Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Wonder Woman: Warbringer by Leigh Bardugo

 When her big chance comes, however, she throws it all away to rescue a teenager drowning off the coast of her island home.
Interacting with a human is strictly forbidden in Diana's culture, let alone saving one and hiding them in a cave.

This, however is no ordinary human. Her name is Alia and unbeknownst to her she is a Warbringer, someone who may be responsible for the greatest war ever to befall the human race.

Using a controversial myth as a guide, Alia and Diana set off to end the curse that Alia has become convinced she carries.

she does her best to stand out.

Monday, October 16, 2017

The Annual Book Fair for Ballou Sr High School Is On!

It's Time to Send More Books to Washington D.C.

Welcome to the annual Book Fair for Ballou Sr High School!

For the 8th year, Guys Lit Wire is delighted to invite readers to help this school fill its library shelves by shopping their Amazon wish list. There are hundreds of books to choose from covering every topic you can think of and we hope you will buy a book or two for this worthy school and help its students and wonderful librarian, Melissa Jackson, gain greater access to more titles. The school depends on this annual book fair and we are happy to host it. This is our chance to help the students obtain books they want to read and we can't do it without your help!

Ballou Sr High School's students face many obstacles; all of the students qualify for free or reduced price lunch and last year its graduation rate was 57%. But in 2017 every member of the senior class applied to college — a first for the school — and we certainly believe that the library was a huge support to them in their efforts.


Our Goal

We hope to send at least 150 books to Ballou this year and there are plenty of titles at a wide variety of prices to choose from. It's important to stress that this is a list that is reviewed and approved by Ballou students and includes many many books that they have requested. There are poetry and novels, biographies and cookbooks, graphic novels, science, travel and more. There is literally something for everyone on this list and we are sure that you will find a book (or more!) that you want to gift to these worthy students. 

We know 2017 has given us all so many things to worry about and, sadly, so many people who are in need of assistance. With Ballou the need is ever present however and, we believe, critically important. Libraries are the heart of every school and every community; they are part of the long game that can positively transform a community and are especially critical to the hearts of young people. Books can be game changers in the life of a teenager — heck, books ARE game changers and we want to get as many as we can into the hands of Ballou's students. 


The Details

The Amazon wish list can be found here. It is also easily searchable at Amazon under "Ballou High School". If you would like to embed a link in a post or tweet (and PLEASE DO!!), use this one: http://tinyurl.com/BookFairBallouHS

And here is the url in case the links are not working for you:
https://www.amazon.com/gp/registry/wishlist/2CU17Q38C3P68/ref=cm_wl_sortbar_o_page_1?ie=UTF8&sort=universal-title 

The mailing address is already set-up for checkout and there are nearly 500 books to choose from with a wide price range. We do hope you will find a book that you want to send to Ballou and help us make life a little better for a great bunch of a kids.

The Book Fair for Ballou High School Library will stay open for 2 weeks and we will keep you posted here on how things go. Be sure to follow @chasingray (GLW moderator Colleen Mondor's twitter feed) and watch the Ballou Library feed for shoutouts from Melissa (@BallouLibrary) as books show up.


Just one book will make a huge difference.

You can learn a bit more about Ballou by watching this short video from the Washington Post. We certainly hope it will persuade you to support the book fair and all efforts for these most worthy students.



















Friday, October 13, 2017

Abraham Lincoln: The Prairie Years

Carl Sandburg wrote, in his preface to Abraham Lincoln: The Prairie Years, "For thirty years and more I have planned to make a certain portrait of Abraham Lincoln. It would sketch the country lawyer and prairie politician who was intimate with the settlers of the Knox County neighborhood where I grew up as a boy, and where I heard the talk of men and women who had eaten with Lincoln, given him a bed overnight, heard his jokes and lingo, remembered his silences and his mobile face.

"The Mayor of Galesburg in 1858, Henry Sanderson, is the only individual of casual record who carried warm cistern water to a bathtub for Lincoln and saw Lincoln taking a bath. There in Galesburg Clark E. Carr, author of "The Illini," repeated Bill Green's remark about Lincoln, "He can make a cat laugh." And there Lincoln when bantered about his backwardness with women, answered, "A woman is the only thing I am afraid of that I know will not hurt me."

"The folk-lore Lincoln, the maker of stories, the stalking and elusive Lincoln is a challenge for any artist. He has enough outline and lights and shadows and changing tints to call out portraits of him in his Illinois backgrounds and settings -- even had he never been elected President.

"Perhaps poetry, art, human behavior in this country, which has need to build on its own traditions, would be served by a life of Lincoln stressing the fifty-two years previous to his Presidency. Such a book would imply that if he was what he was during those first fifty-two years of his life it was nearly inevitable that he would be what he proved to be in the last four."

So a challenge: Try it. If you think that a six-volume biography of Lincoln is too much, I understand (The first two volumes are "The Prairie Years," followed by four of "The War Years."). There are shortened versions available, a three-volume paperback set, or a one-volume abridged version. I read the three-volume set many years ago. And I wondered if I would ever try to read the entire six volumes. Well, I am. I got through The Prairie Years pretty easily. Volume 1 of The War Years took a bit longer (I kept getting interrupted.) And I have just started volume 2. I love that Sandburg grew up knowing people who knew Lincoln. And he was a great storyteller. That is what sets his Lincoln biography apart, for me, and why I intend to keep reading.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Freefall by Joshua Bellin





When I give a genre talk about science fiction to my students, my main claim is that all good science fiction, no matter how apparently “alien” (literally and figuratively), is actually saying something important about the world in which we live (or at least the world that existed when the work first appeared). Not necessarily in an allegorical way, but in a way that makes the narrative more than just a story. With Joshua Bellin’s Freefall, I now have another title to share as evidence for this claim.

Bellin's young adult science fiction novel begins with Cam waking up from "deepsleep" on a distant planet, confused, alone, and frightened. This is not where he was supposed to wake up, not how the colonization of a new planet was supposed to begin. This is not why he endured a thousand-year induced coma, and this is not why he and the other Upperworlders fled a dying Earth.

Flash back a thousand years, as Bellin's novel does in alternating chapters throughout most of the book, and we discover Cam becoming "woke." A young man waking up to the costs of his privilege, a young man learning to question a world where a minority control nearly all of the wealth and power. A young man who learns some truths about the Lowerworld and about himself, truths tied to his growing devotion and love for a beautiful and mysterious Lowerworld leader named Sofie.


Sofie and her movement want justice for those born in the Lowerworld, a justice denied them by the social stratification the Upperworlders have used to plunder Earth until the planet can no longer sustain human life. Now Sofie and her movement want representation among those privileged enough to be able to flee to a new world and a new life. Cam, raised by Upperworld society and media to believe those in the Lowerworld deserve their fate, rebels against this worldview as the race intensifies to find a world worth viewing.

Bellin leaves plenty of truths for the reader and Cam to discover in the intense action of the final section, as Cam struggles to survive on "Otherworld," truths that reveal the sacrifices necessary for justice. With clear and disturbing parallels to our current political and environmental realities, Freefall uses the darkness of space to do what all good science fiction should: shine a light on what it means to be human.


Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Symptoms of Being Human by Jeff Garvin

I admit, I like it when things fit into nice, neat categories. The satisfaction I get when I can categorize and label things according to how I perceive or interpret them is immense. Well, sometimes, not everything can be sorted out and categorized all nice and neat.

From page one as Riley started to write the initial therapeutic blog post as assigned by Riley's therapist, I wanted to figure it out. I wanted to know what gender Riley was assigned at birth. I felt guilty about trying to use a label, but I wanted to be able to categorize Riley as male or female, cisgender or transgender, homosexual or heterosexual. I get all of those things, they make sense to me - they are categories. I had heard the term gender fluid before but I hadn't really thought about it, at least not in a concrete way - more theoretically. I really appreciate how Garvin described Riley's gender fluidity (AND that this is not how every gender fluid individual experiences it) as a dial from female on one extreme to male on the other. That makes sense to me.

The fact that as Riley meets people both at school and at the LGBTQ support group assumptions are made and genders assigned based on looks and or a few actions without consideration for how an individual might identify their own gender is oddly comforting to me. As I said before, I admit I try to label people I meet. I try not to, but I know I do. So, to see Riley trying as well helps my guilt factor for wanting to label Riley, but also reiterates how deep the gender normative labels run in our society. We can do better, we need to do better. Gender is only a part of who a person is, it doesn't really encompass the depth and breadth of who and/or what an individual is.

I will definitely be recommending this book to my students, AND their parents! There is a lot in here for both age groups to draw on and learn from.