January 16, 2018

Props to Ny'shira Lundy!

The Hate U Give Ny'shira Lundy, 15, fought to get THE HATE U GIVE by Angie Thomas back on the shelves of Katy ISD schools.

It was removed late last year for "pervasive vulgarity and racially insensitive language" after the parent of a junior high school student complained. Lundy decided to fight for the book, organizing an official petition and speaking before the school board on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.

"Like Starr, I’m a black female who attended a predominantly white prep school. I struggled to feel as if I could be myself. After reading her story, and seeing how she went from feeling like to she had to adjust to the environment that she was in, to feeling as if she had a voice and that she should be bold enough to share it, it made me feel confident, and as if I shouldn’t be afraid to embrace who I am."

Thanks to her efforts, THE HATE U GIVE has been reinstated in Katy ISD high school libraries.

I paid more attention to this case than the many, many cases of censorship in school libraries because I attended Katy ISD schools for Kindergarten through sixth grade. They're amazing schools with excellent teachers, funding for incredible programs, and overall competitive in academics. I have that strong educational foundation to thank for many of the things I've achieved. But I also have books to thank for the person that I am.

Books are a window to other experiences. They make our world bigger. And sometimes they have to depict the worst parts of the world to tell their story.

Congratulations to Ny'shira Lundy, congratulations to Angie Thomas, and congratulations to the students of Katy ISD. I hope there's a wait list at the libraries for THE HATE U GIVE.

For the rest of us, remember to read banned & challenged books. You can also explore the Banned Books Week site for ideas on how to support the ALA, the Freedom to Read Foundation, the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, The American Society of Journalists and Authors, Project Censored, and other groups supporting the right to read.

November 4, 2017

Hurricane Harvey Relief at the Texas Book Festival

The Texas Book Festival, started by Laura Bush in 1995, has always had a mission of literacy outreach. One of their programs is Reading Rock Stars, which currently serves schools in Austin, Houston, and the Rio Grande Valley.

The Texas Book Festival’s Reading Rock Stars program is a hands-on literacy initiative that sends nationally recognized authors into Title I schools in Texas to inspire young readers with dynamic presentations and send them home with the most empowering experience of all – their very own book. The Texas Book Festival funds and coordinates the author visits and donates the books to the children as well as a set of books to each school’s library. 

This year you can make a $15 donation at a register in a BookPeople Book Sales Tent to buy a book for a Reading Rock Stars student in Houston. For each book you buy, TBF and the Tocker Foundation will match with a book for an affected library (up to 500 books each), turning one book into three. See more at #TXBookStrong.

If you're going to the festival this weekend (November 4 and 5th), think about making a donation to help out kids affected by Hurricane Harvey!

August 29, 2017

"Waiting On" Wednesday: Paperbacks from Hell: The Twisted History of '70s and '80s Horror Fiction

Paperbacks from Hell I enjoyed Grady Hendrix's HORRORSTÖR, a haunted-house story with a touch of satire. I am totally unsurprised that Hendrix is a fan of cheesy 70's and 80's horror paperbacks.

I remember checking those books out from the library as a kid, fascinated by the covers.

PAPERBACKS FROM HELL looks like a fun, informative read, and I can't wait to pick up a copy when it comes out on September 19th.

Take a tour through the horror paperback novels of the 1970s and ’80s . . . if you dare. Page through dozens and dozens of amazing book covers featuring well-dressed skeletons, evil dolls, and knife-wielding killer crabs! Read shocking plot summaries that invoke devil worship, satanic children, and haunted real estate! Horror author and vintage paperback book collector Grady Hendrix offers killer commentary and witty insight on these trashy thrillers that tried so hard to be the next Exorcist or Rosemary’s Baby. It’s an affectionate, nostalgic, and unflinchingly funny celebration of the horror fiction boom of two iconic decades, complete with story summaries and artist and author profiles. You’ll find familiar authors, like V. C. Andrews and R. L. Stine, and many more who’ve faded into obscurity. Plus recommendations for which of these forgotten treasures are well worth your reading time and which should stay buried.

August 28, 2017

Hurricane Harvey: KidLit Cares and Disaster Relief for Libraries

Hurricane Harvey hit much harder than expected. South Texas, especially Rockport, has experience untold damage and Houston is still flooding.

I've sheltered in place and am still holding strong with plenty of food and water and no power outages, but many others haven't been as lucky.

Kate Messner is assembling another KidLit Cares auction, as she did after Superstorm Sandy. She's gathered auction items and will soon have them all listed on the linked page. The auction should run about a week, and proceeds will benefit the American Red Cross. Everyone who donates $10 to the American Red Cross will be entered into a giveaway.

In addition, the Texas Library Association has posted how you can help libraries in affected areas. You can buy coloring books or donate directly to the TLA's Disaster Relief Fund.

Thank you for helping those in need!

August 7, 2017

Movie Monday: The Dark Tower

One of my favorite book series is Stephen King's The Dark Tower. It isn't a perfect series. There are innumerable continuity errors and the last three books were clearly rushed. But they're weird in the most wonderful way, and I love every one of the main characters: Roland, Eddie, Susannah, Jake, (and Oy).

Thus, the movie adaptation of The Dark Tower had a lot to live up to. It had great source material, a built-in excuse for why things weren't the same as the book, and excellent casting.

Reviews had me worried and lowered my expectations. I think that might've helped the movie. It is a nice breezy length, explaining the basics and getting down to business. In this turn of the wheel, Jake (Tom Taylor) is a troubled young man in modern New York who dreams of kids being used to power a machine attacking the Dark Tower. He follows the clues in his dreams to find a gate to Mid-World, where he finds the gunslinger Roland (Idris Elba). Roland is the man he needs to fight the Man in Black (Matthew McConaughey); however, Roland is more interested in revenge than protecting the Dark Tower.

McConaughey is a delight as the menacing Man in Black and I thought he captured the spirit of the character well. I think Elba is brilliant casting for Roland, but he felt somewhat lacking in the intensity needed. At the same time, he is playing a less obsessive (in some ways) version of Roland. Taylor holds his own against them quite well and honestly impressed me. Jake's character changes the most, but I was sold on this kid as haunted and driven. I only wish we'd gotten more of him learning to be a gunslinger, especially as he ends up a 'damsel' in distress several times.

The Dark Tower is a fun fantasy movie with a few cool action scenes and a touching father-son relationship that develops through the course of the film. The movie misses some obvious chances for references to the book, but manages to weave in events from the first three books as well as a wealth of Easter Eggs. It's not everything I hoped and dreamed for, but neither is it a disaster. It's a start. If they do continue it with a TV series, I can't wait to see Eddie and Susannah and I hope this Roland and Jake return.

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