The office has been quiet over the holidays, and I have been catching up on my podcast listening. Here are a few that I thought worth sharing, along with some books that popped to mind as I listened:
- Radiolab’s latest short episode The Times They are a-Changin’ looks at the Earth’s journey around the sun and reminds us that nothing is as constant as we think it is. I was reminded of the picture book by Debra Frasier that I recently read with my daughter A Birthday Cake is No Ordinary Cake, which is about how each birthday is another trip around the sun. Millions of years ago, the trip just took a little longer.
- The Stuff You Missed in History Class episode about Edward Jenner, the father of vaccines, was fascinating. Among other things, the show mentioned the difficulty of getting the small pox vaccine from Europe to the New World, and the ethically ambiguous way that the task was eventually accomplished, which was a part of the novel Saving the World by Julia Alvarez.
- Lexicon Valley looks at the way kids begin to use language in Learning to Say No. Parents, in particular, are likely to appreciate the opportunity to see what’s behind this pesky little word. To go along with that, Claudia Rueda has a sweet picture book simple titled No that as Booklist said in its review gets “right to the heart of a child’s inner life.”
If you, like me, are staying inside this weekend due to unbearably cold temperatures, these podcasts might be just the thing to ease the boredom. I hope everyone stays warm and safe. Happy listening and reading! :)
If you would have asked me a month ago, I would have looked for the answer in a picture book. It seems like a picture book sort of question, doesn’t it?
“Snow came singing a silent song,” writes Lynne Rae Perkins in Snow Music. In this book, winter is quiet after a snow fall, but there is a whole symphony of sounds if you listen for them. Cars, trucks, and animals all sound different in the winter. There’s a beauty in the whispers of snowfall and the loud scrapes of trucks clearing the way. There’s a beauty in the differences.
For the past several weeks, I have had a different answer to the question. I have had Haley Bonar’s new EP Wntr Snds on repeat, and these six songs are spare and intimate in a way that creates just the warmth that we need in a cold, cold Minnesota winter. “Like Ice and Cold” is my personal favorite. In this song, winter sounds like change, like hope. Maybe it isn’t so different from Snow Music.
If you need a little encouragement to see what winter can offer during this sub-zero week, try one of these and listen closely.
Find Snow Music at your local library or indie bookstore. Or get more wintery picture book suggestions here.
Yesterday was a long day. I was up early for last minute stapling, and then I was off to spend my day asking where people were from. Last year I asked people at the Zinefest to share a book they had read recently. This year I tied my question in to my new zine, Whereverland, which explores my here-and-there roots, with a new question: Where are you from?
For many, it was a straightforward question. They wrote their answers with confidence. Others shared several answers. “I’m not from only one place,” a woman said almost apologetically as she wrote the names of three different cities. By the end of the day, I had collected many, many places. Some came with tidbits of trivia: Did you know that Waseca, WI is the home of Cool Whip? I did not. Some were from far away (three from China, two from Germany, one from Australia), but most were from Minneapolis or very close. I loved the neighborhood pride that popped up occasionally. Powderhorn, Northeast, Bryn Mawr, and Uptown are all represented at least once.
As for me, I like to say that I’m from Minnesota, but you can read more about that in Whereverland. :)
Twenty years ago I might as well have been living in a bunker without access to the outside world for all I knew about music or pop culture. Don’t get me wrong. My family owned a television and lived a generally normal life. We just weren’t tuned in to some things. Mostly I think that was a good thing. But occasionally I find that there are gaps. For example, I would not have recognized a Beatles song until I was an adult. Not kidding.
This weekend I found another gap: Nirvana. I’d always told myself that I was too young. I was only a young teen in the early 90′s after all, but the crowd at the Uptown Cheapo store for the In Utero tribute on Saturday afternoon wasn’t any older than me. Actually many were younger. The musicians on stage spoke of memories of Cheapo, Nirvana, and being a teenager, and I found myself considering my gaps. So I missed it the first time around. This is clearly something worth going back for.
HighTV covering Nirvana at Cheapo
When it comes to books, I live in the future. The nature of my job means I’m reading books before they are released. My desk is stacked with 2014 titles right now, and it’s hard to look back to a previous publishing season to a title I didn’t get around to last year, or even earlier. If I miss something, I’ve missed it. Or so it seems sometimes.
I feel like I should conclude with something profound about balance, but I think I’ll just turn on some music.
Maybe I should start listening to The Current’s Teenage Kicks occasionally? I’ll catch up with the rest of you eventually.
Fall is for dreaming. The leaves haven’t even started to turn yet, but it seems that we have our eyes fixed on what lies ahead.
My daughter’s school sent home a blank cloud for us to share our hopes for the new school year. The new minister at the Unitarian Universalist church I’ve been attending asked the audience at last Sunday’s service to scribble aspirations for the upcoming season of assemblies on scraps of paper, which he collected and read aloud. My partner is already figuring out ways to make his fall as fulfilling as his summer was with music and travel at the forefront. It’s catching, I think. The more everyone talks about their dreams, writes about them, the more I start to imagine my own cloud filled with writing and ideas and opportunities. Thanks for the push, everyone.
Fall is in the air, and it is beautiful.
This week and next are all about zines. The Twin Cities Zine Fest is September 21st at Powderhorn Park. I’ll have new stuff available, and I hope to see you there.
Earlier this week, I sat at the Wood Tick table at Camp Read-a-Lot. Fortunately, there were no actual wood ticks. Just teachers, librarians, and books. Lots of books. I started the morning by standing up in front of everyone and talking about books. I made sure to wiggle my toes and listen for background sounds to calm my nerves as a friend had suggested. I hope it worked. It was all a bit of a blur, to be honest.
The real memorable Camp moments were later when William Alexander took the stage. Here is a writer who knows what stories can do. He spoke of the contradictory way people perceive fantastic fiction–it’s silly or foolish, but it’s also dangerous. Not unlike the way comic books or video games are often perceived. As a culture, we keep fighting over fiction without taking into account that we are wired for storytelling. We need stories–foolish and serious. Kids, especially, need stories of all sorts as they work out the intricacies of their worlds.
At this point in the presentation, I was live tweeting as quickly as I could. Eventually I stopped trying to tweet it all, but not before he thanked librarians and teachers for perpetuating the love of reading aloud. He said, “Read aloud always. Learn what delicious language tastes like.”
I have to admit, I haven’t read Goblin Secrets. Even after it won the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature, I didn’t give it a chance. Frankly, it’s rare that I pick up a fantasy novel. But I have been won over. In this PW interview Alexander said, “The thing about all stories, really, but especially about fantasy, is that they have the potential to throw our basic assumptions about ourselves into question.” Perhaps it’s time I gave the genre another chance.
Some interesting reading material for you:
Have a great weekend! Locals, be sure to check out the Red Hot Art & Music Festival or the FLOW Northside Art Crawl.
I always seem to grab my notebook when Dessa is on the radio. Her songs have a way of sparking my own creative spirit, and her commentary on her craft become journal entries and eventually blog posts. Today, as I listened to the rebroadcast of Dessa Deconstructed on the Current’s Local Show, I once again found myself jotting down quotes and scribbling poetic jumbles. When you have some time, watch the program or listen to her latest record. Perhaps it will have the same effect on you.
Here are a few links I found interesting this week:
- The Brief Zine Publishing Career of Mo Willems – I love Mo Willems, and it’s pretty cool to have an established illustrator like him talk about getting his start by self publishing his own zines.
- 15 Young Adult Books Every Adult Should Read – Should I admit that I actually haven’t read all of the books on this list? The ones I have read, I completely agree with, btw.
- Should You Boycott Ender’s Game Because of the Author’s Views? – Ender’s Game has been one of my favorite books for a long, long time, but the author and I have very different views on gay marriage. I’m for it. He’s against it. This blog post looks at the pros and cons of boycotting the movie.
- Disability in Kidlit – This month-long project takes on the way people with disabilities are portrayed in children’s books with book reviews and discussions from various people in the kidlit community, including me.
- R-E-S-P-E-C-T: What does it mean to you? – Blogger Wendy Thomas Russell asks what it means to respect people who have different beliefs or values than you and what we tell our children about respect. Very interesting. There are no easy answers.
What have you read or shared this week?
A zine hiding at the Minneapolis Central Library last week.
Art is everywhere. I say that all the time, but on Fridays, that’s actually a little more true because there are people in the Twin Cities hiding art in unexpected places for you to find. I’ve done it the last couple of Fridays with my zine about becoming a mother, Will There Be Smoking?. You can join too as a hider or a seeker. Read more about it in this article from the Pioneer Press:
Here’s how it works: Artists are invited to create a small piece of work, hide it somewhere in the Twin Cities, then on Friday, post photo clues on Facebook and/or Twitter. The finder is asked to post or tweet a photo to let the group know the art has found a good home.
Of course, not all of the art is found by group members. A random passer-by could just as easily snag a piece, adding to the mystery.
“There’s some joy thinking about who discovers it and thinking about where to hide it,” Wang said.
There’s a Facebook group and a hashtag to use. Keep your eyes open. The whole city is a potential hiding place for some little treasure. If that isn’t a happy thought for today, I don’t know what is. :)