Sunday, May 20, 2018

Youth Media Award winners in SRCSA library

Books arranged, front-covers up, on counter-top. They include: 'Silent Days, Silent Dreams' by Allen Say, 'Out of Wonder' by Kwame Alexander, et. al., 'All Around Us' by Xelena Gonzalez, 'Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut' by Derrick Barnes, 'Wolf in the Snow' by Matthew Cordell, 'Charlie & Mouse' by Laurel Snyder, 'The 57 Bus' by Dashka Slater, 'The Epic Fail of Arturo Zamora' by Pablo Cartaya, 'The First Rule of Punk' by Celia C. Pérez, 'Piecing Me Together' by Renee Watson, 'Hello, Universe' by Erin Entrada Kelly, and 'You're Welcome, Universe' by Whitney Gardner

A definite highlight to this past week at Santa Rosa Charter School for the Arts, was the arrival of books honored among the best of children’s literature by the American Library Association’s Youth Media Awards. I await with interest early each year as the awards are announced, but how much more exciting to be able to read some of these books for myself, and to know that my library customers will be able to enjoy them too. Appreciation to the School for the Arts Community Organization, for purchasing these wonderful new arrivals.

Saturday, May 12, 2018

‘The Burning Maze’ by Rick Riordan

It felt as though we were being chased by fire in October 2017, as we traveled Highway 29 -- away from the Napa Valley floor, up Mount Saint Helena, and into Lake County, Calif.

The complex of fires that raged that month has been called the largest in California history. I could readily imagine them as the earthly manifestation of an ancient Titan’s wrath.

Well, raging fires and other "natural" disasters form a backdrop to the action in this latest adventure in Rick Riordan’s Trials of Apollo series. Traveling through the Labyrinth, Apollo, Meg, and Grover the satyr emerge in southern California where new perils await.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

‘Rock-Stars’ purchase prizes in SRCSA library

Two colorfully-decorated portfolios, one on top of the other and each printed with the words, 'Book Marks.' Strips of label-maker tape have been put across the top of each one, reading, 'COST: ONE ROCK-STAR EACH.' Sitting on top of the two portfolios are several novelty-printed pencils, held together in clear-plastic packaging. From left to right, the pencils are pink-patterned, light green-patterned, black-against-pale-green zebra-patterned, and money-patterned, with about four of each variety visible.

Students earn “Rock-Stars” at Santa Rosa Charter School for the Arts by being safe, respectable, and responsible. Well, a “Rock-Star” ticket mini-store has begun serving customers in the library. A selection of bookmarks and novelty-patterned pencils each cost one “Rock-Star” apiece. Community members may have noticed similar items for-sale during Scholastic Book Fair; using sale proceeds, the organizers gave me some bookmarks to use as “Rock-Star” prizes. I do ask that student-browsing times be limited to when I’m available in the library, so I can get out, and put away, the collection.

Saturday, May 5, 2018

DirecTV commercial normalizes abuse

If you’ve examined my posts, you might know one of the things I care about is to speak out against bullying. I’m a survivor of childhood peer abuse — and as such, I’m concerned when society makes light of ANY kind of abuse.

Well, right now, there’s a DirecTV commercial that seems to air non-stop whenever I stream shows online. Maybe you’ve heard it? That “letting-go, sorry-not-sorry” thing. Accompanied by this voice-over, it shows a young woman in an upper-story residence throwing a man’s belongings out of a window.

She doesn’t just throw them, either; it appears as though she is actively trying to hit him with the heavier objects. If something like that occurred in real life, it could cause injury or death.

Put simply, this commercial is disgusting! It normalizes domestic violence and I find it reprehensible. Moreover, the intended tone of the commercial clearly seems to be that the viewer is expected to relate to this woman, to take her side and exult with her as she threatens to harm another living being.

The look on the actress’s face is utterly revolting when she prepares to chuck the man’s guitar out the window; I find it difficult to read facial expressions but in that moment whatever she is communicating non-verbally, I find the character she is portraying to be completely malevolent.

If DirecTV were hoping to appeal to a female demographic, it has instead thoroughly repulsed this member of its target audience. Every person who “greenlighted” this commercial should be thoroughly ashamed.

Sunday, April 29, 2018

‘My Brigadista Year’ by Katherine Paterson

In 1960, in a speech at the United Nations, Fidel Castro announced a campaign to officially end illiteracy in Cuba. My Brigadista Year by Katherine Paterson is the story of a 13-year-old girl who volunteers to be a teacher in the Cuban countryside.

The protagonist, Lora, is idealistic and proud to be a brigadista. She is 13 years old and up to this point, has led a sheltered life. Told in first-person, broader events are presented through a lens consistent with Lora’s character and her direct experience.

(In an afterword, author Katherine Paterson offers additional historical information about censorship and repression under the Castro regime, but she also points out that, for decades, Cubans have received universal free education and health care.)

What I liked about this book was the idea that young people can make a difference. In this case, Lora was among 250,000 Cubans who taught fellow country-members to read and to write. (Paterson shares that more than 700,000 Cubans learned to read and write during the literacy campaign, which officially opened Jan. 28, 1961, and concluded Dec. 22 of that same year.)

The idea that I’d hope young readers took away after picking up this book, would be the idea that they, like Lora, can make a positive difference and that the world can change because of them. My Brigadista Year recently arrived in my school library as a Junior Library Guild selection.