Yay goal accomplished!

So after a stressful few weeks of finals and a lovely few weeks of doing nothing at all, I’ve finally made Read and Revel! My YA Lit review and other news blog! Yay!

I’ll also still post here occasionally (like when Monster, the seven-year-old I babysit (what, that’s not what you call your babysitting charges?), does hilarious things. The other day we were walking home from baseball and he undid the cap of a water bottle with his chin and proclaimed: “I am an extraordinary child.”) but would love it if you go check out Read and Revel, which is all about reading and reveling and giving young adults books that are wonderful and challenging and great.

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Filed under Smorgasbord

A lot to learn

So a few days ago I picked up the seven year old boy I babysit from his baseball practice in Central Park, and he rode his scooter home while I walked behind. For a while he did this really neat trick where he managed to circle around me while I walked, continuing to move forward with every circle. And we started talking about what we’re afraid of.

I told him I’m afraid of elevators, specifically elevators that have so many people in them that, if it were to break down, everyone wouldn’t be able to sit down at the same time. He laughed at me!

Then he told me that he’s afraid that a man is going to go into his room during the school day and lie in wait for him until he goes to sleep. I reminded him that the super awesome doormen at his building would never let that happen. It took them about two years before they stopped asking me who I was every time I showed up at the apartment!

So then he goes, “Becca. Seriously. He wouldn’t come in through the lobby.”

So I say, “Well then how is he going to get into your room? A serious flaw in your plan! Ha!”

And he goes, “Becca. He’ll climb in through the window?”

Then he stopped his scooter in front of me, grabbed my arm and goes, “You sure have a lot to learn. You’re afraid of elevators, when you should be afraid of windows.”

I feel like there’s a life lesson in there somewhere, just aching to get out.

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Let’s prep for Prep, ’cause that makes sense!

Errone needs to chill out.

The lovely College Board has now come out with ReadiStep, a test designed for 8th Graders so that they can be more prepared to take the PSAT in high school (which, FYI, is a PREPARATORY TEST ITSELF). Giving 13 year olds a number that represents their ability to make it on the Standardized Test that will Determine Their Future does nothing except convince them early on that they won’t be able to do better than that. STOP TELLING PEOPLE HOW GOOD THEY ARE AND LET THEM BE BEES.

Full disclosure: I rocked my SATs. But if I had taken a similar test in 8th grade, I probably would have gotten comments like “she’s just not a test taker.” Why not focus on giving 8th graders the basic education they need so that they can then go on and hone their skillz without worrying about the fact that they have no idea what the periodic table is? Seriously guys, it’s hard to defend having an ace test taker if they can’t even define an adjective.

And how far is this going to go, anyway? In five years there will be a scholarship linked to ReadiStep, and so then there will be a Prep Test (FlashCardDance! RunningStart! BabiGenius!) for 5th graders, then 1st graders, and then moms at preschool will be all, “Well my Brooklyn didn’t need an instructor to get her 98% on the BabiGeniuses last year. She drew that straight line all on her own. We fully expect Harvard or at least a New Ivy in her future. What about your Arryn?” (Does anyone feel like as child/school culture becomes more ridiculous, parents are naming their babies to match?)

Also, why do the People Who Name Everything In The World insist that replacing “Y” with “I” will make a brand more appealing? Why would people preparing an academic test feel the need to spell “ready” wrong? Who wants to bet that on the spelling section, 37.43% more 8th graders will choose B) readi instead of A) ready?

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Filed under Culture Shock, School

Davis shows the NYTimes what’s what

Last October, the NYTimes told everyone that picture books are on their way out. Picture books are in a slump, but it’s just because the Baby Boomer’s kids (which, if you do the math, means we were a boom, too), are now reading YA, not picture books.

So a library in Davis, CA devoted the entire month of February to picture books, getting people of all ages to enjoy them. Then they sent a 15 foot long scroll to the NYTimes editors, telling them how wrong they were! Love it.

I read the NYTimes religiously, but seriously, sometimes they just spew things because they think no one will question it.

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Filed under Awesome Finds, Children's Literature

Good excuse, I promise

I haven’t had my computer, so I’ve been completely unable to blog.

Or at least, that excuses the last six days. The month before that…I guess my happy thoughts were overarching and vague, not pin-pointy and specific.

I’m also considering changing the name of my blog again to something like Literintern, and just owning up to the fact that it’s basically all about books.

In the meantime, while I decide, please gaze at the lovely ocean that provided me with many overarching, vague happy thoughts when I was on Spring Break a couple weeks ago:

Also feel free to share your thoughts on the direction you think my blog should take.

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Noticing new things when reading a book for the nth time is my happy thought

I have read To Kill a Mockingbird about five times. Love. That. Book. But I always struggled with the freaking year it’s set in. I always thought it was the thirties, but so many people told me it was the turn of the century, or the forties, or even the fifties, and I was never sure.

But now I’m reading it again for my awesome independent study, and I found this line: “But it was a time of vague optimism for some of the people: Maycomb County had recently been told that it had nothing to fear but fear itself.”

Oh, to write so eloquently as to state the year without ever stating the year. Oh, to be able to write a book that requires five readings before finding that amazing line, just because all the other lines are so great that they can’t all be caught the first time through.

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Filed under Children's Literature, Magical Writing

Overcoming fears is my happy thought

So it’s been like ten years since I’ve let anyone read any fiction I write. Personal essays, yes. Literature analyses, yes. Creative writing stays hidden and password protected on my computer.

This semester, though, I’m taking a writing for young readers class. Workshopping is required, meaning I have to read what I wrote aloud and then call on people so they can critique my work. Ack!

In class today, while we were discussing the Hunger Games, I was sweating. I knew it was coming. Today was my day. And then the first person read their work. And then I read mine.

Can I just note that my hair actually is in braids today?

And people actually liked it! And I felt like it was in a genuine “this is actually kind of intriguing” kind of way, not a “this is cute, you should get a day job” kind of way.

Not that I’m planning on making a living from writing, but hooray for conquering fears!

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Filed under School, School Woes