Showing posts from August, 2011

Author Shel Silverstein and persona Uncle Shelby

Joseph T. Thomas Jr. has finally written the article I've been curious to read for ages.  Though it is certainly part celebrity gossip, Thomas' "A Speculative Account (with Notes) of the Development and Initial Deployment of Shel Silverstein's Persona, Uncle Shelby, with Special Care to Articulate the Relationship of Said Persona to the Question of Shel's Ambiguous Audience(s)" finally makes a coherent connection between Silverstein's work for Playboy magazine and his writing for children.  Thomas focuses extensively on the satirical (and very funny) book Uncle Shelby's ABZs, which is a spoof on alphabet books, where the joke is on the absent gullible child who would follow instructions like, for instance, giving daddy a haircut while he sleeps on the couch or eating the paper in the book because it claims to be made of candy.  But any present reader who would persist with the book and not simply abandon it in complete puzzlement would be a child sop

collaboration, diversity, and metaphors of reading (in LIS)

Just finished reading two articles from JELIS and one from Library Trends: 1) "Finding that Special Someone:  Interdisciplinary Collaboration in an Academic Context" by Gunawardena, Weber, and (my wonderful colleague and ALISE Youth Services co-chair with me this year) Denise Agosto.  This exploration and literature review of models of collaboration is a good thought piece, with real highlights in the two tables.  The material here comes from several disciplines, and these authors synthesize it well.  The first table compares three kinds of connections along a spectrum:  coordination, cooperation, and collaboration, looking at how issues like authority and rewards vary along this spectrum.  True collaboration requires deep sharing, of authority and rewards, in mutually beneficial actions.  Table two lists types of research:  multidisciplinary, cross-disciplinary, interdisciplinary, and trans-disciplinary, having to do with how the methods and perspectives of two or more di

pomegranates and letting go

Mother Sue Monk Kidd (author of The Dance of the Dissident Daughter and The Secret Life of Bees) and daughter Ann Kidd Taylor team up in Traveling with Pomegranates.  It's odd to imagine a travel memoir about women's spirituality (and representations of women in spiritual traditions) being something that could come from two authors' viewpoints in alternating chapters, but it works beautifully.  Though occasionally I was distracted by imagining the editing to make it so, most of the time I was immersed in their two complementary journeys.  Sue is transitioning into an acceptance of old age as she turns 50, and Ann is transitioning into adulthood in her 20s. As they travel to Greece and France and in their home lives as well, both are delving deep into what makes them who they are.  After college and breaking up with her fiance, Ann is discovering the triadic symbolism of Athena, Joan of Arc, and Mary as the iconic women who inspire her to be true to herself.  Sue is lookin

last of the summer memoirs

I'm sure these won't be the last memoirs I read, but they are for this summer, because school is starting!  With a fresh year before me, I'm planning to be back at semi-weekly meetings for the Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books .  It's the first time back in several years, and I'm looking forward to being once again immersed in rowdy and highly informed (and opinionated!) conversations with my colleagues in academia and children's librarianship.  I first came to the Bulletin in 1997, so those review meetings at the big long tables are sort of like family dinners to me, with people who have become my dear friends as well as aunts I'm fond of and a new crop of cousins every year.  So all this is to say that, after the last of the summer memoirs, I expect I'll be back to full-on children's and young adult lit for many months to come.  The memoir I'm Proud of You:  My Friendship with Mr. Rogers by Tim Madigan , Mr. Rogers makes a poin

social work and authenticity

I read pretty widely, and, unless I'm honed in on investigating a research project, my tastes are free range.  Like the best chickens, my reading brain will at least peck at whatever looks tasty.  So a PBS special on "The Gifts of Imperfection" led me to Brene Brown's work (her blog is called Ordinary Courage ), interesting in part because she has a Ph.D. in social work.  And, since I'm teaching a new class called Youth Services Community Engagement this fall and drawing on some social work research, it seemed right to pursue the threads a little further.  So I found the textbook, Contemporary Human Behavior Theory (2nd ed) that holds a summary of Brown's research work.   Which is based on interview after interview with women (though recently men have factored in as well) and is formalized as Shame Resilience Theory. The theory goes a little something like this:  depending on your place in life, your social support, and a host of other internal and external

vacation reading

I don't know why I actively avoided reading Bossypants by Tina Fey for so long.  Maybe, like your average high-school-aged person, I shrank away because it just seemed too popular.  But it's a memoir!  And it's funny!  And Mean Girls remains one of my favorite ever movies (for whatever that does or doesn't reveal about my twisted mind).  So I read it, and it was worth it.  It's not the best organized memoir ever, but Fey's musings on growing up weird in summer theater programs are totally worth it.  (I've always wanted to do everything, usual at once, and so I read this wistfully wishing that I had been a summer theater program kid.  It's like my periodic longing to have been born Joni Mitchell instead of, well, you know, me with moderate guitar-playing abilities.)  And so are her feminist observations on the impossibilities of women's fashion, totally worth it.  I laughed out loud at her impeccable use of the word "asshat" and, frankly, h