“She’s on myface.”

I love my mom so much.

When I got home today I found a facebook friend requests from one of the librarians that I mentioned in my previous post. This made me feel incredibly cool. So I told my mom. Then, right after, she was on the phone with her sister and trying to relay this information.

Mom: “One of the librarians added her on myface.”

Miss Print (while laughing): “Facebook.”

Mom: “Hisface?”

Miss Print (while laughing): “Facebook.”

Mom: “Mybook?”

Miss Print (finally enunciating before laughing): “Facebook.”

“I’m Heyden.”

Today was pretty cool. Before I get into that though, I just need to take a minute to sound insanely obnoxious and review the awards I’ve won so far this year from my school: Heyden Award for Creative Writing (that’s the super awesome amazing news I blogged about a while ago), 3rd Place in Poetry for the English Dept. Writing Contest, Excellence in Research Award, and apparently the English Award for Academic Excellence (don’t tell anyone, but I’m still not entirely sure what this last one is and haven’t figured out a tactful way to inquire about  what exactly it is).

Okay, so anyway, the award ceremony for the Excellence in Research Award today. That award was from my school library. I submitted a paper and the librarians decided it was excellent, as the award name suggests. (My “mildly feminist” review of Ella Enchanted was taken from the opening part of this more overtly feminist paper.)

One Dr. Heyden was at this award ceremony. After my mom and I introduced myself (my mom came with me and had a great time hearing all the profs tell her what she already knows: that I’m awesome) this Dr. Heyden looked at us, confirmed my name and that I had won the Heyden award. Then he looked at us, smiled, and said, “I’m Heyden.”

Which is so cool! Because he’s that Heyden. And his family administers the award. And they ALL read my poems and liked them (even his mom, which he says is a big deal). Suffice it to say, I’m kind of star struck in my own strange academic way. He was equally tickled to meet me and hear that I’m using the prize money for Pratt tuition next year, which he says is exactly what the family intended when they started the award.

On top of that, several old profs spent significant amounts of time talking me up to my mom and saying what a great student I am.

Then I got to meet the librarians who gave me the award and they said my paper was enjoyable and they read it straight through and one added that she could immediately tell “it was a winner.” Plus they thought it was awesome that I’m going to library school (like to the point of revealing the secret handshake).

In summary, today was really fun and a great boost for my self-esteem and sense of awesomeness.

Librarians and Fantasy Collide in House of Many Ways: A Chick Lit Wednesday review

House of Many Ways cover

Like many seniors, my attentions have shifted recently from life at college to life after. In my own case, that means thinking about the start of rigorous librarian training which others might know more commonly as graduate school. Since I’ve consequently been thinking even more about libraries than usual, I decided to focus on two of my favorite things for my latest CLW review here: fantasies and libraries. Specifically, Diana Wynne Jones’ newest fantasy novel House of Many Ways due out from Harper Collins in June 2008, which centers on an aspiring librarian of sorts.

Surprisingly few recent fantasy novels feature libraries. After some deep thought, I could only come up with The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger and Lirael by Garth Nix. I am going to go out on a limb and say that House of Many Ways does a better job as a fantasy novel with a library angle than either of those books.

House of Many Ways is Jones’ third novel featuring Howl and Sophie, following Howl’s Moving Castle from 1986 (also a movie adaptation made by Hayao Miyazaki in 2004) and Castle in the Air from 1990. Although all of these novels stand alone very nicely, certain nuances of the story will make more sense if you read the novels in sequence. Certain characters’ cameo appearances will also be more satisfying with the background afforded by reading all three novels.

This particular story starts in High Norland with Charmain Baker. Born to lovely parents determined to make their daughter respectable, Charmain is ill equipped for almost everything besides eating and reading—a fact that has escaped the notice of her parents and doesn’t much bother Charmain.

The only problem with her tame existence is that Charmain is unable to do the one thing she has always, desperately, wanted to do: work in the royal library with the elderly Princess Hilda and her even more elderly father, the king of High Norland.

As part of her plan to gain entry to the library, Charmain agrees to watch the royal wizard’s house while he undergoes treatment from elves for a mysterious illness. Upon her arrival at the house, it becomes clear that this house-sitting venture will be more than Charmain had expected what with the angry kobolds and the sudden arrival of the wizard’s new apprentice, Peter. It may, however, also be exactly what she needs.

There are a lot of reasons that I like this book and its predecessors in the series. Diana Wynne Jones has a particularly charming writing style that is both cozy and engaging. There is something decidedly old fashioned about the prose, ranging from the chapter titles reminiscent of those found in E. M. Forster’s A Room With a View to the swift and casual narration so similar to the voice Jane Austen favored in her novels. At the same time, amazingly, Jones integrates elements of the fantastic like magic and wizards and elves without ever seeming outlandish or contrived.

House of Many Ways is a particularly appealing title, by an already well-liked author. First and foremost, for obvious reasons, I like that Charmain is a bookish character who wants to work in a library. The other characters that populate this novel, including some from both Howl’s Moving Castle and Castle in the Air, are original and appealing though not by any means perfect.

Even Charmain, the novel’s heroine, has moments where she is quite mistaken about a variety of things. Happily, never long enough to become problematic for readers. At the same time, it is refreshing that Charmain is utterly useless despite her being so well read. When she arrives at the wizard’s house she cannot cook, wash clothes, or do many other things that most people take for granted.

This story is about magic and a fair bit of adventure. But it is also about what every college senior has to think about sooner or later: being an adult. As the novel progresses, Charmain learns about more than books and magic, she learns how to grow up and take care of herself, even when that means admitting she might need some help.

Possible Pairings: A Room With a View by E. M. Forster, Enchanted by Alethea Kontis, The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger, Lirael by Garth Nix, Murder in Exile by Vincent H. O’Neil, The Archived by Victoria Schwab