Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Swept up in the Big Top

Water for Elephants.
Sara Gruen
I purchased Sara Gruen's Water for Elephants when it was first issued in paperback back in 2007. I think I started reading and just couldn't get into the story.  Please, don't ask me why. I truly have no idea. When I saw the movie was coming out (yes another book to movie read for me) I simply had to read the book. I was so engrossed in the story I could hardly stop reading. I wanted to read every minute of the day until I finished the book.  Was I able to do that? No, but I wanted to and that is my point. The characters were interesting and I felt compassion and empathy for them, well most of them (Jacob, Marlena, Rosie, Walter, and Camel especially). I was completely blown away by this book. After finishing the last page, which included an interview with Sara Gruen, I wanted to read more about the circus. Not just fictional stories about the circus, but true stories and behind the scenes information. I wanted to know about the sideshow acts, the menagerie, and all of the various people who worked for the circus.

I know there has been a great deal of controversy over the cruelty to the animals in the menagerie as well as performing in the circus. I was horrified to read about some of the actual events Ms. Gruen pulled from in order to create her story. It makes my heart sick to think someone could treat these beautiful and exotic animals in such a cruel fashion. I'm not sure why I have the desire to read historical information about the circus. I guess I simply did not want the story to end. I know I have come across the same problem in years past with other books. [I still have not finished the last two...soon to be in Diana Gabaldon's The Outlander series.  I can't begin to think of life without Jamie and Claire. I know, now I'm just crazy, right?!? These are characters in a book, not real people! However, the characters have been so well developed and have been a part of my life for so long I feel like they belong to me...again, crazy I know.]

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Texas Library Association Annual Conference 2011 - Austin

All the World. Liz Garton Scanlon & Marla Frazee
We had a wonderful time at the annual conference of the Texas Library Association. My program showcasing the 2011 Texas 2x2 Reading List was very successful. There was standing room only in the huge room in which we were presenting. Liz Garton Scanlon and Marla Frazee , All the World,  were wonderful. I could not have asked for better speakers following the showcase of the 2011 books.

Last Song. Eric Rohmann
Dead End in Norvelt. Jack Gantos
While in Austin, I had the opportunity to have dinner with Eric Rohmann, Dave Roman, Mary D. Lankford, Mary Casanova, Ilene Cooper, and Dotti Enderle and dessert with Jack Gantos. It is really funny because as librarians we see authors and illustrators as our rock stars (in fact I saw the greatest shirt with Shakespeare in KISS make-up with the caption "Authors are my Rock Stars!"...I wasn't able to get the shirt because they didn't have my size, but I sure did like it...maybe next time.) In all actuality authors and illustrators (believe it or not) are just people! Can you imagine?!? They eat, drink, etc. just like the rest of us. When I was introducing myself to Eric Rohmann (author and illustrator of the Caldecott winning book My Friend Rabbit) at dinner the first words out of his mouth were, "We've met before." I was amazed because, yes indeed we had met before. I met Eric at the American Library Association in 2005. He was great fun to listen to during dinner. He talked about his latest book (Last Song, 2010). I had to wonderful opportunity to speak to Mary Casanova as well. She was intrigued by the population of the school in which I work (all four- and five-year olds). She has a fun new book coming out at the end of May about a cowboy named Dirk Yeller. She shared the story with me and I think the children will enjoy it. Jack Gantos was delightful. He was so funny to listen. He talked a little about Dead End in Norvelt his new book coming out in September. I was lucky enough to get an advance re
The Day Dirk Yeller Came to Town.
Mary Casanova
ader copy so I will be able to read it before September. He assured us that this book is all about him and the small town in which he grew up. I can't wait to read it. It is always fun to spend time with Mary D. Lankford. I have known her for many years and love to see her and find out where she and her husband have traveled or what she has been reading. She is currently on the Texas Lariat Adult Fiction Reading List (yes, I'm jealous, but don't know if I would be able to read all of the books that are sent because I do tend to read slowly).

The Uglified Ducky.
Willy Claflin
I had the wonderful fortune to hear Willy Claflin, author of the Texas Bluebonnet Award for The Uglified Ducky, and Gerald McDermott, Caldecott Medal winning author of Arrow to the Sun. Claflin was hysterical. He and his friend, Maynard Moose retold the story of The Uglified Ducky. I have to say Maynard captured a lot of hearts. Especially when he came out wearing his prized "Blue Bonnet". Evidently he was a little confused on the actual award he was to receive.

Monkey: A Trickster Tale from India.
Gerald McDermott
Gerald McDermott was also a wonderful speaker. He was very casually dressed, at first I didn't even realize what he was wearing (sweat pants and a t-shirt). When he started speaking he told us about how he likes to dress professionally with his favorite suit, shirt, and this point I thought his attire was a bit unusual. Then he went on to tell us that his luggage had been taken. There were audible sighs of disappointment when he mentioned how they had taken his favorite suit, shirt, and his very favorite necktie, but the gasps when he said his iPad was in the same bag were even louder. We all felt for him. He was a charming speaker and I thoroughly enjoyed his re-telling of his new book, Monkey: A Trickster Tale from India.

The Opening General Session speaker was Jamie Lee Curtis. Now, I know she has written a number of children's books and it was really fun listening to her inspiration for those books (her own children) but it was so much more exciting listening to her talk about the importance of libraries. and how the legislature is cutting the head off of education by eliminating librarians, library programs, and databases used in the libraries. I loved the fact she was wearing purple. She stated that it was because she wanted to talk to both sides of the aisle (the blue - Democrats and the red - Republicans) so she mixed them together.

TLA Annual Conference was exhausting (as usual), but fun. It was great fun to see all of the new books that will be coming out soon and see old friends and some "rock" stars along the way. I guess I can say I have recovered from my week in Austin. Now I have to get prepared for Houston next year. It is now less than 12 months away. The planning has begun!