Cites & Bytes @ Bailey

a library newsletter, a compendium of interesting tidbits, a communication tool....from Bailey Library @ Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania. (Site Feed)

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Recently Read....

Bang! by Sharon Flake
Sharon Flake, you are breaking my heart. This is a grim and unrelenting book about a boy, his grieving family, and the random violence that careens through their neighborhood. Mann is the young hero, an artist, a boy who loves horses, whose little brother was senselessly shot on the porch one day. Pain shreds his family and they struggle to cling to their separate life rafts, with devastating results. Mann's father's desperation is alternately frightening and moving... he actually abandons Mann and his friend at a campground with a handgun in an attempt to teach them survival skills. Flake is very real in her writing and this one is gripping.

Love That Dog by Sharon Creech.
And you, too, Sharon Creech... also breaking my heart with the poem about the boy's dog being hit by a car. This quick read traces, in verse, a young boy's aversion to poetry and his gradual embrace of expression. I read this one day during lunch. Simple and effective first person... the poems that Jack's teacher uses in class are reproduced in the back of the book.

Educating Esme: Diary of a Teacher's First Year by Esme Raji Codell. Education majors, you should run right out and read this book! Also a quick read and hard to put down, Esme Codell is funny, inspiring, and innovative. From leering principals to abusive parents, Esme somehow keeps her soul alive and finds the energy and nerve to sass back. Most importantly, she keeps the well-being and the education of her students always foremost, even on the darkest days. Liberally sprinkled with f-words and laugh-out-loud descriptions, this book is extremely funny, extremely sad, and extremely real, all in one package. You have to enjoy a book about teaching that includes these lines: "They stabbed the substitute today. In the back, with a pencil. The paramedics said it was only a flesh wound." She made little miracles in the Chicago public school where she worked... she should be proud.

Educating Alice: Adventures of a Curious Woman by Alice Steinbech. Lucky (and hard working and talented) Alice travels and writes about it for a living. In this autobiographical/travelogue/continuing education book, she undertakes cooking school at the Ritz in Paris, dancing in Kyoto, border collie training in Scotland, and architecture in Havana. Very pleasant reading, although the recurrent references to the Scottish grandmother in the cape and tam and the mysterious Japanese romance seem a little out of place, sort of like someone breaking into the first person on a library blog. Perhaps reading her first book, Without Reservations, is a prerequisite to appreciating the personal references. Love the premise of exploring the world by following your interests and her descriptions of people and places are very expressive.

Educating Rita by Willy Russell. This play about a beautician who wants an education became a movie starring Michael Caine as the world weary professor who is educated by her.... a Pygmalion-like tale wherein the creation ultimately must break with the creator, also a reflection of Russell's own working class roots. It's been a long time since I read a play... very enjoyable, touching and funny. Frank, the professor, claims at one point he would have to "bugger the bursar" in order to be dismissed from the university, which made me smile. I particularly liked Russell's "reluctant" introduction relating the obstacles he overcame to achieve his own educational aspirations. Russell is also the author of Shirley Valentine and active in music today.

Yeah, I know, what's with the Educating titles? Just a whim...

Some quick picture books... poor me, part of my job... Dona Flor, Celia Cruz, Queen of Salsa, Mahjong All Day Long, and Are We There Yet? All beautifully illustrated multicultural books for children.


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