Thursday, August 26, 2010

eclectic collection.

I Can't Keep My Own Secrets: Six-Word Memoirs by Teens Famous + Obscure, edited by Smith Magazine.    We have to write these little "news" articles for our library website, and my latest one was an overview of our YA Nonfiction section before school started.  This is one of the lovely not-just-for-school nonfiction books we have available, and I really enjoyed it.  It certainly would have been very influential for me had I actually read it in high school; some of the "memoirs" still resonate.  I would consider it a must-have for any library that serves teens. 

Altered Shoes: A Step-by-Step Guide to Making Your Footwear Fabulous, by Marty Stevens-Heebner.   I didn't read this whole book so I'm not counting it toward my lifetime total (I've read 50 books even since 4/2/10, by the way, not including picture books or those listed below), but I did read the introduction and take a good look at the pictures, and I may need to check it out again sometime.
With my stupidly-shaped feet, I can almost never find comfortable shoes that I can actually wear with anything I own.  This book seemed pretty helpful, which is why I ordered it for my YANF collection.  That, and, you know, for the teens.  We've actually got some pretty crafty, hands-on teens who I could imagine sporting some of these ideas.

Unseen Academicals, Hat Full of Sky, Wintersmith, and The Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents, all by Terry Pratchett.  I'm so excited for I Shall Wear Midnight!  I bullied our Sci-Fi/Fantasy librarian into buying it, and I'm first on the list.  I fully intend to purchase it myself, since I love and own the other three, but I'll wait, of course, for it to come out in paperback. 
The Amazing Maurice... is another kettle of fish.  The writing style seems different from the other Discworld books.  There are enough similarities that you could tell it's the same author, if you are familiar with the other Discworld books, but it definitely has a very different feel.  It's not nearly as funny and pretty dark, consider how young the audience is.  I'm not sure I could give this book the wholehearted recommendation I would give for the other books.
When I brought The Amazing Maurice... home, my husband thought I had already read it.  I've certainly checked it out before, but was sure I hadn't read it.  Then, about half way through, I experience that remembering thing that sometimes happens with books, where I remember the rest of the sentence after reading the first few words.  As I went through the rest of the book, I vaguely remembered a few of the scenes.  I can't find an entry for this in my blog, so if I did read it, it wasn't in the last 6 years, but I'll check my pre-blog print log at home, which I did for about 3 years before starting this.  

My Body, Myself For Boys, by Linda Madaras and Area Madaras.  I grabbed this from our parenting section, but I don't think I was paying attention at the time, because we're a little way away from needing this sort of book.  There was some interesting information in here, such as how to calculate your likely adult height, but this won't be one of the books I'll likely choose, even if it is still on the shelf in 10 years.  While all the information is good, not too overwhelming, and, as far as I know, factually correct, the layout of the book leaves much to be desired.  First, although it's thicker, it is about the size and shape of a picture book, with the exact same sort of cover.  The only book I saw at that time in my life was definitely too picture-book-ish and thus insulting.  The whole idea of these sorts of books is that the readers aren't babies anymore. Also, the text goes right up to the margins.  I think the size is about right, but, in order to make the book be fewer pages, the margins are only a quarter inch on top and less than half an inch on all the other sides.  Yes, I measured.  The text uses different fonts in different sections, but this part was actually well done.  The different fonts are too numerous, too crazy, or too jumbled together.  Finally, the book is completely devoid of color.  I'm not advocating full color photos in this kind of work, but surely there is something that can be included to break of the monotony of bland, purposefully-detail-shy pen-and-ink line drawings.
I did really like that there are frequently lists of specific and suggestions for general questions to ask any adults in the reader's life.  It thoughtfully includes asking family, including foster and adoptive family, aunts and uncles, and family friends or other adults.  One word of warning for libraries-- this book includes lots of blank spaces for journaling, and some of the charts are meant to be used over time, with spaces for charting height and weight, milestones, etc.  Some of the organ diagrams invite the reader to color in the different parts to become more familiar with the terminology.  This worked when I was in anatomy in college, but might not be a good suggestion for a library book.

Everyone Poops, by Taro Gomi.  Our would-be son (still held up in Washington on paperwork) needs toilet training.  I have a plan (which will probably last all of 5 real-world minutes), and this book is not a part of it, I think.  For one thing, it would be all he'd talk about for ages.  Mostly, I don't like this book.  Yes, children are fascinated with poops, and if it was just the animal poops I would probably be ok with it, but the little boy actively pooping at the end makes the book seem to crass.  I will have to look for other picture books to help him


Ms. Yingling said...

I thought about this for a couple of days, and I might need to read the shoe book and decorate a pair of flats with words or something book like!

alyssa said...

Hi Sarah,

Thanks for mentioning one of our books!

SMITH Magazine intern