Daughter Moon by @hg47 Harv Griffin

Here’s the author’s blog but I could not find any video book trailer online.

Description: (from Goodreads.com) DAUGHTER MOON is Old School hard Science Fiction at 122,840 words, with Matriarchy as the twist. All the Usual Suspects: Alien Invasion, teleportation, space battles, nanotechnology, virtual reality; a nobody suddenly given incredible powers; a struggle for the survival of our race and the future of the Universe; a Love more powerful and decisive than any technology.

Personal Reaction: Some of the discussion of the science in this science fiction was a little too detailed for me, so I skipped over it. In general, the book was a lot of fun with tongue-in-cheek humor. Inflating and deflating body parts on a whim depending on your technical proficiencies seems like an interesting future. I enjoyed Aero and Kronos discussing religions and space-time travel in a locked room while Aero makes everyone else thinks she’s a “victim of horizontal violence.” Changing every since instance of the word man to woman and boy to girl was a little over the top at first, but I got used to it. The black royal class was why I took on this book for review, but unfortunately they were not the main players in the story.

Summary: Jack’s future self snaps some bracelets on him and sends him off in time to save the universe! As he struggles to master the art of time travel, a few pit stops along the way cause enough sensation to have a religion spring up around his appearances. After a new technology called eNet “kills” the inhabitants of Earth, only a colony of women on the Moon are around to populate the galaxy. Jack has become goddess Kronos to them through the millenia, and techno-hacker Kali and her astronaut team are sent out to try to intercept “her” at the next possible appearance. But what will they do when they find out she is a he? What will everyone want to do with him??

Any Cautions: This book is for adults, not children. The one man available is having a great time, though same-sex relationships are the norm for this society of all women.

Connections to other books: I’m a fan of the Foundation series by Asimov and the Dune series by Herbert.

Tales From a Second Hand Wand Shoppe by Robert P. Wills

Author’s etsy (where you can buy a wand to go along with your book), no video book trailer found.

Summary: (from Amazon.com) They were the Best of Gnomes, They were the Worse of Gnomes.
Two Gnomes – Grimbledung and Drimblerod- are just trying to get along in life when their worlds collide. Drimblerod runs a moderately reputable Second Hand Wand Shop that does pretty well at moving inventory. Grimbledung runs a disreputable Second Hand Wand Wagon that he moves regularly to avoid the authorities.
Everything changes when they combine their talents:
City ordinances are broken. Neighbors are annoyed. The Constable becomes involved. Even the Magician’s Guild sends over some Enforcers to deal with them. Things are looking up for the Gnomes!
From multi-headed travelers looking for a good time, to Half-Orcs just trying to obey their mates, everyone seems to come to the Second Hand Wand Shoppe to either buy or sell a wand. Along for the ride are a neurotic Jousting Dummy, an immortal (so far) Rat, a Trolless who runs the Tavern and Restaurant across the street, a Dwarf next door with (alleged) Mob ties, and the Head Mistress of the local School of Magic (with definite Mob ties).
Did we mention the Halfling Army that’s out for blood? They’ll have to deal with them as well!

The author has done very well in mastering the way to communicate the tone of each character’s personality through the written word! I had a few good chuckles, especially from Rat. Even the unspoken “body” language of Dummy is perfect. If you child is good at “hearing” the tone while reading, then this will work. If not, then use it as a read-aloud so you both can enjoy it while teaching the skill! The illustrations are good enough for the kids – as an adult, I wanted more texture (maybe an occasional color-plate like in Breathed’s Flawed Dogs).

Cautions? Yes, the gnomes drink beer and have a hangover. Yes, Dimblerod has a thing for big females… Because it’s so much fun, I want to recommend it to all ages, but the humor is kind of like watching the movie Shrek – much of it is for the adults. Even if the kids don’t get it, they still enjoyed it, right?

Items to display with book: Wands, wands, wands. Any kind of gnome figurine or halloween mask. Stuffed rat (or a real one, if you’ve got it.) You could make some Gatherer Division patches and/or an Abyssmal box.

Food items connected to story: Tea, Toast & jam, stew, eggs, grits, there’s so much served at Big Julie’s school you can use too.

The Stranger by Albert Camus

movie footage – opening sequence

Summary: (Translated from the French by Matthew Ward.) Mersault visits the group home where his mother has recently died for the funeral and is glad when it’s over. Mersault’s girlfriend wants to get married, though he admits he doesn’t think he loves her. He later becomes friends with another tenant in his building named Raymond who is wrapped up in an intrigue with a cheating girlfriend. Her brother and his friends want to beat Raymond up or worse for the way he abused her and a confrontation arises on the beach. Mersault awaits trial for the murder of her brother. Mersault’s neighbor Salamano hates his own dog until the day the dog runs away.

Personal Reaction: Just goes to show you that I’ve spent way too long reading teen/tween stuff to be able to appreciate “classic” literature. My neighbor’s kid (a 19yo boy) gave this to me and begged that I read it so he could have someone to talk to about it. He says he loves the description and how it made him feel like he was really there.
I didn’t like it. Yes, lots of description of the outside, but nothing’s going on inside the main character until the end. He doesn’t cry at his mom’s funeral because it’s too hot. He shoots a guy on a beach because it’s too hot. He gets convicted… and it’s really too hot, why wasn’t he given a fan like everyone else? He doesn’t think about why anything happens, just that it does and that’s all he needs to know.

Any Cautions: unmarried sexual relationships, not graphic

Connections to other books: Reminded me of The Catcher in the Rye by Salinger

Items to display with book: beach towel, black tie or armband, photo of casket & flowers, cigarettes, photo of jail cell or courtroom, fake gun

Food items connected to story: bread & wine (grape juice), cheese, blood sausage, fried fish

The Color of Magic (Discworld bk 1) by Terry Pratchett

author’s website                       series video trailer

Summary: A failed magician named Rincewind is being stalked by Death (“Sod you!” says D, “Piss off! says R) as he tries to keep a bumbling tourist named Twoflower from being robbed or killed by unsavory townsfolk. They end up in adventure after adventure as they travel around Discworld with all sorts of magical beings and near-Death experiences. The cute sidekick being the trunk of gold belonging to Twoflower having feet to follow along and teeth to keep prying hands away from T’s undies. Also adorable are the demons in T’s camera and pocketwatch.

Personal Reaction: I am so in love with this author’s wry witticisms. As I said in my Goodreads review of (book 30) The Wee Free Men, I don’t think middle grade kids will “get it” unless they have a sophisticated sense of humor. Maybe HS or adult. There is mention of whores and whoring several times, but it is tongue-in-cheek (and I don’t mean that to be a pun).

Connections to other books: other books in the Discworld series (and there are many), Gaiman’s Good Omens has this sort of humor too as Pratchett was a co-author. It also reminds me of the scene in T.H. White’s The Once and Future King as Pellinore and Grummore joust together.

Items to display with book: Trunk of gold, magician’s hat, astronaut’s helmet, photo of Discworld, dragon, chess set?

Food items connected to story: chocolate gold coins, grape juice (wine), seaweed biscuits, candied octopus (maybe gummy worms?), pulled pork…

Inequality in school libraries

This is not a book review, I’m stepping out of my comfort zone here.

I’m irritated, maybe even angry, possibly more… but I don’t want you to stop reading this post. I’ve written some of this on my About page, but probably no one reads that.

I am a middle school librarian in the USA and I serve kids ages 10-15. The ethnicity of the population of the school I have served for the past 8 years is 70% African American. The national test data shows that AA kids lag significantly behind white peers in reading scores.

Imagine you are me, the school librarian, making purchasing decisions for your collection. I get the publisher and jobber catalogs and what do I see at first glance? White kids on book covers and books with symbolic covers. Not that there’s a problem with that, but remember my student body. I’m trying to change the statistics. I’m trying to buy books that reflect my students. By reflect, I mean what they see in the mirror. To be specific, black faces, black teens/tweens on the covers. I can’t do it, I can’t find them in the catalogs in any measure close to all those white faces on the covers. I’ve said this on my Twitter before that as the librarian, I can share many great books with my kids that have AA characters. I can “read and tell, but I can’t SHOW.” I think that’s sad.

Don’t get me wrong, some of those symbolic covers probably have black main characters. And I’m sure that those books are awesome. But if you’re an AA kid browsing at the local bookstore or in the school library, what book covers speak to you? You look at any selection of newest release books put before you and you wonder, where am I in this?

As a buyer, here’s what I see when I finally find those black faces on the covers: HISTORICAL FICTION – the book is about slavery or the civil rights era. That’ll brighten my kids’ day thinking about how crappy their history has been and the plight of their people. CONTEMPORARY FICTION (often termed urban fiction) – the book is probably going to involve drama/cat fights, way too many references to what I’m wearing or what person I’m hooking up with, basketball/football, gangs, racism, etc. They are reading these contemporary stories… the Bluford High Series went ballistic in checkouts after the photo cover redesign. But have I missed the many positive school stories, stories with hopes and dreams for the future?  Those books are few and far between. (Share those titles with me if you know them!) Do you see the percentage of AA books published for adults that is erotic fiction? Is anyone thinking of the kids, the future? SCIENCE FICTION/FANTASY – hello? anybody home? *crickets* Can we imagine different worlds and different societies? The only 2 with black faces on the cover that come to mind are Troy Cle’s The Marvelous Effect and Nancy Farmer’s The Ear, the Eye, and the Arm (both of which went symbolic cover for later editions). I get it, writers want to earn a living and I don’t blame them. If I’m a kid, I live in an HD world! I’d grab the redesign HD cover for Marvelous Effect before the original illustrated character cover too, but if it were a photographic HD cover rather than illustrated, I’d have a tougher time deciding.

If we can’t create readers, we won’t create writers, we won’t create buyers and this inequality will never go away.

Given the advances in on-demand publishing, would there be a way to offer alternate covers for librarians/booksellers with this need? Go back through your catalog and find books with AA characters and do cover redesigns – get the word out to school librarians. Run some focus groups with kids.

One last word:

Beyond the unavailability of titles, the percentage of books that receive the Reading Counts or Accelerated Reader tests that many school systems use further add to the inequality of student representation. If my kids find a book they love with a black face on the cover, the probability that there’s a test on it is slimmer too, and thus they can’t show their teacher that they HAVE been reading and grades suffer further. Test producers need to make a concentrated effort in this area as well.

Stepping down from the ranting chair now… thank you for reading. Really.

By moviesofthemind Posted in AA Tagged