Thursday, February 26, 2009

English Titles and a Side Serving of Guilt

A shipment arrived from Baker and Taylor, and there were several books we'd been waiting for. It's irksome when the beginning of a UK series is published in the US, students get hooked, and then they cut us off!

Whytock's Angel: Loving, loathing and Luscious Lunches is the 4th book in the series, and apparently the last one that even Baker and Taylor will send me. Angel, feeling fab from her recent trip to Italy, starts feeling less fab when a girl in her school, Scarlett, keeps undermining her at every chance she gets. She calls her fat, tries to steal her friends, and doesn't help when it turns out that her brother Rhett fancies Angel. Combine this with Angel's chance to meet Jamie Oliver, a celebrity chef, and you have a fun book about embracing body image, dealing with difficult people, and delicious food. (Recipes included.)

Cathy Cassidy's Lucky Star is a sequel to Dizzy in the way that Small Steps is the sequel to Holes. Mouse, on his way home from seeing his parole officer, runs into Cat when she accidentally hits a small dog with her bicycle. The two take the dog to the vet and become friends. Mouse lives in a difficult world-- his mother, who formerly abused drugs and had trouble raising him, now helps others get off drugs at Phoenix house, which is burned down by a dealer who lives in the housing estate where Mouse lives. Lucky, the dog, turns out to be owned by this same man, so there are lots of tense moments. Dizzy does turn up, but it is the depiction of Mouse's rough life that will sell students on this book. Cassidy's books, which depict struggling children, are very popular.

While I'm not a huge science fiction fan, I can understand the appeal of James Patterson's books for young adults. In The Dangerous Days of Daniel X, the chapters are all about two pages long, and this does make a big difference! Daniel's parents, who are alien hunters, are killed by a giant
alien/monster/mantis called The Prayer. It falls to him, then, to follow The List, hunt down the most wanted aliens, and save the world. There were some parts that were confusing, especially when Daniel imagines his family is real, but that's not what the book is about. It's about a wonderfull snarky tone, action and adventure, and a fifteen year old wandering about the country fighting aliens.

Now the guilt. I spend a lot of time looking at book reviews, book lists, blogs, author sites and book descriptions during my work day. My job gets done-- I am here for ten hours, spend another three or so at home reading, and never tell a student I'm too busy to help. The books get checked inand shelved, I call parents about overdues, help teachers with projects, have three minute lessons for 20 SSR classes every week, and the library is neat and clean, but I spend a lot of time looking for books.

Somehow, looking for books doesn't feel like I am working! Do other librarians spend a lot of time looking for books, and do you feel guilty about it?


  1. Anonymous10:28 AM EST

    It's not that I feel guilty -- I think being informed about books, authors, and publishing trends is essential for good collection development, so I firmly believe this is an important part of the job and something I should be able to do during paid working hours.

    On the other hand... I *am* very afraid of being misunderstood. There will always be teaching staff who view the school librarian's role as an "easy" job because it is different from the work that they do. I worry about giving the impression that I have time to "surf the internet" at work.

  2. You just love what you do. No crime in that. :)

  3. I love British books! I definitely need to read the Angel books, and I loved Dizzy so I should check out Lucky Star! Boo hoo I don't live in the UK, though, I agree about getting cut off!

  4. I'd say librarians who keep up with the latest books are the best librarians. It always annoys me when I meet a librarian who says they are so busy they never have time to read themselves.

    I know from personal experience as a teacher that my students are much more likely to pick up a book if I am able to say that I've read it. Even if I tell them I didn't particularly like, they want to know what I think.

    Read on!!!

  5. First, let me remind you that 2009 is a no guilt year, haven't you heard? :) But I'd agree with Readingjunky - we've got to keep up with the best books so we keep kids reading. Reading books, blogs, reviews, everything we can to try and figure out what's out there, IS part of our job. I think it doesn't necessarily feel like working because it's where our passion is and we love doing it. That doesn't, however, mean it really isn't working. It IS! We're just lucky we get to do what we love as our job! :)