Thursday, March 31, 2011

Where are you reading?

Some of you read this just about every week. Some of you read this every once in a while. Some of you just stumbled upon this by accident today. Send us a postcard. PLEASE! You don't have to say much, just a little "Hello" would be enough. Adding what you're reading would be of great interest to us as well!! Send your postcard to:

Marble Public Library

PO Box 409

Marble, MN 55764

The theme for the summer reading program is One World, Many Stories and it might amaze our patrons how far away our fellow readers travel/live/go. I'll get a picture of the two of us (sorry, Tanja) and our wall space before and after. Hopefully there will be a big difference. Won't this be fun?? I already dropped off my postcard from Hollywood where I finished reading Life of Pi by Yann Martel.

When on vacation, I always look around and see what other people are reading. It's interesting to me what others have selected for their travels. Watching commuters in New York City reading various books/magazines/newspapers; many of them written in other languages, fascinates me. I love walking through an airport and seeing what books people are poring over. There's nothing better than a walk past a crowded pool and seeing all those sun worshippers with a novel next to their big bottles of water.

Why do we choose the books we choose for vacations? Some put off books they've heard great reviews of until they're able to devote some uninterrupted time to it. Some pull out the trashy novels that they wouldn't be caught dead reading in front of people they know. Some bring along those lengthy tomes that they would otherwise put off reading. I personally have grabbed books from all of those categories for various trips. It's rare that I bring a library book with me. The chance that I may lose or in some way destroy a book that doesn't belong to me is too great. The excuse to get a book that is all mine is such a rarity, it's hard to pass up. Finding a book for vacation is one of the best parts of getting ready for vacation. I love to peruse book sales for that reason. Many libraries have used books for sale, and that's a great place to look. You just never know what you might find.

Drop us a line, let us know what book you chose for your travels. Give us a clue as to how you came to be reading that title. You don't have to go on vacation, send us a postcard from your hometown post office. I kind of think Marble doesn't have postcards for sale with the town name on them. If your town is like Marble (or is Marble) you could just take a picture, print it on heavier paper, and add the address and a stamp to the back right side of the photo. You don't even have to sign your name, but we'd love it if you did. If you don't, just close with a . . .

Wish you were here! Happy Reading!

If it isn't too much trouble, drop a postcard in the mail for the Coleraine Library. (I work there too--I do love working in libraries!!)

Coleraine Public Library

P.O. Box 225

Coleraine, MN 55722

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Fairy Tale: Happily Ever After

I must warn you, I'm a bit of a cynic. The Disney-ized versions of fairy tales are too pat for me and I tend to prefer a more realistic/jaded version of popular fairy tales. Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, The Little Mermaid, Snow White all just kind of sat back and waited to be rescued. All beautiful, serene, passive women. They're always so nice. I think perhaps the latest Disney princesses have a bit more gumption, so at least they're moving a bit in the right direction.

The stories were around before the written word was, so there are many variations of them. Some of them are only slightly similar. Aurora=Sleeping Beauty=Briar Rose=Talia=Rosamund and more. Variations on a theme with some of these being more horrifying than others.

I like fairy tales turned on their heads. Wicked by Gregory MaGuire was one of the first turned-on-their-head tales for me. I LOVED it. I have read just about every book he's written (#4 in the Wicked Years Series comes out in November,) they're all well known stories told from a different perspective. Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister is an alternative view of Cinderella; Mirror, Mirror is a twisted look at Snow White; and you can imagine the protagonist of What-the-Dickens : The Story of a Rogue Tooth Fairy. He's got more books than these, but you get the gist of the kind of book he writes.

My 9-year-old daughter and I both read the Grimm Sisters Series by Michael Buckley a couple months ago. We both loved those books. Descendants of the brothers Grimm find out that the fairy tales are more fact books than story books, and the actual characters are living in Ferryport Landing along with a grandmother they never knew they had. There is one more book in the series, and we're both anxiously awaiting it!

There are all kinds of picture books about well known characters told a different way. One of my favorites is The Three Little Wolves and The Big Bad Pig by Eugene Trivizas. How could you not love a children's book that has a pneumatic drill toting pig in it??? The True Story of The Three Little Pigs by Jon Scieszka is another version of the three little pigs. Both are fun and a little different that the usual 3 pigs we all know. Children's literature is full of fairy tale characters placed in different story lines. It's fun to see the different stories that evolve using the same characters.

With fairy tales turned on their heads, it is necessary to be familiar with them in some way or another to get the full effect of their "upside-down-ness". It would be a stretch to fully understand the humor of Cinder-Smella, A Timeless Tale of Stinky Feet (by Alan Sitomer) if you aren't familiar with Grimm's Cinderella (or Disney's for that matter). The original fairy tales were not children's stories. The oral tradition of these folktales contained stories not fit for children. The Grimm brothers collected a bunch of them and cleaned them up a bit. Disney has cleaned them up even more.

Take a look at some of the Disney fairy tales and then grab up a couple of fairy tales told from a different perspective. There are a lot of kid versions and adult versions. See which you prefer, and see which the children in your life prefer. Let us at the Marble Public Library know if you need more titles than I've already mentioned here.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Free tickets at the library?

In November 2008, Minnesota voters approved a constitutional amendment to dedicate funds for Minnesota's Outdoor Heritage, Clean Water, Parks and Trails, and Arts and Cultural Heritage. Under the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund (ACHF) Minnesota's 300+ public libraries receive funding distributed through existing formulas to the 12 Minnesota Regional Library Systems to provide programs and services in four areas: arts (visual, performing and media), culture, literary and Minnesota history. The law states that these funds are intended "for regional programs and working with arts and cultural partners."

So, we've had free tickets for various things at the library for awhile. Now the cycle of the legacy grant is over, and there is an evaluation period before "the powers that be" decide whether or how to continue this program.

I got to take a trip to the Great Lakes Aquarium, the Judy Garland & Children's Museum, the Minnesota Discovery Center, and sent my kids and their grandmother to the Forest History Center (haven't made it there yet, but I'm really wanting to go!) What a great opportunity to see some things that you may not otherwise take the time to see. I had never been to a couple of those places; and now that I've been, I feel I'm more likely to return.

If you took the opportunity to use some of the free tickets available at your library, let your legislators know. You may only get a form letter back, but at least you've put it out there and have increased the chance that we'll get a repeat of the grant we were given to provide those tickets. Tell them how much you enjoyed the experience. Let them know that the free tickets were appreciated during these tough economic times. Clue them in on how much fun you had while learning something.

Here's the information for our local state legislators:

Senator Tom Saxhaug
100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
State Office Building, Room 135
St. Paul, MN 55155-1206

Representative Tom Anzelc
307 State Office Building
100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
Saint Paul, Minnesota 55155
651-296-4936 or 800-336-9124

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

"The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who cannot read them." ~~Mark Twain

I got a magnet with that saying on it from my sister-in-law this past summer. She said she thought of me when she saw it. It's hanging on my fridge at eye level where my gaze flits upon it every day. Every day I think, that quote isn't quite right. It's right in that that is how Mark Twain stated it. It's wrong in the message it sends to me. I'd rather it read "The man who does not read books has no advantage over the man who cannot read them."

A "good book" is a matter of opinion, in my opinion. What appeals to me may not appeal to you. What I think is a good book, you may find to be a terrible book. What you think is a "good book" may be the farthest thing from my idea of a "good book".

In all that I've learned about getting boys to read (yes, boys) I've learned that you can not tell them that what they are reading isn't good. If you know a reluctant reader, is it because at one point in time they were told that the material they were reading didn't qualify as reading? Graphic novels, Captain Underpants, and Walter the Farting Dog are all books that many adults find fault with. They're "not good". Junie B. Jones and her bad grammar is also often labeled "not good". Unfortunately, a child who finds joy in these books and is repeatedly told they are "not good" may soon interpret that to mean that they don't like to read. If what they do like to read isn't good, they don't like reading. "Find something better, that isn't a good book" I heard a mom tell her kids at a bookstore. It made me cringe. I wanted to tell her that she shouldn't EVER say anything like that to a kid if she wanted them to grow up to enjoy reading.

I don't want anyone to tell me that the book I'm reading isn't "good." I don't read books just so that I can say that I have read them. I don't see the reading of a "good" book as a status symbol the way some people do. Have I read "good" books? Yes. Did I read them so that I could say I read them? Maybe, when I was a teen. Have I loved every "good" book I've ever read? No. No. No. (I still can't believe I got all the way through Anna Karenina--I didn't like any of the characters.) To me a good book is one that you get lost in. A good book is one YOU enjoy. A good book is not necessarily on the best seller list, a list of must read books, an award winner, a book lauded by critics, or a popular book club selection. A good book is one that you enjoy. Period.

But this quote is about a man. I'm not about to tell the man what he should or should not be reading. He's a man, he can figure it out for himself. But, if he's stumped, I will be more than happy to make some recommendations!

I think maybe I'll put a bit of tape over the word good on my magnet.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

“I like nonsense, it wakes up the brain cells.” ~~Dr. Seuss

I'm pretty sure everyone has heard of Dr. Seuss. Even if you have never read Green Eggs and Ham, you know the story. Today marks the 107th anniversary of Theodore Seuss Geisel's birth. Even now; almost 20 years after his death, Dr. Seuss remains one of the best known and loved authors of children's books. His books have been made into movies, TV programs and specials, a Broadway musical, and a section of Univeral's Islands of Adventure theme park in Orlando. But, my favorite Dr. Seuss adaptation is the Theodor Seuss Geisel Award given out in January. From the American Library Association website:

The Theodor Seuss Geisel Award is given annually to the author(s) and illustrator(s) of the most distinguished American book for beginning readers published in English in the United States during the preceding year. The winner(s), recognized for their literary and artistic achievements that demonstrate creativity and imagination to engage children in reading, receives a bronze medal. Honor Book authors and illustrators receive certificates, which are presented at the ALA Annual Conference. The award was established in 2004 and first presented in 2006.

Basically, this is an award given to some of my favorite books for kids. These are books that are fun to read for both parent and child. These are books that don't take many readings for a 3-year-old to memorize. (I know from experience.) They're books that you won't mind reading one more time. A child memorizing the words to a well loved book is a starting point for them learning to read. Dr. Seuss was a starting point for a lot of readers out there, and the Theodore Seuss Geisel award points us to books that will lead our children in the same direction.

"These things are fun, and fun is good."

~~My 3-year-old thinks that the sticker at the front of the Geisel Award/Honor books show an image of Mo Willems. A couple of his books have the sticker on the cover. We had to do a Google image search the other day, just so that she wouldn't be spreading any misinformation.