Friday, September 24, 2010

Banned Book Week

September 25-Oct 2 is Banned Book Week, a week to celebrate our freedom to read and the first amendment.

This freedom is critical. CRITICAL!
Readers need to have freedom to choose to read or not read books.
If we start allowing book banning, it will spread and soon every book will be banned, because someone, somewhere, will find something they don't like about a book.

I agree that parents should be allowed to help their children choose their books, and even opt out of their child reading a specific book. There might be good reasons: if a child has a problem or is getting professional help with something a book might be a trigger that could cause additional problems. But that same book can be exactly what other readers need.

Every reader has a favorite book which has been banned. A few popular and commonly read books: Harry Potter, Bridge to Terabithia, Charlotte's Web, Huckleberry Finn, Fahrenheit 451.

Some links:

ALA on Banned Books Week. This also has a list of banned books.

A map of where banned books and challenges happened from 2007-2010. Kudos to the states who had no bans or challenges: New Mexico, Utah, Nevada, Delaware, and Vermont!

Laurie Halse Anderson's book, Speak was recently challenged. (Rape is not pornography.) Her book is a life changing book for so many readers. This book is not a graphic book. Though it is an uncomfortable topic for many, it is a safe book and a place for readers to go for empathy or healing.

Kate Messner, author and teacher, shares her talk which she gives to parents each year about book selection.

Angela Cerrito began a Banned Book Club. It is for adults and she writes, "the main goal of The Banned Book Club is to connect books with teen readers with the consent of their parents!" This is a reading club that I can see spreading throughout communities in the US.

I'm planning on reading a banned book this week.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Castle Hunting and photos

For months I have wanted to "find" this castle:

The castle ruin in Konigstein.

I have seen this castle in the distance, on a hill, when driving from my kids' orthodontist to their school. Last Saturday we went "castle hunting" and wandered until we found it. We did not know what it was called or even for sure what town it was until we got there. What a great ruin. I found the fine detailed herringbone pattern in one outer wall intriguing and wondered why the workers took the effort, as I've never seen that before.
It is fun to imagine the castle and its inhabitants hundreds of years ago.


Not a castle, but there are castle-like passageways (both in construction and feel) underneath the waterfall in the center of this photo.

I saw the waterfall and red autumn colors reflecting in a small lake and I thought it would made a great photo.

I took this photo in Palmengarten, a private botanical garden, near where I live. Map here. Sometimes I take my Mac and sit at a table overlooking this view and write. It has many large tropicariums (large greenhouse type buildings with plants) in addition to the large grounds with numerous gardens.

My stories are influenced by places I've lived or visited. I "feel" the place, or a combination or places, (or my memory of the place) when I'm writing and it imbues a type of emotional sensibility into the setting.

Banned Book Week starts soon. I'll post about it with some links, as soon as I've turned my writing in to my VCFA advisor.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

News and Link Medley

Maha Addasi's newest picture book, Time to Pray, was released a couple days ago. It is a dual language book (English and Arabic) which shares a story of a grandmother teaching her granddaughter to pray when she comes to visit. Some might consider this a book about culture, others a book about the Muslim religion, and though it is both, it is also a book about the love and relationship between a grandmother and granddaughter. This is a book that readers of any faith will enjoy.
Maha recently graduated from Vermont College of Fine Arts and we were in workshops together. I'm looking forward to more of her stories.

Metafiction for Children by Phillip Nel, on In Media Res, posted a very short film (4 minutes) which shares some metafiction in children's literature. Metafiction is one of my favorite genres in children's books. One picture book example of metafiction is Harold and the Purple Crayon.

Fusion: The Synergy of Images and Words (and Part 2), posted by Steve McCurry on his blog, shares a wonderful collection of photographs of readers in all sorts of settings. Wow!

Daniel Powers is a guest on Uma Krishnaswami's blog this week, and he shares his insights into the picture book. Powers talks about the Physicality of the Picture book , the interplay of text and images and page turns and the gutter, the Physical Relationship Between Text and Image, and the Conceptual Relationship Between Text and Image. Great information!