Monday, February 26, 2007

Ninjas are Everywhere!

Last fall, I learned a bit more about ninjitsu techniques than I wanted -- some details are better left unknown. Yuk. But I certainly will remember the ninja research paper!

And now, more ninjitsu in the library . . .

create your own at

And, on YouTube

Can't wait for Episode 2.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

A Library on Four Legs

Have you ever benefited from a bookmobile? In my small Alabama town, the bookmobile came from the county seat (17 miles away) once a week in the summer, and it was a big deal to be able to browse and check out new reading (at 12, I confess, it was often the Harlequin Omnibus -- three in one volume!)

Now imagine living in the dry bush in Africa, and the bookmobile coming, not in a van, but on the back of a camel. The is the setting of a new novel by author Masha Hamilton, and she didn't make it up. There is a real Camel Bookmobile, operating in northeastern Kenya near the border with troubled Somalia. And they take donations, through a Camel Book Drive coordinated by Ms. Hamilton. Most popular? Children's storybooks, followed by general fiction and non-fiction. English is one of Kenya's main languages; the bookmobile carries books in Swahili and English.

What a cool project for a child looking to clear out a bookshelf of wonderful but outgrown books! Or a book club, or school service group. Don't let postage worries stop you -- send shipments by economy book rate, and the Post Office says it will cost $11.55 for the first eleven pounds, and $1.05 for each pound thereafter. The address, photos and additional information are posted at the Camel Book Drive website.

Compared to spending $$ on New York Times ads, this is a fabulous way to publicize a new novel and do good at the same time. The Paideia Library will be sending a box soon.

Oh, and The Camel Bookmobile is to be released in April 2007.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

What Do You Think?

Also at YouTube

Do you 2.0?
Why not?

Reading Across Borders Book #3
The Pull of the Ocean

Did you ever read a rave-reviewed, award-winning book and feel really stupid because you just don't get it? That's how I'm feeling about this little book by Jean-Claude Mourlevat. It's translated from French (thereby qualifying for the challenge), and won France's Prix Sorcieres (an annual prize for children's literature) in 2000. It's not bad, it's quite OK, but I just didn't finish it with the Wow! that I'd expect from a star.

The seven sons of a rough, brutish farmer & his wife run away from home one night. Yann, the youngest, is mysterious, all-knowing, mute and tiny -- at 10 he is only two feet tall. The other six are three pairs of twins. The story is told in retrospect, through the accumulated accounts of each brother, their parents, and various other participants and witnesses. At the end, Yann has disappeared for good. Was he a real boy? or a fairy tale character?

Oh well. A book for every reader, a reader for every book. To be fair, check the links below for reviews from others who got the Wow! that I missed:

School Library Journal
Amoxcalli (a book blog)
The Philadelphia Enquirer online

Monday, February 12, 2007

Reading Across Borders Book #2
Far and Beyon'

I finished my second qualifying Reading Across Borders challenge book this weekend. Far and Beyon' is the first novel by Unity Dow, the first female High Court Judge ever appointed in Botswana. Before this position, she practiced as an activist attorney focused on legal rights for women and children. The main characters in the novel are Mara, a traditional woman who has just lost two sons to AIDS; her son Stan, who seems to be adopting the white culture and values of a benevolent schoolteacher; and her daughter Mosa, who rails against the opression of women in the traditional ways, but who also wants to stand strong as a black Botswanan woman. The book really becomes Mosa's story about halfway through.

This novel is not great literature, though the story is compelling. The writing is flat and preachy in sections, and lawyer speeches poorly disguised as conversations between a teenaged brother and sister. Still, it's worth reading for the stark yet hopeful portrait of life in Botswana, a much less rosy picture than that of Alexander McCall Smith's Mma Ramotswe novels (The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency and sequels, which I've thoroughly enjoyed). Given the author's credentials, I'm sure the facts are accurate, and the situations endured by the girls and women are true-to-life. The novel is also a good companion to a wonderful YA novel, Chanda's Secrets by Allan Stratton, which tells of the debilitating shame and secrecy surrounding HIV/AIDS in Africa.

Friday, February 9, 2007

Please Bury Me in the Library

Please bury me in the library
In the clean, well-lighted stacks

Of Novels, History, Poetry,

Right next to the Paperbacks,

Where the Kids' Books dance

With True Romance

And the Dictionary dozes.

Please bury me in the library

With a dozen long-stemmed proses.

Way back by a rack of Magazines,

I won't be sad too often,

If they bury me in the library

With Bookworms in my coffin.

from Please Bury me in the Library,
a picture book of poetry by J. Patrick Lewis
illustrated by Kyle M. Stone

Friday, February 2, 2007

Alphabet Soup!

Isn't it cool? These images were created at -- there are lots of other customizable image generator choices. Go wild!