Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Words Have Power - Read a Banned Book!

Artwork courtesy of the American Library Association

Every year there are hundreds of attempts to remove books from library, school and bookstore shelves because of content. Here at Fairfax County Public Library, we celebrate the librarians and others who stand up to these challenges and fight for your freedom to read, especially during this week of Banned Book Week.

We agree with the American Library Association (ALA) about losing access to books with disputed ideas or characters: "That’s thousands of lost opportunities to explore ideas that fuel understanding. Words have power and access to diverse ideas makes all of us more powerful."

Curious how many books and what titles are challenged for which reasons? This infographic from the ALA breaks it down:

Artwork courtesy of the American Library Association

September is also library card sign up month. If you don't have one, you can apply for one online and pick it up at your local library branch. You'll find many displays honoring banned books this week. Celebrate with us and fight for the freedom to read by checking out some of the titles you find.  

-Ginger Hawkins, Patrick Henry Library

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

David Sedaris at Wolftrap

It is a bibliophile’s thrill to have a favorite book signed by its author. For the second year in a row, thousands of David Sedaris fans had the opportunity to hear him read at Wolftrap, and those willing to stand in line before or afterwards could meet the author and have their books signed. Sedaris read from his latest book, Theft by Finding, derived from his diary entries of 1977-2002. He also read some new stories that have yet to be published.

The author revealed information about his work in progress, such as the title for the second volume of his diaries, still a couple of years from being published – Carnival of Snackery. Inspiration came off the menu of an Indian restaurant in London. Sedaris often chooses titles based on absurd phrases he happens upon- a curation habit that aligns with his knack for documenting pithy occurrences of everyday life.

The question and answer period uncovered more tidbits about the author’s life and work. Sedaris was asked about Carol, the semi-tame fox that lived near his home and would walk beside him. Sadly, Carol was killed by a neighbor- “because he used to have chickens” the author fumed. When asked for advice about public speaking, Sedaris explained that he always takes time to talk with his readers during book signings before shows. This enables him to get a feel for his crowd, and he pictures those people he’s met in the audience as he speaks.

Sedaris fans often ask him for book recommendations, and August 19th was no exception. He recommended Elizabeth Strout’s My Name is Lucy Barton and Anything is Possible. The latter is a collection of stories he describes as simply astounding in an unassuming way, without show-offish turns of phrase. 

He reported that he listens to many audiobooks while completing several miles per day of walking. Recently he was amused by a Joan Crawford memoir on audio, My Way of Life, read by the author (not owned by FCPL). He also let drop that any short story by Lorrie Moore is the first thing he’ll read in The New Yorker. Quirky and clever, Sedaris doesn’t disappoint in person. Whether or not you were able to catch Sedaris, be sure to enjoy some of the free upcoming author visits at Fairfax County Public Library and Fall for the Book.

-Suzanne Summers LaPierre, City of Fairfax Regional Library

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Trickster Tales from Latin America

Every culture has its own version of the trickster tale: the wily rabbit who manages to outwit the bear and fox or the fool who isn't as foolish as people assume. For Hispanic Heritage Month, consider sharing some of these wonderful new and old trickster tales from Latin America with the young people in your life.

Martina the Beautiful Cockroach: A Cuban Folktale, Carmen Agra Deedy
In this Cuban version of a popular folktale, it is time for lovely Martina the cockroach to give her leg in marriage. Many animals come forth to court her, but do they really have her best interests at heart? Martina’s wise grandmother has given her an idea. She “accidentally” spills a little coffee on each suitor’s shoe to see how he reacts when angry.

Just a Minute: A Trickster Tale and Counting Book and Just in Case: A Trickster Tale and Spanish Alphabet Book, Yuyi Morales
When Senior Calavera comes to call at Grandma Beetle's house, she puts him off with "just a minute" while she counts down the preparations for a fiesta with her grandchildren. In the follow-up book, Senior Calavera decides to give Grandma Beetle a birthday gift for each letter of the alphabet. Both award-winners boast colorful illustrations evocative of Mexican Day of Dead folk art. See also the author’s website for online and printable extension activities:

Moon Rope/Un Lazo a la Luna: A Peruvian Tale, Lois Ehlert
Fox wants to go to the moon. Mole prefers to keep all four feet on the ground- preferably underground in his tunnel. But when Mole is convinced that the moon is full of succulent worms, he agrees to attempt the journey. This book tells the classic Peruvian folktale in both English and Spanish with Ehlert’s popular collage-style illustrations.

Juan Bobo Goes to Work: A Puerto Rican Folktale, Marisa Montes
Juan Bobo and the Pig: A Puerto Rican Folktale, Felix Pitre
Juan Bobo: Four Folktales from Puerto Rico, Carmen T. Bernier-Grand

There are many Puerto Rican folktales about the boy Juan Bobo. Juan Bobo tries to do everything his mother asks him to do, but sometimes he follows her advice a little too literally. In the tradition of the wise fool, Juan Bobo’s silly mistakes often lead to chaos but sometimes manage to teach everyone a lesson in the process.

--Suzanne Summers LaPierre, City of Fairfax Regional Library

Wednesday, September 06, 2017

Newbery Medal Winner - Fairfax Librarian Will Help Choose Winner!

The 2017 Newbery Winner.
Which book will Sondy
choose to win in 2019? Stay tuned!
Our colleague, Sondra Eklund, youth services manager at City of Fairfax Regional Library, is on the prestigious Newbery Medal Award Committee. The Newbery Medal was named for eighteenth-century British bookseller John Newbery. It is awarded annually by the Association for Library Service to Children, a division of the American Library Association, to the author of the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children.  

We asked Sondy a few questions about this special honor.

What does being on this committee entail?

I’ll be reading as many books as I possibly can that are published in 2018 in the United States by American authors for children ages 0 to 14. At the start of 2019, I will meet with 14 other people in a locked room, and we will choose the winner of the John Newbery Medal. We will also decide if we want to name any Honor books which are also distinguished.

That seems like a lot of work, is there a way others can help you?

There are thousands of children’s books published in America every year. I’m going to read as many books as I can, and other committee members will read as widely as they can. There is a nomination process during the year, so committee members will formally nominate, from our reading, which books we will consider in the final deliberations. But in case some good books get overlooked, if you or your children read an especially good children’s book published in 2018, I hope you’ll let me know! Just stop by any library branch and ask a youth services librarian to tell me.

How are members selected for the Newbery committee?

Eight of the fifteen committee members are elected by the membership of the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC), a division of the American Library Association. The chair and six other members are appointed by the ALSC president. I was elected to the position.

Tell us how you were elected for the Newbery committee.

I became a librarian as my second career. I began writing a website of book reviews in 2001. As I was getting my Master’s in Library Science (2007), the ALA Annual Conference came to Washington, DC. I went to the conference, attended the Newbery/Caldecott Awards Banquet and heard Susan Patron give her acceptance speech for the Newbery Medal given to The Higher Power of Lucky. That was when I realized serving on the Newbery committee might be a possibility in my new career.

2007 Newbery Winner. Patron's acceptance speech inspired Sondy
to seek a spot on the award selection committee.

I next applied to attend the Bill Morris Invitational Seminar on media evaluation to learn how the award committees work. It took three tries, but I was accepted to attend the seminar in Dallas in 2012.

At the seminar, we heard from past chairpersons from various award committees. They advised us to get involved in other ALSC committees and to put our name into the hat for award committee service.

I put my name in, and got on the ballot in April 2013 to be on the 2015 Newbery Committee. But missed being elected by 15 votes! (Out of about 800 ballots cast.) It was already too late to get on the ballot for the following year, so I very sadly gave it a rest and worked on other ALSC committees. In the meantime, I applied for and got to be a Cybils judge five years in a row. I gave my name for consideration to be on the Newbery Award Committee ballot again in March 2016. This time, I made a web page with my qualifications, printed cards to pass out at ALA Midwinter Meeting and the ALSC Mini-Institute that happened a couple months before voting. This time I got the news on April 12, 2017, that I was indeed a member of the 2019 Newbery Award committee!

How do you feel about being a committee member?

I am thrilled by this dream come true! I’m proud to have this important responsibility. And I’m clearing my schedule for a lot of work! I’ll have my nose in a children’s book every chance I get in 2018.

Thanks Sondy! We are so proud of you. Good luck with all your reading in 2018. -The Editors