A couple of book reviews (crossposted from my other blog)

The Fallacy of the likeable protagonist: a review of “The Demon’s Lexicon” and “Corbenic”
Or, walk softly and carry a sharp sword

This post is inspired by a discussion we’ve been having recently, and also by two excellent books I just read. In the discussion, some people seemed to evaluate characters according to whether they liked them or not. That’s quite human, and I’d guess we readers do it all the time. I’ve done it myself. I’ve said, a few times, about books or films, “I didn’t like it because I didn’t like any of the characters”. But do you really have to like a protagonist for a story to work for you?

This past month, I read two excellent teen fantasies that call this thesis into question. They are “Corbenic” by Catherine Fisher, and “The Demon’s Lexicon” by Sarah Rees Brennan. And, quite honestly, it is difficult to like the two young men at the heart of these stories. But, in the end, it is very easy to love them – perhaps Nick, of “The Demon’s Lexicon”, in particular. Because there is a difference between liking a fictional character and liking a person in real life, and there is an even greater difference between merely liking a character and loving them. Continue reading


A Terrific Student film

Here’s the film the tenth grade girls produced for film club this year. It’s really polished and clever, IMHO – great editing and writing! They just keep getting better and better- )http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Peuya4ukTic

p.s. sorry I had to take it down, and that it looks a little worse – this is a slightly lower-quality copy, but I had to change the credits. Thanks for watching!

RSS feeds, etc-

I can certainly see how this would be useful. But what I diont understand is this: why can’t I get the blogs I’ve subscribed to to show up HERE?  Why do I have to have yet another blog at bloglines in order to subcribe to them? Or do I?

Livejournal is a lot easier. You just ask someone if you can friend them, and then you click on your friends list. You don’t have to jump through all these hoops. (Though I get the strong feeling I must be doing something wrong here.)

I do like librarything, though. It’s going to take me awhile to add more books – so far I only have two up – and it will take still longer for me to figure out how to get them to show up here, or on my other blog.  But the site itself is easy to use, and I love the idea of getting advance copies of books to review – so I think I may sign up to do that.

I think I’ve now at least attempted some part of all the lessons. My favorite thing so far is flickr; it’s very easy to use and a lot of fun. Of course, I do just like blogging, as well, but I guess that’s obvious!

Still, if you include the band blog and the library teenspace blog, I now have six blogs to keep up with. I mean six blogs I should check and/or write something in. It’s overwhelming. And I really only write consistently in my personal blog. But I’ll try to keep this one up, as well, because , if I can get the feeds to work better, it would be a good way of keeping in touch with my colleagues.

So – see you on the web!

wikis – brief thoughts:

I am, of course, going to have to look at a few more! Like everyone else on the net, I’ve visited Wikipedia a few times, and I’ve actually found its content good. But – I’ve also participated in a chain story on wiki, so I know there are really no controls. It seems a closed community, by invitation only, would have better authority as far as the content goes, but then you lose the community and openness which, I guess, would be one of the main attractions.

As far as the library wikis John linked to are concerned, I had two thoughts:

First, a couple of them didn’t seem at all different from the list of recommended websites we already provide. There were a lot of links with good information, but, as far as I could tell, no interactivity.

Which brings me to my second point: in order to really use some of these wikis, you have to join, and I’m just not a joiner. Yet another name and password to remember; yet another site to keep track of – yes, they are useful and fun, but at what point does it get overwhelming?

When you take these points together, you see that there’s tension between openness and authority. If you let absolutely everybody join and contribute, there is no guarantee that the info in the wiki is accurate. If you don’t let people join and contribute, why call the site you’re building a wiki?

Because of the lack of authority and quality control, my kids (the seniors in my group a couple of years back; they are now sophomores in college) were opposed to setting up a library wiki for our teen group. They thought a myspace or facebook page would be more useful. I haven’t yet asked the younger kids in the group what they think, but I have been told the kids are forbidden to use wikis for homework.

So I see them as being very good for collaborative creativity, possibly very good for social networking, and a mixed bag for actual information. I’ll have to look at a few more and think some more about this. They are kind of fun, though!

Now off to look at Deirdre’s post, and see if I can link to some blogs-



Originally uploaded by maryj59

Here are a couple of the lovely giraffes Deirdre and I saw last weekend. Just checking to see if I can send to the blog (and proving I do have a flickr account, after all. ;))