Monday, May 27, 2019

MMGM- Secrets of a Fangirl

LAST blather: I haven't really read anything in two weeks. 

I blamed it on the end of school, flare of of "spy injury", the fact I won't be coaching cross country in the fall, my mother's continued decline, lots of things. But really, I just can't stand how toxic the children's literature community has become. I posted about a new sports book recently, and thought about mentioning something about the author's behavior, but didn't. Sure enough, there was a very polite, well meaning comment about it. And I chose not to publish it. 

That says a lot. Yes, I know all the issues. Yes, I know that authors can be jerks. And yes, in my school library, I chose not to buy or replace books by these authors. But guess what? My students don't know about these things, nor do the teachers. Honestly, they don't even know about the five year old #WeNeedDiverseBooks movement, that I have always supported. Bottom line: they just want books. 

So in order to NOT spend my summer quilting and knitting (which is what I woke up wanting to do), I need to focus on this bottom line. I don't need to log into Twitter to try to quickly post positive comments about books only to find a HUGE attack on myself because of something I've said on my blog about how I run my personal life. I don't need to go to conferences and get flack for something that is not my fault. 

So if you're angry that I'm not fighting your fight, don't read my blog. Unfollow me on Twitter. Do what ever you need to do to make it through the day. Call it self care if you need to. But I'm done with the drama and the personal attacks and saying things even if they are not nice. My grandmother would not approve. 

I just want to read. I want to tell other people about great books. I want to get these great books to kids. And I want to be joyful while doing all of these things.

It's Marvelous Middle Grade Monday at Always in the Middle and #IMWAYR day at Teach Mentor TextsUnleashing ReadersNonfiction Monday.

Dionne, Erin. Secrets of a Fangirl
May 28th 2019 by Arthur A. Levine Books
E ARC from Edelweiss Plus

Sarah Anne is an enormous fan of the books of MK Nightshade, so much so that she wins a local trivia contest and gets to compete on a panel. She completely routs the two teen boys, Chris and Ethan, who are also on the panel, since she knows the books as well as the movies. Since she is dressed in pink and a girl, however, the moderator doesn't give her equal time, and poo-poos her knowledge, even saying that her father helped her to win the contest. Sarah Anne (who goes as Sam on line), is furious, and makes up her mind to destroy the boys in the upcoming contest for tickets to the new movie premier in California. She has some problems, though-- no one at her school knows that she is a super fan. She plays lacrosse, hands out with her friend Roxy (who is rather controlling and judgemental), and avoids being identified as a geek at school. When her new science partner, Hugh, turns out to be a huge Nightshade fan as well, this becomes difficult. The contest is played out online, and Sarah Anne finds it increasingly difficult to cover up what she is doing. Part of the contest is to take selfies with a Nightshade hoodie on, and Sarah Anne skirts the rules by going to the mall in full face Ice Dragon makeup, almost running afoul of the rules. She still does better than Chris and Ethan, although people following the game online occasionally give her a hard time. She is having a hard time with Roxy, too-- the game is making her tired and irritable, and she doesn't have time to deal with Roxy insisting that she go to the school dance with Tucker, who impresses her as very mean. Her lacrosse game suffers, her grades suffer, and her parents almost make her pull out of the competition. Even if she wins, will Sarah Anne be able to keep the rest of her life separated from her essential fandom? And will she be happy if she does?
Strengths: The plight of women not being taken seriously in science fiction/fantasy fandoms is a serious one, and it's important to see it addressed in middle grade fiction. Combining this with controlling friends who think they can dictate fashion choices, and the fact that Sarah Anne LETS her friends do this for most of the book, is brilliant and so true. We get just enough information about the Nightshade books for the games to make sense. I love the parents and older sister in this as well, and having the game disrupt Sarah Anne's school work is a great ploy. Having Sarah Anne see herself in Hugh and feeling like she needs to be mean to him in order to distance herself is absolutely spot on!
Weaknesses: It seemed a bit unlikely that the organizers would have games going on during school, but that facet did make the book more suspenseful.
What I really think: Adore this and will be so glad to have it when school starts! It might even get me off the hook for not being about to host a Dungeons and Dragons game in the library. (Students want me to teach them, but I have never played and in fact detest games. But it's sweet they think I can help them! I even looked at books.)

I must confess; my younger daughter is president of the UC Harry Potter Appreciation Club, and my older daughter can play a mean game of Lord of the Rings Risk. While my essential fandom is more Anne of Green Gables and Little House on the Prairie (back when we were allowed to like those books), I understand Sarah Anne's enthusiasm AND her desire to "keep her geek on the down low". Not that I was ever successful with that. I don't know that it ever occurs to my students to have that approach, and many of them love LOTR and other "geeky" pursuits. This is no doubt why our cross country team is so large. It is the sport of my people!

Ms. Yingling


  1. This one sounds interesting, thanks! I have added it to my daughter's list. Regarding the blather, I have responded elsewhere but for the record I am so happy to be connected with you and agree with you about avoiding the toxicity as much as possible.

  2. I've felt the same way lately as you mentioned--a bit tired of the drama. It's good to come to blogs like yours and just hear/talk about books.

  3. Thank you for all that you do in getting books into the hands of students. I am truly grateful for your reviews and appreciate your help. I trust your reviews implicitly and you have helped me with collection development for my library a great deal. Thank you for reading and sharing. I especially appreciate your listing both the strengths and the weaknesses of the books you review!

  4. Interesting blather! I hope you have a great summer away from the drama. This book sounds like an important one. Thanks for telling me about it.

  5. Trying so hard to ignore the drama and just read the books! And - I love love LOVE Erin Dionne's books, so am really looking forward to reading Fangirl!

  6. I read your5 blog and love your comments.I am a Teacher-Librarian in Australia. I have no idea what/who etc has made horrid comments to you but I can only say how sad this makes me. Reading books and putting them into the hands of your students is your passion (and mine). You are to be commended and applauded for all your hard work and hours and hours of reading and thoughtful comments. Please don't let one or two voices from the wilderness get you down. Sending kindness.

  7. I'd be very sad if you quit reviewing books and promoting reading. It makes me angry to see authors and someday-to-be authors behaving so badly. There's not an endless supply of dedicated bloggers somewhere waiting to fill in the spots of the current ones. Authors biting the hand the hand that feeds them when getting the word out about books is already difficult strikes me as the height of stupidity.

    I've abandoned my blog for months on occasion when I need a break. Absolutely no reason you couldn't shut this down (temporarily, I hope) until the thought of blogging seemed like fun again. Don't burn yourself out. We need you for the long haul:)

    1. Never fear! I'm not going to stop reading, I'm just going to ignore social media a bit. And do some quilting and knitting. It's good therapy! And yes, there are not many bloggers left, are there?

  8. I read your reviews all the time, especially on Goodreads, and have found many good reads as a result! There is always drama of some kind, and you're right--we need to focus on the books, what they say and what they mean to our readers.

  9. And I totally agree with what you and all these fine people have said! We need need more voices like yours. I'm afraid the future will belong to those who shout the loudest and longest but you are the voice of reason in a noisy and crazy world. Why are we blogging? Because we care about books and kids and want to bring the two together. Please keep doing this and ignore all the shouting, as you have done so marvelously all over all the years. But, by all means, take a break. You've earned it! And post some pictures of your quilts when you get a chance!