Sunday, August 29, 2010

Things Librairans Should Unlearn: Comic Book Edition!

[This week's review will be posted in a few days so I can join in on the Manga Movable Feast! YAY!]

I was inspired by Joyce Valenza's post (which was inspired by this post) earlier this week about what Teacher Librarians Should Unlearn and her challenge to create a meme based off of this was almost impossible to resist.

So I present to you, Things Librarians Should Unlearn: Comic Book Edition. This collaborative effort by me, The Philosopher Musician, and Sir Shanley hope to enlighten you about some common misconceptions about comics and the library.

Things Librarians Should Unlearn: Comic Book Edition
  1. Graphic novels are not literature
  2. Graphic novels and comic books do not belong in the library
  3. All graphic novels should only be shelved in the [adult, teen, or children's] collection.
  4. The ALA Great Graphic Novel Lists, professional titles, and professional journals are the best and, in fact, only graphic novel collection development tools out there.
  5. Book to graphic novel adaptations are usually awesome and a must have. Especially classic books and authors.
  6. Pokemon, Yu-Gi-Oh, and DragonBall Z are the best examples of manga.
  7. Anime and manga titles we don't recognize are probably dirty, violent, and pornographic.
  8. Only social outcasts and reluctant readers read graphic novels.
  9. Only children read comics.
  10. Librarians don't read comics.

Friday, August 27, 2010

ALA Great Graphic Novel Nominations for 2011 (1)

I wrote this way back when the list was first published and am only now getting around to posting this. Yay for Grad School distraction! I have since read some of the titles, which I will post reviews of soon.

Somewhere on my Twitter feed, I saw this Tweet that the Nomination for the Great Graphic Novels of 2011 is available. While this is excited news, can I be honest with you? As a librarian and an avid graphic novel reader, even though I'm not as in touch as I have been, about 80% of these titles are no where to be found on my blog rolls nor what I have seen circulating in the library. I mean, where's Gaiman's Whatever Happened To the Caped Crusader? (Ok, a little research shows this should have been on the 2010 list. I nearly CRIED over the brilliance of it). Where's Chi's Sweet Home which looks like it is going to be everyone's favorite all-ages GN (DAWWWWWWWWWW! Expect a review!). I find it uneasy that I don't recognize even half of the nominations.

I honestly feel like I shouldn't complain. I'm not on the committee (yet, but intend to after grad school), but honestly, I'm not that excited about this list. I mean, 2010 had many titles I recognized, wanted to read, and were, I thought, good picks, but this list? I recognize more titles as I look at it, but then I notice all the "book-to-graphic-novel" suggestions, which are seriously hit and miss. I just read a Marvel adaptation that almost killed the book for me (except there are great movie adaptions-expect a review) and one title on this list, when I post the review, isn't pretty as well. And speaking of book-to-GN adaptations, where is the infamous (I didn't/couldn't finish it) Twilight GN? Didn't the book make it to one of the other lists?  Or Maximum Ride?

Maybe as a GN reader, I have different expectations of the Great Graphic Novel list, but I think there should be more to the list than book adaptations, or just what looks like it'll work. Yes, plot is important, but we also like pure fluff and sometimes the really zany.

Comics and Education: Links

First, I must say that the following has nothing to do with my politics. In fact, I'm not even in this particular state, so I assume it doesn't really matter, but just wanted to let you know.

When I first clicked on this link ("An Open Letter to Maryland State Senator Nancy King", ReTweeted by J. Torres from Dean Trippe) in my twitter feed today, I could not stop laughing at the picture. Seriously, the link that laying off teachers means kids will go off and read comics and not learn anything? I just had to laugh.

Unfortunately, I can't believe this stereotype is still around today. I mean, this stereotype goes way back (thinking the stuff from 1950s/1960s). I link it to you today because Dean Trippe has a lot of good things to say about comics and education. In fact, he even links to a non-profit that is linking educational comics to teachers.
Speaking of comics, tomorrow is International Read Comics in Public Day. I'll find a way to participate even though I'm working...

Sunday, August 22, 2010

A Little Librarian's View: PA to YA Fest

Any excuse to go to West Chester, PA, is a good excuse to me. West Chester is a lovely college town with a ton of history, lovely buildings, awesome downtown, great book stores such as Armadillo Books and Chester County Book Company, the fantastic West Chester Public Library, and so far, has great food. My trek to West Chester on Saturday, August 21st, though was to visit the PA to YA Festival which was next to the University.

The PA to YA Festival was an event hosted to help raise money to give to librarians to build YA collections and to get books into the hands of librarians (as I understand it). It was also a great event to meet up with authors and bloggers, partake in the book sale, and maybe win some raffle prizes.

Basically, I’ve known about the Bring YA to PA initiative for months after accidentally finding it from, well, “blog surfing.” As a librarian, I was a bit surprised this initiative has existed for a while and I had yet to hear of it in my three official years as a Teen Person. As to the event, when I first saw hints of it, I had thought “YAY! But it is in Philly and I refuse to drive in Philly.” When I saw it was in West Chester, I thought “I’m SO going” and my schedule actually allowed me to!

The event itself was enjoyable and for arriving late (1:30 PM or so) there was still enough for me to feel that I hadn’t missed much. I do regret not partaking in the raffles, but I couldn’t decide if I wanted to pay for chances or not.  I also regret not bringing my ARC of Watersmeet to finally get it signed by Ellen Jensen Abbott, but I did get to catch up with her. That was probably the first highlight.

The second highlight was the room for librarians. Yes, a room for librarians. With books. Lotsa lotsa books. The librarian that traveled with me was excited to learn that she could take 20 books back to her library to put into the collection. For her, this is perfect as her library seems to have spent a good portion of their book budget, which means, technically, no new YA. This situation also was perfect for her since I’m somehow this walking encyclopedia of what is popular and what is not, what the book is probably about, and how the reviews for the books were, both blogosphere and professional (re: Voya). This in and of itself, is the most useful part to librarians here in Pennsylvania because of all the budget cuts happening. I’m not going to go into it here but you can read more here (PA Library Association).

But here is the only downside to the festival that I noticed: Many authors and bloggers, very few librarians. From my own library system, I ran into only one other person and not in Youth Services. From there, I only ran into a total of maybe 2 or 3 more library people. West Chester has perfect access to three library systems and for surrounding areas, West Chester is only an hour to a few hours’ drive to there. I can only blame myself for not seeing more Library System people since I didn’t send out an e-mail. Bad, bad me. I also may have missed people because I was half an hour late, but I did stay the whole time so I keep thinking I should have seen some friends!

Except for that small issue, I enjoyed the event and am hopeful and excited for the possibility at the event next year. My only hope for next year is that the venue is 1.) bigger and/or 2.) has an area for socializing as everyone kind of just fell into places in the tiny hallway between the rooms.

For librarians, it would have been the perfect event to get favorite books signed, network and socialize, and pick out books for their libraries and some ARCs for themselves. For bloggers and authors, I could tell that it was a great social event. I hope that the organizer (Harmony) behind the event saw this as a successful event and I’m sure that the money raised Saturday, from a large amount to even the smallest amount, will help the libraries who need it. We librarians are quite the thankful bunch. I just love the fact that this exists to help supplement YA Services in PA.

Pennsylvanian librarians, I urge you, that the moment you find out when this event happens in 2011, clear your calendar (like you do for your conferences). I know I will find a way to attend next year for the authors not signed up yet, the book sale, and maybe I’ll be able to socialize a little more. This is just too nifty of an event to miss out and it is so rare to have an event like this that I can actually drive to!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

The Color of Heaven by Kim Dong Hwa (Book 3 of 3: Conclusion of the Color Trilogy)

Title: The Color of Heaven
Kim Dong Hwa
Illustrator: Kim Dong Hwa
First Second (:01)
Copyright: 2009
Price: $16.99
ISBN: 978-1-59643-460-8
Summary and Quick Thoughts: Ehwa and her mother are pining for their respective men to return. Ehwa is waiting for Duksam to return. Her mother is waiting for The Picture Man to see if he’ll stay or go again. When Ehwa’s mother finally understands her daughter is pining, she decides it is time for Ehwa to learn how to keep house, for if she is to wait, she might as well stay busy. Ehwa doesn’t enjoy this, but what else is there to do? This volume concludes the story and does so in a soft, bittersweet, yet hopeful way. The Color Trilogy is a must have for any graphic novel collection as it is a lovely trilogy.
Will Teens Like It? This is a mature title. It is advertised to teens by ALA, but is really an adult title.
Things to be aware of: Sexual situations, nudity
Further Thoughts: As I closed the last book, I couldn’t help but feel sad and hopeful as this was the end of the book, but it was only the beginning for Ehwa. One of the best parts is that she revisits everything in the last two titles and closes doors so that she may face her future happily. Again, I cannot stop saying how wonderful the art was to evoke such strong emotions and again, I picked up this title as long as I had it from the library and just browsed the pictures, reflecting on the story, the scenes, and more. The only downside is the Reader’s Guide in the back, as great as it is to include, is almost exactly the same as the last. I would have liked the guides to be more focused on the book that was in hand. Overall, this is a series every library should have.
Bonus: ALA’s Great Graphic Novel List 2010

Source: Library copy.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

The Color of Water by Kim Dong Hwa (book 2 of 3)

Title: The Color of Water
Author: Kim Dong Hwa
Illustrator: Kim Dong Hwa
Publisher: First Second (:01)
Copyright: 2009
Price: $16.95
ISBN: 978-1-59643-459-2
Summary and Quick Thoughts: Ehwa’s story continues in this second book of The Color Trilogy. Readers follow Ehwa as she ages from about 13 to 17 and falls in love for a third time. Duksam, a young servant from another village, has stopped by Ehwa and her mother’s house looking for someone to repair his broken belt. After Ehwa is frightened by his forward comments, she fixes his belt and throws it back at him. His admiration of the stitching leads to comments about his admiration. With her gaze, Duksam feels he is able to win the wrestling match in town and thus begins the courtship of Ehwa and Duksam.

The parallels in this story of the mother and daughter continue as Ehwa continues to grow into more of a woman. The simple art still makes the story feel timeless and even have a fairy tale quality as you watch Ehwa grow from a teenager to a woman. This book includes a detailed reader’s guide that can be used for novice readers or more advanced readers.
Will Teens Like It? This is still more of an adult title, especially with the content.
Things to be aware of: Masturbation, sexual situations
Further Thoughts: How can I explain what I love about this series? The illustrations, although line and in black and white evoke love, spring time, hope, and dreams. I cannot stop picking these titles up (at least while I have them) and looking over pages and scenes and smiling at how simple lines portray the strong man Ehwa loves. Issues of romance and marriage are brought up from arranged marriages to marriage for love. Lastly, it is the little details in this story that I enjoy. In prepping for this review, I picked up the book only to realize that somewhere in the story, Ehwa begins letting her hair grow, which I believe is a signal that she has become a woman in the villagers eyes.
Bonus: First Second (:01)'s blog this week has a fantastic picture from San Diego ComiCon that features this title! Do visit the link and see what I mean. :)

An ALA Great Graphic Novel 2010

Source: Library copy.