strung together by bare connective tissue that is less an argument and more a "see this,

Top 10 fantasy titles for 2008, from Booklist

And yet another source of info on fantasy books... Quick list of the titles: 1. Book of a Thousand Days 2. Tunnels : Book 1 3. Cherry Heaven 4. The Golden Dreams of Carlo Chuchio 5. Red Spikes 6. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows 7. Emmy and the Incredible Shrinking Rat 8. Powers 9. Exodus 10. The Land of the Silver Apples I just finished Powers by Le Guin, and I'll blog that loosely-connected trilogy separately.

Evolution as the link between arts and sciences

The NY Times has a great article on an interdisciplinary program that involves the serious use of methods from the humanities to investigate scientific topics. What's remarkable is that this program aims for a true balance between the fields, not the borrowing of humanities by the sciences of which I have heard complaints from some humanities-oriented colleagues. I'm interested because of the example given in the article of evolutionary studies program that involves a "crossover approach" by David Sloan Wilson, author of Evolution for Everybody . He points out that Darwin's data were qualitative. This could link to my research on evolution for children, 1882-1914 or so.

American Indians in Children's Literature: Meyer's Twilight: second post

An interesting post about the depictions of Native Americans in the fantasy/vampire novel Twilight by Stephanie Meyers, a book that will be on the reading list for LIS590VV, Fantasy Literature and Media for Youth.... American Indians in Children's Literature: Meyer's Twilight: second post

Fantasies featuring storytelling

Is storytelling always this pervasive in fantasy literature, or is it just my reading lately? I'm musing on what a research question about the function of storytelling and/or portrayal of storytellers in fantasy might become.... The Castle Corona by Sharon Creech A fun and funny fantasy about 2 children who find a mysterious royal pouch, and are eventually taken to the Castle to be the king's tasters (in case of poisoning). This has Creech's characteristic light and quirky feel, which is nicely suited to the fairy-tale setting. The only hiccup comes at the end of the book, which felt precisely one chapter too long. But otherwise, it was a fine read, and features a Wordsmith who is the castle's designated storyteller. He weaves tales out of the elements that his royal audience chooses for each evening. The Giver by Lois Lowry is really about The Receiver, Jonas, whose whole world changes when he is assigned to apprentice with the elder that he will come to know at

Short blurbs on books about children/YAs and technology

Goodstein, Anastasia. Totally Wired. Written in an easy-to-read journalistic style, Goodstein covers all the essentials of teen technology use for bewildered parents (or librarians). Though parts are redundant with Harris (see below), both are of use to future youth services librarians. Chapters 1-4 deal with teens, and then chapters 5-7 address what adults can or should do about all the things teens are doing. Mostly, Goodstein calls for understanding, relating contemporary tech activities such as IMing to her own 80s-era teen experiences such as 3-way calling. I Found It on the Internet. Harris, France Jacobson. Though it's short, the book is worth reading as written, in 3 parts, one at a time. Part 1 parallels the first 4 chapters of Goodstein. Part 2 is a little different, in that it lumps all the dangers-and-dark-sides together. Part 3 is for adults, and would go well as a parallel reading to Goodstein's chapters 5-7. Although the writing is more laden, the audien

4 YA Novels

How does a professor have time to read 4 novels at the end of the school year??? By getting very sick for over a week, that's how! While able to do nothing else, I read these 4 great books, and I do think they helped my immune system. Frannie in Pieces by Delia Ephron (Related to Nora Ephron?) Frannie's life is shattered when her father dies. She begins to pull herself back together when she finds a box with her name on it filled with a handmade puzzle that her father created, apparently as her birthday gift before he died. Since he was never on time with gifts, and he died a week before her birthday, this makes her suspicious but not suspicious enough to unravel the mystery of the puzzle's origin, not until the end of the book. In the middle, Frannie's mom sends her off to be a counselor at summer camp. She's put in charge of arts and crafts, and has the kids make an enormous mural of all the household items that, in small print, say they can kill you. The