Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Not Exactly the Meyers-Briggs, but....

Who doesn't love internet personality quizzes? I'm really a sucker for them, and here are two fun ones friends sent me over the past few days.

The first, from Blue Pyramid, after a very short quiz tells you which book you're most like. I'm a bit worried that I turn out to be a book on I've never heard of, at that (see below). I'll have to visit the library and read the book. Which is a great advantage to this little quiz--it might get people to read a book they haven't read yet!

As pre-hype for the movie of the Golden Compass, visit the official website and take this quick test to see who your daemon is. You can even send the final link to friends, they can take a quiz about you, and possibly change your daemon, if they have more insight into your character than you do!

You're The Guns of August!

by Barbara Tuchman

Though you're interested in war, what you really want to know is what
causes war. You're out to expose imperialism, militarism, and nationalism for what they
really are. Nevertheless, you're always living in the past and have a hard time dealing
with what's going on today. You're also far more focused on Europe than anywhere else in
the world. A fitting motto for you might be "Guns do kill, but so can

Take the Book Quiz
at the Blue Pyramid.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Habitable Planet

Annenberg has a wonderful online course I happened across today. Called "The Habitable Planet: A Systems Approach to Environmental Science" the site bills itself as "a multimedia course for high school teachers and adult learners interested in studying environmental science," with a PDF textbook, links to videos and other interactive content. Topics cover everything from ecosystems to climate change to energy challenges. Great resource for anyone teaching about the environment!

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Gossip Girls and Ethical Dilemmas

I despise the Gossip Girls series. When we read the first one in my Young Adult novels class last spring, few other works inspired such heated controversy. (Well, my friend, Jill, had quite the rant on Ella Enchanted, but there you go....) I was right there in the middle of the fray, expounding on how the book, appalling values aside, exemplified everything that's wrong with publishing today.

I could vividly visualize a statistical analyzer adding up columns and figures, creating a "formula" for writing best-selling teen series. These books, I harrumphed, are not about good story-telling, they're about titillation and sensationalism--the Harold Robbins (or National Enquirer) of the teen set.

"I will never," I declared, "buy these books for my library." When others took me to task, asking how I would defend such a choice logically, I retorted I could simply claim better uses for limited funds. Simple. Utterly defensible.

Who knew about book donations?

So now I have two of the books sitting in my "to be processed pile," the product of a generous parent. They sit there, mocking me. Until three classes of 7th graders came in this week to find books for a required reading assignment, I had checked out all of six books since school started. I know these would FLY off the shelves, and one part of me says, 'Hey, if kids are reading, can it be a bad thing?"

But I'm not one of those people who thinks any reading is good reading. There are textual equivalents to Entertainment Tonight and Jerry Springer, and I'd rather have my students watch a quality program on TV than read a piece of trash.

Nor am I a series book snob. I've read--and continue to read and enjoy--many a series. Those past librarians who sneered at Nancy Drew and the like did their patrons a real disservice. Librarian are not the arbiters of taste and culture.

And yet....these books offend me on so many levels. If I were a public librarian, this would be a no-brainer. They'd go on the shelves, because who am I to decide what the public can or cannot read? As a school librarian, however, I have a different set of responsibilities. Maybe it's the ex-English teacher in me, but there are plenty of equally entertaining, less hollow books out there to read. If they want Gossip Girls, go to the public library.

So they sit. And mock.

One of these days, I'll have to decide.