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Wordstock is coming!  Portland’s Festival of Words, November 10, 2018, is a day full of workshops, author presentations, book fairs, entertainment, vendors, and more. Since 2005, Portland has been celebrating the joy of words spoken, written or sung. There is a workshop track for K-12 teachers, a poetry slam, a literary ball, open-mic nights, author presentations and panels all over town, publishers and distributors looking for the next literary sensation, a short story contest, an area with activities and storytime just for kids, tables of books for sale, and tables of books for free.

The Festival will take place on the South Park Blocks in and around the Portland Art Museum, with additional stages at the First Congregational United Church of Christ, The Old ChurchOregon Historical Society, and Portland’5: the Brunish Theatre, the Winningstad Theatre, and the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall.

Featured in the Library this Week: Women

I skipped the Kavanaugh hearings. I didn’t watch or listen to the news, I scrolled past articles and posts about it on Facebook, I declined to participate in conversations about it. I couldn’t possibly participate in any of it and not rage/cry/shut down to the point of needing medical intervention.

Instead, I provided service for my kids, their teachers, and their families as best I could at work. I made plans for consulting with coworkers at the main office the day after. I had pleasant interactions with the bus drivers and fellow riders on the way to and from work. I got home, scritched the one kitty who likes skritches, put some new toys out for the other two kitties, cleaned out my lunchbox, took out the trash, and washed my hands and face.

And then I rage-ate.

Monday I will start collecting money for a donation to my local Planned Parenthood, a gift card towards a giant pizza party, and I’ll probably buy cookies to deliver with the gift card, to say thank you to everyone who works there.

You gotta get through the best way you can.

Towards that end – I dug through all my donations and put together a collection of books about women and girls. Strong women: may be know them, may we be them, may we raise them.


Recent Reads

Books I’ve read recently – Children’s books!

I was at the library the other day, waiting on meeting some folks, and got to looking through the children’s section. I work with preschoolers and their parents, so some of it is about finding books for work, and some of it is because I just plain like picture books.

Image result for the cat the dog little red the exploding eggs the wolf and grandmaThe Cat, The Dog, Little Red, The Exploding Eggs, The Wolf, and Grandma, by Diane and Christyan Fox

Not so much a retelling of Little Red Riding Hood as more of a meta-telling of it. Cat tries to share one of his favorite books with Dog, who has an entirely different attention span. Probably best for K-3rd grade, better if they are already familiar with Little Red Riding Hood. Cute artwork.



Image result for this monster cannot wait imageThis Monster Cannot Wait, by Bethany Barton

Monster has a super-hard time waiting. He’s *so* excited about going camping, but the camping trip isn’t for another 5 days – forever! Monster’s parents try a variety of strategies to help Monster learn to wait. Finally, he stumbles on one himself. I’d hoped this would be a good book for actually working on patience with some of my small work friends. While it’s about patience, there isn’t really much in here geared towards the actual teaching of it, especially for a preschooler. Pre-Ks might like the story and artwork nonetheless – it’s a fun read. It might be a useful adjunct for a 1st, 2nd, or 3rd grader whose family and/or teacher is already using some strategies for working on patience. In which case, this could be a good book for prompting conversation about some strategies the kiddo has been learning, and whether and how Monster might be able to use them. This book is one of a series of books about Monster. It is a fun story all on its own, and your little monster might enjoy it.

Image result for otter and odder imageOtter and Odder: A Love Story, by James Howe

Otter falls in love with a fish. Which doesn’t seem so strange, on the surface, but he comes to realize “I am in love with my food source”. Yes, that’s an actual quote. And the other otters make sure Otter knows how odd this really is. Fish (whom Otter believes is named Myrtle) returns his love – after going through what sounds like some of the same emotions as someone who has been kidnapped. “As for Myrtle, her first desire was: Please don’t eat me.”  I had a *really* hard time with this book. I’m all for books about falling in love with someone your family doesn’t approve of, and the love working out (for whatever value of “working out” is still safe/respectful of the participants). But in love with your “food source”? How in the world does one work with that? The author has Otter eat tree bark and other plant life. Otters are meat eaters! How’s that going to work?

Myrtle’s initial abused-partner-just-trying-to-survive reaction giving way to what I can only imagine as some sort of Stockholm Syndrome somehow magically blossoming into True Love kinda freaks me out in a picture book meant for elementary school kids. I’m all for unlikely pairs becoming friends. I’m cool with them falling in love. But this plot was too much for me.

Image result for green lizards vs red rectanglesGreen Lizards vs Red Rectangles, by Steve Antony

Another one I just didn’t get. The Green Lizards and the Red Rectangles are at war. No idea why. No idea how they are battling, except that occasionally some rectangles fall on the lizards, and some lizards knock over some rectangles. Then out of nowhere, a small faction from each side decides it’s time to end the war. No idea why. And they end the war and live happily and peacefully ever after. No idea why.


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Poor Louie, by Tony Fucile

Louie is his people’s only baby, pampered and just a bit spoiled – all in the best ways. Until another baby comes along. Louie is so sure his way of life will end that he plans to run away. Fortunately, everything turns out okay.




Image result for the bus ride marianne dubucThe Bus Ride, by Marianne Dubuc

Another retelling of sorts of Little Red Riding Hood. The reference is subtle enough that you might miss it. This is the little girl’s first bus ride all by herself. She talks herself through her brief concerns and many observations. Lots of little jokes and gags throughout. This is a great book about riding the bus and about observing and interacting as well.

Image result for david macaulay toilet

Toilet: How It Works, by David Macaulay

While this one is a picture book, it’s definitely aimed at a slightly older crowd than the other books I read, maybe 2nd, 3rd, or even 4th grade, depending on your reader. If you’re trying to get a young reader interested in reading non-fiction, this might just be the way to do it. What kid isn’t fascinated with bodily functions, especially functions normally deemed socially unacceptable to talk about! A bit wordy for a beginning reader, but definitely a topic that will engage.

Drag Queen Story Hour!

It’s coming time once again for Drag Queen Story Hour!  The Sellwood-Moreland Library will proudly host Portland’s own *diva* Ms Poison Waters presenting an hour of kid-friendly drag! Poison Waters will read stories with children 2-6 years old, followed by a craft or maybe a dance party!Poison Waters

Sept 29, 2018  11:00-12:00 at the Sellwood-Moreland Library (7860 SE 13th Avenue)

Hope to see you there!

On the Notion of “Protecting” Children From What They Might Read

I have a lot of feelings about banning books and “sanitizing” them for children or telling children they can’t read certain books (or at least can’t read them yet). I don’t think I could have put better words to my feelings, though, than Melissa Scholes Young did for her piece in the Washington Post.

I grew up in a country with heavy censorship rules. Lots of books, magazines, TV shows, and movies never made it into the country at all. Those that did were subject to “editing” – a movie with a romantic scene of, say, two people kissing would look like this:  two people leaning closer together, then suddenly leaning apart. The censors didn’t even do a pretty job of it – they simply removed the kiss.  Talk shows with an unfavorable guest – that person’s segment would be edited out, regardless of references elsewhere in the show to that guest. Sesame Street would be edited – no scenes with pigs in them, as they are vile, unclean animals. Mumford the Magician, instead of saying “A la peanut butter sandwiches!” would mouth words silently for a second, then you’d hear “…peanut butter sandwiches!”  It didn’t matter than the “a la” part was actually French. It sounded just like “Allah”, and you just don’t take God’s name in vain. Or in jest. Or anything else, really. Archie comic books would show up with black marker all over the girls’ swimsuits, so you didn’t see too much skin. They never blacked out the boys’ shorts or chests, just the girls’. A popular children’s magazine at the time put out an issue with a feature on a kid from Israel. I think it was about the growing popularity of soccer around the world, or something as intense as that. But because the kid was Israeli, and Israel was, shall we say, not in political favor, the censors ripped out that section of Every. Single. Copy. of that magazine before putting it on the magazine racks in the grocery store.

I grew up in an area of mostly Americans, some Brits, and a small percentage of folks from other countries. Most everyone ranted at some time or other about how oppressive the censorship was, how much better it was in other countries, especially in the US with their Freedom of Speech and all that.

Then I move back to the US and I hear how determined one group or another is to ban one book or another, to forbid the very mention of certain topics, But Who Will Think Of The Childern! Someone Must Protect The Childern! (misspelling intended for dramatic wailing and rending of garments). Are you freaking kidding me? We’re supposed to be the Land of the Free and the Brave! Freedom of Speech! IT’S THE FIRST FREAKING AMENDMENT TO THE CONSTITUTION, BECAUSE IT’S THAT DAMNED IMPORTANT.

Children are way smarter than most grownups give them credit for. More flexible in their thinking, more resilient than most grownups think too. I’ve been working with children my entire adult life, and a fair share of my life before I turned 21, for that matter. Children have an amazing capacity for understanding and adapting, when given honest opportunities. Children also have a pretty decent ability to figure some things out for themselves, given sufficient input. Lying to them, removing possibilities from them, deliberately misleading them, this does no one any good. What happens when those children find out you’ve been bullshitting them this entire time? They cease to believe anything further you have to say.  Give them age-/developmentally-appropriate information and vocabulary, sure. Protect them from everything in the world that is or might be scary?  If you remove all conflict, all risk, all potential danger, how in the world do you expect them to develop any skills to manage such moments on their own, down the road? Instead, help them navigate those moments. Help your children see those conflicts and risks and dangers for what they are – opportunities to observe, evaluate, reason, plan, and move forward. As you are doing so, use age-/developmentally-appropriate language and concepts and examples. Add to that information and vocabulary as they grow up and their cognitive skills develop. Give them credit for being the thinking, reasoning, functional human beings they are becoming.

While you’re thinking about that, here are some children’s books that have been challenged and banned over the years.  Which of these have you read? How thoroughly were you damaged by them? Do you read any of these with your own children? How comfortable are you given these as presents to someone else’s children?

Me? I’d read everything here except the Harry Potter books by the age of 12. And yet, somehow, by all accounts, I’ve turned out to be a reasonably well-adjusted, somewhat appropriately-social, contributing member of society.


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