Tuesday, May 24, 2005

The Value of Millions

During the last couple of weeks, I listened to the audiobook version of the book Millions by Frank Cottrell Boyce. The story of two preteen brothers (saint-loving Damian and future investment banker Anthony) is both heartwarming and funny as we follow their quest to spend over 200,000 British pounds before England converts to the Euro. Damian thinks the money was sent to them from God so they could perform good deeds, a fact which is supported by the various saintly visions he has. Anthony knows better and thinks the money should be used to expand their investment portfolio by buying a house. As the days until conversion near, Anthony learns that the money came from a robbery attempt and Damian realizes that the money is creating more problems than it solves.

Tonight I saw the movie based on the book and I highly recommended it. The screenplay was written by the author, so the story's voice and integrity remained intact. The book is told in first person, so I was impressed with how well the movie revealed the character of Damian. Both boys were adorable and Damian's effort to do the right thing and deal with this mother's death were very touching. The father was shown as strong, hardworking, loving, and vulnerable, which I found honest and compelling. His burgeoning relationship with another women adds another twist to this already dynamic slice of real family life. The cinematic effects and diverse soundtrack complete this well-done adaptation of an excellent book.

Don't trust me? Check out Roger Ebert's review. He says, "This is one of the best films of the year."

Monday, May 23, 2005

Write On

I recently bought the book called A Writer's Notebook by Caroline Sharp in hopes that it would inspire and encourage me to write the great American novel. Well, sadly, that has not happened yet, but I did just now pick it up and make some fantastical plans to do the exercises over my lunch hour at work.

But I'm not the only one who needs encouragement! So, I've decided to post Writing Prompts every now and then for any one interested in listening to their own writing whispers. Type in a response here or keep them in your writer's journal...whatever it takes to get you on the road to writing. This prompt is from The Writer's Block by Jason Rekulak.

Imagine what life would have been like if you had the occupation you'd wanted as a child.

Do You Know Your PATRIOT Act?

Controversy is easy to find in the world today, but harder to clearly define as right or wrong. One such issue concerns the balance of our rights as free citizens with the necessity to protect people and to investigate those whose mission might be to hurt others. What do you know about the PATRIOT Act? Check out the sites below for a quick refresher or overview. It's important because your rights are involved. These are the same rights that men and women are fighting for right now.

American Library Association's PATRIOT Act Page
Preserving Life and Liberty U.S. Government website's Patriot Act Page

Article about the PATRIOT Act and one library's experience (from American Libraries online)

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Fingerprinting at the Library?

The Naperville Public Library has contracted with U. S. Biometrics to provide a fingerprint recognition system to allow patrons access to the Internet computers. Currently, the system for internet access asks for the patrons' library card and pin numbers. However, an investigation following an incident involving the viewing of pornography by a patron discovered that people would often use another patron's login information. For example, a child whose parents have selected filtered Internet access for him might use the unfiltered access provided with the login information of his friend.

This technology brings about many questions regarding privacy, confidentiality and freedom of information. What would you think about this if you were a staff member or a patron of this library? One of my questions is this: how long does the computer retain information about sites visited by a specific patron? This would be the same question, regardless of the mechanism for identification. U. S. Biometrics states in the article below that the fingerprint scans can not be used to recreate an actual fingerprint and then searched in a law enforcement database.

This should be interesting to follow in the future.

Here are some articles for to check out for more information. Even though this news was picked up by the Associated Press, no information was available on the Naperville Library webpage as of this posting.

American Libraries online.
The Chicago Tribune.
The Washington Post.
U. S. Biometrics

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Breaking Point

Someone should write a book called The Secret Lives of Books and maybe that would explain why books end up in every room of my house. While herding some of them up today, I was compelled to research the next book in Suzanne Brockmann's Troubleshooter series. Rejoice fellow Team 16 fans! Breaking Point (Max and Gina's story) will be released on July 12. You can even order a signed copy!

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Waiting for Harry...

It's only 56 days to Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince! Although my reading list is jam packed with books to read for summer classes, if you are looking for something to fill the long days and nights until HP returns check out this NPR article with suggestions from Nancy Pearl (Book Lust and librarian action figure fame). This link was found via The Playful Antiguarian blog.

Bandwagon Hopper

While I may not be a diehard Star Wars fan, I have to appreciate the parodies flying around my cyber-galaxy. Here's one for organic food fans starring Cuke Skywalker, Chewbroccoli, Tofu D2, Lord Tader, Ham Solo and others: Store Wars (first seen on the Shifted Librarian blog). Stacy sent me this link to the Star Asciimation Wars. While I can applaud someone listening to their own Star Wars whispers, I have to wonder who has this kind of time? Really? (This is coming from the same person who will most likely spend the rest of the night NOT doing homework, housework, or estate legal work!)

Wednesday, May 18, 2005


What generation am I? Does anybody know? X? Y? Z? The tick-tock of my writer's clock is a little bit louder each day. The voices in my head are constantly whispering their stories to me in the hope that I will actually take the time to write them down and give them a louder voice. "Soon, soon," I whisper back.

Apparently, I am not the only writer that suffers from Whispering Voice Syndrome as I recently found this post on the PLA blog about how most authors are published around the age of 50. Is this encouraging or does this just enable my procrastination?

Poor Melanie, poor Savannah, poor Jake, poor Brian...will their stories ever be told?

I am the only one that hears them, right?

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Sweet Home Chicago

This post is for all of you who love information organization and access or who also grew up with a police scanner in your living room. What? I'm the only one? Oh, well - you still have to check out ChicagoCrime.org, a database of reported crime in Chicago complete with the capibility to browse by time, location, type of crime and more! This is a mystery writer's goldmine! (Found while reading the Library Stuff blog).

Monday, May 16, 2005

Are You Under Harry's Spell?

Here is an article from The Guardian that describes the crossover reading phenomenon that is Harry Potter. It seems that a record breaking number will purchase the "adult edition" of the book (different covers, not different content - eek!). Here is a link to the adult cover. I think I will stay with the British version I have on order with the children's cover. I've heard it said that people prefer the adult version so they are less conspicuous while commuting and traveling with their copies. Poor muggles.

While visiting various elementary school classrooms lately, I feel like the excitement for the book is more subdued compared to previous release summers. It seems like more kids are excited for the Goblet of Fire movie due out in November (here's a trailer link thanks to AM and her brother). Of course, with the story of Harry and friends becoming more mature, maybe this isn't such a bad thing.


Thursday, May 12, 2005

Libraries and Blogging

So, public libraries are getting onto this blogging bandwagon. Here is an example of one library and how they use a blog (from PLA's blog, cited on the Library Stuff blog: http://www.waterborolibrary.org/blog.htm.

Another interesting tidbit also from the Library Stuff blog is that patrons using the Hennepin County catalog can generate RSS feeds from searches. In other words, they can be notified when new books are available from certain authors or subjects. How cool is that?

Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants: If the Pants Fit...

Okay, so I was finally convinced to try out this Traveling Pants phenomenon and would you believe that I actually liked the series (by Ann Brashares)? I want a pair of these pants, but I have a feeling that Eddie Bauer doesn't carry them. Really though, I enjoyed this series and I am looking forward to watching the upcoming movie based on the first book. The four girls that comprise the sisterhood are unique, but I found something about each of them that I could identify with. The topics covered are both adolescent and mature, but I appreciated the way certain situations were handled (no spoilers here!). Try this series on for size; I'm certain it will be a good fit!

Plus, if you want to find out which member of the sisterhood is your "soulmate", try this website: http://www.randomhouse.com/teens/sisterhoodcentral/quiz.html.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Entry Level Librarians Beware

Graduate school is hard enough, but what happens when you graduate and you cannot get a job? Let's hope none of the current graduates I know are dealing with the problems depicted in this article from Library Journal about the lack of positions for entry level librarians. Also discussed is the fact that some positions that do not require experience rarely go to new librarians.

Monday, May 09, 2005

Long Time, No Blog!

I’ll try to keep this brief, but here is a rundown of the BEST books I have read since my last blog. All of these titles are must reads! For a funny look at the process of writing, take a look at this site by one of authors listed below (click on the FAQ)!

Recent Favorites
Pennington, Bill. The Heisman: Great American Stories of the Men Who Won.
My Dad received this book while he was in the hospital (from my aunt) and I read over half of it aloud to him. It was a wonderful experience; I only wish we could have finished the book (or at least gotten to the Huskers!). The author highlights a variety of Heisman winners and puts each of them into framework of their respective social and policital eras.

Brashares, Ann. Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series. (audio)
Colgran, Jenny. The Boy I Loved Before or Do You Remember the First Time?
Cottrell Boyce, Frank. Millions. (audio)

From YA Lit:

McCloud, Scott. Understanding Comics.
Spiegelman, Art. Maus I.

From YA Lit Book Discussion Group Project:
Creech, Sharon. Walk Two Moons.
Konigsburg, E. L. The View from Saturday.
Lawrence, Iain. B for Buster.
Ryan, Pam Muñoz. Esperanza Rising.
Tolan, Sephanie. Surviving the Applewhites.
Turner, Megan Whalen. The Thief.

Fun New Picture Books:
Asher, Sandy. Too Many Frogs!
Markes, Julie. Shhhhh! Everybody's Sleeping!
Slater, David Michael. Jacques and Spock.