Me and MU and everyone we know

So, for everyone playing along at home, today is my last day at my current place of employ. On Monday I start at MU, my new place of employ. Having had time to adjust to the changes, I’m feeling better about the whole thing. I have a new landmark to use when explaining the library’s location, which had been bothering me. And, everyone at the branch seems nice. In the spirit of making a great first impression I dropped by there earlier this week (on my own time) to introduce myself. No one introduced themselves by their last name and I was not introduced by my last name. All of which is a step up from my previous place of employ in Chinatown.

My new library also seems to have a punnier symbol, as you might have noticed by now.

Plus, and I thought this was interesting, I was thinking about my two previous places of employ and realized that this new one is going to be a completely different experience. It’s the first time I’ll be working somewhere where no one knew me for a year (or more) before I started the job. The chance to have a completely clean slate, where no one knows anything about me or any silly things I’ve done previously (or, perhaps, about my blog), is kind of liberating. I get to choose how everyone perceives me. And I get to choose what they know. I haven’t had the chance to do that in five years.

Now if I can just figure out how to log in to Pratt’s “academic tools” site everything will really be fine. (And for anyone who was wondering, my CLW review will be up soon. It’s late for a really good reason though–I’m still reading the book!)

So, here’s to a new chapter, (even though I didn’t realize I was done with the current one).

Maybe if they start charging for foot traffic?

Coworker: “Do you get transit checks?” [Money deducted from salary, before taxes, to pay for commuting costs]

Miss Print: “I walk here.”

Coworker: “. . .”

Yeah.

Bloomability: A Chick Lit Wednesday review

Bloomability by Sharon CreechBloomability (1998) by Sharon Creech

Sharon Creech won the Newbery Medal for “the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children” in 1994 for her novel Walk Two Moons. Bloomability, from 1998, is one of Creech’s later novels for children.

Thirteen-year-old Domenica Santolina Doone, known to almost everyone as Dinnie, does not have what most people would consider a mundane life, let alone an average one.

“In my first life, I lived with my mother, and my older brother and sister, Crick and Stella, and with my father when he wasn’t on the road.”

As Dinnie’s father, a Jack-of-all-trades by name and choice, moves across the country in search of new “opportunities,” Dinnie and her family follow.

“By the time I was twelve, we’d followed my father from Kentucky to Virginia to North Carolina to Tennessee to Ohio to Indiana to Wisconsin to Oklahoma to Oregon to Texas to California to New Mexico. My things fit in one box.”

There was also a stint in Arkansas so brief that it escaped Dinnie’s recollection. As some readers might have guessed, this lifestyle did not always work out for the family. The crux of the novel begins when Dinnie makes this series of observations:

“Dad was on the road, Crick was in jail, and Stella was having a baby.

And that was the last week of my first life.”

That’s when Dinnie is kidnapped by two complete strangers. At least, that’s how it seems to Dinnie. No one else seems to agree. But, just because she met her Aunt Sandy and Uncle Max twice before, it doesn’t make them like her real family. At least, not right away.

Dinnie’s aunt and uncle take her off to Switzerland for an opportunity of her own as a student the school where Max will be headmaster and Sandy a teacher. At first, Dinnie doesn’t see how any of that is an opportunity. But then she gets to the school and starts to meet some of the other students. Coming from all over the world, and from many different cultures, everyone is different. For the first time in Dinnie’s life, she isn’t the only stranger. Miles away from her family and in a foreign country, Dinnie might finally have a chance to find herself.

Along the way, she also finds friends (and family) that she never would have encountered anywhere else. Creech does a great job here of showing different cultures. The book is a nice example of a truly international book. It also might teach readers a thing or two about the importance of tolerance. In fact, I’m sure it could be used in a variety of classes as a teaching tool even if I can’t get into all of the ideas in this review. It’s also written in a very authentic, humorous voice.

The title of this book, Bloomability, refers to possibilities–a recurring theme in the novel. Dinnie isn’t happy about a lot of the things she has to do, but as she soon learns, every change is an opportunity and a new possibility. On a personal level, this book is actually a really relevant review for the week, and I’m sure most other readers would also find it has some valuable insight to offer during times of change.

“It made me want to go to Ireland and become Irish.”

Yes, the above assertion is ridiculous and no I did not come up with it (I saw it on PBS during one of their telethon breaks). BUT, in relation to Celtic Thunder, it’s kind of true.

I had the good fortune of seeing the group’s tv special (on PBS) and immediately ran out to buy the CD. And, I know it’s silly, but I do kind of want to go to Ireland after listening to it, though perhaps not to become Irish.

Anyway, if you like strong vocals and “folk-ish” music (or Celtic music obviously) be sure to check them out. You can also check out their sister group, Celtic Woman, whose CD is also very good though perhaps not as powerful (loud) as Celtic Thunder’s.

As “Barbie” says “American men fail at life” by comparison.

Things that rock my socks

Random list because this is my blog and I can do whatever I want.

1. “Chelsea Girl” because she’s awesome and she actually thinks that I am awesome too. How cool is that?

2. Build-A-Bear and Friends 2b Made
Love the stores, love the merch. I just do.

3. My new Irish music CDs (more about that later).

4. My friends.

5. My mom.

A Girl and Her Gator: A Picture Book Review

A Girl and Her Gator by Sean Bryan, illustrated by Tom MurphyOne day a girl named Claire
gets out of bed and finds a gator in her hair.
Being reasonable, Claire asks the gator (Pierre)
to vacate her head before people stare.
To which Pierre responds “Au contrair!”
explaining why any other girl would wish for a gator in her hair.
Such is the story created by Sean Bryan and Tom Murphy
in their second book where things get topsy turvy.
Now might also be the time,
to mention that it’s written in rhyme.

Joking aside, A Girl and Her Gator (2006) by Sean Bryan, illustrated by Tom Murphy is one of my favorite picture books of all time. I found it in the library where I work last year and have been hooked ever since. I read it to coworkers, I read it to the eight-year-olds that came to my read alouds, I read it to my friends. The point being that everyone–from that wide range of ages–thought the book was great. Sean Bryan’s writing is fantastic. You wouldn’t think there are that many ways rhyme “gator” but Bryan comes up with quite a few. The story, of course, is funny as Pierre tries to explain the benefits of having a gator in her hair to Claire. But by the end of the story it also shows readers that it’s not only okay to be different, it can also be really fun. A great message that I don’t think readers can hear enough.

As amazing as Bryan’s writing is, the words only really come to life with Tom Murphy’s illustrations. The drawings have sharp outlines and simple compositions (just the basic elements needed to convey the story) which are great for younger readers because the images are easy to decipher. The illustration style also makes it great to read aloud to a group because the clean images can be “read” easily from a distance.

I haven’t worked out how to use these elements to my advantage, but I also like that the book has a definite color scheme (pink, as the cover suggests) and that it spends so much time on what attire goes best with a gator (I say “pirate wear” though the authors disagreed).

I loved this book so much that I was thrilled when I found out that there was not only a prequel (A Boy and His Bunny from 2005) but also a sequel that was published in 2007 called A Bear and His Boy.

“Let’s not.”

During one of my fiction writing classes:

Prof CW: “The bible has some nasty passages: ‘Let’s circumcise all the men and then kill them.'”

Hades: “Let’s not.”

T: “Let’s not and say we did.”

No news is good news

My life has been kind of chaotic for the past couple of days through no fault of my own. I don’t feel comfortable getting into all of the gory details here since this is a public blog, but basically I’m being forced to leave my current place of employ for a different library branch. I’m annoyed about the fact of  this transfer but am trying to view it as a new experience. But at the same time, I’m really mad about how the situation was handled by my supervisors and their supervisors and just everyone in the library system. Instead of being the first to know about what was going on, I’m pretty sure I was the last. And it hurts to have that be the case. Anyway, although I don’t want to rehash the story again I just wanted to have the fact of it be known. So there it is.

On the Bright Side, I’m Now the Girlfriend of a Sex God: A CLW review

on_the_bright_side_of_things_im_now_the_girlfriend_of_a_sex_godI’m basically sure I do like Louise Rennison’s books, but wow her titles are long! I couldn’t bring myself to add “a Chick Lit Wednesday review” at the end. Wow.

Okay, so On the Bright Side, I’m Now the Girlfriend of a Sex God (2001) (find it on Bookshop) picks up almost exactly where Angus, Thongs, and Full-Frontal Snogging left off (two days later to be specific). As Georgia continues her diary, she is very disillusioned by the prospect of going to visit her father in New Zealand on “the other (useless) side of the universe” instead of having time to spend (snogging) with Robbie–the Sex God.

Like the first book in this series, this one basically just follows a few months in Georgia’s life. Mayhem continues to follow Georgia as she and her friends devise new Beret-wearing methods at school among other kinds of mischief. This includes some chaos on the hockey field (the first book featured a rather disastrous tennis match). Rennison writes Georgia as a bit of a spaz–always thinking about herself and her appearance, heaping scorn upon Robbie’s more studious ex–so it’s nice to see her being athletic without really trying and without any ulterior motive.

Meanwhile, Georgia also has to figure out how to get back in Robbie’s good graces when he once again decides that she is too young for him. Part of her plan? Maturiosity and Glaceriosity. Yes.

Basically anything funny that came up in the first book has been revisited in this one. A personal favorite: Georgia’s continued bewilderment when faced with the phrase “see you later.” (Does it mean “see you later” or something else? No one knows.) There are a lot of developments in this volume in terms of inter-character relations (Georgia, her friends, Robbie, and so on). But there isn’t as much intra-character development. Again. By the end of the book, Georgia does have some new quandaries to think about (is it a problem that the SG doesn’t make her laugh for instance), but it’s still too early to tell if her new introspection will lead to a bit of enlightenment.

By the time I read this book (in a day), I was basically over my qualms about liking Georgia but feeling like I shouldn’t. The plots are simple and fun, Georgia makes me laugh. It’s fine.

That said, I have noticed that, like a few other laugh-out-loud funny books for teens, this one gets a lot of the humor from Georgia having kind of low self-esteem. A running theme in both books is Georgia bemoaning her ugliness as a result of her large nose. It doesn’t really impact the story, or send any message about beauty ideals or anything, I just wish Georgia could be a little more sure of herself. All of her friends (and snogging partners) seem to indicate that people think Georgia is pretty cool. I wish that she would figure that out as well. Maybe in the next book . . .

Possible Pairings: Boys Don’t Knit by T. S. Easton, Ghost Huntress by Marley Gibson, The Popularity Papers by Amy Ignatow, Alice, I Think by Susany Juby, Confessions of a Not It Girl by Melissa Kantor, Saving Francesca by Melina Marchetta, Sloppy Firsts by Megan McCafferty, Sucks to be Me by Kimberly Pauley, Gabi, A Girl in Pieces by Isabel Quintero, My Big Nose and Other (Natural) Disasters by Sydney Salter

Nilla Cakesters Taste Evaluation

Nilla Cakesters are soft, cake-like cookies (supposedly flavored like Nilla Wafers) with cream sandwiched between them. But don’t let this description fool you. They actually taste like all those bad things you shouldn’t eat, not because they’re high in calories or sugar but because they are hazardous to your health. Like rubber cement or styrofoam. Except that stuff would probably taste better than the cookies.