Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Truth and Media

On the Night You Were Born, by Nancy Tillman. My coworker recommended this picture book to me as one of her favorites. I found it too sappy for my taste, but I think young children will enjoy the message. The artwork didn't stand out for me either. Grand Theft Childhood: The Surprising Truth About Violent Video Games (And What Parents Can Do), by Lawrence Kutner and Cheryl K. Olson. I read a portion of this book in preparation for a program I was doing to educate parents (or introduce them to educating themselves) on video games. I found this book extremely interesting, but I don't have time to finish it. I put a lot of time into researching my program, but no one came. If you'd like a PowerPoint and speaking notes for a 20-35 minute presentation on video game systems and ESRB ratings, comment at me with your email address and I'd be happy to share. The Blue Death: The Intriguing Past and Present Danger of the Water You Drink, by Dr. Robert D. Morris. This book wasn't perfect, but the writing really drew me in. The author could probably have doubled the total number of commas he used and still missed some. It affected readability, but the writing is otherwise great. I am a little confused about what the author was trying to do with this book-- the first portion of the book is a detailed history of John Snow and cholera in London. We then skip over any similar histories or diseases like typhus, etc., and go into waste water in 19th century America. All the information was interesting, but it didn't seem to really go together. I am forced to doubt, at least a little, how carefully this book was reviewed, and how to consider how desperate the author may have been. On the back of the book, one of the blurbs is from the review from the Washington Post Book World, and it says, "I switched from tap to bottled water while reading this book." You'd have to be living under a rock to escape the fact that most bottled water, grocery-store brand and others, aren't anything special. But the author even says, "Bottled water is less closely regulated than tap water and is not required to meet stricter standards for purity. In fact, a major portion of bottled water in the United States is nothing more than tap water in an expensive bottle" (p. 289). Errors like this make me doubt the whole thing, the whole process that got this book onto my library's shelf. True Blood, based on the novels by Charlaine Harris; Alan Ball and Brian Buckner, co-executive producers. I think I've only reviewed media once or twice before. It isn't normally my thing, but I have read all of the books in this series, so I though I'd give the show a go. It seems like everyone is a big fan, so I put the first season on my Blockbuster mail-it-to-me-at-home list. I'm now about half way through the season. I watched the first episode and said, "wow, that sucked. [ha, ha] I'm not wasting my time on these." But the next day I was stuck at home, so I watched the second episode. I said, "these really are terrible, but they've already mailed me the next 3 episodes so..." Now I can't stop. They really are terrible-- it's an HBO series, so of course it's filled with cursing and soft-core scenes, which I could really do without. Most of the acting is pretty awful, too: they obviously picked actors for their looks, not their acting abilities. So why can't I stop watching it? Someone had a great idea with this series. The story works really well in visual. Some of the characters are a bit different-- Sookie comes off as a weird mix of political liberal but hard core bible thumper, which I didn't see in the book, and of course each character is younger, hotter, and blonder than originally described-- but so far we're sticking pretty close to the story, which I have to consider a plus. I am a big fan of Sam in nearly every way. Super Smash Bros. Brawl (Wii), by Nintendo. In addition to my other duties, I'm now overseeing a group of Middle Schoolers every Wednesday. I set up the library's game system (we have both a Wii and an Xbox 360), and monitor them for 2 hours while they play. So far this has been pretty well-attended and, in my book, quite the success: it doesn't cost the library much, as the systems had already been purchased; it's just my time, the game discs which are already part of the collection (so by checking them out I increase circulation: woohoo!), and a bag of chips a week. This game is rated T, for cartoon violence and crude humor. The ESRB's definition of "crude humor" is kind of unspecific, so I can't really comment on that. The entire purpose of the game is to fight, but it's not a realistic kind of violence. I let the 12-year-olds play because I feel the rating is too high. This won't hurt them. This was one of the most-requested games, and everybody seemed to enjoy it. It's kind of a given nowadays that the graphics will be pretty spectacular, and this is no exception. This isn't the sort of game that I would enjoy playing, but it's a must-have for library game collections serving tweens and early teens.

1 comment:

Ms. Yingling said...

I would have come to your talk on video games. My own personal children get one half hour a day for any screen time, so they make careful choices. I'm glad the gaming increases your circulation, but also glad I don't have to deal with it!