Saturday, September 25, 2010

Crazy Lady!

Crazy Lady! by Jane Conly is on the ALA's list of most frequently challenged books, though I honestly have no idea why. It's about a kid named Vernon whose mom died. His dad's doing his best to keep the family together. Vern is failing several subjects in school, and really needs help with English, in particular. Tutoring is out of the question, really, because it costs $2 an hour (did I mention it's set in 1981?) That's money the Dibbs family doesn't have. Vern happens to live one street over from a slum, basically, and there's a drunk "crazy lady" and her mentally challenged son that walk up and down the streets and get made fun of. It's pretty weird. Anyway, one day Vern helps the lady, Maxine, out, and she asks what she can do for him. Vern mentions he needs help in English, and Maxine gets him set up with their neighbor, Miss Annie, who used to be an English teacher. Miss Annie doesn't ask for money to help Vern, but she does have him do things to help Maxine and her son Ronald. Vern is not thrilled about this at first, but eventually becomes friends with the small, somewhat dysfunctional family. Vern ends up holding a fundraiser to earn money for a new pair of tennis shoes for Ronald, so he can join the Special Olympics. And then all of a sudden, Maxine decides that life is too much for her alcoholic self to handle and sends Ronald off to live with relatives in North Carolina. Vern is upset. The end.

I really don't know why this book is on the "Banned Books" list, other than the fact that there are a few swear words (I counted less than 10, and nothing too serious). And then there's Maxine's alcoholism. But this isn't the only middle school-level book that features those two elements. The book was rather tame, in my opinion. The worst side of alcoholism we see is just some silly things Maxine shouts in the streets. There's no abuse or anything. The book doesn't tell kids how to get drunk. I don't understand it. The best I can figure is that the book is on the list because in 1993, when it was written, maybe parents were a little more uptight about that kind of thing. In our library, the book is classified as a "J"- a juvenile novel. It's shelved in the children's section and is intended for readers up to middle school. I think that simply relabeling the book as a "YT", a book for younger teens, would solve any problems parents might have with this book. Make it clear it's meant for middle schoolers.
To be completely honest, though, I think the book could probably be weeded from our shelves. It contains dated language and has virtually nothing to appeal to young audiences today. It was kind of lame. I'm fairly sure the only reason we've kept it around is because of its notoriety.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Bumps in the Night

I started my journey of reading all the most commonly banned books with Bumps in the Night by Harry Allard.

Bumps in the Night is classified as a "je" book in our library, which means it's an "easy reader". These books are intended for children just starting to read on their own- between kindergarten and second grade. They are little chapter books. Bumps in the Night is about a stork (whose name I've already forgotten) who wakes up in the middle of the night. There are some creepy noises going on in his house. He gets up and sees a ghost. He calls his pal, who is a pig, and the pig says "well I know a way we can talk to the ghost and find out what it wants". He goes on to explain to his storky friend that a medium is a person who talks to ghosts, and a medium can come and hold a seance with them. So the stork has his piggie pal and some other animal friends come over, and they are joined by a creepy alligator lady. I bet she's from Louisiana or something. They all hold hands (because they're scared, explains the pig) and summon the ghost of a dead horse who's living in the house. Gross. The horse's name was George, I think, and he just wanted to say hi. The animals all become friends with the horse ghost and they make taffy and stuff. And they all live happily ever after.

Several pages into the book, I could sort of understand why this book is frequently challenged by parents. It's one thing to have a cute little Halloween themed book for little kids (adorable ghosties and black kitty cats and the like), but I think it's kind of an inappropriate topic for an early childhood book. What six year old really needs to know what a seance is? What first grader is interested in communicating with the dead?
I really hate the idea of banning books, but I honestly am not quite sure why this book was written. It seems like an out-of-place topic for the intended audience. Maybe the author should have practiced better judgment, I don't know. If the seance wasn't in there (it honestly was kind of creepy, and I love paranormal shows), perhaps it would have been ok. In theory, I don't think there's anything wrong with kids' books about ghosts. We owned several when I was a kid, and then there's Casper, and the Halloween books I mentioned. It was the communication with the dead that was off-putting and a tad inappropriate.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Happy Early New Year!

I was at work today and was asked to make a sign for our "Banned Books" display (because Banned Books week is coming up.) I decided that it would be fun and challenging to read through the entire list of most frequently challenged/banned books in the United States. I've been thinking about New Years resolutions lately, too (don't ask me why, because I'm not quite sure) and thought "that would make a great resolution!" I decided to start on it early, though, because I'm kind of bored and I'm looking for some stuff to read.
So here's the dealio, kids. I am going to read all the books on this list, except for American Psycho because I had to read that for a class two or three years ago and it was truly disturbing. I will still review it though. And...there's a spoiler. I'll write a brief review of everything I read. Fun times! I think it's a pretty cool idea, personally. I already ordered a few books and I'll get started on them as soon as they come in.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

What it do?

I don't know how, but my weeks fly by. Zoom, there they go. Saturday is already most of the way over. I'm sure tomorrow will feel way shorter than it actually is.
I'm not really sure how I wound up here on blogger this afternoon, because nothing has changed since my last update- except that it's about a week later. I don't really think that's such a bad thing. Today has been very mellow...I'm feeling too worn out to do much of anything. I literally cannot find the energy to do the two specific things I was supposed to do today- load the dishwasher and fold the laundry. As I sit here at my desk typing this, I am tempted to just slide out of my chair and nap on the floor. Not that I should need another nap- I just woke up from one. I don't know what's up with me but it's super annoying and I feel bad because I haven't been very productive today, and Brandon has been working his tail off all week. :(
Speaking of B, tomorrow he has to man the cameras at church, which means it's my Sunday off (at least until I finally get my nursery work application filled out and sent in...) I think I'm going to mom's. Hopefully she will make some pancakes for me. And dye my hair. It needs it.
I guess that's all I have to say for now. I hope all 1.3 human beings that read this are doing ok. Does time move as quickly for you as it does for me?

Sunday, September 12, 2010

New job! Sort of.

Yesterday, I was in A Mood. I woke up sore and grumpy, and considering what would be going on at work that day, I was sure my Saturday was going to be painfully lame. The day did start out pretty dumb. I didn't have much help on the things I was working on, we had some particularly ripe patrons come in (one was so bad I had to step away from the desk for a while...ugh), and I was still in A Mood. I went home for lunch and cheered up a little when I saw a package waiting for me in front of our door (I'd ordered some new shoes a few days ago and was a bit excited about them.) When I went back to work, I started emailing a few of my friends who work at other branches. One of them is my friend Jackie, who worked at our branch a little while back and abandoned us when a better job opened up. She has a 6 month old baby who is basically my littlest best friend. I love him. Anyway, I had told her earlier this week that I would babysit for Owen any time she needed me to- I don't exactly have anything going on during the daytime before I go to work. I had actually been wanting her to ask me to babysit since the kid was born. It turns out in October Owen's current sitter will have a baby of her own, and she won't watch him anymore. And it just so happens that my schedule pretty much perfectly coincides with Jackie's, in that when she needs a sitter, I'm just sitting at home hanging out. looks like I will be my pudgy buddy's new sitter starting some time next month! I am ridiculously excited about this. I love that kid. He's awesome.
So during the course of the day my mood was transformed from extremely grumpy and difficult to pretty elated. I couldn't wait to get home and tell Brandon that I had gone out and got myself a second job (haha). When I got home, there was a letter waiting on the coffee table for me from our sponsor child in Indonesia! Really it was more of a worksheet, but it's still the coolest thing. She asks us questions, tells us about her family, her favorite Bible study, how tall she is compared to her friends- she even put her fingerprint on there! At about 5:10 pm yesterday, I was the happiest I've been in a long time. ^_^

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Labor Day Weekend

This past weekend was pretty busy!

Friday night after work we went out to eat at Tumbleweed for my father-in-law's birthday (which was actually Thursday- "the family" went out that night to Golden Corral but some of us were working...). That dinner was my first real meal since I got sick with the stomach bug on Wednesday, and it went fine. I had a chimichanga. I hadn't had Tumbleweed in FOREVER, and it was soooo good. I'm glad we got to go!

Saturday we went to a wedding at 11 a.m. I've never been to a morning wedding before. We were supposed to have a "brunch reception" but we weren't able to eat until after 1 p.m.! When the bridal party finally arrived, they had a few dances before we were released to the buffet. The food was delicious, though. There were all kinds of breakfast foods- hash browns, biscuits and gravy, etc. There was also a waffle bar and a few omelet stations. It was all very yummy. By the time we got home it was almost time for the big football game to start, so we changed out of our fancy clothes and headed over to the in-laws to watch the game. My mother-in-law and I left during the first half to make a trip to the library and to Kroger. We had pizza for dinner (it made my tummy upset) and then everyone played badminton while I stayed inside and felt bad.

Sunday we went to the farm (Brandon's grandparents' place in Breckinridge County). I was kind of afraid to go at first because I hadn't felt well, but I went and had fun. I did not get much sun, unfortunately. Brandon had fun playing games with everyone. We didn't get back until about 10 at night!

And then there was Monday. I spent some time cleaning up the apartment before we went to dinner at my Mammaw's. I started feeling a little yucky before we went, but I felt better and ate a little bit while I was there. Apparently I ate too much because when I got home I felt really, really bad for about two hours. When I eat too much that hernia in my esophagus bothers me and makes me feel like I'm gonna puke even though I'm not. It was quite distressing. But I had a good night's sleep and I don't plan on eating much today. I work 4.5 hours this morning. The bookdrop will be atrocious because we were closed today and everybody still brings their stuff back even if we aren't there. We are supposed to have our last Bible study meeting tonight, too. You know, the 8-week study we started back in January. A lot of stuff has happened this year that has prevented us from meeting- bad weather, illness, injury, etc. Hopefully the next time we do something we will be able to finish it in a more timely manner. :)

Friday, September 3, 2010

Show me "potato salad!"

We have a busy weekend ahead of us! I'm not sure how I feel about that.
Yesterday was Brandon's dad's birthday, and everyone went out to dinner, I think- except Brandon and I couldn't go because we were at work. So we are supposed to go out to eat tonight, at Cheddar's. I've never been there but they recently built one a bit closer to us than the other one in Louisville, so we're going to try it out. I'm a little nervous about going out to eat because I had a stomach bug earlier this week. Hopefully everything will be ok.
Tomorrow we are going to a wedding at 11:30. I've never been to a morning wedding before! There's going to be a brunch reception afterwards. That should be fun. And after that, Brandon and I are both off for the rest of the day.
Then Sunday everyone is going to "the farm", aka Brandon's grandparents' house. I'm not so sure I will go because they will be there for a long time and I know that if I needed to go home, Brandon would not want to take me. So I may just stay here. I don't know yet.
And finally there's Monday, which is Labor Day (I think. I always get Labor Day and Memorial Day mixed up.) Mammaw is planning on having a cookout, which is good. I like the fact that I won't have to cook very much this weekend. :) Hopefully with three days off in a row I will be able to catch up on the things I haven't been doing since I've been sick. Some parts of the apartment are a bit messy, I'm afraid. There are always dishes to wash, and the bathrooms need to be cleaned, and the dining room table is covered with stuff, and everything needs to be vacuumed and dusted. Yuck.

Other than the things coming up this weekend, not much has been going on in our usual. Brandon never heard back about the job he applied for like, three months ago. We don't know if he's going to be ready to take his actuarial exam in November...I hope he does because after that it'll be January before he can take it again. And he hasn't been studying very much (shh...don't tell him I said that.) I hope that we can get this out of the way soon so he can move on to bigger and better things and make a little more money so we won't feel so swamped all the time.

I hope everyone has a happy and relaxing Labor Day weekend!