A Real New Start

September 3, 2009

My goodness, has it really been so long since I last posted? I wish I had a proper excuse for falling so behind, but the truth is school/life/job hunting simply overwhelmed me this summer. Things are getting back under control now that I’ve finished my MLIS, so look for honest updates very soon!


A New Month, a New Start

May 1, 2009

After dropping off the radar at the end of term, I’ve been slowly but surely digging myself out of the stacks of books that patiently waited in my windowsill for what seems like forever. That being said, you can expect some posts coming very soon about:

The Summoning (and its newly released sequel, The Awakening) by Canadian writer Kelley Armstrong
Maximum Ride: The Angel Experiment by James Patterson
Life as We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer


Also, since the course that I originally began this blog for has now finished, I might be making some changes soon but stick around!


A look at the Young Adult Library Services Association blog

April 7, 2009

As I made my way over to the YALSA blog, I wasn’t sure what to expect in terms of design compared to their print journal, which I found to be lacking in terms of visual details. Thankfully, I was pleasantly surprised. While not perfect, the visual design of this site is overall fresh and vibrant – finally, a positive reflection of the professionals working in the field of young adult librarianship (click screen capture for link to the site):

yalsa-screen-captureThat being said, I was surprised by the absence of graphics in any of the blog posts. It is my guess that the authors of the site want to avoid overwhelming their readers with both bright colours and graphics, but as it stands there just seems to be an overload of text. Graphics, whether photos or illustrations, would help bring the content to life and make browsing through the material a bit easier.

In terms of content, this really is a rain barrel for all things YA-related: books and reading information, YALSA programs and events, news, discussion of hot-topic issues and interesting links. One that caught my eye was an entry about an invite-only website called Hunch, which is a site that essentially helps its users make decisions based on their answers to related questions. The author then continues to discuss ways of thinking about this tool in relation to youth services, and some of her ideas might surprise you. It’s seemingly random things like this that give this blog value for me – finding new slants from which to look at this profession that we are working towards, and to think of creative ways to engage with users and capture their attention. One thing that the author does not go into, but I am interested in finding out, is how this tool might be used in terms of an alternative reader’s advisory tool – I’ve submitted my request for an invitation and am eagerly waiting to try it out.

In summary, this blog is a great tool for keeping an ear on the beat of the YA library services  community. It is updated frequently, is simple to navigate, and is both relavant and current in terms of content.

As Mike mused earlier today, it certainly would be nice to have something like this based in Canada, focusing on some of the issues unique to our own library culture – I’ll be keeping my eyes open!


How to Teach Filthy Rich Girls: Book Talk

March 24, 2009


How to Teach Filthy Rich Girls
also published as Privileged
By Zoey Dean (2007)

Fitting in with 16-year-old twin heiresses can’t be that hard… can it? Megan Smith is in for more than she bargained for when she is let go from her job at a tabloid magazine and finds herself in the position of SAT tutor to Rose and Sage Baker.

** Edit: This video has been removed by user **

*The inspiration behind the CW’s Privileged

Also be sure to check out:






Private by Kate Brian (series)
The A-List
by Zoey Dean
The Nanny Diaries
by Emma McLaughlin
Gossip Girl by Cecily Von Ziegesar (series)

More to come, so stick around!


Library Service for LGBTQ Teens: Reading Response

March 16, 2009

Why do we let the categories that we create define people?

As I read this article, the message was clear: all teens deserve the same treatment. Yet we see through the author’s examples, as well as our own experiences each day, that we can say this until our throats are dry but until we truly see people equally we do not fairly provide equal service.

It is not enough to say that we support lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered and questioning teens in our libraries, without considering the resources that we provide. Gardes made the important suggestion of making the library a safe place, as the library may be one of the only places that a teen whose voice does not get heard might feel at ease.

The truth is that you are never going to know everything about all of your teen patrons. Their sexual orientation, gender identity, faith, family history, social network – all are things that may or may not be revealed to you, which if nothing else is why it is so important to maintain the same level of dignity and respect with all patrons. You don’t know what their story is, and you shouldn’t have to in order to meet their needs and provide them with the information that they seek.

Gardes, T. (Fall 2008).  Serving Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgendered, and Questioning Teens in Your Library Media Center.  CSLA Journal, 32(1), 23-24


Adult Books for Teens: Reading Response

March 16, 2009


The line separating adult and young adult books grows fainter with each reader finding their next read on a new shelf. Is there any doubt that teens may enjoy adult fiction and that adults may enjoy teen fiction?  What separates the two so significantly that these debates continue?

Carter’s article on this topic suggests that one of the greatest differences is in the marketing process, in which YA publishers tend to cater to institutional systems, whereas adult publishers have a broader buying population available – while this is likely true, what does this mean for library services? There are many titles that can and do appeal to both audiences. There is a tendency in library systems to keep adult and teen materials separate from one another, which for most purposes is effective, but were they able to interact more often perhaps there would be more opportunities for the natural cross-over that occurs. If libraries were to counter marketing strategies by defying boundaries in reading lists and displays, including titles from the adult and teen sections with similar appeal, perhaps we would start seeing the lines fade away altogether in the minds of readers. Popular adult fiction writers such as Sophie Kinsella and Stephen King have many young adult readers, so why not promote these titles along with read-a-likes in your teen section?

Carter quotes Rosenblatt, offering that “through literature they [young adults] acquire not so much additional information as additional experience” (1968, 38), and I think that this can be said for adults as well. Our own personal experiences are so incredibly limited, and reading is one of the ways that we allow ourselves an escape into the experiences of others, no matter the defined age range. An adult has just as much to experience through a new YA title as a teen would in an adult title, whether in seeing sitations from a new perspective or revisiting the feelings they had forgotten.

At the end of the day, it is above all about the reader, regardless of their age. If the appeal factors of an adult fiction title match the reader’s interests then why not offer it?

Response to article: Carter, B. (1997). Adult books for young adults. The English Journal, 86(3). 63-67


The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things: Critical Blueprint

March 8, 2009

earth-butt The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things
By Carolyn Mackler (2003)

Virginia Shreves is fifteen years old and the daughter of a teen psychologist  – in other words, she doesn’t have a prayer. Add to that a  brother impossible to live up to, a best friend who has just moved away to Walla Walla, a butt that barely fits into her Fat Pants, and the possibility that her Monday after school make-out partner has sold his trombone to afford laser eye surgery and finally sees the body that everybody else sees when they look at her – this is The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things.

As I read this book, I was overwhelmed at how much I related to Virginia. This is a character who is so real that you nearly forget she is a character at all, rolling your eyes along with her as her parents comment about her weight as if it were the weather. I felt connected to her from page one: her strategic make-out session with Froggy, clouded with insecurities and  side-tracked thoughts, all the while doing her “best imitation of a lover seized by passion. Eyelids heavy, faint upward curve to lips – just like women in movies who always look so orgasmic“. I mean, I love Gossip Girl as much as the next girl but this sounds a lot more like the teenage experience that I remember: awkward with a sense of humor that comes in looking back.

That being said, issues surrounding body image do not evaporate once the teen years pass, and to see them depicted so earnestly as they develop brought me right back to those familiar feelings of wanting so badly to look and feel a certain way but feeling like you always fall short. It’s hard being a girl, and I think that this novel gives a fair and accurate depiction of the way it manages to be simultaneously overwhelming, fun, exciting, confusing, frustrating and amazing.

In order to fully enjoy The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things, the reader must be willing to emotionally commit to it. If you are the kind of reader who feels incredibly uncomfortable at the thought of some emotionally intense scenes then this is unfortunately not for you. Not that this is the vibe of the entire novel, but Virginia (and consequently the reader) does have to both go through and witness some very emotionally trying situations in order to make it to the end of her story, and that is one of the things that makes it worth reading. This book deals with body image, self actualization, finding your place and exploring the opposite sex in a very realistic way – and by that I mean that it is not the kind of novel that melodramatically depicts the pains of growing up, but rather is as honest as a reflective personal narration can be. Mackler writes on the same level as her readers which makes it read more like the pages of my high school diaries than a ‘problem’ novel, and a teen who could relate to Virginia would find comfort in this novel because of that.

In terms of introducing this book to teens, I think it would be important to emphasize the humorous element rather than the “issues”, only because the latter might give readers the impression that you are trying to ‘teach them a lesson’, which is not what this book is about. While of course there are lessons to be learned through Virginia’s experience, this is more effective when encountered organically.

The author’s website has a page dedicated to the creation of this novel, in which she writes about the experience of writing this novel during the summer when she was 28 years old, something which might serve as an access point for some readers. Perhaps it is the fact that she was not too far removed from the teenage experience when writing that she is able to so effectively capture the experiences that she writes about.

So there you have it. There are a lot of elements that I could say I haven’t had time to touch on, but the truth is I don’t want to spoil it all for you! This book is at once hilarious, touching, devastating and entirely worth a read.

Also by Carolyn Mackler:

vegan-virginVegan Virgin Valentine


Love and Other Four Letter Words


If you liked The Earth, My Butt and Other Big Round Things, check out Angus, Thongs and Full-Frontal Snogging by Louise Rennison and What My Mother Doesn’t Know by Sonya Sones

Side Note:  In The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things, Ani DiFranco’s song Gratitude is referred to. After reading this book I had to listen to the song, and judging from the comments posted on this youtube video it seems like a lot of other readers did too!