Sep 23, 2013

Banned Books Week!

Banned Books Week is one of my favorite weeks in the library world.  Too many people don't realize that the censorship of challenged books is not just a thing of the past. While I obviously don't love how books and other materials are still censored, I do love drawing awareness to this fact and encouraging readers to defend their right to read the books they find interesting.

You can learn more about BBW at the ALA Website.  

Sep 11, 2013

#TheList, No. 909: Madame Doubtfire

Guess who didn't know that the 1993 movie Mrs. Doubtfire was based on a children's novel? Me. I feel left out of the loop.

We know the story: parents divorce and put their children in the middle of their many bitter arguments involving custody arrangements. The mother doesn't want to give the father more time with the children. To get his deserved time, the father comes up with the inspired idea to dress up like a woman and apply to be the housekeeper/nanny. Then it all blows up in his face and he's left fighting to prove that his actions make him a great, caring father.

That all translated to the movie.  But the book has many dark moments that didn't quite make it into the movie (in my recollection). For starters, the fights between the parents are intense, lengthy, and at times, downright cruel. The fights about the children often lead to arguments with the children, the father taking no pause to place blame on the children for his predicaments.  Then there are the instances when the father daydreams and/or mimes about killing his front of the children. For example: when he inspires himself to clean by imagining he's mopping up his ex's blood. Big ol' yikes.  It's made clear that they aren't the portrait of a happy go lucky family.

I wasn't a fan of the novel; the father's violent tendencies really disagreed with me. However, I respect that it didn't try to Parent Trap the divorced couple.  The book isn't about bringing them back together; it's about realistically (minus the cross-dressing) depicting what it's like for children of divorced families and how parents need to readjust with their children's interests as the big picture.

One last thing. Let's take a minute and examine the book cover for the edition I read:

It's a little blurry, but it looks like Adam Sandler in drag. So I'm fairly certain that this cover foreshadowed Jack and Jill.

Sep 10, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Would Love To See As A Movie/TV Show

It's no guarantee, but sometimes books work as TV shows and movies.  They aren't always perfect copies (alright, they never ever are), but they translate well to a visual media.  In a perfect world where the end result would be a flawless movie or television show, here are my

Top Ten Books I Would Love To See as a Movie/TV Show

1. Unwind, by Neal Shusterman
This series has a lot of suspense, action and character development that could easily translate into a TV show.

2. Stephanie Plum By the Numbers Series, by Janet Evanovich
Yes, they tried this as a movie with Katherine Heigl and anyone could see that it was going to fail miserably. 1. It should be a television show. 2. Betty White should be Grandma. It would be can't-miss TV.

3. The Giver, by Lois Lowry
It might be incredibly difficult to capture the essence of this novel on film, but it would be a decent start if Morgan Freeman was cast as the titular role.

4. I Hunt Killers, by Barry Lyga
So as not to draw out the action too much, I think this would be best as a miniseries.  Allegedly, this title is in the works for an ABC Family series, so hopefully they preserve the sheer epicness that is this novel (and it's sequel).

5. Every Day, by David Levithan
The pursuit of an impossible relationship is the basis of many a successful movie, and I think this novel could make for an interesting addition. Difficult casting for sure as A would need to be portrayed by more than a handful of actors. There are great lessons to be found in these pages that could translate well to some cinematic interpretation.

6. Night Circus, by Erin Morgenstern
This one is listed as "in development" on IMDB and I'm not surprised: It's a great story and the sets for this book would look utterly fantastic on the big screen if done correctly.

7. The Mother Daughter Book Club, by Heather Vogel Frederick
I think this series is really sweet and would make for a cute Disney Channel type show.  It could be cast with fresh faces to be scrutinized later in their careers when they stop being prepubescent. But I do think this would make a fun addition to TV, especially because children's literature would be openly discussed on TV.

8. The Cuckoo's Calling, by Robert Galbraith J.K. Rowling
I'm thinking BBC series for this one. They can do no wrong. And with such amazing material, it would be near impossible to.

9. Bossypants, by Tina Fey
I know this is a weird addition. I've read the book and I've listened to the audiobook read by Fey herself. But I want to watch Tina read this book. Seriously, plop her down on a stool, have her read from the book, and film it. I would buy a ticket to see that and I hate paying to go see movies. Comedy gold.

10. Hex Hall, by Rachel Hawkins
Perhaps it's because I just finished the second book in this trilogy, but I think this would be a fun TV series (if we weren't suffering from paranormal romance/adventure overload). It's funny, contains magic, and has a sarcastic female lead.  I can definitely see myself binge-watching this on Netflix.

Sep 7, 2013

Openly Straight

Rafe is an openly gay teenager in Boulder, CO, a place where his sexuality is rarely looked down upon. His friends and family are more than supportive; his hippie parents even threw him a surprise coming out party.  But Rafe is tired of always being labeled as "the gay guy." There's more to him beyond his sexuality. So Rafe heads out to a brand new, all boys boarding school and willingly puts himself back in the closet so his other traits can shine through.  What follows is an interesting exploration of how Rafe can or cannot be true to himself when he omits a major aspect of his life and how this omission impacts not only his actions, but his peers' as well. 

In Openly Straight, Bill Konigsberg puts an interesting twist on the LGBT young adult novel. Many times the struggle is coming out or finding acceptance as a gay teen, but here the struggle (in Rafe's original assessment) is finding acceptance as a regular guy. Konigsberg explores labels outside of "gay" and how pigeonholing people into these roles almost never reflects accurate assessments of their lives.  Eventually Rafe comes to meaningful realizations about how he perceives himself as a result of his experiment.

I would recommend this book to any teen who shows interest in LGBT literature, particularly because it is a refreshing plot.  The focus on other teen issues is also prevalent and would appeal to teens looking for books that deal with bullying, depression, exploration of sexuality, and/or school hierarchies.  Sometimes books about LGBT issues can be (rightly) overly emotional. This book succeeds in discussing difficult topics with humor. It's a very, very funny book with a lot of heart.

P.S. I knew I loved this book when on page 12, a boy is described as wearing a shirt that says "I Want to Go To There." Later, my love was reaffirmed when a character states that he's upset because he didn't get tickets to the New Kids on the Block reunion tour.  

Sep 3, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: Books that Should be Required Reading/Contemporary-Classics Pairings

Now that I'm back in school mode, it's good to be thinking about the educational value of the books I push on recommend to students.  So for this week's Top Ten Tuesday:

Books that Should be Required Reading

1. The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak

This one has already popped up in a number of school syllabi which is fantastic.  There's so much in this novel that students can work with: perspective, heroism, setting, etc.  It's also an incredible read that I recommend to everyone (my Aunt just finished...).

2. Wonder, by R.J. Palacio

I think this novel lines up well with a lot of the anti-bullying rules that schools are now (hopefully) enforcing. The multi-perspective novel shines a light on what people may experience on account of being different and how "normal" people react to said different people.

3. The Westing Game, by Ellen Raskin

Okay, this is just one of my favorite books ever, so I'm being biased.  But I read this in school and it was the best unit ever. It's a great book for putting clues together, searching for foreshadowing, and examining character motives.  Plus, it is amazing.

4. Monster, by Walter Dean Myers

Some students don't respond to novels, so it's useful to bring other formats to the table. Monster offers a lot of literary techniques, and it could be the source of a classroom debate over who is guilty.

Contemporary Books Paired With Classic Required Readings

5-6. Unwind, by Neal Shusterman and Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley

If there was ever a dystopia that I would recommend for school assignments, Unwind would be it and I think it would pair well with Frankenstein.The Gothic classic deals with the questions of who is to blame for crime (the creator or the creation?) and what happens when man plays God (bad things)? Unwind tackles similar problems through the ownership over a person's life and organs.

7-8. Dodger, by Terry Pratchett and Oliver Twist, by Charles Dickens

It makes sense because Dodger comes from Oliver Twist and Dickens himself is a character in Pratchett's novel.  It would make for fun classroom activities to note the connections between the two novels.

9-10. When You Reach Me, by Rebecca Stead and A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeleine L'Engle

I mean, Wrinkle plays a pivotal part in When You Reach Me, so it only makes sense that the two should be paired together.  Plus, think of the complex time travel papers those 5th graders could write as a result!!

Check out more books at The Broke and the Bookish!