Monday, May 26, 2008

All I do is not reading...

This entry is sparked by Neil Gaiman's blog entry of today -- someone asking about becoming an editor because she loves to read and being an editor, in her mind, will be all about reading. Gaiman posted a really good response from a TOR editor, and it boils down to the fact that, no, an editor's job is not reading all day.

Same thing that I often experience when people talk about wanting to become a Librarian because they love books and reading and in their mind, Librarians seem to be doing nothing but reading. The truth is, at least in my case, I almost NEVER read on the job. I read on the way to and from work on the subway, I read at night, I read brushing my teeth in the morning, I read on the weekends, I read in bed, and I read on vacation. But, if I can steal 10 minutes in any given day to read a chapter or so, I'll count myself lucky! There is a lot of data management, program preparation, PR, reference assistance, readers' advisory, reading list compilation, finding resources for patrons and for the web pages... all those little "tasks" that take up all the time in an 8-hour day that a passionate reader will definitely find frustrating if he or she got into this profession thinking that they wouldn't need to do much else. (HA! Think again!)

I am fortunate that I love to read AND love to do all the other things that come with the job (umm... maybe not that much chasing down overdue books, cleaning my desk, or shelving...) and I'd recommend anyone who wants to be a librarian thinks about this job as a service profession, as a PR profession, and as an Information Management profession, on top of a Reading Profession.

Keeping Score

Author: Linda Sue Park
Reading Level: 5th to 7th grade

Pages: 202
Publisher: Clarion
Edition: Hardcover, 2008

Keeping Score Keeping Score by Linda Sue Park

My review

rating: 4 of 5 stars
It does not take much for me to cry over characters and events in books. However, often I feel manipulated and eventually resentful because the author did something to "make" me cry for the wrong reasons. Not this one. My tears (they came toward the end in several places) were well worth the shedding. I got to really admire Maggie and completely believed in all her feelings: the indignation of how her prayers and sacrifices did not work out the way she had hoped for; the anger fits; the holding on to the hope; her compassion... Thank goodness that she is not perfect! But, so admirable and a character that readers might feel being able to emulate. I enjoyed reading the whole art of baseball score keeping and how Park weaves the baseball stories with the Korean War stories and the personal growth stories all into one neatly wrapped package. The fervor for the game is definitely palpable and contagious.

View all my reviews.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Six Innings by James Preller

Six Innings Six Innings by James Preller

My review

rating: 4 of 5 stars
My reaction after finishing this short novel for pre-teen and teens, especially who are really into the finer points of baseball playing and the spirit of the game was a tremendous respect for the author. James Preller poured much of his passion for the game into a finely crafted story set in just ONE little league game: 6 innings, character sketches of 12 players of one visiting team, and the framing, soul-searching story of the 13-year-old severely ill ex-ballplayer-turned-announcer...

I am not particularly into baseball: enjoy watching the game once in a while, of course, but do not personally collect memorabilia or statistics as a life-long hobby. This book makes me want to know and learn more about the game, its history and all the psychological aspects of the players and the plays; it also makes me believe that there is a reason for someone, young or old, to be completely lost in the world of sports and get much of their life's wisdom out of these games.

Preller also has quite a way with words and turn of phrases:

p. 15: "Aaron Foley, short and stocky with a squashed-in face that reminded Sam of an English bulldog, did more than toss his cookies. No Aaron projected his vomit across the room, spewing his insides as if fired from a cannon, a thunderous blast of wet barf splattering onto the tile floor." p. 16... That's how Sam and Mike began their friendship, sealed with a simple exchange, a look across a silent (but foul-smelling) distance.

p. 18: (About the five tools of baseball: speed, glove, arm, power, and the ability to hit for average.) Branden Reid, however, posesses a sixth tool, amnesia, the art of forgetting. Baseball is, after all, a game of failure. The only thing that a player can influence is the next play, the next at bat.

p. 22 (this describes the game, but somehow fittingly describes the book as well): "The slow rhythm of the game, a game of accumulation, of patterns, gathering itself toward the finish..." AND what a finish this book has! I felt like I witnessed a historic game after reading the last page of the book (and it isn't even about the game or the innings or the winners and the losers.)

p. 63: "There's a squarish, two-story bulding -- an overachieving shed, really"

p. 46: On the field, baseball is a game of isolation, nine singular outposts of shared solitude... You are a "team" immediately before and after each play. (This does get repeated on page 132.)

p. 106: Tragedy, the stuff of comedy.

There are a few specific references that will definitely date the book -- which is too bad: p. 40: the boys talking about Jessica Simpson and someone listening to the lyrics to a Jay-Z tune.

View all my reviews.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Edgar Awards Nominees and Winners

The Edgar Award winners of the YA and Juvenile categories are: Rat Life by Tedd Arnold and The Night Tourist by Katherine Marsh. It was announced on May 1st. Congrats to the winners. Of course, the nominated titles are worthy of note as well. Here they are:

Best Young Adult

* Rat Life by Tedd Arnold (Penguin - Dial Books for Young Readers) - WINNER
* Diamonds in the Shadow by Caroline B. Cooney (Random House Children's Books - Delacorte Press)
* Touching Snow by M. Sindy Felin (Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing - Atheneum Books for Young Readers)
* Blood Brothers by S.A. Harazin (Random House Children's Books - Delacorte Press)
* Fragments by Jeffry W. Johnston (Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing - Simon Pulse)

Best Juvenile

* The Name of This Book is Secret by Pseudonymous Bosch (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers)
* Shadows on Society Hill by Evelyn Coleman (American Girl Publications)
* Deep and Dark and Dangerous by Mary Downing Hahn (Clarion Books)
* The Night Tourist by Katherine Marsh (Hyperion Books for Young Readers) - WINNER
* Sammy Keyes and the Wild Things by Wendelin Van Draanen (Random House Children's Books - Alfred A. Knopf)

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Come Lady Death

Author: Peter S. Beagle
Reading Level: Young Adult/Adult

Edition: Podcast/Podcastle, 2008

This is the first podcastle episode, released on April 1st, 2008. Read by Paul S. Jenkins. It's a delightfully dark piece that has a very Victorian undertone but it was first published in 1963. Just a fun "listening." It makes me really want to produce my own podcast stories -- not read by me, but produced and directed by me. That will be much fun. Wouldn't it?

Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit

Author: Nahoko Uehashi
Reading Level: 4th to 8th grade

Pages: 272
Publisher: Arthur Levine/Scholastic
Edition: Hardcover, 2008 (ARC)

I posted this on Goodreads but want to highlight this one specifically here... for anyone searching for a good fantasy that is not the typical English original -- this is a GREAT new offering:

It's a book that I can feel entirely enthusiastic about recommending to children who look for fast-paced and action packed stories with magic.

It's a book that features unusual characters: the protagonist is a 30-year-old warrior woman who wields a spear with great skills and who has a rich back story and an intriguing future story to look forward to.

It does not alter its sensibilities for an American audience.

It has incredibly visual action scenes (yes, they do read like Animes, but this was turned into an anime series and I believe the lines between novels/mangas/animes are fairly blurred and cross-able and re-cross-able in the contemporary Japanese culture.)

The exploration of the "storytelling" theme strikes a chord with me, especially the idea that children's rhymes and folklores are "real" messages, to deal with real life crisis and issues.

The idea of overlaying worlds of the Real and the Fantastic are not uncommon in fantasy traditions and especially in the Manga tradition -- but here the author so tangibly captured the moments and the imagery of the two worlds when someone straddles the two realms. It made me feel as if I were the character who peeks into the fantastic realm and that that world could very well be next to me, waiting at my next breath.

Of course, there is quite a bit of nostalgia here, too -- this story echoes those martial art novels (wu xia) that I grew up with in Taiwan. The characters, their relationships, the fighting skills and scenes, the themes, etc. are all exactly what I liked as a young reader and still like as an adult.

I am just so pleased that this series is brought to the States and may allow more titles like this or even open the door to translations of wu xia xiao shuo... That will be truly a dream comes true!