2.19.2009

Reading Life

Just finished Give a Boy a Gun by Todd Strasser. The story is compelling. It's a challenge to write about violence in the schools, especially gun violence, especially after so many instances of school shootings. Even the way it's told (short snippets of either written or oral interviews from various perspectives) wasn't a distraction. As a matter of fact, I think this sort of distancing from the main characters (in this case, the "shooters") helps tell the hard story. My concern is that the story is weakened by the obvious anti-gun sentiment as expressed in the footnotes. Sure, the studies have shown all this stuff that is quoted in articles and books, but it seems skewed to me. That a shooter trained for a summer with the Boy Scouts how to shoot targets then ends up pointing that weapon at humans later is factual, but where are the countless other stories untold of the many more thousands of Boy Scouts who go through the same training, have access to guns, and don't kill with them? It is not in the access and ownership where the problem lies, nor in the production and importing of said weapons, but in the person. True, no amount of training will help a kid not point it at another human with ill will when he's aiming to anyway. Same as with sex ed: no matter how much we tell kids about unwanted pregnancies and STDs, and how to prevent them, girls still get pregnant, boys get girls pregnant, and STDs are passed from one to another. I'm not saying there aren't things we can do to keep school shootings from happening, but there has to be more than saying guns are bad.

2.17.2009

Valentine's Day Book Sale

The Friends of the Library in Lubbock have done it again, they've sponsored another successful book sale. This one on Saturday, Feb. 14. Doors opened at 9AM. My wife and youngest boy were there at 8:30 and Lukas and I went to church to pray with some of the men. Then I dropped Lukas off at around 10:10, and a friend and I went to dump an upright piano we'd found for free at a garage sale. It was fun to see the huge front loader take it up and drop it, mostly in pieces now, into the oversized bin. Then I set out to meet the family at the book sale at Mahon. Here's a list of what I got (I'm not even going to try to list even a quarter of what my wife and boys got):

Seedfolks by Paul Fleischman (pbk)
Give a Boy a Gun by Todd Strasser (pbk)
Gothic! Ten Original Dark Tales, edited by Deborah Noyes (hdbk)
The Truth or Something by Jeanne Willis (hdbk)
American Eyes: New Asian-American Short Stories for Young Adults, edited by Lori M. Carlson (hdbk)
Sky by Roderick Townley (hdbk)
Claws by Will Weaver (hdbk)
Sammy & Juliana in Hollywood by Benjamin Alire Sáenz

2.03.2009

Humble ISD's Teen Lit Fest '09: Expression!

Okay, as if it wasn't just about the coolest hanging out with Terry Trueman, Sonya Sones, Gail Giles, Neal Shusterman, Deb Caletti, Judson Roberts, and Cortnee Howard, throw in some very cool and hip middle and high school librarians (from Texas! Whooeee!), an auditorium full of young adult readers, and you've got yourself a party. And cooler yet: each author was assigned one of the district's school mascots (I walked alongside a colt and a mustang), then we did a panel Q&A session first thing: a modified Inside the Actor's Studio, where we were asked various questions and each of us gave our answers: questions were student-supplied. Then we went our separate ways to our break out sessions. Like I've done before, my breakout session was sitting side by side with Terry Trueman, entertaining student questions. He's the funny man, to my straightman bit. And he is hilarious! At least this time he didn't spill his bottle of water on me. Three sessions like that, then a signing, and a great dinner. Great conversation on top of that later that evening, and getting to read Sonya Sones' Stop Pretending on my flight home: not a bad way to end an already fantastic weekend! (An aside: next time you see Sonya, ask her to tell the story about her pen; what a find!)